WELCOME


~ 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.

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"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."

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Arrowood Family

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Robert Henry ~ Son of John Henry Arwood/Arrowood




Robert Henry Arwood (Arrowood)

Robert Henry (right)

  

Robert Henry Arwood (Arrowood) was born April 20 1902, son of Reverend John Henry and Nora Barnett Arrowood.  He was their seventh child (seventh son as the old people would say).    Rev John Henry expected Robert to be the next preacher in the family following in the footsteps of himself, his brother Welzia Augustus, and their father, the Reverend Samuel Augustus Arrowood.   That wasn’t to be Robert Henry’s destiny at all, for he had a spirit that match the times for which he had been born. Born in a world without electricity and where horses were the only transportation beyond one’s own feet, he saw the rapid progression of the word into the age of electricity and airplanes.


 Robert was a rebellious youth, he along with his identical twin brother, Henry Robert, saw themselves moving westward and becoming ranchers. They had been mesmerized by the popular western novels and untamed lore of the wild west at that time, but as they moved off the farm into their first jobs of lumberjack in what is now Doe River Gorge area in Tennessee and then on to West Virginia, to try their hand at coal mining, they found that neither of these jobs had the ability to provide enough money to help them move west. Of the two brothers Henry R. was the business mind and much more savvy at earning money than Robert H.

Robert on the other hand was a bit of a dreamer and intelligent in many astonishing ways. He could play the piano, the violin (fiddle), the banjo, mandolin, dulcimer, and the guitar. He did this all by ear having never learned to read music. He could simply listen to a tune and then sit down and play it. He also had the ability to write or eat perfectly well with either his right or left hand. His keen mind was first noticed in the summer of 1913, when a doctor stayed in Pigeon Roost for the summer. The doctor was either at or staying near Rev John Henry’s Farm. The doctor and his wife, having no children of their own, made Rev John Henry and Nora a proposition; because he had observed all the children for couple of months and he had seen Robert Henry's shrill brilliance (as he put it), he asked to take Robert Henry as his ward and he and his wife would raise him as their own. Robert Henry would be allowed to return home to Pigeon Roost every summer and keep his own last name. In exchange the doctor wanted Robert Henry to attend a university and then medical school in the Piedmont section of North Carolina. Robert Henry would then return to intern with his new stepfather, then practice with him and finally assume his practice when he grew old.  After a month’s consideration Rev John Henry disregarded this offer, for he couldn't live with the idea of giving up a child no matter how hard Nora pleaded. Nora thought that it was fitting and maybe the Lord's will that Robert being the seventh son, of a seventh son of seventh, of a seventh son that he should be a Physician  ( many mountain people believed that the seventh son of a seventh son was given power to heal the sick).  Robert Henry truly wanted to take this opportunity and for the whole of his life he purchased and read medical books due to his interest in medicine. Vertie (Robert Henry’s wife) always said he quietly lamented about this, for being a physician was his secret dream since that doctor who had made the offer and had given him a few books on medicine to read while Rev JH contemplated the idea of letting him leave the farm, his parents, and eleven siblings behind.

 
 With the arrival of Prohibition both of the twins had taken wives. Running moonshine from the hills to Illinois and Indiana was a source of extra money for them  in the roaring 20s, when fast money, gambling, playing bluegrass, and drinking were the how the twin brothers occupied a great deal of their time.

