~ The pieces are all sewn together, stitched with love.........and a quilt tells a story and the story is our past ~

The Arrowood family immigrated from England to Maryland in the 1700's. They went south, eventually settling in the mountains of North Carolina. Later , some went further south, into the Piedmont of North Carolina, in search of work and a better way of life.

I am in search of my family.

I search for those that came before me, and lived their lives as best they could. I am in search of their stories, how they lived, and how they loved.

I shared this love of seeking the past with my Dad, sharing each new finding with him, the thrill in his heart intermingling with mine. I continue this search in his honor, and hope to know these people of ours when I join up with them all in heaven.

~ Steve Lewis Arrowood 1932-2008 ~

Come with me, back to a simpler time and place. A place far removed from the hectic pace of today. To a time when life was hard, but the rewards were great. When your quality of life was determined by your own sweat, your own toil, and your own ingenuity.

Would you like a glass of sweet tea? Let's sit out on the porch where we will catch the sweetly scented breeze of summertime. Maybe Grandma will fry up some of her wonderful chicken... Time slows here.


"We shape our lives not by what we carry with us, but what we leave behind."

~You live as long as you are remembered.~

"Our most treasured family heirlooms are our sweet family memories. " Author: Unknown

"But those who came before us will teach you. They will teach you from the wisdom of former generations."


Arrowood Family

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Arrowood Cousins ~ Price's Creek

Poor Russ, I drug him up to the top of a mountain in Yancey County, North Carolina and he really wasn’t all that happy about going..giggle.

We struck out and I was all excited , with butterflies and everything. He had a sort of a, “Oh not again!” scowl, but he was a trooper. As he usually is.

The day was a crisp fall day, one that has that brilliant deep blue sky and that clean smell in the air. Perfect for hunting. We wound up in the vicinity of where our family lived years ago, in the mountains of Mitchell County. I had heard about an Arrowood cemetery located in Yancey county so we headed on over. I knew these were Arrowood ‘Cousins’ and not directly related but the very thought of the cemetery drew me in. They were family, after all.

We drove down country roads and the scenes were like something out of a calendar to me.

True homespun Americana. We stopped at an older looking house, complete with dogs in the yard , a chicken crowing, and a yawning cat on the porch. The old timey screen door was open and the TV was blaring in the living room. An elderly man came to the door and smiled a friendly smile..about 45 minutes later we going on our way, with not that much more info to go on, but the man was sure welcoming to the company. People sure are friendly up in ‘them thar hills‘..giggle. Russ said he was afraid we were going to have to stay for dinner, after all that!

The old timer remembered the name ‘Arrowood’ but as for burying grounds, he told me that they were “all over” these hills. We stopped and asked the fellow delivering mail, now you would think that man would have known the area, but he had not a clue. Not being able to give adequate directions is something of a handicap, according to Russ, and he does not take a ‘shine’ to people not knowing where they are or how to get there..He thinks that we ‘North Carolina Folks’ have a definite problem with directions, that’s for sure..giggle.

We petted the cat on the porch and we waved goodbye to the kind old fellow, and we were on our way once again. We came to a very populated junction of four roads. The cars were everywhere outside this store at the junction and Russ decided that maybe there were some ‘Non-North-Carolina-Folks” inside that could give us proper directions, so we stopped.

We were in the community of Price’s Creek but we did not know it at the time. The country store was a feed and seed and a mercantile for the tiny community. The very hub of that area, apparently. They were serving up grilled sandwiches behind the counter, busily feeding the noon time crowd. They were calling out orders and slinging those sandwiches for sure.

They had just about everything under one roof, but unfortunately they were all locals and not one ‘Non-North Carolinian’ was to be seen, so no directions were given to amount to anything..(according to Russ) giggle. They even had camouflage overalls there! Duck calls and ammo, and even toilet paper, what more could a country gal ask for?
I am a full-blooded NC gal and I can find my way anywhere I want to go, thank you kindly!
Russ just gets antsy at any detour or unknown, but I look on it as another great adventure.

We went on down the road and there on the left, way up in the air, I spied a fence. There was a cow enclosure around the base of the little mountain and way up, on the top, was a cemetery. Russ said..”You have got to be kidding me". "We are going up there?” I said..”Why of Course , we are!” We looked for a road leading up, but the gate was locked and there were some irritated looking sheep on the other side of the gate.

Not good to let the irritated sheep out when you are on someone else’s land, just not good at all. So we parked down along the road and opened the cow gate enclosure, locking it securely behind us, and we stomped through the mud and up the side of the steep rise. I was puffing in no time at all, wondering just what was I thinking about then, and I suddenly came to my first one.
Cow Patties. Everywhere, large, huge, still sort of moist, cow patties. Like land mines carelessly strewn about on the ground. Just lying there, waiting for me. One miss-step on that steep grade and down she comes, with cow patties to roll in with every roll. Oh goodie.

