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Long before Gatlinburg became one of the most popular vacation destinations in the United States, it was a small mountain town called White Oaks Flats. The name came from the beautiful white oak trees that surrounded the area. Most of the early settlers were Scots-Irish who felt at home in the Highlands of Southern Appalachia, reminded by the Smoky Mountains of the misty Highlands of Scotland. The White Oak Flats Cemetary in Gatlinburg is a reminder of the hardships faced by these early settlers.
In 1854 when a man named Radford Gatlin moved to the area and opened the second general store in White Oaks Flats. A couple of years later, he opened a post office inside his store, which resulted in changing the name of the town to Gatlinburg.
However, Radford Gatlin was not without his own controversies in the area. He is best remembered as being an outspoken controversial figure who strongly supported the Confederacy. By 1857, a full-blown feud had erupted between the Gatlins and the Ogles.
The eve of the U.S. Civil War found Gatlin, who would become a Confederate sympathizer, at odds with the residents of the flats, who were mostly pro-Union, and he was forced out in 1859. Even though Radford Gatlin was forced to leave the area because of his views, his memory is still remains within the name of the town.