 
Once while having a few days off from work, Henry had gotten caught on a whiskey run with a shotgun and a few cases of white lighting going from Tennessee through Kentucky to Illinois and was arrested. He was charged with transporting guns across state lines, but the white lighting must have vanished (deputies kept it, I am sure) and there were no charges filed against him for it. Henry was sentenced to 6 months in the county jail. Henry Robert had a steady factory job then, but Robert Henry didn't, so while visiting Henry in his cell, they exchanged jewelry and clothes. Henry walked out of jail a free man and returned to work. Robert served out his brother's sentence. Robert Henry, Vertie, and their sons, Dallas Cornelius born 1926 and Floyd, 1929, lived in the same house with Henry and his wife Siana and their children then and during the early days of the depression after bootlegging had ended. In those hard times Robert Henry left Illinois, and returned to the farm at Pigeon roost for a time. A big part of the family returned from Illinois and Indiana, for lack of work. Robert Henry studied Engineering on a college correspondence course and received a degree. He found a job in Elizabethton TN, where he worked for two German brothers that owned twin nylon factories. He started in the motor pool and soon the brothers saw his abilities and because of his degree, he was promoted to mechanical engineer. He and his wife had their third son in 1936, Arley Tim.  In 1939 their fourth child was born, a girl, Nola. Nola was born with a cleft palate and died one day short of her first birthday due to complications from her birth defect. Vertie would never get over the loss of her only daughter.

  With the outbreak of WWII the factory was seized from the owners and being German they were deported. During WWII Robert Henry continued to work as an engineer in the nylon factory, now retooled to make parachutes instead of panty hose. The twin factories each had its own generating station. Robert was in charge of the oil and coal fired generators that supplied both factories with electricity. He felt a great patriotism and longed to serve overseas after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was almost 40 years old, much too old to be a soldier, so he tried to enlist in the CBs or the Army Core of Engineers during the war. His job at the plant was considered much too valuable to the war effort and his employers made sure he continued to work at the factory. However Robert and Vertie’s oldest son, Dallas C. Arwood, was able to join the war effort.

 Dallas enlisted in the Navy at 16 and found himself in the Pacific Theater. He had many detailed stories of his tour of duty. As a petty officer aboard the USS Epping Forest (LSD-4/MCS-7, an Ashland-class dock landing ship), Dallas piloted a land amphibious landing craft. He would take marines and soldiers ashore and once commented, “Brought back what was left of them”. He aboard the Epping Forest arrived off Aitape on April 22, 1944 for pre-invasion bombardment. He piloted his landing craft ashore in the assault. On May 11, he reached Guadalcanal to load marines and equipment for the invasion of Guam. He arrived off Guam on July 21, for the assault landings. He and the crew saw many battles like the assault of Palau Islands and then on to the Lingayen Gulf assault, where he worked under almost constant air attack, he once said a bomb landed on the deck of his landing craft that failed to explode and they rolled it off the landing ramp of the craft into the sea. This was the closest call he ever had with death he claimed during the war. He, still aboard the Epping Forest, arrived off the Hagushi beaches April 1, 1945 for the invasion of Okinawa. He saw many die here and kamikazes crash into other ships in the fleet during the hellish days of that battle.


USS Epping Forest

Dallas Arwood holding nephew Dallas, July 4 1968~

During the war Robert Henry and Vertie sent their middle Son, Floyd Arwood, back to Pigeon Roost to help Rev John Henry and Nora work the farm in Dallas’ place, when Dallas had joined the Navy. Dallas was loved by everyone who ever met him. He had a southern gentleman’s ways and a charm about him that put all at ease, even more so than his father Robert Henry did. Floyd on the other hand had a deep intellect, his mind was sharp and so was his whit. People who lived a very humble existence and felt a person’s life was in the lord’s hands often found him difficult to understand. His grandmother, Nora was not fond of his straight-forward and a matter-of- fact way of thinking or attitude.  They found themselves at odds most of the time. Floyd spent the little spare time he had on the farm reading, but instead of bible study, he read books on politics, philosophy, or science that his grandmother considered of no benefit to their farm life or his salvation. His Grandfather didn’t agree with a lot of Floyd’s ideas, but acknowledged that Floyd was indeed a man of the new age with a mind that may have been sharper than his father Robert Henry’s. Rev John Henry cared very much for Floyd, but he knew Floyd would not be content to live the country life, even more so than his father and uncles had been. Floyd joined the Navy in 1945  (some said he fibbed about his age to escape the farm), but the war ended before he saw any combat. His entire enlistment would be spent working with the newly invented radar equipment at US Navy bases, where he found a passion for electronics.  Floyd was always a quiet, well mannered man of deep thought.  He often sat for hours reading while smoking his pipe; this along with his looks plus his mannerisms gave him the personna of a cross between Fred McMurray and Bing Crosby. Floyd would attend college for electronics and go on until his retirement to serve his county as a civilian working on military and aeronautical advancements in a research laboratory where many prototypes were perfected during the Cold War.

