" Mayfied, Vick, Gooch, Wilkins, & Woody Families "

Entries: 46470    Updated: 2011-11-04 14:07:14 UTC (Fri)    Owner: 'Jesse'

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  • ID: I5227
  • Name: William "Arthur" WOODY
  • Sex: M
  • Change Date: 29 JUL 2008
  • Birth: 11 APR 1884 in Union County, Suches, Georgia
  • Note: William Arthur Woody (b.- 11 Apr 1884 & d. - 10 Jun 1947), son of Abraham "Abe" (b. - 23 Jul 1864 & d. - 05 Sep 1919) & Eliza Woody. A portion of an article that was published in the Dahlonega Nugget on 29 Apr 1993. " When he was a boy of 12 in 1896, William Arthur Woody watched his Pa kill what turned out to be the last deer in the whole area. Young Arthur resolved that day that he would make it his life's work to restore what the mountain men had ignorantly destroyed. In the meantime he continued to work with his father, Abraham Lincoln Woody, on their farm in the tiny community of Suches high in the mountains above Dahlonega. Once a year they rounded up their cattle and drove them to Atlanta to market, a journey of ten days. In later years, Arthur would joke that he was on his seventh set of toenails because he had worn out the other six on the drives. By the time he was 18, Arthur was married and the father of a son, Walter W. Woody, born in 1902. His wife, Emma "June" Abercrombie Woody, presented him with another son, Clyne Edward, three years later and a daughter, Mae in 1907. Despite his father's warnings that he would starve to death working for the government, Arthur began working as a fire guard for the U. S. Forest Service in the fall of 1912. During this time he learned a great deal about forest fire control, knowledge that he would later put to good use in preserving the woods of North Georgia. Once he was asked what to do in case of a crown (tree-top) fire, he responded without hesitation, "Run like hell and pray for rain." On July 1, 1918, he was sworn in as the first forest ranger in Georgia and one of the first in the United States. He was made responsible for the entire Blue Ridge District, later named the Chattahoochee National Forest. One of Woody's favorite sayings was, "a man's wealth is in his friends, not his money," and he had a deep concern for the people in the area. Woody Gap School was built in 1941 on land donated by Arthur Woody with granite from his quarry and lumber sawed at his mill. This kindergarten through 12th grade school has resisted efforts to consolidate it with Blairsville schools and is one of the few remaining isolated schools still allowed to operate in Georgia today. Woody also contributed generously toward the building of Mount Lebanon Baptist Church in Suches, claiming to do so because he wanted to be sure there was a place large enough for his furneral. Arthur Woody, popularly known as "The Kingfish," was an entrepreneur as well as a forest ranger and eventually became on of the wealthiest men in the area through his dealings with cattle, land, and loans. Ranger Arthur Woody suffered a slight stroke in Sep of 1944 and retired from the Forest Service a year later when he realized he could no longer do his job the way he thought it ought to be done. His health continued to deteriorate, but he never lost his cheerful sense of humor, "I've had a good life, and I've accomplished what I wanted to do," he maintained. "All I ask is that you bury me so that I can see Black Mountain when I come up out of the grave on Resurrection Day." When Ranger Arthur Woody died on June 10, 1946, more than 1,500 people came to pay their respects. He was laid to rest in the cemetery at Mount Lebanon Church nestled in the shadow of the mountain he loved so well.
  • Death: 10 JUN 1946 in Union Co., Georgia
  • Note:
    {Source for the following Article is Thanks to Mary Nell Gooch who sent to me back in 2005. The Article is written by a Jimmy Jacobs who was a writer for the Georgia Backroads Magazine - It was published in the Summer of 2005}:

    Note from Jesse: It is few pages of reading, but I found it very, very interesting. This William "Arthur" Woody, born 11 Apr 1884 in Union County, Georgia & died on 10 Jun 1946 in Union County, Georgia. He was the son of Abraham 'Abe' Lincoln & Eliza (Ingram) Woody of Union County, Georgia. He was married to a Nancy Emma 'June' (Abercrombie) Woody. They were married in Mar of 1901 in Suches, Union County, Georgia. -- Arthur was my wife's, Mary Anne (Gooch) Mayfield's second cousin, once removed and the Grand Father of Barbara Jean (Woody) Gooch of Suches, Union County, Georgia.

