Heritage Proctor / Hazel Creek

Proctor, NC

hazel creek
Last fall the girls’ class went on a field trip to Proctor, NC. Even though I’ve read about the impact TVA lakes had on several towns-and settlements in my area-I did not know anything about Proctor.

Hazel Creek which is now located on the shores of Fontana lake was once a surprisingly populated area with several small communities as well as the town of Proctor. The folks who lived in and near Proctor didn’t loose their homes to the flooding waters of the TVA-instead they were isolated when the road leading to their homes was covered by the newly formed lake. Like the folks who’s homes were covered by water-they too were forced to sacrifice their land to the government to aid in the war effort.


In 1886 Proctor was established to serve the surrounding farms scattered throughout the Hazel Creek area. The small town turned into a boom town in the early 1900s when the W.M. Ritter Lumber Company built a large sawmill. Once the sawmill arrived Proctor grew to a population of 1,000. The town had it’s own doctor, dentist, train depot, movie theater, school, and barber shop.

In 1928 Ritter pulled out of Proctor-after having logged the surrounding areas. Proctor returned to a small farming community as most of the jobs left with Ritter.

moses proctor

Moses and Patience Proctor were the first known white settlers to the area. Their old gravestones have been surrounded by a newer one. There are nearly 30 cemeteries in the Hazel Creek area.

hazel creek

On the beautiful fall day our group visited Proctor, we rode a pontoon boat across the lake and were dropped off near the Lakeshore Trail.

relics in hazel creek
Every where we walked we saw relics-the most visible remains were from the Ritter Lumber Company.

calhoun house

One structure that has been saved is the Calhoun House. It is open to the public-you can walk through the home.

proctor cemetery

We were only there for a few hours- so we only visited one of the many cemeteries scattered throughout the area. The Proctor Cemetery is on the home site of the first white settlers-Moses and Patience Proctor. To say the graveyard was amazing is an understatement-I could have stayed there for hours reading the inscriptions wondering about the folks who lived and died in Hazel Creek. More than one student pointed out  graves that belonged to children-and many seemed to be from the same family.

swinging on grapevines

I could tell the kids had a good time-there was much laughter, horse play, and even swinging on grape vines. However, I wondered if they really got why we were there-if they understood the sacrifice the people who once lived there made for the rest of us.

NC Curriculum requires 8th graders study NC History. The Learning Center! practices cross curricular teaching-meaning the 8th grade students studied people who were displaced by TVA Dams before the trip in Social Studies, went on the trip to see an area where people were displaced from, then after returning were required to write about Proctor in their writing class. They were to write a descriptive story about the Hazel Creek area. They could be the person from Hazel Creek or they could meet someone, alive or dead, while they were there. The main components being describing the area in great detail and discussing how frustrating it must have been for the folks who were displaced by the building of Fontana Dam.

After reading a few of the papers written by the students-all my doubts were gone. The kids not only enjoyed the trip-they clearly understood the sacrifice made by the people who were removed from their homes in Hazel Creek.



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  • Reply
    Vicki StephensParent
    August 19, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    I remember my Momma talking about it… She was very young, maybe five years old when they moved to the Hayesville area… My Grandfather, Robert Jackson(Daddy Bob) Martin and Grandmother, Fannie Bishop(Mama) Martin lived there while Daddy Bob worked at Ritter Lumber Co…

  • Reply
    Norma Fleming Stack
    July 8, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    John Kirkland and Ada McClure Kirkland were my grandparents. I remember as a child visiting Lilly Calhoun and other family members. My father Hubert Fleming was a teacher at Proctor. I would like to read a history of the area.

  • Reply
    March 7, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    Does anyone have a good map of Proctor? I have the Duane Oliver book but my copy has no maps.

  • Reply
    Lyn Franks
    April 8, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    My family has a rich heritage in the Proctor-Almond area. My grandfather J. A. Franks taught school in this area (including Hazel Creek) before the TVA. His father Cairo became one of the displaced farmers. His wife, Palistine Wright Franks also taught school in this area. Cairo’s father was Joshua Franks who sat on the N. C. State legislature during Reconstruction under President Andy Johnson. Joshua’s father was James Davis Franks who was a Baptist preacher in this area pre and post Civil War. I have taken the pontoon boat across the lake to Hazel Creek once (many years ago.) It was very cool. Thanks for giving me space to document.

