The Best Educated Family in the Community: the TVA Removal of the Robert E. Miller Family

When I was in middle school, our girls’ gym class was taught by Miss Goldie Miller. She was a tough little taskmaster who also taught our health classes. She seemed to be too old to be teaching physical education or fizz ed, as we called it. She was possibly 60, which is younger than I am now, and too young to retire. She was older than my mother, and I certainly couldn’t imagine my mother doing jumping jacks.

However, she was agile and could do every exercise she demanded of us. Back in the day, girls were instructed to do a modified push-up position with the knees resting on the floor. Because we were girls, and our girl organs might be damaged if we did a fully extended push-up, or something like that.

Goldie could do it all. Push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, pull ups, basketball, running, teaching folk dances, etc. Goldie was your girl. She had an underbite which sometimes affected her speech. “Girlsch, line up and count off”. She also wore a blonde bobbed wig which miraculously stayed on during physical exertion. Her eyesight was also pretty accurate because she spotted me chewing gum in her class once, and I had to stay after school and scrape dried gum from the underside of desks. I had no idea she could see me when I blew a tiny bubble about 20 feet away from her, and she saw me and called me out. “Rawlsch, do you have gum?” I think I sucked it back in and swallowed it. I think I even told her that no, I didn’t have gum. Yes, I lied to Goldie. I was showing out and trying to be popular, and apparently I thought that gum-chewing and standing up to a teacher were the gateway to this path. (Hint: it is not. You just look stupid.) But I had teenage angsty issues, and I was working through some stuff.

Goldie had a brother named Dixie who taught agricultural science at the high school. He had the same remarkable underbite.

I haven’t thought of them in decades, at least not until I discovered that they came from the most educated family in their community. The images are from

TVA 978 (RPM-1-40)



Date: 6-26-40

Worker: Ketchen

County: Loudon

Code In: OWF+2

Tenure: Owner


Address: Martel, R.1

Trading Center: Lenoir City

Community: Burdett

Years lived in present community: 4

At present site: 4

Total number in household: 10

Adults: 8

Children: 2

(The next section is a table consisting of Name; Age; Relationship; Employment, Relief Status or School; School Grade; TVA exam)

Robert E., 56, Head, Owner, LMU 2 yrs., No

Naomi (Cook), 54, wife, (left blank), 1 yr. hi., (left blank)

Goldie, 30, Daughter, Teacher Burdett School, 3 yr. UT, (left blank)

Maud, 24, Daughter, At home, 1 yr UT, (left blank)

Winnie, 22, Daughter, Grad., Barea, Ky., (left blank), (left blank)

Dixie M., 20, Son, U. of T., 2nd Yr., (left blank)

Edna, 19, Daughter, At Barea, 1 yr., (left blank)

Wilma, 17, Daughter, Grad. Lenoir City ’40, (left blank), (left blank)

Naomi, 11, Daughter, Student Burdett, 8th, (left blank)

Glen Allen, 10, Son, Student Burdett, 6th, (left blank)

Church Preference: Baptist


1936-1940 Owner General Farming, Martel, R. 1

life-1936 Owner General Farming, Maryville, R. 4


Plow 50 Acres, Pasture 60 Acres, Meadow 60 Acres, Total Acres 650


Horses 3, Oxen 0, Mules 2


Heifers 20, Cows 12, Bull Steers 1, Hogs 16


4 plows, 2 turning, Corn planter, wagon, disc harrow,2 disc cultivators, 2 mowers, rake (Old), Binder, (old) Corn planter, wagon, disc harrow, 3-1 horse cultivators

Number & kind of buildings – Residence: 6 ceiled, weatherboard, 1 and 1/2 story, 2 barns, shop, garage, shed, smokehouse.



Cash Income:

Tobacco $60.00, Soil Conservation checks $39.00, Livestock $308.00, Poultry and poultry products $50.00, Truck crops $172.00

TOTAL RECEIPTS 1939 $629.00

Name and Address of Relatives

  1. Lester Cook, Crossville, Brother-in-law
  2. Mrs. John Whited, Andersville, Sister
  3. Mrs. P. A. Palmer, Maynerdville, Sister

Directions for Reaching Home:

Go north out of Lenoir City on Broadway to junction. Take right fork and go 1.5 miles to gravel road cross railroad tracks. Continue on this road about 2.0 miles to road to left past Beals Chapel and go about 0.9 mile to a story and half house on left on road sitting in well kept lawn and about 50 feet off the highway.


Man apparently has plenty of resources. Owns big farm. Big talker. Fine family. Attitude excellent. Will have plenty farm after reservoir is filled. May not move. No plans at present. Good income. Has three tenant farmers. Educated family. Good health. Should buy least possible amount of this farm.

LOCATION, 6-26-40, Ketchen, me

Go north out of Lenoir City on Broadway to the junction. Take the right fork and go 1.5 miles to gravel road across the railroad tracks. Continue on this road about 2.0 miles to read to left past Beals Chapel and go about 0.9 mile to a story and half house on left of road. It sits in a well kept lawn about 50 feet off the highway.


Burdett Community is predominantly agricultural. It is triangular in shape, two of the three sides being the river. It consists of broad expanses of fertile bottom land, less fertile upland, and rolling hills not in cultivation. There are but two Negro families in the community, and one-third of the families own their homes.

Although Mr. Miller has been in the community for four years, he takes quite an important part in community activities. In fact, he could be called one of the community leaders.


Mr. Miller owns 650 acres of land upon which there are three share croppers. Much of this land is river bottom land although that will e below the 811′ contour. For the greater part, however, the land is mostly timber. It is quite likely that Mr. Miller will not find it necessary to relocate. This, however, he is not opposed to having been in the Norris area and his relocation from that project was most satisfactory.


Mr. Miller has sufficient equipment for a large farm of this size. Much of it, however, is old.


Mr. Miller lives in a story and one-half weatherboard house which is in excellent condition inside and out. The lawn is well kept. Mr. Miller has every appearance of being a well-to-do, capable farmer.


Taken as a whole, this entire family is probably the best educated in the community. Mr. Miller spent two years at L. M. U., two daughters are now attending U. T., a third is a graduate of Barea and one son is at the University of Tennessee, and one daughter is at Barea. One daughter is a graduate of Lenoir City high school, and two other children are still in elementary school. They are exceedingly cordial and cooperative and interested in the program.


Mr. Miller reported an income from his farm of $629 while one daughter is a school teacher at Burdett school earning $744 for 1939.


Financially, Mr. Miller will need no assistance if he should find it necessary to relocate. However, it is suggested that the Extension Service cooperate with Mr. Miller in every way possible. It is very unlikely, however, that Mr. Miller will move from his present site.

Good night, Miss Miller. I think I’ll go do a jumping jack or two in your memory, and even spit out my gum instead of swallowing it this time.

2 Responses to “The Best Educated Family in the Community: the TVA Removal of the Robert E. Miller Family”

  1. Dawn Stanford Says:


    Liked by 1 person

    • Ruth Rawls Says:

      Isn’t it unbelievable that all the children in the family were college graduates or headed in that direction? And the oldest child was a girl that graduated from college? I’m a bit flabbergasted.


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