    "The late Charlie Elliott Remembered Ranger Arthur Woody"

    "Renowned as a newspaper columnist, Georgia State Parks Director, and Georgia Game & Fish Commission Director For many years, Charlie Elliott was a long-time friend of famed North Georgia mountaineer Arthur Woody. Woody’s impressive accomplishments and colorful experiences as a Forester was often documented in Elliott’s Columns. Though both he and Elliott have long since departed this earth, the Memories their experiences will undoubtedly remain a part Of Georgia folklore for many years to come."

    The indomitable and self-reliant nature of Southern Appalachian mountain folks has, through The years, produced many very colorful characters. From this pool of individuals, however, only a few can be said to have risen to the level of being larger than life. Most assuredly, Arthur Woody of Suches, Georgia, is and will remain at the top of the class in this select fraternity for many years to come – and for good reason.

    Descended from some of the first settlers to enter the region around the headwaters of the Toccoa River soon after the dissolution of the Cherokee Nation in the Southeast in the 1830’s, Woody hailed from very humble beginnings. He eventually rose to a level of prominence that belied his official position as a forest ranger with the U. S. Forest Service. Indeed, he was one of the most powerful and wealthy men in the mountains of north-central Georgia in his day. He was also a man who knew his own mind, did things his way, and showed little if any respect for official procedures
    regarding the U. S. Forest Service.

    Since his death in the mid-1940’s much has been written about Ranger Woody, but a far more colorful picture was once painted by the late Charlie Elliott of Covington, Georgia, who knew – and worked with – Woody personally.

    Elliott, himself, is something of an icon with regard to the great outdoors in the South. Serving as the first director of state parks in Georgia, he also twice headed the Georgia Game and Fish Commission (predecessor of today’s Wildlife Resources Division of the Department of Natural Resources.

    Charlie Elliott’s professional accomplishments, however, extend far beyond the above. He was almost solely responsible for laying out the Georgia portion of the famed Appalachian Trail, as well as the trail system in Vogel State Park. After his years in state Government, he began a second career as an outdoor writer, spending 40 years as a field Editor with Outdoor Life magazine, as well as a featured columnist with prominent newspapers, such as the Atlanta Constitution. His friend, Ed Dodd, who created the famed Mark Trail comic strip, supposedly confided to several individuals
    that his character Mark Trail was even patterned after Elliott.

    It was early in his outdoorsman career, however, when he served as a forester with the Georgia Forestry Commission assigned to the north Georgia mountains, that Elliott befriended the ever-colorful Arthur Woody. It was there that these two legends of 20th century outdoor life in Georgia first crossed paths.

    “The first time I ever saw him was when I was a forester at Neel Gap,” Elliott recalled in an interview some years prior to his death. “I used to walk around the mountains where the Appalachian Trail is now. I’d come around the ridge and spend the night at his cabin. Wasn’t but about eight or 10 miles around there.

    Later on, as their friendship grew in the years between 1928 and 1935, the two men often Fished together in mountain lakes that were closed to everyone else – but not Ranger Woody.

    Born on the Woody Homeplace in Suches in 1885, Arthur Woody grew up in the forest, becoming a very proficient hunter, fisherman and woodsman. As a young man, he spent a short time as a student at North Georgia College (present-day North Georgia College & State University) in nearby Dahlonega, an institution in which his Grandfather had played a part in establishing.

    The Halls of higher education, however, did not contain Woody’s love of nature very Long. He soon was back on the family farm, helping his father run cattle in the mountainous terrain around Suches a few miles north of Dahlonega.

    In 1912, when he was 27 years of age, Woody took a job as a surveyor with the U. S. Forest Service. It was the beginning of what would become a long, colorful, and sometimes contentious career with that Federal agency.

    By 1918, Woody had been promoted to district ranger for Cherokee Refuge No. 2 Along Noontootly Creek (now spelled Noontootla) to the west of Dahlonega. At the Time, all of the Forest Service lands in north Georgia were part of the Cherokee National Forest, and only later were split off to form the Chattahoochee National Forest. Cherokee Refuge No. 2 was the forerunner of the modern Blue Ridge Wildlife Management Area.

    At six feet tall and tipping the scales at 250 pounds, Arthur Woody was physically imposing to say the least, but he had a friendly disposition and personality to match his size. By 1927, he was widely known to local folks by his nickname – “Kingfish.”

    Though very personable and likeable to most individuals, Woody’s relationship with the U. S. Forest Service superiors was anything but cordial. In general, he simply ignored the Forest Service’s employee rules and regulations. He refused to wear the Forest Service uniform; did not file required written reports; and almost always walked around barefooted in the Forest Service Office, thus spawning the nickname, “the barefoot ranger.”

