Saturday, July 20, 2013

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun with the Nolichucky River

Randy Seaver is one of the few geneafolks who can get me back to blogging, if only briefly. His SNGF posts are always entertaining, but this one, using the extraordinary interactive Streamer map from the U.S. Department of the Interior, is irresistible for Nolichucky Roots.

Nolichucky River in East Tennessee

My mother's family lived along the Nolichucky River in East Tennessee for more than 200 years so  they did not follow the river downstream to live other spots. But they certainly traveled on it. My great-grandmother ran the Conway Ferry (near the west edge of this map) as a girl. My Hampton and Mulkey ancestors settled along the river or up Limestone Creek in the 1780s and certainly used the river to travel through the area.

I used the "trace downstream" feature to see where the Nolichucky flows. The map shows it flowing into the French Broad River, the Tennessee River and then to the Mississippi.

Nolichucky River traced downstream to mouth of the Mississippi River.

Many Conway and Killian cousins migrated from Greene and Cocke Counties to Arkansas and Missouri in the early 19th century. It is easy to see a water migration path for those who moved to Arkansas. A little less easy to see a path for the Missouri settlers though they may have landed at the boot heel and moved inland from there. However...

The establishment of the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1933 and the subsequent dam building changed the waterways of Tennessee to such a degree that this map does not fairly represent the waterways my ancestors or cousins would have traveled. The Tennessee River was notoriously challenging to navigate due to the rapids, shoals and hostile Chickamaugans controlling its banks. Many of the family members leaving East Tennessee for points west went by land through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky. From there some may have used the Cumberland River to travel west. More research needed, but in the meantime I am having a wonderful time exploring the Nolichucky and Tennessee watersheds.

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