Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Discovering Lost Islands

On more than one occasion, I heard Daddy tell the story of Daddy, second from left. Click for larger image and more info.a lost island in the middle of the Tennessee River. This island, called Knight’s Island, was--of course--the place of his birth. Daddy found a bit of humor in the fact that we thought it quite a tall-tale.

A recounting...Papaw was the foreman for some project on the island. Late in the day on June 2, 1920 a storm was moving in over the island. Papaw worked late into the evening securing the work site. The storm moved in full force before he made it to their little island home. It was then he learned Mamaw was in labor and would give birth during the night. The storm was so severe they could not risk taking the boat out, thus could not make it back to the mainland. Daddy was born in the wee hours of the morning, June 3rd.

Several years ago I sent for a copy of my father’s birth certificate. It could not be found. I was told by other extended family members that my grandfather was a boilermaker during this time and did indeed work on an island near Decatur for a while.

I began my search for the lost “Knight’s Island” to no avail. However, I did discover Browns Island, a very large island--over 1,000 acres--in the Tennessee River. It was located west of Decatur in Lawrence County very near the Morgan County line.  Click for alternating and larger map images. This island was inundated in the 1930s when the TVA flooded the shoals during the Wheeler Dam Project. According to old TVA maps there were several homes located there and the island was owned by -- who? -- Jenny W. Knight. Ah-ha!

Yesterday would have been my Dad’s 88th birthday. In memory of Daddy...

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