    “Yeah, he went barefooted, “Elliott confirmed. “ He wouldn’t all the time, but most of the time. One of his supervisors drove up (from Gainesville) to give him hell and make him put on his shoes. Later, the supervisor’s assistant came by to check on the pair and discovered his superior sitting on Arthur’s porch, both of them with their feet propped on the rail, and both with their shoes off! Arthur was that kind of salesman.”

    Still, over the long term, none of this particularly endeared Woody to his Forest Service superiors, and one might wonder how he managed to keep his job. The answer To that question lay in his ability as a steward of the land. He consistently had the best Fire prevention record in the Forest Service. Very few acres of his north Georgia domain ever went up in smoke in a forest fire.

    Fire prevention was (and continues to be) a top priority in the Forest Service. Because Of his outstanding record, Woody’s supervisors arranged to have him appear before the annual national meeting of managing forest service personnel in Washington, D.C.. Having dressed him up, they put him before the assembly to explain how he had achieved such success. The man who introduced him said, “And now, we’ve brought the man with this astonishing record all the way from Georgia to tell you what steps he took to maintain such a remarkable record.”

    Naturally, most of those present at the meeting were prepared for one of the usual dry and boring sermons on policies and procedures. “True to his nature, however, Woody rose to the occasion and left them with a memory to last a lifetime. He walked to the podium, coughed once, then said, “Wal, I take notice of the whole family. I speak to the hounds, pat the chillum’ on the head, drink likker with the men, and sleep with the women.” He then went back to his seat. After an embarrassing silent lull, the Forest Service officials began standing up, giving the north Georgia mountaineer a standing ovation which ultimately rose to thunderous applause and laughter, breaking up the meeting. It was a moment which no doubt has gone down in the annals of U. S.
    Forest Service history forever.

    The Truth behind Woody’s ability to protect the land is almost as colorfully pragmatic as was his explanation to the Washington, D. C. crowd. Throughout his career, he supplemented his Forest Service pay with earnings from trading in both land and cattle, and was a very astute businessman. Even during the depths of the Great Depression, he always seemed to have cash on hand.

    Woody was also quick to lend his money to his neighbors at very low interest rates, taking mortgages on their land as collateral. Though generally benevolent, he nonetheless made it widely understood that anyone allowing a wildfire to break out on his land could expect the ranger to foreclose on the mortgage, so most mountaineers in Woody’s District –particularly those indebted to him – were cautious beyond the norm! That, reportedly, was a big part of the true secret of his success at Forest management.

    Arthur Woody’s disdain for authority did not stop at the local U. S. Forest Service level either. He strongly disapproved of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal program, and made this known publicly whenever possible. Even when the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began building roads into the mountains – bringing jobs and money to the region – Woody did not disguise his feelings about how the Democrats were throwing money around wastefully.

    “Arthur was a Republican, and strongly disapproved of Roosevelt,” Elliott revealed. “ He Thought everything Roosevelt did was all cockeyed, but he had to go along with it, because he was a U. S. Forest Service Ranger.”

    In one of the numerous incidents in which the colorful forester was involved, both he and Elliott were together one day when the two paused at a rock quarry in the Suches vicinity where stone was being crushed for use on the roads being graded into Woody’s district. Woody reportedly picked up on of the rocks which he curiously examined, then put in his pocket.

    “What’d you do with that rock you picked up?” Elliott later asked him. “I had it assayed,” came the sonorous reply. “Assayed for what?” Elliott pressed. “Gold” Woody replied matter-of-factly. By this time, Elliott was eaten up with curiosity. “Well, did it have any gold in it? He pressed further. “Yeah,” Woody added. “The rock they were crushing would be worth two or three dollars a ton.” “My God, didn’t you stop them from crushing the rock?” an astonished Elliott cried. “No. I wanted one of these durned Democratic roads up here to finally be worth what it cost,” Woody smiled.

    In spite of his rather unorthodox approach to his job, Ranger Arthur Woody did have a deep love for his mountain lands and was quite at home in them.

    “Arthur was an excellent woodsman.” Elliott confirmed. “Oh Lord, he was on of the best. I went up there one time hunting and hiked way back up in the woods. He found where my car was parked back out on the road and tracked me through the woods right to where I was sitting. After he found me, he didn’t disturb me, but left me in peace.

