Following is an article from The Shreveport Times, dated Sun, Jul 3, 1966, and written by Norman Richardson.
His father, who is buried just up the road, worked the land, fought in the Confederacy, and built a big farmhouse that still stands today.
His grandfather received a land grant from the Mexican Republic around Sabinetown, fought for it in the Texas Revolution and he, too, is buried in it
But as much as he loves the land, as linked to it as he is, Morris must leave his 222 acres.
He has known no other home in his 81 years and vows he will stay until the waters come.
And they will come.
“I’m not liking it at all, not a doggone bit,” Morris says bitterly of the Toledo Rend project.
He is the last holdout among the landowners in the Milam, Texas area.
On the Louisiana side of the twisting Sabine, an almost forgotten historic site near Many is on its death bed. It will die slowly as it gives way to progress and surrenders to the turbid waters.
The Sabine Breastworks, most extensive and best preserved military breastworks on the river, will simply cease to exist this year.
It is a project marked with mixed emotions ranging from tears and heartbreak to joy, excitement and downright stubbornness by the people living here.
All have stories to tell, all have reasons for wanting to go or stay.
The same story holds true a few miles deeper into East Texas and the Sam Rayburn Reservoir project.
“I think it’s one of the most outrageous things ever was.” Morris says, slapping his leg in disgust. “Penalizes all of us upstream to satisfy the thirst of those downstream. I’m gonna stay here til the waters come. They think i ain’t . . but I am, I don’t pay ’em no mind.”
The sometimes hard blows of this thing called progress have already been felt in the little community of Concord. As little as six years ago, over 100 citizens here went about their own way of life, working their rich fields, hauling pulp-wood and ritually placing fresh flowers on the graves in a little cemetery established even before Texas won its independence from Mexico.
Life in Concord was built around the old Missionary Baptist Church, fondly called “God’s Home in the Wilderness.” Now, there is no life here. no townsite, and it is somewhat of an eerie feel-ing to look out over the waters of Rayburn Reservoir and realize that somewhere underneath tons of water lies the historic old community.
Near Pineland, a finger of the reservoir reaches inward to almost surround a new state park where a few old homes once stood. Less than 300 yards offshore at the bottom of the water lies the old community of I.anetown. A little further an, the site of the Gum Flat community is also lost forever.
The old communities are gone, but in their places will spring hundreds of new homes around both lakes. new boat camps, new stores and lodges and fishing camps, and there are even a few ghost towns, and a retirement mecca for the elderly.
The lakes have enhanced land values over a wide radius and it has been estimated by the Corps of Engineers that annual benefits of over $4.5 million will result from the Rayburn Reservoir be-cause of flood control, the conservation of water for various municipal and industrial purposes and the generation of hydroelectric power.
Those who have moved away from the gso projects were a proud, rural, hard working people for the most part, and many still hold only bitterness even if they reluctantly admit the benefits to be derived from both.
And some. like one elderly woman, were glad to move in order to be closer to a doctor and hospitals. An old farmer near the Toledo Bend area said the “only way I’ll get out is to float out.”
A 66-year-old man said, “I ain’t wanting to move. This is my home.”
W. W. Cavendar, Sabine County and district clerk. moved out of the home he and his wife had occupied singe 1945 and which has been in his wife’s family for 75 years. They built a newer home 12 miles away.
“It’s okay to build a dam. It’s good for the area and the county … but they shouldn’t pin all the hardships on the landowner.” Cavendar said.
From Mrs, Cavendar: ‘It’s pretty hard to leave the old family home. I.was born aind raised here. It is pretty bard.”
Situations are different and opinions vary all along the Sabine and Rayburn projects.
“The lake builders want lo take all of my land,” Morris said. “That includes the old house and that’s the worst part of all.” The house ie 94 years old and the land “is the very best. I can make a crop off it anytime.”
Morris says he has been offered $180 per acre, but is holding out for $300, but then counters with, “They can’t pay me enough money to satisfy me… I can’t be satisfied anywhere else.”
He said he has been served condemnation papers on his land, which means, according to a spokesman in the Hemphill, Texas headquarters of the Toledo Rend project, that the case has now reached the court stage.
“Of cuurse.” he added, “the case can be settled out of court anytime.”
The normal process or land acquisition involves an appraisal by an independent contract fee appraiser. On the basis of this an attempt is made to acquire the property. If this eventually fails, the case is presented to a court to decide the outcome.
The areas to be flooded by the two lakes are sparsely settled and wooded. There are no major improvements on land to go under water, but there are a lot of old homes. small churches and stores, roads… and a lot of memories.
But the majority feeling is probably best summed up by 80-year-old Lee Felts whose farm home where be has lived since 1911 is less than 15 feet from the planned shoreline of Toledo Bend:
“You know… sometimes a fellow does things he does not like to do.”.