52 Ancestors,
in 52 Weeks
Week 8:
Family Finds Charter Oak

Power on the Holston River

My 5th maternal great grandfather, David McAnally Sr., lived in the Holston River Valley of eastern Tennessee. [1] He lived there in the early 19th century when the river followed it’s natural course. Fast forward to 1940 and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), an electric power company, began construction to dam the Holston River. They built hydro electric dams to produce power and in the process displaced many Tennesseans, alive and dead. My ancestors, the McAnally’s, were among the dead who were either disinterred and moved, or left to rest beneath the new lake.

Power of the TVA

The damming of the Holston River for power required the purchase of 45,158 acres of land, nearly 6,000 acres were wooded and required clearing. The project created Lake Cherokee and required the relocation of 875 families and 51 cemeteries. For the Lake Cherokee project, there are 1483 names in the grave relocation database created by the TVA. David McAnally is grave #57-160 in the TVA survey database, he was not relocated. [2]

McAnally Cemetery

The original McAnally Cemetery is in Grainger County, near the Hawkins County line, just south of Slate Hill Rd. It was completely flooded by the impounding of the waters in the creation of Lake Cherokee in 1941. When the TVA surveyed the cemetery prior to flooding, 191 graves were found. Sixty-three identified graves were removed to various cemeteries at relatives’ requests. One hundred thirteen unidentified graves were moved to nearby Livingston Cemetery where they are in a separate section identified as McAnally Cemetery. Fifteen remained in the old cemetery, all identified but not claimed. [2] I’ve been told that a few grave markers are visible when the lake is particularly low. [3]

Holston River 1890 Holston River 2021

The Holston River, Grainger County, TN in 1890 and 2021

An 1890 map of German Creek on the Holston River (left) and McAnally Cemetery. (right)
Use the vertical scroll handle to view a modern map of the area.

Family Reminiscences

From an article written by a grandson of David McAnally Sr. in 1837 (and also named David) we learn that David Sr.’s parents, John McAnally and Ruth Houston, are also buried in the old cemetery. They both died in 1796. I do not find them listed in the TVA database. But, they may be among the unidentified who were moved.

“They both now lie in an old burying ground on the north side of Holston River near the road now leading form Rogersville to Kingsport in the neighborhood of what is called McPheeters bend.” [4]

David McAnally Sr., 1748-1834

Most of what I know about my 5th great grandfather David McAnally Sr. comes from two sources. One, the article written in 1837 by his grandson, Rev. David Rice McAnally. Two, from the large pension file he submitted for his service during the American Revolution. [4, 5]

David was born in Albemarle, Amherst County, VA in 1748. In 1768 he married Patsy Pannell. [4, 6] Four of their 9 children were born prior to the American Revolution, one was born during and four more after the war. The son born during the Revolution is my ancestor, David McAnally Jr., 1780-1854.

American Revolution Service

David served three tours with the Virginia Militia during the American Revolution. The first he was drafted and performed guard duty of British POWs. The other two were voluntary. These two enlistments cover the bulk of his pension application. David first served as an officer’s orderly. He provides a good deal of detail about the various marches and skirmishes. He also mentions becoming sick and being given leave to return home to convalesce. This was August of 1779 and my 4th great grandfather, David Jr., was born in May of 1780.

When David Sr. re-enlisted in July 1780 he received a commission as an ensign under a colonel named Pope. David describes being given the task of pursuing deserters across the Blue Ridge Mountains during the Winter of 1781. The deserters were eventually rounded up but it took several weeks according to his pension statement. Then, by the time he rejoined his unit it was October 1781 and Cornwallis had surrendered at Yorktown. [5]


Sadly, Patsy died in 1789 just two hours after giving birth to their youngest child. David was left a widower with 5 children under 10 years of age, including the infant, plus 4 teenagers. David remarried about a year later to Nancy Kyle. In 1791, before Tennessee is admitted to the union, David moves the family to Hawkins County, Tennessee. This is when the family lives on the Holston River and establish their family burying ground. [4, 5]

Family Bible Record McAnally

Transcription of Bible entry: David McAnally was born August the 5th, 1748 and was married to Nancy Kyle on the 18th of March 1790 who was born March the 15th 1762, and married Patsy Pannell the first day of March 1768 who was born the 22nd of March 1748 and departed this life the 24th March 1789 after bringing nine children and left the youngest about two hours old. [5]

After the death of David’s parents in 1796, he and Nancy moved the family to Grainger County. Still on the Holston River, but at the mouth of German Creek. [4] I believe this location is approximately where the German Creek Bridge now exists on Lake Cherokee.

David and Nancy had two sons while living on German Creek. In 1827, David purchased 100 acres on Indian Creek about 8 miles north. It is not clear if the family ever relocated to this property. But, when David died in 1834, he willed the property to his wife with provision it would be divided among his children Sarah, Polly and Thomas. David McAnally Sr. died 24 December 1834 at the age of 86. [7]


I regularly seek out the places my ancestors lived. Often the homes are long gone, demolished to make way for highways or modern structures. But, the case of the McAnally’s homestead and family cemetery being below the surface of a 45 square mile lake is certainly unique. Many Tennesseans, alive and dead, made way for electrical power to light the future.

