By: Virginia R. Manuel
In the early 1940s the formation of Watauga Lake in Johnson and Carter County displaced the town of Old Butler and many of its residents. My grandparents and a lot of my other relatives were included in this move. At that time in 1942 a series of interviews was conducted with residents of Old Butler and surrounding area prior to their homes and farmland being swallowed up by the progress of building Watauga Lake. Some people chose to relocate to other places while others moved their entire houses to new locations. The town of Butler was relocated to its present location approximately ten miles from Mountain City.
One of the interviews that was done at the time was with my grandmother. Here are some of the things I learned from that interview. She actually lived in a place called Little Milligan and a short distance up Hatley Holler. She was 67 years old. Her family was all grown and married except for my father.
My grandfather had died about three years prior and she lived alone with my father who was single and never had been married. He had recently joined the Army at age 38. This was in 1941 before World War II.
Her daughter lived about a hundred yards away. When everyone moved her daughter relocated to a place called Stoney Creek, a few miles from Elizabethton.
Mention was made that my grandmother took care of her house and had a small vegetable garden. No mention was made of her raising crops but the interview did say my grandfather had been a farmer. She was born and raised in that area and I know my dad went to school there but at some point she and my grandfather had lived for a time in Johnson City but had moved back to Little Milligan.
My grandmother relocated to the Dewey Community to a place called Shupetown (present day Pleasant Valley Road) just across the hill from my other grandparents. This was where I was born. She was a midwife and delivered all of my brothers and sisters except two, the oldest and the youngest.
The house she had lived in was torn down and all the lumber was loaded onto wagons and hauled by horses to the new property. It was used to build a barn on the property. The barn stood for some 50years until a windstorm blew it down a couple years ago.
In reading some of the interviews I came across a lot of local history and facts I did not know. I find it more interesting to read about the way things were instead of how things are today.
It was a simpler life in a simpler time. I wouldnt mind going back to a time like that —if I could take my computer with me.