Roy Arthur Childers
Interviewed Fall 1973 by Dwight Childers
I’ve heard him speak of . . . say . . . when I was a boy different things you know . . . the work . . . hard
work and things. I heard him speak of when he was first married. He and my mother went across the
Smoky Mountains, and I’ve heard him say that all he had when he was married . . . he had a steer
and a little mare. And they walked across the Smoky Mountains into Tennessee, Little River,
Tennessee; they was goin’ there, startin’ to Copper Hill to work in a mine. And she rode this little
mare and carried France. That’s my oldest brother and they [wudn] any road across the mountain
you know, just a trail and they got down to the river over there and it started rainin’ on ‘em . . . you
know back then they didn’ have any bridges and they had to ford the rivers . . . and the river was up
an’ they couldn’ get across and they was all wet. And he left her and this little mare there, and
France, that was a baby. He left them there at the side of the river. He went down the river a piece
and got across on an old tree lap someway, and went to the nearest house, to try to find some
matches you know to where he could build a fire. I think they invited ‘em to this farmer’s house and
they spent the night there. I don’t know how her and him got across there. I guess they crossed on a
tree lap too, and probably started the horse . . . you know a horse can swim across . . . probably . . . I
think he said he started the horse across and got a brush after him and made . . . the little mare swim
across. And then the next day went on to their destination.
Well, my father was a strong man; he [wudn] a large man, but his health was good up ‘til a few years
after . . . the children . . . most of ‘em got grown. I’ve heard him speak a lot of times about working his
oxens. I remember this in particular; he told me he ‘as haulin’ some tan bark to Whittier. They used to
call it Yellow Hill -- at that time Cherokee went by the name of Yellow Hill. Cherokee -- that’s a new
name. And he used to haul -- ¬the nearest railroad was at Whittier, and he hauled tan bark to
Whittier. He said he had two little yoke of oxens, and he had this little Red Devon [“Deb’n”] yoke in
front. They was older than the others, and they minded better. They was well trained. And the river
was up an’ he tried to decide whether to cross it or not. Finally he made up his mind to cross it, and it
was up more than he thought it was. And you know the’ was a roadway on the other side, and he got
in the river, an’ he lost all of his tanbark, and he held on to the runnin’ gears of the wagon, and at the
– most of ‘em carried a whip you know -- he kept hollerin’ and hollerin’ at the little yoke in front an’
they went to fightin’ -- ¬they was havin’ to swim you know--fightin’ and pullin’ and they just barely
made the roadway on the other side. He said if he’d had the big yoke in front, which he did
sometimes, why they wouldn’ ‘ve minded so well see an’ they would all have been washed down the
river because the’ was high banks along there see. His tanbark was all gone see.
[His Father’s Trip West]
That was right after he got married. Him and two other fellers – Pink Adams was one of the men an’ I
can’t think of the other man’s name, but they went to the west . . . to look for work you know. They
rode the train out there. An’ I heard him tell about that they went and they come very near gettin’
robbed in this house. They overheard sombody down under it preparin’ to rob them, maybe shoot
‘em you know, ‘cause they took some money with them -- they had to have some – an’ one of ‘em
played off sick and told him ‘t he’d have to go outside someway . . . he had these spells you know . .
. and some way or another they got away that way, left that place. That was in Seattle, Washington,
in the big timber – that’s some of the virgin timber you know.
[Elections and Voting]
I never did hear him speak about voting now. I don’t believe that way back that they knowed anything
. . . or voted or anything. I don’t think they went out much for that. Never did talk about it no way. He
was a Republican all his life, ever since I can remember.
He was a hard workin’ man. He always worked hard all his life, and I believe that was due to his good
A trade or anything . . . the’ [wudn] much things to study about preparin’ yourself for any skilled work.
People just had to work hard; they worked in the timber or something like that. That’s all the’ was to
Yeah, he could figure -- he could figure lumber. I don’t know where he went to school at, but he
could set down and figure lumber pretty good. He could figure better’n I could.
I never did hear him say ‘much about goin’ to school. He must ‘ve learned it, picked it up hisself a lot
of it, I believe. Just like Abraham Lincoln, you know. He got most of his education readin’, an’ learnin’
to spell, an’ I believe that’s the way my daddy, learned what he had.
[Books They Had At Home]
The almanac, the birthday almanac, an’ maybe a calendar.