The 3rd Sunday in September 2018 marks the 43rd Reunion of the Former Residents of Hazel Creek and the Fontana Lake area. These former residents and their descendants will gather at the Deep Creek Shelter for a “homecoming” between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM that day. It’s a time to catch up and become reacquainted with distant relatives and relatives that were not known to you. There will be “swapping” of stories about life on the creeks and in the “hollars” and hunting and fishing tales about those from the past. Some will bring pictures that are family treasures so all can see what their relatives looked like. There will be mountain music and singing led by those who are the most senior members. And of course, as with any gathering, a sharing of wonderful food. Participants need to bring a covered dish and desert for all to share. If you are musically inclined, bring your instrument and plan to join in.
This reunion or “homecoming” is the climax of the North Shore Cemetery Association’s (NSCA) season of cemetery visitations. Beginning in May of each year and going into October, the NSCA schedules trips to visit and decorate the graves in each of the 26 cemeteries on the North Shore of the lake. The cemetery visitations are a time for the North Shore born and their descendants to return “home” to see the old home site and to walk on the ground where their ancestors lived. It’s a chance to see places and landmarks from their childhood or that they been told stories about. The highlight of each trip is the visit to the graves of their ancestors. Since not everyone goes to each cemetery, the reunion provides a venue for descendants to see one another and to get acquainted with those relatives and cousins who lived on the creeks and in the “hollars” of Hazel Creek, Chambers Creek, Noland Creek, Forney Creek, Eagle Creek, Bone Valley, Proctor, Bushnell, and the other communities that no longer exist. The area now under the lake and surrounding the lake was the location of the homes of many of the earliest settlers in this part of the mountains. On the creeks that ran into the Little Tennessee River, those ancestors hewed out logs, built homes, churches, schools, and towns and raised families for more than 100 years before the forced removal by the TVA in the 1940’s. Among the most common family surnames of the people forced from their homes were Cable, Welch, Monteith, Kirkland, Dorsey, Calhoun, Crisp, Bradshaw, Laney, Payne, Orr, Sawyer, Woody, Pilkey, Pilkington, Posey, Walker, Jones, Buchanan, Conner, Higdon, and Wiggins, and many others that it was not possible list. It may be said that the majority of most persons native to Swain County probably have some roots or ties to the families that were displaced. After the removal, those families were scattered across the south and the country. The reunion is a “homecoming” and a return visit to the past for these descendants and an opportunity for the youngest generation to learn their family history.
The officers of the NSCA are Helen Cable Vance, Mildred Cable Johnson, Lee Vance Woods and Verna Kirkland. Members of the NSCA over the years have met with the Department of the Interior, testified in Senate Hearings in Washington, and worked with the National Park Service to make the organization and cemetery visitations possible. Many graves of those buried on the North Shore now have markers because of the efforts of the NSCA. More information may be found online at the website northshorecemeteries.com.
Bring a covered dish and see relatives, friends and cousins you didn’t know you had at the 43rd Reunion of the Former Residents of Hazel Creek and the Fontana Lake area on the 3rd Sunday in September at the Deep Creek Shelter from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Hope to see you.
Come and attend one of our cemetery decorations. Go to our SCHEDULE PAGE for listing and dates of Decorations. Bring a covered dish to share or your own packed lunch and your drink. We would love to have you at any decoration.
Located on the north shore of Fontana Lake in Swain County, NC. Now part of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park
North Shore Cemeteries
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The North Shore Cemetery Association and North Shore Historical Society