There came a point where I was grabbing for tuffs of grass to pull my way up, no kidding, but we made it. Or I should say, Russ waited for me to get up there. He marched up, with no problem at all, showing off. We opened the fence enclosure and went into the cemetery.

The Blankenship- Arrowood Cemetery on Prices Creek in Yancey County, North Carolina.

It is truly amazing that they manage to get the deceased and the tombstones up there! It is about 40 feet wide and about 150 feet long, just along the ridge of the top of the mountain. The view is beautiful! An truly amazing resting place. It is still being used, today. I took pictures of every grave and tombstone, so I could enter them into a database called ‘FindAGrave‘. It is a wonderful thing online for people searching for loved one’s graves. You can search and see the grave’s picture, if it has been entered and even leave a “flower” and a note for your loved ones. The military especially, stationed in other countries, just love FindAGrave. I know I love it, what a wonderful thing. A place where all can be remembered.

As I stood there and walked the perimeter of that quaint country burying ground, in my mind’s eyes I could see the somber procession making their way up that steep rise. A horse and wagon with the casket tied on to keep from slipping off. The recently bereaved, walking somberly behind the wagon. Leaving a flower for these souls was a true act of love, just getting up there was an act of courage.

An old timer once told me that they used the land up on top of the mountains for burying because it wasn’t good for anything else, but my romantic side wants to think it was to be closer to God and for the glorious view from the top.
Honestly, one slipped foot on the grass and it would have been a ‘slide on the face’ downward trip for Martha, cow pattie ‘tasting’ for days. Russ took my arm, thank goodness, knowing how ‘graceful‘ I can be, he was not going to take any chances. We had a long ride home and he would be hostage in the car with a ‘pouting’ woman.
That was one steep walk that I am sure glad I went on, wouldn’t have traded it for anything. Just another wonderful day for this ‘smiling still‘, graveyard rabbit.

Mission Accomplished: More Family Located.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sweet Cousin Sonya


Just saying her name makes me smile. How I loved that girl.

We did not have much time together growing up, since our childhoods were spent in different towns in the Carolinas, but we always came together at Grandma's. I could hardly wait until Christmas because I knew that Sonya would be there. She made it a very special time for me. She always had this big smile on her face that was so contagious. You ended up wearing a reflection of her smile whether you wanted to or not. She was such a happy soul and always looked for the good in others.

One time sticks out in my memory like a sweet confection. Cookies to be exact. She spent the night at our house and I was in seventh heaven. We played hand jive games until my palms were sore. We had this EasyBake oven that was perfect for "baking" tollhouse cookies..or really just warming them up until they were bendable, gooey, warm, chocolate heaven. We also made those tiny frozen snack pizzas that night, we really pigged out. But it was so fun. Every time I think about that time in my life, I hear John Denver's "Thank God, I'm a Country Boy", playing off in the distance of my mind.

Sonya sang that song as we did the "hand clap and jive thing" she taught me.

She not only taught me that, she taught me to find the joy in living, the joy in friendship, and the joy in spending time with a dear cousin. We never had one cross word come between us. We never had anything but giggles and hugs to come between us. I miss her so. We giggled until it hurt to laugh.

I had the honor of being in her wedding party and serving as a bridesmaid in her wedding. What a beautiful bride she was, transformed by the perfect white dress into a gorgeous vision. I stood in the dressing room and stared at her in amazement. Such a beautiful Bride. She was so excited to be getting married and starting her life with Lynn, and I can't decide who was luckier and more deserving of complete happiness, her or Lynn. They were just perfect for one another.

She grew into such a beautiful lady and I saw her again, after a couple years had grown us and she was a vision in a pink suit one sunny Sunday afternoon. She and Lynn came and stayed with us, Scott and myself, when Uncle Ben died , a sad time for all of us. She was so full of life and so full of plans for the future and so was my Scott. Now, they are both gone. Only the sweet memories of them, remain in our hearts.

Sonya grew into adulthood and became a dedicated professional. A leader in her field. She approached each task before her with determination and drive to complete the task at hand, not only complete it, but do it to the very best of her ability.

Her friend and colleague, James Russell Smith, Jr. gave a heartfelt dedication to Sonya in his dissertation, a partial fulfillment to receive his Doctorate in Education, the dedication was as follows:

"I would like to dedicate this dissertation to my late friend and colleague, Mrs. Sonya Williams Dismuke.
Without your encouragement, I probably would not have started this journey. I miss your daily presence and your kind words of advice."

Sonya always had kind words, encouraging words, and she had the gift of resolve and diplomacy in all matters. She was a very poised and collected lady . This dedication from her colleague shows how much she was loved by people, not only her family but her friends and associates. A true professional.