    “Later, when I saw Arthur again,” Elliott continued, “I asked him how he knew it was me in the woods. He said ‘By your tracks. I know everything you did. You got up and moved around; lit your pipe; and threw the matches down. You got up every once in awhile, looked up and down the ridge and sat down again.’

    “Arthur had the whole thing figured out, “Elliott shook his head in remembrance. “ He was quite a woodsman. It was his love of the woodlands that led to on of Ranger Arthur Woody’s most lasting legacies. He is credited with reestablishing whitetail deer in the mountains of north Georgia.

    It was an Idea Woody had harbored and for which he had planned from very early in his Career. At the age of 10, in 1895, he had accompanied his father on a hunt when the elder Woody had killed a whitetail buck in nearby Fannin County. That was generally credited with being the last native deer killed in the north Georgia mountains. The species had literally been wiped out by local hunters desperately taking any opportunity to put food on their tables during the harsh existence of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

    For years thereafter, Woody told acquaintances that he felt a personal responsibility for trying to bring deer back to the mountains since his family had played a part in removing the beautiful creatures. It wouldn’t be long before he would put those thoughts into action.

    In 1927, Woody used his own funds to purchase five whitetail fawns from the Pisgah Game Reserve in North Carolina. The young deer, which he named Bessie, Billy, Bunnie Girl, Nancy and Nimble, were raised near Woody’s home in Suches and eventually released to the wild. Later, he bought and released still more deer as the herd expanded, the Kingfish kept a close eye on this “pets.” Any of the neighbors suspected of having poached on of the deer for the dinner table would
    quickly find himself visited by the sheriff’s deputies armed with foreclosure papers, courtesy of Ranger Woody, so very little poaching occurred in Woody’s district.

    By the late 1930’s there were seeral hundred deer roaming the refuge and by 1940, the first legal deer hunts in the north Georgia mountains in more than half a century were conducted. The area has enjoyed a thriving deer population ever since. “Old Arthur was on of the biggest characters,” Elliott explained with a grin. “He was always able to put his finger right on the heart of anything.” Woody’s benevolence extended far beyond forest management too. He helped finance the building of the Mt. Lebanon Church. He donated the land for Woody Gap School, furnished most of the stone and lumber used in the school’s construction, and worked diligently to improve the poor roads into and out of his community.

    Yet another Woody story maintains the ranger asked the U. S. Department of Transportation to build a road from Suches to Stone Pile Gap so the Suches residents could get to Dahlonega to do business and obtain basic necessities of life. He was abruptly informed the department did not construct new roads, but only improved existing roads. Undaunted, Woody reportedly rounded up scrapers, mules and men to clear a rough trail through the woods, then re-contacted the federal DOT stating, I have my road. Now you come and improve it.”

    Ranger Arthur Woody continued to rule over his dominion until 1945, when failing health finally brought to an end the era that mountain folks fondly recall as the “Ranger Woody Regime.” At the age of 61, Arthur Woody passed away in 1946. His funeral in Suches drew politicians, dignitaries and common folks from all over the state and was one of the largest ever witnessed in that region. It was a fitting farewell to “the barefoot ranger.” He had died with his shoes off.
  • Burial: JUN 1946 Mt. Lebonon Baptist Church Cemetery, Suches, Union County, Georgia
  • Note: Arthur was a witty, homespun philosopher, and was Georgia's first native conservationist and Forest Ranger working for the U.S. Forest Service.
  • OBJE:
  • FILE: C:\Brother's Keeper 6\Data\Picture\Arthur Woody.JPG

    Father: Abraham "Abe" Lincoln WOODY b: 23 JUL 1864 in Suches, Union County, Georgia
    Mother: Elizabeth 'Eliza' (INGRAM) WOODY b: 01 SEP 1868 in "Wildhog" - Suches, Union County, Georgia

    Marriage 1 Nancy Emma "June" (ABERCROMBIE) WOODY b: 01 SEP 1877 in Suches, Union County, GA
    • Married: 01 SEP 1901 in Suches, Union County, GA
    1. Has Children Walter "Walt" Willis WOODY b: 13 JUL 1902 in Canada District, Union County, Georgia
    2. Has Children Clyne Edward WOODY b: 30 APR 1905 in Suches, Union County, Georgia
    3. Has Children Vella Mae (WOODY) (WHITE) PIDGEON b: 15 JUL 1907 in Suches, Union County, Georgia
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