Watts Bar TVA Grave Removal

{Robert Bailey – Roane County Historian}

In preparation for the building of Watts Bar Dam, some single graves and entire cemeteries were removed because those areas would be flooded by the backwaters created by Watts Bar Dam. To move the graves, TVA required a family member to approve the grave to be moved. If no relative was found or the family did not wish for the graves to be removed, TVA left the graves there, and they were covered by the backwaters. Two cemeteries, the Jackson Cemetery, and the Perry Cemetery, both located in the Tennessee River, are now located on islands. In the Jackson Cemetery (located across from Boyd Woody’s house) there are 35 graves, and in the Perry Cemetery (which is located on Thief Neck Island) there are six graves. In all, about 100 graves were moved. The most graves that were removed from a single cemetery were forty-seven graves which were located in the Kendrick Cemetery near the New Hope Community. The graves that were removed from the various cemeteries were relocated to several different cemeteries. Some were removed to the Oak Grove Cemetery in Rockwood, Luminary Cemetery (South of the River), Eagle Furnace Cemetery, and Cedar Grove Church Cemetery near Paint Rock among others. Some graves were removed to cemeteries in Rhea and Meigs County. New roads were also created to provide access to other cemeteries in which the old roads were covered.

Originally written for the Roane County Newsletter to the Community, June 2017.