McAnally Tartan


There is more to the story of the McAnally’s. Including a family legend straight out of a Robert Louis Stevenson story. But, that one will need to wait for another post.


  1. Profile for David McAnally Sr., ‘Osborn‘ family tree, Ancestry.com;
  2. TVA Cemetery Relocation Project and Database https://www.tva.com/environment/environmental-stewardship/land-management/cultural-resource-management/relocated-cemeteries Original Documentation can be found at the National Archives in Morrow, GA
  3. McAnally Cemetery entry at FindAGrave.com;  https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2419408/mcanally-cemetery
  4. Article: “Family Reminiscences” by Rev. David Rice McAnally, 08 November 1837 original: Missouri State Historical Society Archives, Missouri Press Association Collection – Box 2.
  5. Entry for David McAnally, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files; The National Archives; Pub# M804, Catalog id: 300022; Original source: Case Files of Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Based on Revolutionary War Service, compiled ca. 1800 – ca. 1912, documenting the period ca. 1775 – ca. 1900; Publisher: NARA, Record Group: 15, Roll: 1662 Access online: https://www.fold3.com/image/23667300
  6. Entry for David McAnally; U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004. Original Source: Family group sheet, FGSE, listed as parents; #3906.003; Yates Publishing.
  7. Entry for David McAnally; Inventories of Estates and Wills, 1833-1852; Probate Records 1831-1972; Probate Place: Grainger, Tennessee; Access Online: Ancestry.com. Tennessee, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1779-2008 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data:Tennessee County, District and Probate Courts.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Remember Me and I Will Live

Frank Takeo Flucawa

Born Takeo Furukawa on 15 March 1883 in Tottori-Ken, Tokyo, Japan, little is documented of his early childhood. Family oral history stories say that the young Takeo experienced hunger, poverty and the loss of his family. Additionally, the stories tell of friendship, spiritual learning and scholarship.

David L. Osborne: His Indianapolis Homes

My great grandfather, David Louis Osborne, lived at over 20 addresses around Indianapolis between 1876 and 1942. I thought it would be interesting to see all the old buildings and homes where he lived in my hometown of Indianapolis.

The Marriage of David and Jennie Osborne

My great grandfather, David Louis Osborne (1848-1942), was a widower with two young sons in 1886 when he married Jennie Warbington (1857-1918) in Minneapolis on the 27th of May. I decided it was time to put sources to the story.

Do You See A Resemblance?

While working on a family photo project I decided it would be fun to compare side-by-side my father and his parents, at similar ages, to try and discover a family resemblance.

Probate of Jesse King 1868

Jesse King was born in Ohio (probably in the vicinity of Chillicothe) in 1805, he was a son of Philip King and Mary Leah Wright, both of Pennsylvania. Philip King was a farmer, he married Leah Wright in 1801 in Somerset, PA, they had six children, of whom Jesse was the third.

Letter from Sarah Tucker Lafary

A handwritten letter from Sarah Tucker Lafary to the then president of the United States, Grover Cleveland. It was her last appeal for a War of 1812 pension, sadly the pension was denied. The letter gives a glimpse of a woman who had no formal education, a poor farmers wife, then widow, mother of nine, she probably just wanted some independence through an income of her own.

Sarah Smith: Challenge

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 2: Challenge
So much about genealogy research is a challenge, perhaps the most common challenge is the ‘brick wall,’ meet Sarah Smith. 18?? – 1846

Laferre to LaFara: Unusual Name

The surnames in my tree are typical of common western European names. However, the name that is unusual among these names is MY surname: LaFara.

Luella Pressell: Surprise!

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 6: Surprise!
Just when you think you know everything about an ancestor, surprise! I thought I knew most everything about my paternal great grandfather David L. Osborne, 1848-1942.

Rumple Family Photo 1895

For all of us who are procrastinating about labeling photos I have one thing to say, “Be considerate of the genealogist of the future!” My maternal grandmother was very good about labeling old family photos, and there is one, in particular, I found very informative.

Conrad Rumple: Bachelor Uncle

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 10: Bachelor Uncle
My uncles are the marrying kind, sometimes more than once!
I had to go back four generations for a bachelor uncle, my great-great-great uncle Conrad Rumple, 1833-1911.
Conrad was an older brother to my great-great grandfather on my matrilineal line, William Rumple, 1839-1912.

George Lafary and Catherine Landon: Large Family

My great-great grandparents, George Lafary and Catherine Landon, had a relatively small family, three of their six children survived to adulthood. However, they both came from large families of nine siblings and nearly all survived to marry and have children.

In The Paper

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 13: In The Paper
It’s fun to find articles in the paper mentioning one of my relatives. Mostly they are birth, marriage, divorce and death events. But, it’s the oddball articles in the papers I like the most.

Genealogy Brick Walls

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 14: Brick Wall
We all have a brick wall, that one ancestor who defies all research. I decided I would work at my brick walls by generation, I broke through the last of my 3rd great grandparent brick walls, now I am working on 4th great grandparents.

Catherine Landon: Out of Place

I realized I did not have a date of death for my great, great grandmother, Catherine Landon Lafary. A fresh search uncovered the date and much more. Out of place, but once discovered, everything fell into place.