Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Dorothy Royster Burwell, May 29, 1996. Interview Q-0011. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A man-made lake wipes Sudan, Virginia, off the map

Burwell describes a store owner who was forced to move his store to make way for a man-made lake in the early 1950s. The lake effectively wiped Sudan, Virginia, off the map.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Dorothy Royster Burwell, May 29, 1996. Interview Q-0011. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

EDDIE McCOY:
'Cause see, you didn't have much.
DOROTHY ROYSTER BURWELL:
Didn't have much, that's true.
EDDIE McCOY:
And what little bit you had?
DOROTHY ROYSTER BURWELL:
Enough to make a living. And some of the people had, I had a cousin, he had something like eighteen children down there in Sudan. You know? And for him have to leave—
EDDIE McCOY:
That destroyed the whole family.
DOROTHY ROYSTER BURWELL:
I tell you.
EDDIE McCOY:
But then you had white people that you knew down there that was just as bad as y'all.
DOROTHY ROYSTER BURWELL:
Just as bad, that's right.
EDDIE McCOY:
It destroyed them.
DOROTHY ROYSTER BURWELL:
'Cause uh, like when you go out here and hit 15 going to Clarksville, the second house on the left, this guy live up there, his name is James Wilson, he was born in Sudan, Virginia, too. And, his daddy, he was a farmer, 'cause he and him used to work at the same plane, and I was telling him that I was born in Sudan, Virginia, and some of the ladies that he know [unclear] I said well next time Jimmy Wilson come through here, I'm going to let him tell you where he was born at. So, one night I said, Jimmy come here a minute, I said tell these people where you was born at. He said I was born in Sudan, Virginia. I said, oh, you got it now. Boy you tell somebody you was born in Sudan, Virginia, that place didn't even ever exist. But it did. And after the water, after water took over, highway 15 over there, you know where Travis got these junk cars, well, the next house up from there was a store, and they had a sign over there over on highway 15 saying new Sudan Virginia. Because that store was moved, people that ran that store in old Sudan had to move over their side, and so they named it New Sudan, Virginia. Out there where Travis got those junk cars, the house up above there, the Paris' ran that store, so they start a new store there, they had one in Sudan, and they call that Sudan, Virginia over there, afterwards, New Sudan. And now, Sudan was on the map, if you can find uh, an old highway map, isn't a road map, Sudan was on it.
EDDIE McCOY:
Uh, you know, we are talking about, this history is not very old, for it to get lost, for what happened to it.
DOROTHY ROYSTER BURWELL:
Right.
EDDIE McCOY:
It was destroyed.
DOROTHY ROYSTER BURWELL:
Right. Because now, the water came in here around '51 or '52.
EDDIE McCOY:
That's right. That's right. That's right.
DOROTHY ROYSTER BURWELL:
So that's when everything was wrapped up, you know went under the water.
EDDIE McCOY:
But what I can't understand is, how did the libraries, how did the clerk of court, how [unclear] all of those people, erase Sudan off the map?
DOROTHY ROYSTER BURWELL:
Don't have it on the map.