“The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is an independent public corporation founded by Congress in 1933 to control flooding, improve navigation, assist farmers, provide cheap electric power, and make “surveys of and general plans for [the Tennessee River] basin and adjoining territory . . . for the general purpose of fostering an orderly and proper physical, economic, and social development of the Tennessee Valley.”
—The Tennessee Encyclopedia of History & Culture
Ernestine: “In the 1930s they kept coming through saying they were surveying, they was going to build a dam there and I just couldn’t believe it. Byron Denman, Bob Poage, Sanderfords from Belton came through. It was impossible to imagine because it was just farmlands and cedars, just a beautiful valley.
“We were heartbroken…it was the only place I knew as home. It was sad…house moved in 1953…land began to fill in 1954. It (the water) came up and spread out easy…1957 flood – it almost filled then…’91 and ’92 it overflowed again…Bert asked a corps engineer ‘How long will it take that to fill up and run over?’ and he said ‘You’ll probably never live to see it, it will be at least 100 years.’ I wish I knew where he was! and tell him that I did see it!”
“Mrs. Byron Denman, bless her heart, he worked so hard to get that in there (their farm in the valley) and I believe it hurt her worse than it hurt him. She just nearly had a nervous breakdown over it. They moved to Temple and bought a place over there. Miss Nora’s mother and grandmother lived there with her when we moved to Sparta in the early 1930s. She was an only child (Walton). They were about the richest people in the community. She dressed, she had her gloves and her hat.
Bert: “I never did give it too much of a thought because I blocked it out, our homeplace being covered up. But it is kind of like just laying down and letting water cover you up, that’s just the way I feel. It was a live burial, in a way. And of course, for Daddy, that’s the way they make their living (from the land) so it was even worse for them.
“Dad moved to Heidenhammer when the dam went in. The old Cummins family. Then to Salado. And so many people didn’t know where they were going to go, they just had to get out and find a place.”
Ernestine Humphrey & Bert Bounds
Sparta, TN residents 1931-1954