Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lemmons Branch on a Spring Day

It makes me glad that so many of you have read and enjoyed the first part of Don Casada's tale of his father's move from Clay County to Swain County.  He has already written the second part of this tale, and I will be publishing it later this week.  But today, I'm simply posting a few pictures and words from an outing today with my family.

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview Hazel (Lemmons) Cook, who was born on Mouse Branch and lived there for the first 8 years of her life. Those of you who mountain bike or hike will know that the waters of Mouse Branch that are not under the waters of Fontana Lake are located in the Tsali Recreation Area straddling Swain and Graham Counties.  Hazel's ancestors are those for whom the nearby Lemmons Branch is named.  At the time that TVA surveyed the Lemmons Branch area, there were two families still living there. 

1942 TVA map of Lemmons Branch area

One of the home sites is now underwater, but the other is not and is easily accessible off the road to the Lemmons Branch boat ramp.  My family and I decided to investigate today, and found a simply gorgeous site with an outstanding chimney.  While Mrs. Cook did not live here, some of her relatives did.

The old road leading to the home, which has clearly been maintained by the US Forest Service
The chimney, a field of daffodils, and a magnificent old walnut tree

The chimney was double-sided and remarkably well-preserved.

The home's spring was beautifully 'rocked in'.

 Mrs. Cook had mentioned visiting a small cemetery as a child that was close by.  The TVA map of the Lemmons Branch area corroborated her story (as shown above).  The cemetery is evidently referred to as the 'Welch #2' cemetery and lies on land that was owned by Forest Denton at the time of the Fontana Lake removals.  I could find no indication that this cemetery had been moved by TVA(likely because it was old, the graves were only fieldstones, and those buried there could not be identified), so my family and I set out to find the cemetery after our home site visit. 

Navigating the old Lemmons Branch Road heading to the lake

The Lemmons Branch embayment

Despite the fact that my husband and I had plotted the cemetery's likely location using Google Earth and the TVA map and almost certainly located the site of the cemetery, we were disappointed to find no fieldstones standing in the area....only an iron surveying pin nearby.

An iron surveying pin located near the probable cemetery site

That's OK though - it was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, the daffodils were in full bloom.....and now the elusive cemetery has given me an excuse to go back.  'Twas hard to be disappointed.

Daffodils in bloom at the Lemmons Branch home site
Don Casada
Carol Cochran
Google Earth
TVA Map # 504-21


  1. Thanks for inviting me along on your little family jaunt albeit electronically. I enjoyed the pictures especially the chimneys. I also enjoyed learning more about the Lemmons family and about Mouse Branch. You wouldn't happen to know how the stream got it's name, would you?

    1. Hi Ed - thank you for reading! I love the chimneys as well, and this one was really beautiful. I do not know the origin of the Mouse Branch name....however, I will ask Mrs. Cook. I'm going to take her for a drive in the area and to Panther Creek later this spring - because she's told me that she could tell many a story about the area. I am really looking forward to it. She's 90 years old with a very good memory - an excellent combination for historians!

  2. Mrs. Meyers
    Thank you for all your work on the history of Swain and surrounding counties. I have been doing my own research on the Judson, Japan, and Panther Creek area. Would you be willing to supply me the location or origin of the TVA survey maps you have in the article? They look very detailed. Also did you ever get to visit the Panther Creek area with Mrs. Cook and get any info on the area and its place names? Thanks!