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June Flood

Grandma Sarah and Grandma Cynthia Pack Quesenberry took turns telling us things. As far as we could tell, they never told us anything that wasn't true, for they were Christians. Grandma Sarah smoked a clay pipe....

Grandma Sarah and Grandma Cynthia Pack Quesenberry took turns telling us things. As far as we could tell, they never told us anything that wasn't true, for they were Christians. Grandma Sarah smoked a clay pipe. Mother would let her smoke it till it became strong, and then mother would get her a new one and threw the old one in the stump down by the river. I remember the little boys would slip them out of the stump and try to find tobacco or corn silk to smoke in them.

One the other hand, Grandma Cynthia liked to sleep. She'd go to bed early and sleep late. When they both stayed together they would argue like small children. Sarah would say, "Cynthia, I don't see how in the world you can lay in bed and sleep so much." Cynthia would answer, "Well Sarah, I don't see how in the world you can stand to puff on that smelly old pipe, either, but you do." Nevertheless, they would go to church together whenever they could.

Grandma said there was once a long rain that was what was to become known as the Jun Flood. Grandma lived at Busthead then, and there was a store there that sat close to the creek. Now there was a man who ran the store whose wife had gone to spend the weekend with her mother. When it became night, he locked up the store, when upstairs where they lived over the store and went to bed. It had been raining for a few days and the water was up some. He said he awakened long into the night by something banging against the house. He got up and raised the window, and lo and behold, the house - store and all, was floating down the creek that had now become a river. He knew the house would eventually turn over, so he dressed and waited at the window till the house floated near a tree. He reached out, and caught a limb, and hung on. The house floated on downstream until it came to Cedar Bluff. Then it turned over and destroyed everything they had.

At this same time, there was a preacher known as Brother Sheffy, who had been holding services at the church at Busthead. The people gathered at the church that morning for services as usual. After church, some of the people tried to get him to go home with them for dinner, but he said no, he had promised to be at Pounding Mill Branch for prayer meeting that night. They began to tell him he couldn't get across the water, but he just said he had to try. The people were afraid he would drown, so they stayed and watched him. He climbed on his horse and rode down to the water, then got off, took a sheepskin off his saddle, and untied it, and spread it out on the dry ground. He knelt down and prayed fervently, then got up, rolled up his sheepskin, tied it back on his saddle, and rode across the water. The horse did not walk in the water, it walked on top of it. All the people from the church saw it, and proclaimed it a miracle to themselves. They said nothing outside the community about it, for fear that other people woldn't believe them.

Once he was on the other side of the waters, the water once again became wild and full of sawlogs and other debris. But all the while Brother Sheffy was crossing, it had been calm - no sawlogs or anything else odd went by. Mother wouldn't tell anyone outside the family about it for fear they would think she was crazy, but she said she saw it with her own eyes and knew it to be one of many miracles God had performed for Brother Sheffy.

This was what was to be the June flood. It caused an awful lot of damage and loss of life. There was a swinging bridge you had to cross to get to Pounding Mill, the store, and the post office. A woman named Margie Johnson lived there at that time, and she wanted to go to the store and the post office. Her family begged her to wait until the water went down, but she said the bridge was high up off the water. So she waded into the water and up on the bridge. when she was about half-way across, a sawlog hit the bridge and swung it high, throwing her off into the water. She was swept away to her death.

The Hoops family who lived on Pounding Mill Branch had a two part house. Several rooms were on one side of the creek, and a small two room building across the creek was used for a wash house and a dining room in the summer. There was a small bridge from one to the other. Mrs. Hoops always served meals there in summer, for it was too hot to eat in the kitchen. She put the noon meal on the table, then went back across the bridge and got her one year old baby, her teenage daughter, and her sweetheart. All four of them started back across the bridge to eat, when a great wall of water - later known as a cloudburst - came down the hollow and swept all four to their deaths. The water had swept away the small house and damaged about everything in the other house. When the water began to recede early the next week, the neighbors banded together to search for the bodies. By the end of the week they had found all by Mr. Hoop's wife. My uncle Isom joined the search and he quickly told them they were looking in the wrong direction. They were looking down in the bushes, and he said to look up because the water was over the tops of some of the trees. They searched till they came to a place that was called the horse shoe bend. there they found her body, caught fast by her apron and her long hair, high in the top of a sycamore tree. These were just a few things that happened then. It was time of grave danger, mourning and loss of life and property. They people never forgot the June flood.

Georgia Maude Quesenberry Maxfield, an 80 year old Tazewell resident (deceased), wrote these recollections of early Tazewell County life as told to her by her great-grandmother and her grandmother. Her Recollections appeared in the Tazewell Newspaper sometime in the early 1980's. Georgia was the daughter of George & Mary Frances Burress Quesenberry.


Linked toCynthia E. Pack; Sarah Elizabeth Pack; Isom Henson Quesenberry

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