  • Reply
    Lee Goins
    March 31, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    can someone tell me the name of the person/company that had the boat that carried you across to the other side.
    [email protected]

  • Reply
    Sarah Martin
    August 19, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    My great grandparents, James Richard Marin and Mary Jane Bracken Martin settled in Hazel Creek in the 1890’s.

  • Reply
    June 28, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Pat-you can hike in but it would be quite the hike.If you’re interested in going-my advice would be to tag along on one of the cemetery trips. You can find the schedule here: http://northshorecemeteries.com/
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk
    All at http://www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

  • Reply
    Pat siler
    June 26, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Hi Tipper,
    I have enjoyed the story of Hazel Creek and Proctor. Is it accessible by anything other than private boat? Is there a way I could get there? I would love to roam around there for an afternoon.

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    April 27, 2010 at 12:15 am

    my name is kenneth hoffman; moses proctor was my 4th great grandfather, my father was born in proctor feb.22nd 1907.he and i had the good fortune of seeing granvil caulhoon in bryson city in 1957 as we traveled to n.c from our home in n.w. washington.when fontana lake is low you can still see the foundation of the fire place in my grandfathers home. my grandparents were john george and ida belle proctor hoffman. . i would like to hear from anyone who is intrested in that area. i am 71 years young,and still would like to return to the elephant rock.my cousin duane oliver has written several fine books about swain and graham county.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    How interesting, Tipper. I’ve enjoyed reading all of the essays and reading about the history of Proctor and the Hazel Creek area. I’m sure that the TVA work had to be done—but it uprooted many people and towns in many areas –including TN.
    We’re having a wonderful time in Arkansas–but it’s passing by too quickly. The weather has been great considering the fact that it is snowing at home.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    this is very interesting. I love history. We had WV History in the 8th grade, but we mainly learned facts and never went on any field trips or wrote essays. This is a good way for the kids to learn about their state.

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    February 23, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Tipper: Neat photos of the area. Love the one with the girls and the grapevine. That stirred some memories from the past.

  • Reply
    February 23, 2010 at 9:19 am

    VERY interesting post, Tipper.
    And I have really loved reading the comments, too.
    So sad that people had to give up their homes. But still it happens today. Not for the sake of a lake, but for a highway. Not far from me a family must give up their land that has been in the family for many generations for the sake of an interstate. Sad!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 23, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Isn’t it amazing, I think kids have way more perception than we give them credit for. I’m really looking forward to reading their stories.
    There are stories everywhere, they just need someone, like Tipper, to shine a light on them.
    Thanks for your light!

  • Reply
    Janet Pressley
    February 23, 2010 at 1:22 am

    My dad and several other uncles and so forth have fished Hazel Creek. They really enjoyed it and had a good time camping. Got some good catches! I love that area. Can feel the past. Nana

  • Reply
    February 22, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    Loved reading the history and seeing the photos on this post! Can’t wait to read what the children have written as well! blessings,Kathleen

  • Reply
    February 22, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    That’s a part of the past that one dosn’t see in history books!!Some things just have to keep going from “word to mouth”

  • Reply
    February 22, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Very cool. I’m glad the kids were able to sense the importance of the trip and what they were studying. Sounds like a fun day.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    February 22, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    What a wonderful way to teach kids history! I’ll be looking forward to reading their stories!

  • Reply
    February 22, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    I anxiously await the posting of the children’s stories. I love history and wish our state history was a requirement in our schools.

  • Reply
    Nancy Simpson
    February 22, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Tipper, I enjoyed this very much. I look forward to the stories.
    I’m editing a book of stories, essays and poems for the NC Writers Network (to be published in April) and one of the stories is an excerpt from a novel about this area by novelist Nancy Sales Cash. Her story is “Talking to Mama” in which the character visits the grave yard to ask her mother a specific question. She has to go by boat to get to get there. This stuff fascinates me, to say the least.

