Early Settlers of
Their Descendants...Their Stories...Their Achievements
Lifting the Mists of History on Their Way of Life
By: Ethelene Dyer Jones
Ranger Arthur Woody
From sketch by artist Mary Beth Stager
Woody was an appropriate last name for this pioneer in Georgia forestry, for he loved the virgin forests, the undulating hills that surrounded the Woody family cabin, the sparkling mountain streams, the cry of whippoorwills and other birds, and the passing seasons that painted his domicile with variegated landscapes.
Legend holds that he saw his father shoot the last white-tail deer in the forest at a time when there were no laws in these mountains to protect them. He resolved then that when he grew up he would do whatever it took to bring the deer back to the forests and to prevent their extinction from over-hunting.
William Arthur Woody was born
Arthur Woody’s early education was in
the small one-room school near his home in Suches.
At about age sixteen, he entered
He married Nancy Emma Abercrombie whom he affectionately called “June.” She was from a third-generation Suches family. To them were born three children: Walter W. Woody (July 13, 1902); Clyne Edward Woody (April 30, 1905); and Mae Woody (July 15, 1907). The sons followed in their father’s footsteps and became foresters. Mae became a teacher.
He began his career with the U. S.
Forest Service on
He soon advanced to surveyor for
acquired by the forest service. On May 1, 1915 he was sworn in as a
guard with the assignment of protection of forestry lands from fire,
and poachers. On
On the test to become a ranger, Woody was questioned on basics of life in the forest which he had mastered since youth. Among them were saddling and riding a horse, building a campfire with only flint and sticks, tying certain knots in rope, skills with which he was familiar as a man of the mountains.
To fulfill his promise to restock the
mountains with deer, he first rescued three male deer left behind by a
traveling circus from
To deter hunters, Woody discovered a large bear track, perfectly formed. He made a plaster cast of it and used it to make ominous bear tracks near his deer preserve to discourage poachers. By 1941, the deer population had grown to about 2,000.
His next conservation effort was to
restock the mountain streams with rainbow and speckled trout. These he had shipped into the
During President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps was founded to give young unemployed men a job and to provide income for needy families. During this “New Deal” period, Ranger Woody used many of the young men to build roads, string telephone lines, and protect the forests from fires.
Building dams on streams was
“Do what needs to be done and get permission later,” was his mode of operation.
He was known for his humor and philosophizing. When the road from Stone Pile Gap to Suches was being paved, Woody took some of the gravel and had it assayed for gold content and discovered that it yielded $30 of gold per ton. Asked why he allowed the gold-laden gravel to be used, his wry comment was, “Wal, I wanted at least one government road in this county to be worth what it cost.”
Trying to cheer up a friend who was down, Woody used the mountains as metaphor: “These mountains must be a little human. They go through periods of being dark and cold, and it looks like night will never end. But I’ve been watching it for nigh onto 60 years and it always does.”
He once tore up a lien against property when a mountain farmer died still owing Woody money. Asked by his wife why he did that, he told her to tell the widow when she came inquiring that the debt had been settled before the farmer died.
The tall man among tall timbers died
Sosebee Cove on the road between
Today we enjoy the benefits of forest
preserves because Ranger Woody cared enough to begin early efforts in
c2005 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Mar. 3, 2005 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Updated August 31, 2009