Roy Childers
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Roy Arthur Childers (1905 - 1996)

Roy Arthur Childers
Born in Swain County, North Carolina, USAmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married 23 Dec 1939 in Greenville, SCmap
Descendants descendants
Father of [private son (1940s - unknown)], and [private son (1950s - unknown)]
Died in Buncombe County, North Carolina, USAmap
Profile last modified | Created 5 Feb 2014
This page has been accessed 1,136 times.


Roy Arthur Childers was born 26 December 1905, a son of Thomas Clingman Childers, Jr., and Bertha Franklin Childers, in Swain County, North Carolina. [1] [2] The particular location was a cove of the Great Smoky Mountains called Couches Creek, near Smokemont and the Cherokee reservation. (See below a list of videos including audio recordings of his own discussion of life in the cove of Couches Creek.)

Around 1910, the family moved temporarily to Greenville, South Carolina, for work in the new cotton textile industry. (See below the link for a video “Greenville Sojourn” in which Roy Childers speaks of that time.) As Roy Childers spoke about having no formal education after the fourth grade, it may have been that he did not return to school after the family left Swain County for the Greenville time.

By 24-26 January 1920, when the federal census was listed for the Upper Hominy area of Buncombe County, the family had moved there. Thomas Clingman Childers, Jr, was age 52 and farming. His wife Bertha was 43. Children at home were daughter Naomi, age 16; son Roy, 14; daughter Ruth, 11; daughter Bonnie, 5; son Henry, 3; son Edmond, 1; and grandson Edward “Ted” Roberson, 1. [3]

Roy spoke often to his sons about his first employment in the logging industry in the Great Smoky Mountains. He also talked about the later time when he traveled to Akron, Ohio, to work in the rubber industry.

Eventually he settled into a job at the Beacon Blanket factory in Swannanoa, Buncombe County. There he soon learned the job of weaver, operating a large power Jacquard loom that, as he later loved to explain, derived its pattern from holes punched on a card.

In August 1938, Roy purchased property on Bee Tree Road a few miles north of Swannanoa. (See an image of the land deed -

During this period he met Inez Shepherd, and on 23 December 1939 they were married[4], and began their life together in an apartment rented from Mrs. Mary Dargan for twelve dollars per month, where they resided on 8 May 1940, when the federal census was listed for Black Mountain, Buncombe County, NC. Roy had progressed from weaving to repairing the large mechanical looms as a "loom-fixer" and reported that his annual income for 1939 was one thousand and forty dollars. [5]

By 16 Oct 1940, when he registered for the military draft for World War II, they had moved to the small house on that Bee Tree Road property. [6]

During World War II, he left Inez and their first young son temporarily to join the war effort in Newport News, Virginia, where he worked in the new war-oriented naval ship-building industry. Their second son was born in mid-1944. Shortly after their third son was born in 1950, Roy and Inez decided that they needed a bigger house and more land. They proceeded to buy the old Taylor Bell farm near Inez’s birthplace in north Buncombe County. (See a copy of the deed:

Roy Childers retired from the Beacon mill in 1970.

Roy Arthur Childers died on 5 May 1996[7] at the Baptist Nursing Home in Asheville, NC, after a brief illness.

Roy is buried beside Inez in the hilltop cemetery of Piney Mountain Baptist Church, in north Buncombe County, North Carolina.[8]

Videos from a 1973 audio interview:

Introduction: Youtube [1]

"Couches Creek Memories" (Two Viewing Options):

Viewing Option 1: Youtube


Viewing Option 2: Facebook [3]

"His Ancestors" (Two Viewing Options):

Viewing Option 1: Youtube


Viewing Option 2: Facebook [5]

"Greenville Sojourn" (Two Viewing Options):

Viewing Option 1: Youtube


Viewing Option 2: Facebook


In the spring of 2021, the three sons of Roy and Inez Childers discussed their memories of the three homes where they had lived during childhood and youth. Those recorded discussions resulted in the following five videos:

Playlist for the complete “Where We Lived” series:

Links to the individual videos:

Where We Lived: Bee Tree Part One
Where We Lived: Bee Tree Part Two
Where We Lived: Bell Place Part One
Where We Lived: Bell Place Part Two
Where We Lived: The New House


Personal knowlege of his son Dwight Morris Childers, and the following:

