STORYTELLERS

 

When Morrison set out to record the stories of Salt Creek Valley, before the reservoir, she became acquainted with a wide variety of former landowners and residents. As in any fieldwork project, she met some who were fine to answer a question or two and others who were ready to talk for hours. The people featured in this section were the storytellers. They regaled Morrison with stories of life before the flooding and after, with an emphasis on the lifestyles lost and the sentiments surrounding the construction of the reservoir.

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Fred Pennington

Fred Pennington was a lifelong rural bachelor who maintained the old ways with the stubborn commitment of someone with only themselves to answer to. In the selected segments, Fred discussed his butchering, a traditional foodways practice that did not survive long after the Valley was flooded.

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Theo Stillion

Theo Stillion was, perhaps, the most vivid storyteller of everyone Morrison interviewed. Theo’s stories of life in Salt Creek Valley paint a picture of a time full of hard work and spiritual beliefs. Her recollections of everything from ghost stories to Ku Klux Klan raids show the Salt Creek Valley in full color, with all of its complexities intact.

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Clarence Sipes

Beulah Sipes (born 1908) and her husband Clarence were moved from Salt Creek Valley in 1961. They had both grown up on large farms in Salt Creek and Polk Townships and keenly felt the loss of their home. Beulah told happy stories of living the the Valley, but held some harsh feelings about her family’s interactions with the government.

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Lloyd and Mabel Grubb

Lloyd and Mabel Grubb were innovative and savvy farmers who had an unusually large farm in the Salt Creek Valley. They lost hundreds of acres of land and over 30 buildings that Lloyd had built by hand. The Grubbs spoke frankly about the loss of their financially successful and emotionally important homestead.

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Mary Hays

Mary Hays was born in Paynetown in 1901. Interviewed at her home, Morrison noted framed photographs of her father and his two draft horses Betty and Flora, her family’s original log house, their new 1940s built home, and their barn- all of which were destroyed in the construction of Lake Monroe. Unlike some of the others, Mary maintained very bitter feelings towards the forced relocation and the government’s underpayment.