Rev. John Henry, Nora and family
Twins, Robert Henry and Henry Robert on right.
 
 
Henry Robert, Vertie, Robert Henry and children

Vertie, Robert Henry and Sons

  After the war Robert Henry moved back to Pigeon Roost to help his aging parents run the farm, most of his siblings including Henry returned to the north to work in factories during the war and stayed on. Upon returning to the farm, Robert Henry built a generator. It provided the first electricity ever in Pigeon Roost. He made it of modified car parts (drive train) from a Model A. Folks were simple there in Pigeon Roost and couldn't fathom what electricity was or how it worked. So when asked how this all worked, Robert Henry said, " Most folks don't know it, but running water is full of electricity and this contraption uses the mill wheel to rake it out of the water sending  it up to the house through wires.” This answer was understandable and well accepted. So in 1947, their farm had now entered the 20th century. Robert did return to the nylon plant for a short time after his successor had failed to close a valve during scheduled repair work and three men (including his successor) were killed (boiled alive) when they opened a steam line that should have been closed off. This haunted him for years making him feel he should have never left.  He trained a second engineer and then returned to the farm.

 Robert worked the farm, but still had a dream. Letting his youngest son, Arley Tim, tend the farm animals and hunt a little game for the table, he began to use the months of winter to work on a new enterprise. He had decided that he wanted to manufacture cement pipe and blocks. First he developed a few different formulas of rock and sand to cement ratio and sent the samples to a laboratory that tested which formula had the greatest pounds per square inch strength under a hydraulic pressure test. Once he had the formula correct  he convinced his brother Henry to finance a project. The brothers decided that Robert would move near Spruce Pine NC on the Altapass Hwy (near a local sand mine and railroad) and there Robert, Vertie, and Arley would build the small factory, while Henry remained in the north and continued to send money to start up the business. They started by forming their blocks by hand in molds and built the plant and small two bed room duplex home on the top of the plant. Their home was made from unpainted blocks making it far from pretty, only practical.  The farm at Pigeon Roost was to become Garrett’s (Robert’s younger brother) and Rev. John Henry and Nora would live mostly with Robert and Vertie. A little time passed and the plant had begun to make a profit on pipe which was poured into molds (still made by hand). Henry at Roberts’s insistence bought a second hand Lincoln block machine that produced hundreds of blocks per day. Soon the business was becoming a success at about the time the Korean War ended. In 1955 their son Arley (who Rev. John Henry believed was to be the next preacher because of his deep devotion and gentle ways), had just graduated high school and enlisted in the Army at Robert’s advice. “It’s best to do your military service between wars, son”, Robert said. Arley was off to Korea and  Japan for two years. Arley was very concerned about the plant’s future, so he would send nearly every dime of his military pay home to aid the family endeavor. When Arley returned after his two years of active duty, he was amazed how much the plant had been growing; his fathered had even hired five employees. Their lead employee’s first name was Ruben, who was there into the mid 1960s; he was their star employee and worked like three men. Robert later promoted him, but after he was given a raise plus a title he became dissatisfied and tried to unionize the plant and soon left. Arley was added to the crew under Ruben and would accept no pay, feeling this plant would someday belong to him.

Reverend John Henry and Nora Arwood
 

 Arley at twenty-four took a bride, Peggy Lu Henson, who lived a few miles down the road. Peggy was not quite sixteen, so folks started to count the months, thinking it wasn’t true love, but a marriage of necessity. Well nine months passed and everyone stopped their gossiping, but after 24 months, Peggy gave birth to Arley Jr there in Spruce Pine. However it wasn’t the best of times, Arley Sr had been recalled into the Military for active service during the Berlin Crisis in 1961 and was on leave from Fort Benning GA in October 1962.
 

