You may be interested that as a highschool teenager, I was still active in the Boy Scouts of America, and was a person involved in outdoorsy adventures and such.I had graduated to the Explorer Scouts with Eagle rank; and as such I was invited by a Naturalist, whose name has long ago escaped me, to join his photographic party to visit Reelfoot Lake to focus attention on, and take photographs of, certain colonies of Water Birds accustomed to nest high in the trees of the areas of submerged land that is much of Reelfoot's bottom, yet forested on top.
It was a Saturday venture, which started about daybreak. (The year must have been about 1937.) The party departed Nashville with Cameras and tree-climbing paraphernalia organized in-tow; and arrived at "water's edge"about mid-morning to board shallow boats, prearranged-for. These were to be piloted by experienced Reelfoot Guides.The boats had outboard motors, but they also were outfitted with long poles.The use for these poles became abundantly clear later in the morning when, as we motored over clear waters, these gave way to marshy areas, where the propellers would have been immediately fouled by reeds and other vegetation. (Underwater stumps abounded.) The poles provided the only practical means of propulsion after that.With these we penetrated deeper into the eery environment.
I remember to this day the uncanny feeling that "surely there is a bank of solid ground just back there holding itself out of my sight." I could not shake that feeling, but, of course, it was not so.The earth had been fairly flat before the inundation, and now it was fairly uniformly covered with the flooded-in Mississippi river water that formed Reelfoot in 1811. Underground water sources MUST have opened up to continue providing today the fresh water that is Reelfoot Lake now.
When we arrived at the area of trees where the gabbling and squawking of the nesting white birds told us we were about to arrive; the leader of our party suggested that it would be prudent to eat our "box-lunches" now, for any further penetration of the nesting are would jeopardize the edibility of our food, what with bad luck, timing and murphy's law all facts of life in our forthcoming situation directly under the hundreds of nests.
The more experienced photograpers with tree-climbing-spike experience then proceeded to do their thing in the tree tops, and thereby documented the nesting habits of this particular species of water birds. I regret that today I cannot name the species for you. Perhaps some kind of Egret or Heron.
The return to Nashville late Saturday night was uneventful. (Our Guides did not let us get lost at "Birdtown", which we assuredly would have, if unaccompanied by experienced people.)I do remember dropping into bed about midnight, completely exhausted from my share of the poling of the boats, and a VERY full day out of doors, on an unusual adventure.
By way of closing this, I will mention the fact that even though John Richard Fly was born in the year of the first big quake, - 1811, he was still, it is believed, in Williamson County (middle Tennessee), and not at risk during the events much closer to the epicenter at New Madrid, MO. I believe that John JESSE Fly, first son of Elisha Fly, jr. b. ca. 1767, went to the "Chickasaw Indian Lands" ca. 1820/21, where he was killed by a panther.Dr. Hillard Blankenship of Springfield, MO. remembers an in-family story told by his mother Eula Myrle (Fly) Blankenship that "One of the Grandfathers was killed by a panther in the early days in Tennessee". Eula Myrle was a great granddaughter of Jeremiah Nicholas Fly, b. 1807. I am, in my own mind, at peace with the thought that Jeremiah Nicholas Fly was a son of John JESSE Fly and grandson of Elisha Fly, b. ca. 1767. - The story matched in SPECIFIC terms ("one of the grandfathers") the same story told (in GENERAL terms) by Clarence Bertrand Fly, a descendant of Asher Pipkin Fly that "one of the early Fly men had been killed by a Panther in West Tennessee". Jeremiah Nicholas Fly and Asher Pipkin Fly were Nephew and Uncle respectively and lived VERY close to each other in Barry Co., MO. These two were close to the same age, - A.P. b. 1804, J.N. b. 1807, and visiting Asher in Barry Co. took Jeremiah out of his way, intending to migrate from Tennessee to Texas. It made sense for Jeremiah to take his family to "winter" with Asher P. and continue to Texas in the Spring. However, circumstance changed the plan; and Jeremiah Nicholas bought Barry County land and settled-in.
I hope that you and the Forum find the stories interesting, - both mine and Dr. Hillard Blankenship's.His wife, Dr. Vivian Blankenship, also took part in providing me with the "Panther" story. She was very close to her mother-in-law; and she became very familiar with the family lore from that close association and sharing of information.