There is a scholarship set up as honorary memorial to Sonya, set up in her name. A tribute to the lady she was. The scholarship is open to students with a potential major in Marketing, Management, and Business Administration. Available to students state wide. A lasting tribute for all time.

Sonya loved her children with such a deep love that it was amazing. She told me later, when she was sick that she did not want to leave them behind. She knew heaven awaited her, but she did not want to leave those kids. Life is sometimes hard to figure and sometimes it does not seem that the right things happen. Sonya was right, God is in control, always. We may not understand, but God does. He knows what is best for all of us. We only had Sonya for a little while, but what a lasting legacy she left behind. A simply amazing girl. There was only one Sonya, that is for sure. I smile through my tears, imagining Sonya, Robin and Kelly, together with Grandma, up in Heaven. Imagine what they are up to by now? Big Smile. With my Dad right in the middle of it all, no doubt.

"Well Life Ain't Nothin' But a Funny, Funny Riddle, Thank God, I'm a Country Girl"!

That one was for you, Sonya.

May Angels surround you always, dear Cousin.

I will keep you in my heart, always.

We all miss you, sweetheart.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Aunt Hilda

My Aunt Hilda has always been there for me, no matter what.
There are few people in my life that I can truly say that about. Where do I begin to tell you about the lady that is very special and dear to my heart?

There was a time I was a very sick girl. Food became my enemy and made me very ill. It was a very hard time for me, right at a time during my adolescence where just growing up is hard enough. I wanted to be able to get on with my life, do all the things that high school was made for, but it was not to happen for me. I would wake on Monday mornings so sick and weak, wondering what in the world was wrong with me and wishing I could just be normal. Little did we know that the beef roasts we had at Sunday’s meal was the culprit. We would have beef roast or stew or maybe steaks grilled on special Sundays. Beef was my main allergy , but until we found out what was causing it, I was miserable. Sick and pretty miserable.

Dad suffered from beef allergy but was really never diagnosed with it. He would pass out after a heavy beef meal, so sick. So strange that food, that which sustains us, can become so lethal to someone with allergies.
To make things worse, it was during a time when doctors did not really accept that food allergies were real.
Poor Lewis had several allergies as well, one thing in particular was oranges. His lips would swell something terrible.

Hilda and I spent time together on the weekends and she took me places, along with her friend Ruth.
We had such fun together and had many laughs and good times. I appreciate her being so kind to me, especially since that time was so difficult for me.

Sometimes God knows just what you need in your life and he sends you a very close relationship. More of a 'Mother-Daughter ' bond than just an 'Aunt-Niece bond '.

My Aunt was more of an angel to me than an Aunt. I cherish those times we spent together.

Sometimes we sang together in the car on the way home from places. Oh how, I enjoyed that! Sometimes we just talked, sometimes nothing much was said, but that was alright , too. It takes a special relationship to be comfortable with nothing said at all. I had that with Hilda and still do. We are cut from the same bolt of ‘Maudie’ cloth, I guess you could say.

Sometimes I will just spontaneously do something that even cracks me up..something outlandish and comical..I just have to laugh out loud, because I know that is the Maudie in me coming out. Hilda and I have that in common for sure. Pretty bad when you crack your own self up... :-)

Hilda and I went up to the mountains, early on , in my search for the family tree. We wound up in the library and we came across the Toe River Valley book and we found several mentions of the Arrowood family in it. We found Spencer Arrowood and the mention of his great granddaughter, the writer, Sharyn McCrumb. We were so excited we could hardly stand it. Every new find has to be told to my Aunt Hilda, for sure. I saw then and there what the search for the family meant to her and we bonded once again, kindred spirits.

Our lives are full of wonderful blessings and highs and we have all had our share of sadness and lows, but Hilda remains steadfast through it all. A testament to the lady she is.

We both love to laugh. (Even at ourselves!)
We both love red, ripe, tomatoes. (And Cucumbers)
We both love chicken dumplings. (Sweet Robin did, too!)
We both love music. We can tap a toe to most anything.
We both love growing things and of course, we love our flowers.
And we both love those Maypops.
I love our family and it’s history, and she does, too.

And we both love life.

And let’s face it folks…that is more than enough to know we are Arrowood’s.
And we are definitely related to Maudie.

Thank you for your love and attention during the years, Hilda.
You are one special lady. Special to me and special to a multitude of others. You have made a difference in people’s lives that you don’t fully recognize. A true inspiration.

Sometimes Angels are here on earth, too.

She writes beautiful, heartfelt poetry and gives us all a glimpse into her heart.
Keep writing, Hilda, we love it!

May your Maypop have a fresh bloom everyday , and may your contagious smile, come readily to your sweet face, a mirror of the joy that radiates from you.

I love you, Lady.