Remembering Life on Powell River before Norris Dam

Remembering Life on Powell River before Norris Dam

In the early 1930s, before a large dam was built beneath the forks of the Clinch and Powell Rivers, a little girl of early pioneer ancestry lived in a white two-story house across the Powell River from the mouth of Cedar Creek. She was born there, as had been her uncle, who also lived there with her parents, maternal grandmother, three younger siblings and an older cousin. Their home was on a large farm encircled by a bend of the Powell River on three sides.

In the spring of the year, the little girl loved to watch the river as it rose upon its banks. On these same banks and river bottoms, Union soldiers had trained for the Civil War. The little girl learned many treasured stories from her uncle of soldiers long gone from the training field. Her grandmother, also born on the river, had first hand memories of the war.

The farm house had a small older wing on the rear that included the kitchen, referred to by the family as the Little House. In the winter, a huge log placed in the fireplace kept the kitchen warm. Sitting around the fire, in the kitchen illuminated by kerosene lamps, the family read the Bible, Sunday School lessons, The Knoxville Journal, Progressive Farmer and whatever textbooks the children were studying from in school.

While her mother was busy cooking, or doing other things for the family, the little girl would help her grandmother rock the younger children in a wooden cradle. The cradle had heavy rockers and sat in front of a window by the hearth in the kitchen.

On Sundays, the little girl and her sister would trail their father on a farm horse, named Maude, up the side of Cedar Creek and the Sugar Hollow Branch to church. Each time the trail would cross the branch, Maude would lower her head for a drink potentially plunging the girls, it seemed, into the stream below.

The sisters loved to attend Sunday School at Sugar Hollow. Maude Ridenour, a Campbell County school teacher, was their teacher. Each lesson was on a card with a picture. These were kept in a box at home after each lesson has been gone over a number of times. Relocated as a result of the formation of Norris Reservoir, the congregation is known today as Coolidge First Baptist.

One hot August afternoon, the little girl's father came home in the farm wagon with a John C. Winton primer. Soon she was carrying the little book with her to a nearby one room school. The school closed, due to low enrollment, after two weeks and she began to ride the bus to a much larger school at Demory. No doubt many of the parents of the children who arrived by bus worried about their children being so far from their care. Fortunately, Mrs. Jane Boshears Morton, who lived within site of the school, was known to be generous with her time tending to the needs of sick children. Perhaps she ran the first school clinic in Campbell County right out of her home.

Although the little girl's family did not have electricity while living on Powell River, they did have telephone service. Should the party line be out of order for any reason, Andy Heatherly, proprietor of the A.J. Heatherly General Store would take messages from his telephone at the store and deliver them personally throughout the neighborhood in his Model T Ford.

These wonderful happy early childhood years on Powell River came to an end one morning in early December of 1934 when the little girl rode in the cab of a moving truck with her grandmother and three younger siblings to their new home closer to town. The gingerbread style house would be home to her parents for over fifty years.

Written partially in her own words, the little girl in the story was my mother Nadine Heatherly Stephens (1925-2002). More than eighty years have come and gone since hers like so many additional families were dislocated in advance of rising waters behind Norris Dam before the gates were closed on March 4,1936.

The spine of the ridge that ran down the center of the farm, where she was born, is visible, to the left, year-round from the opposite side of the lake at the tip of Heatherly's Point and is known today as Spangler Point or Point 10.




Meet Diane Black

Gubernatorial candidate Diane Black

U. S. Representative Diane Black says that hard work and accountability are Tennessee values she learned from her parents. Black, a registered nurse, small businesswoman, and former educator, is a candidate in the 2018 gubernatorial election.

Black recently took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for Historic Union County. Below are our questions with her direct and unedited responses.

Book Signing

Book Signing

Sheri Hensley, my daughter, and I had a great book signing Saturday at Okie’s in Maynardville.

Sheri did the cover illustration for More Tales. Look for us next Saturday, May 19, 2018 at the Plainview Spring Festival. The festival is being held at the Plainview Community Center from 9 am until 6 pm. We’ll plan to be there signing from 10 am until 1pm. We’ll be at the west end of the building near the deserts. If the deserts are anything like last year you won’t want to miss the opportunity to sample more than one.

Shag Rugs

Shag Rugs

Name the hardest rug to clean. Did you say shag? If you did, you are right. Shag rugs are a bugger to clean. Eating supper in the living room while watching TV on your portable TV tray? Did some baked beans roll off your plate and onto the rug? Sorry. The pile will instantly snap them up. Watch where you step. Smashed baked beans are hard to find and hard to remove.

Do You Believe You Have a Destiny or a Calling?

East Tennessee Hospital for the Insane

Do you believe that you have a destiny or a calling? One of the greatest reformers in U.S. History, left a legacy in word and action that continues to inspire me today. Of her motivation, she explained “In a world where there is so much to be done, I felt strongly impressed that there must be something for me to do.”

Can We Get There From Here?

Can We Get There From Here?

Since Mother’s Day was Sunday, I want to pay tribute to my feisty mom who tries to get a laugh whenever she can. It’s part of her charm.

Before GPS, Google Maps, and cell phones, if you were lost, you stopped and asked a stranger for directions. My mom had her own unique and humorous (in her mind) way of doing that: “Can we get there from here?”