  1. "North Carolina Birth Index, 1800-2000," database, FamilySearch ( : 8 December 2014), Ray Arthur Childers, 26 Dec 1905; from "North Carolina, Birth and Death Indexes, 1800-2000," database and images, Ancestry ( : 2005); citing vol. 2, p. 220, Swain, North Carolina, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.
  2. Register of Delayed Birth Certificates, Swain County Register of Deeds, Bryson City, Swain County, North Carolina.
  3. Year: 1920; Census Place: Upper Hominy, Buncombe, North Carolina; Roll: T625_1287; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 40. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Original data: Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. (NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. For details on the contents of the film numbers, visit the following NARA web page: NARA. Note: Enumeration Districts 819-839 are on roll 323 (Chicago City).
  4. Greenville County, South Carolina, Marriage License #2411 and Certificate, Probate Court Judge Guy A. Gullick.
  5. "United States Census, 1940," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 15 March 2018), Roy Childers, Black Mountain, Black Mountain Township, Buncombe, North Carolina, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 11-57, sheet 10A, line 22, family 206, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 - 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 2878.
  6. The National Archives at Atlanta; Atlanta, Georgia; WWII Draft Registration Cards for North Carolina, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 68. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
  7. "United States Social Security Death Index," database, FamilySearch ( : 20 May 2014), Roy Childers, 05 May 1996; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).
  8. Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed 11 December 2018), memorial page for Roy Arthur Childers (26 Dec 1905–5 May 1996), Find A Grave Memorial no. 31551569, citing Piney Mountain Baptist Church Cemetery, Weaverville, Buncombe County, North Carolina, USA ; Maintained by Christine Bumby Allen (contributor 47016532) .

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Memories: 1
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Our father Roy Arthur Childers was born as a younger son in the large family of Thomas Clingman Childers, Jr., and Bertha Franklin Childers in a cove of the Great Smoky Mountains called Couches Creek, near Smokemont and the Cherokee reservation. (Whenever, he spoke about his family, he would often say, with a sly twinkle in his eyes, “We might have a little Indian blood in us”, thus teasing our imaginations ever since.)

Though the family left Couches Creek temporarily around 1910 for work in the cotton mills of Greenville, South Carolina, and later the home place land was taken into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, he was always proud of that humble birthplace and took us sons, and anyone else who would go, back there as often as he could arrange a trip.

After decades of encroaching forest and undergrowth, the trip was never easy, as it involved picking a way through or under laurel thickets where once there had been a wagon road and crossing the creek on moss-covered stepping stones, again and again back and forth up the valley to the site of the old house. Nothing much remained except the mostly level house site beside the creek, a fallen chimney heap, a little hollow where there had once been a root cellar, and, in season, a yellow-flowering shrub suggesting a former homestead and the hand of someone wishing to add a pretty touch. However, his enthusiasm for that spot was remarkable and soon infected whoever was with him on the trip as he related his memories of boyhood exploits and family happenings there and tales of the few other families up and down the valley. Once he remembered seeing mysterious blue lights, moving down the valley, of which it was said to mean that someone had died.

Due to the difficulties of life on Couches Creek and the family’s temporary move to Greenville, South Carolina, around 1910, for the sake of jobs in the new cotton textile industry, he did not continue in school beyond the fourth grade. When he was in his early teens he left home to join the workforce required for the logging industry further back in the Smoky Mountains, so remote that the workers had to live in high-elevation camps during the week. Later, he reported being fed so much macaroni there in the camps that he could never stomach it thereafter.

He told us sons about the times when, during his several bachelor years, he lived in rooming houses, and when he worked for a time in an Akron, Ohio rubber plant and then back in North Carolina at another rubber plant in Waynesville. During this time he bought his first car, a new early-model Ford and later a motorcycle. Photos of him during those years show him smartly dressed-up, for leisure, while he of course wore much sturdier work clothes for his employment.

Eventually he settled into a job at the Beacon blanket factory in Swannanoa. There he soon learned the job of weaver, operating a large power Jacquard loom that, as he later loved to explain, derived its pattern from holes punched on a card. Later on, when I was employed as a computer programmer, that punched card reference became a useful metaphor for me in explaining the nature of my own work. In August 1938, he purchased a small house and land on Bee Tree Road a few miles north of Swannanoa, and in December of the next year he married our mother, Margaret Inez Shepherd.

By 1940 he was training new weavers and working as a “loom-fixer”. (Now I wonder if that humble title was devised by the mill owners to discourage expectation of higher pay for what was surely an important role in the plant.)

