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|
TVA Map # 504-21