Let There Be Light

Sun Beams

Light is something we don’t think about much, but almost everything that’s alive on the planet needs light for sight and energy. Human eats cow, cow eats grass, grass grows on light… you get the picture. Scientists have studied light for centuries, but still don’t fully understand it.


31 Million Americans Experience Low-Back Pain at Any Given Time

31 million americanS experience low-back pain at any given time.

A few interesting facts about back pain: low back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the global Burden of disease 2010. Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections. One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year. Experts estimate that as much as 80% of the population will experience a back problem at some time in their lives.



We have been studying God’s Covenant with mankind, in particular the “Terms and Conditions.” In the previous two editions of this subject we first examined the “Verbal Agreement” between God and man. Next, we examined the “Terms and Conditions” of the “Written Agreement”. This written agreement is commonly known as the “Ten Commandments.” Nearly every Christian is familiar with the Ten Commandments; however, most don’t know or have conveniently forgotten that there are “Terms and Conditions” attached to God’s Law.

Deep Fried Catfish

Deep Fried Catfish

Catfish? That's not a panfish. I grew up eating sunfish, bluegills and such, really whatever Dad could catch. The closest we came to catfish were bullheads and suckers. There would be sucker runs in the spring near where we lived. As a fish, they left a lot to be desired with tiny barbed bones throughout the flesh making them difficult to eat. I didn't much care for bullheads, either. They looked like small catfish, same whiskers and skin. Yeah, skin. They had to be skinned. Dad had a flare for doing that. I never did get the hang of it. I preferred bluegills.


Need A Ride To Church

Need A Ride To Church

Fellowship Christian Church located at 746 Tazewell Pike Luttrell TN 37779 will pickup anyone in the local area needing a ride to church. Call Sam at 865-607-3741 to schedule a ride.

Worship Services

Sunday School 10:00 AM
Sunday Worship Service 11:00 A.M
Sunday Evening Service 6:30 P.M
Wednesday Service 7:00 P.M


Please join us as we celebrate "Older Americans Month" at Union County Senior Center. Live music, lunch & door prizes will be provided. We will recognize ALL of our Union County Senior Center volunteers and elect a new Senior King & Queen! This is for ALL senior citizens!....... 10:00-1:00 .........Call Melanie at 992-3292 for more info!

Area Worship Leaders, Pastors, and Faith community leaders

Area Worship Leaders, Pastors, and Faith community leaders

"We invite all area Worship Leaders, Pastors, and Faith community leaders to come together on the last Thursday of each month at Hardee's at 7:30 am. This is to be a time of fellowship, prayer, and discussion about how we as a community of Faith can work together to have a positive impact on our county. All are welcome!" Margaret Chesney


Robert Wilson Johnson

Robert Wilson Johnson – was born on August 12, 1930 and passed away on May 16, 2018. He was a member of Church Street United Methodist Church of Knoxville and a graduate of Central High School. Robert was a veteran of the United States Air Force. He received a Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Agriculture Economics from the University of Tennessee and was retired from the United States Department of Agriculture after 29 years of service.

Edna Kidwell Keen

Edna Kidwell Keen-age 81 of Maynardville passed away Thursday, May 17, 2018 at her home. She was a member of Milan Baptist Church and was a very active member of the Union County Senior Citizens. Preceded in death by husband, Dewey Keen; parents, Ervon and Opal Kidwell; brothers, Tom and John Kidwell; sisters, Marie, Mae, Lillia and Twila Kidwell.

Survivors: brother and sister-in-law, Jim and Rosemary Kidwell of Knoxville; sisters, Ineal Kidwell of Knoxville, Doris Abbott of Sevierville. Several nieces, nephews and a host of friends.

John J. Ridenour

John J. Ridenour, Sr.-age 73 of Knoxville went to be with the Lord Wednesday, May 16, 2018. Preceded in death by wife, Charlotte Alana Ridenour; son, Randy; parents, Elzie and Tishie Ridenour.

Elizabeth Ann Vitatoe

Elizabeth Ann Vitatoe-age 76 of Maynardville passed away Thursday evening, May 10, 2018 at North Knoxville Medical Center.
Graveside service and interment were held 6 P.M. Wednesday, May 16, 2018 at the Narrow Ridge Cemetery, Washburn. Arrangements by Cooke-Campbell Mortuary, Maynardville.

Lawrence Bruner

Lawrence Monroe Bruner – age 86 of Maynardville, went home to be with his Heavenly Father on Friday, May 11, 2018. He was a member of Free Fellowship Pentecostal Church. Lawrence was a United States Marine Veteran and was retired from the United Iron Workers Local #384.

Douglas Lee Hensley

Douglas Lee Hensley-age 37 of Knoxville passed away Tuesday, May 8, 2018 at U.T. Medical Center. He was of the Baptist faith and attended Fairview Baptist Church, Corryton. Preceded in death by grandparents, Verlin and Ruth Hensley; Geneva Powell Dyer; aunt, Rhonda Kay Powell Leeper.

Virgie Asher

Virgie Asher-age 75 of Sharps Chapel, formerly of Hazard, Kentucky went home to be with her Heavenly Father Monday afternoon, May 7, 2018 at Physicians Regional Medical Center. She was retired employee of Clayton Homes of Maynardville. Preceded in death by father, Thomas Stacey; mother, Pauline Stacey.

The opinions expressed by columnists and those providing comments are theirs alone, and may not reflect the opinions of Russell Computer Systems, Inc or any employee thereof.