Cleveland Tennessee sits nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, home today to over 40,000 Tennesseans. It was officially founded in 1837, cut from the wooded forests of the Southeast corner of the state in the shadows of the Appalachian Mountains. The region was part of the original American western frontier, and at one time it was home of the Cherokee Nation. But the complicated and racist relationship with the native tribes; as well as American greed for more land, forced the Cherokee from their home with the now infamous Indian Removal Act.
But by the end of 1838 the young town of Cleveland had a population of about 400, just enough to support two small churches and a town school; geographically, it was uniquely located to prosper. To it’s east is rural Appalachia, which boasted a prosperous coal & tobacco economy; just south were the vast cotton fields of Georgia and Alabama. This geographical advantage, compounded with the railroad’s appearance in the 1840’s and it’s close proximity to Chattanooga, brought a period of rapid growth to little Cleveland.
One man to take advantage of this growth was John Craigmiles. Unfortunately for the Southern entrepreneur & bedrock of Cleveland’s community, he’d experience the most horrific thing a parent can experience- the loss of an innocent child.
The grief stricken man’s terrible tale of heartbreak, has since become the basis of one of East Tennessee’s most infamous haunts… the Bleeding Mausoleum of little Nina Craigmiles.