 
Arley and Peggy Lu's Wedding Day

 

When his first born was not even two weeks old, he was recalled to base because of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In the event that Khrushchev and Kennedy could not save the world from the brink, Arley Sr prayed his little family would somehow survive tucked away in Pigeon Roost, where Robert vowed he would take them if World War III occurred. Robert believed the wind patterns coming off the Gulf of Mexico would prevent any radioactive fallout reaching that remote little valley that had always been isolated from everything else. Robert thought that a post apocalyptic Pigeon Roost wouldn’t be much different than it had always been, people just barely living off the land with no help from and little contact with the outside world. Providence did prevail and the world war was avoided, so Arley returned for his little family and returned to Fort Benning. Robert and Vertie continued to run the factory, but Robert began to sink most of the profits into new molds & equipment for the plant. And Henry hoping to boost the plant productivity bought a second block machine. Unfortunately the hope that a new machine would revolutionize their production, met with disappointing results, because the machine was breaking down and in constant need of repair. Henry had gotten a great deal, because he had bought the prototype machine off the show room floor, sold to make room for the manufacturer’s next model block machine. Arley Sr. was honorably discharged from the army and returned to the plant and began to work in the family business once more. Robert and Henry’s father, the Rev John Henry, passed away in 1963 and their mother Nora died in 1967  (both in their 90’s). Henry retired and began to help run the plant.  Finally realizing with Henry’s return, that the plant would never be passed down to him, Arley Sr. began working under his brother Dallas as an AFLAC insurance agent in Tennessee until he was given his own territory in NC. With the twins reunited they spent many weekends drinking and playing bluegrass with their family and friends Things at the plant came to a head in 1968 when Henry failed to convince Robert that their future was in block, because pipe, more profitable per unit, could only be produced in limited quantities. Henry knew by adding reliable block machines and gearing up for mass production the smaller mark up on block would produce a greater profit in the long run. Henry bought out Robert’s share. Robert and Vertie retired and moved to Spencer NC with their son Arley and  family for a year. They hated the heat of the summer in the piedmont region of NC and relocated to a small home on Robert’s sister, Dessie, and her husband Marsh Miller’s farm near Erwin TN across the Unaka Mountain and state line from Pigeon Roost. Robert didn’t spend his retirement time idly, for he started a little clock and watch repair business and then began building grandfather clocks. His clocks were very beautiful and he once approached a furniture manufacture to finance a small factory for him, but instead the family that owned the furniture plant bought several of his clocks for their own homes. Three years later it was learned that the company had begun building grandfather clocks as a sideline.
Robert continued to make his own clocks for a hobby and was often visited by folks who loved to hear stories of Robert’s life. Robert was a master story teller, who could hold an audience captive for hours spellbound by his tales. Robert began to become frail in late 1974 and spent the summer of 1975 at his brother-in-law’s bean and chicken farm in Delaware near the shore, where his emphysema seemed to subside because of the sea air. Robert returned to Erwin in September to see his grandchildren. On October 5, 1975 emphysema and a weak heart (he had suffered from since birth) finally took him. At his funeral so many people attended there were people standing in aisles of the chapel. Several of his cousins attended including his cousin, “Pat” Lewis William Arrowood, who played with him as a child and was Martha Jane Arrowood's grandfather. Robert was a loved and respected man and anyone who knew him never forgot his character.

  In 1987 his wife Vertie Ann passed on too, and at her funeral one of the grandchildren asked, “Why did only 20 or so people outside the family come to the funeral? Didn’t people like her, where are all of those people that were at grandpa’s funeral?”

 Vertie’s son, Dallas, spoke up and said to his nephew, “That was 12 years ago child, all of those missing people who mourned Robert are now on the other side with Robert welcoming Vertie.”

Robert and Vertie are buried in Sinking Creek Cemetery outside of Johnson City TN along with Rev John Henry, Nora,  Dallas C. and  Alice Arwood.

 
 

 Written by  Arley Tim Arwood, JR *****************************************

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