In that year, they moved to the small house on the Bee Tree Road property. While we boys were too young to remember some details of the time, our family photographs show the house in different phases of renovation from the earliest time when the exterior walls were unpainted wood siding and the plain shed roof was black to the later time when the walls were sheathed in white asbestos shingles and the neutral gray roof had a prominent gable above the front porch. Our father loved projects and usually had one underway, regardless of whether he was fully employed at the Beacon blanket factory, or later retired with more time at his disposal. Soon, with the arrival of a second son, he expanded the small house by building on an extra bedroom behind for us boys, with a screened back porch alongside, where family meals were eaten in summer. Likewise, he expanded the seating capacity of the 1937 Chevrolet coupe by cutting out the deck behind the seats and building, in the borrowed trunk space, a small bench seat which he neatly upholstered in brown naugahyde. Thus, he provided ample room behind for us two small boys. Across the road from the family home, he built a small house, with walls of board and batten siding stained a deep rust red, for rental income. The additional money was welcome, but with it came the anxiety of managing tenants. Once, during an unusual cold snap, a tenant attempted to thaw a frozen pipe by building a fire under the house. Only Daddy's vigilance prevented the obvious disaster.

Shortly after the third of us boys was born in 1950, our parents decided that we needed a bigger house and more land. They proceeded to buy the old Taylor Bell farm near Mother’s birthplace in north Buncombe County. Even though it would be much further for Daddy to drive to work, they were enthusiastic about having the larger place and living nearer to Mother’s Shepherd kin. It offered Daddy a larger scope for all the outdoor projects he loved, including within a few years, the big project of building a new house on the ridge closer to the public road. Mr. Woodson Emory was hired as the mason and carpenter, and Daddy served as the general contractor. During those days he worked the “graveyard” shift at Beacon so that he could be present during the daytime to confer with Mr. Emory and make other arrangements for supplies and subcontractors.

As we boys grew up and went off into our own separate lives, Roy revealed a large and open mind. Perhaps because his own formal education had been unfortunately too limited for his talents, he gladly supported us boys in getting as much education as possible of whatever kind we chose. And, while he was a reserved person who did not automatically like everyone he met, he always found it in his heart to welcome our friends and spouses with a warm handshake, sometimes a hug, and always genuine interest. He did believe his mountains were the best place in the world; so he was always eager to know what visitors from other places thought about the local scenery. In 1977, he and Mother boarded the train at Greenville, SC, and traveled to New York City, where I had lived since 1975, to visit me and my partner Jonathan. We met them at Pennsylvania Station and loaded them and their luggage into our little Toyota Camry wagon. (Daddy marveled at my ability to drive in the busy heart of Manhattan, which remarks surely made me glow with pleasure.) The succeeding days included a Circle Line tour around Manhattan, an excursion to the observation deck of the Empire State Building, a drive out to Jones Beach where a light rain did not impair our parents’ mutual delight in wandering the beach together in their raincoats, and a lavish supper at a Hungarian restaurant on the upper east side, arranged by Jonathan's sister Irene and her husband Joe. A passionate chanteuse entertained, and the event was not forgotten for many years afterward.

Our father continued his busy life of growing a big garden and building, making, and fixing things long after retirement. When he was in his mid-eighties, he surprised a visitor by taking out his chain saw and going to the woods to cut a poplar log for use in repairing a foot bridge.

By his modest example (he abhorred a braggart) throughout his long life, Roy taught us sons innumerable valuable lessons. Among them were the pleasure of working with our hands, the importance of doing a task thoroughly and well, the wisdom of not telling all to a too-inquisitive stranger (or even some acquaintances), and the precaution of not paying a bill in full until delivery is complete. And, of course, to buy a home rather than renting.

Daddy died on 5 May 1996 at the Baptist Nursing Home in Asheville, NC, after a brief illness. (Late in life, he had suffered a bad fall down the basement stairs, resulting in a brain hemorrhage requiring hospitalization and rehabilitation. Not long after he returned home, he suffered a sudden hip fracture while standing in the living room. That required another hospitalization and then the nursing home, where he rallied somewhat, but finally succumbed to an infection.) We laid our father to rest in the hilltop cemetery of Piney Mountain Baptist Church, among a host of Mother’s Shepherd kin, where she would join him four years later.

posted 10 Nov 2021 by Dwight Childers   [thank Dwight]
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