GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) — Many spooky stories come from Cades Cove, but one is especially electric.

The tale of the Cussing Cover stems from a small two-room cabin in the cove before it was a part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. According to the late, Mavies Estep married her husband Basil, and they lived with their children in the cabin along Whistling Branch stream.

The legend says that Estep was terrified of lightening, afraid she would be killed by a lightning bolt, but she was also a quilter. The quilt that this story gets its name from was made from one of her husband’s shirts, the red flannel shirt that he had been wearing during their first fight as a married couple and it is said that he used some very colorful language in that argument.

Estep became ill and eventually died, but before she passed, the legend says she left her husband some specific instructions: He could remarry, but he must promise to never sell her quilts or put them on a metal bed.

The story continues that Basil remarried less than a year after Estep’s death, and his new wife who was much younger than Estep urged him to get a metal bed. On one brutally cold night, Basil’s new wife, Trulie Jane, wanted to use one of Estep’s quilts to stay warm. When Basil said that she could, Trulie Jane placed the cussing cover on the metal bed.

It seems that Basil had forgotten his promise, and Estep was not happy with that. Later that night, the legend continues that Trulie Jane was awoken and she saw Estep standing at the foot of the bed, they locked eyes, and Estep began cussing profusely. By the time Trulie was able to wake up Basil, Estep had vanished. Assuring his wife it was just a nightmare, and not taking what may have been a warning from Estep, the couple went back to sleep.

The legend goes on, saying that a few hours later, a bright flash of lightning burst into the home, knocking Trulie out of bed. When she was able to see after the smoke passed, she found Basil, lying on the floor, burnt to a crisp.

The strange twist in this story is that the rest of the home remained untouched, the cussing cover was in perfect condition, and there hadn’t been any thunderstorms in the area that night.

Trulie did not want anything to do with Estep’s quilts after Basil died, and she seemed to use more caution to Estep’s instructions than her husband had. She gave the quilts to one of the family’s daughters, and eventually they were sold to a collector. The legend says that a rumor exists that the quilts are still around the Smoky Mountains, so if you find a quilt for sale made from a red flannel shirt, perhaps it might be best to not place it on a metal bed.


This story used multiple online sources, linked throughout the story. The story is also said to be found in The Granny Curse and Other Ghosts and Legends from East Tennessee, a 1999 book by Janet Barnett and Randy Russell.