  • Reply
    February 22, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    I grew up near a town called Nebraska, PA. It was once a thriving lumber town like your discovery town. Likewise, the residents were moved in the 40s so that the dam could be built and the town flooded. It’s weird to think about a town being where there is now only water…

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    February 22, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    I just finished reading some accounts of people who were removed from areas to make way for Fontana and I will be anxious to read what the kids wrote. Thanks for sharing … the pictures are beautiful.

  • Reply
    Eva Wike, Ph.D.
    February 22, 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Hey Tipper: I am going to share your post with my Smokey Mountain Hiking Group. They ‘take a boat’ and do Hazel Creak area on an regular ANNUAL basis. My friend, Bill Little, will certainly appreciate your stories from the children – if we can get him ‘registered’ for your blog!
    Ritter Lumber Company (sawmill/Hayesville) was an important part of our lives in the Cove. Daddy worked for Ritter almost 16 years. It was ‘hard times’ for us but he managed fairly well with his ELEVEN CHILDREN to raise! He never lost faith inspite of the harsh conditions in the mill!
    NOW I LISTEN TO “KNOXVILLE GIRL” on your blog. My mama use to sing that LONG before I knew where Knoxville was located!
    Love, Eva Nell (Matheson Cove)

  • Reply
    petra michelle
    February 22, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Paul’s “Sound of Silence” is playing in the b/g which added another layer to this fascinating post, Tipper!
    Am looking forward to reading the upcoming essays! :))
    Have a wonderful day, Tipper!

  • Reply
    February 22, 2010 at 11:30 am

    The area my Dad’s family is from is now a lake bottom. Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. It too took a town and many homes.

  • Reply
    February 22, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Great field trip and I love what you’re doing for the kids by posting their writing. You are a good woman, Tipper. TRULY!

  • Reply
    February 22, 2010 at 9:40 am

    How very interesting! I love the history of our country…it is so wide and varied, and at the same time, so similar in sacrifices made and hardships endured. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Patty Hall
    February 22, 2010 at 9:14 am

    That looks like a nice day trip! Willl have to check that out.

  • Reply
    Charles Fletcher
    February 22, 2010 at 9:03 am

    Before moving to Tennessee from Canton NC I fished Fontana lake regulary. The area around Hazel Creek was one of my favorite spots.One of my fishing buddies was Charles Cable. His Dad had to move from the Procter area when the lake was filled. There was a
    Cable cemetery in the area where the graves of his ancestors were.
    Toney may have come in contact with some of the younger generation at the paper mill. Charles Cable was the President of the union at one time.
    The local game warden kept a truck on the Island and I believe he lived in one of the few remaining houses in the summer months.
    The Cables use to have a deceration day every year at the Cable cemetery.
    Lot of history under that water.

  • Reply
    February 22, 2010 at 8:47 am

    What a great idea, I will be looking forward to reading the papers.

  • Reply
    February 22, 2010 at 8:40 am

    i love the picture with the shadows on the road to the bridge and the chimmney. I had never heard of Proctor either. I love history. I saw the words train depot in your story and that is what i did this week end. I stepped through a time warp into the year 1886 and my next few blog post will document it. thanks for all the info and i love the strummin in the music.

  • Reply
    Donna W
    February 22, 2010 at 7:57 am

    For some reason this reminded me of the time Cliff and I visited Cade’s Cove.
    I love graveyards, and could spend hours reading the headstones.

  • Reply
    My Carolina Kitchen
    February 22, 2010 at 7:54 am

    The more I read about the TVA and the lakes the sadder I get for the families who lived in the way of progress. Thanks for taking us along to Proctor. I enjoyed it very much.

  • Reply
    steve a in florence ky
    February 22, 2010 at 7:38 am

    Sounds like a common sense approach to education. I’m glad to see its still around in your neck of the woods and only wished it wasn’t so rare around here. I love the idea of tying the issue of your heritage into a school lesson that the state’s curriculum board recognizes as valuable. Of course not everyone shares all the same heritage so maybe this would also help us to understand that not everyone came to the area for the same reasons or under the same circumstances. I love history most of all because it allows us to pause and think of the people and goings on that occurred to people that walked the same parts of the earth that we do now. I often wonder what my life would be like if I were born of a different generation. etc.. Good Stuff Tipper, I look forward to their writings.
    Steve from Florence KY

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