Family Heirlooms Come Back to the Smokies

Daniel Alexander LawsonGreat Smoky Mountains National Park recently received a priceless donation of Cades Cove artifacts to the museum collections. The great-granddaughter of Dan and Sidney Lawson, Robin Derryberry of Chattanooga, TN, donated a chest of drawers, family Bible, wedding portraits, and other family photographs to the National Park Service for longterm preservation at the National Park Service Collections Preservation Center in Townsend, TN.  

“Cades Cove played such a huge role in my family’s history,” said Robin Derryberry. “While the items donated were important to us, we realized as a family that they deserved to be in a place where they could be enjoyed by the public and more importantly, preserved for future generations. We know these artifacts are in wonderful hands and we couldn’t be more pleased.”

The Lawsons were involved members of the Cades Cove community with Dan leading singing at the Methodist Church and Sidney helping to educate children in the cove. Their cabin is preserved as part of the Cades Cove Historic Landscape.

“We are thrilled to have these pieces as a part of the permanent park collection,” said Museum Curator Baird Todd. “It is rare treasure for us to have the full history behind the artifacts in our collections. This opportunity allows us to preserve and share a much richer story.”Lawson bible openLawson Bible Closed

The family Bible dates back to 1847 and includes personal family records, medical histories, and obituaries. The dresser was hand made by Daniel Alexander Lawson as a wedding present for his wife Sidney. The couple married in Cades Cove just before Christmas in 1894. The dresser is one of the best pieces of local furniture in the park’s collections.

Lawson Dresser 

The Lawson dresser is currently part of an exhibit of various handmade furnishings from Cades Cove that will be on display through the fall of this year at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center located in Townsend, TN. The center is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 

For more information about the history of Cades Cove, please visit the park’s website at

Source: GSMNP