William Arleigh Eubank
April 7, 1900  -  November 23, 1987

1933 - 1945
Andrews, North Carolina
. . . the writing years

  by Iris Teta Eubank Wagner
- for my father

From our house in town, my father sat to write  in a small upstairs room facing west, and down the long slope to Main Street.  He would sit, long fingers poised on the keys, whispering, to himself . . .  listening to the tone of his sentence structure . . . then he would relax, lean back, and ease his focus to dream, down Locust Street, past city park, to Main Street.  Farther out across the valley he could see the Snowbird Mountains, sometimes caught in mist after summer afternoon rain.   His focus would always return to the story line.  Writing in the afternoons started at two o'clock.   Sounds of the clacking keys from the old Underwood, at intervals, would continue through the afternoon, until my mother called him to dinner.

                                                    Our House in Town

Choreography of Fingers to Keys  
Feeling sure he could get into the writing market, my father bought his first typewriter in 1933, and, learning from his Aunt Hat the basic choreography of fingers to keys, he taught himself to type.  
Hat Swagerty worked as a stenographer in the freight office at the  Southern Railroad Depot in Knoxville.  

About this time William's mother Fanny Swagerty Eubank  began to write and publish features and stories.  Mother and son were able to critique the work of each.  And William typed  his mother's stories for submission to publishers. She and my father were close and conferred on all matters of family  and intellectual pursuit.  Together they gave me my name - Iris Teta from one of their favorite novels The Bridge of Time by William Henry Warner.  The book is an early 20th century time travel novel in which ancient Egyptian princess Teta travels through time to reappear as Iris in the England of 1914 in the time of the World War.

Both grandmother and my father read and studied the culture, architecture and artifacts of the ancient world.  After study for a year at Lincoln Memorial University, William came home one weekend, met my mother, and thereafter, trips from college back home  became too long and too infrequent.

He began to read in the study of geology - the rocks and the geological periods that formed them.  He was interested in the stars and planetary science throughout his life.  He watched Neil Armstrong land on the moon in 1969.   Below is a photo taken a few years before his death in 1987.

This is one of my favorite pictures of my father in later life.  It was taken on Christmas morning, 1983, by Sheila Eubank, my brother Mims' wife.  Daddy  had just opened his gift from my sister Betty Jean : Carl Sagan's book Cosmos.  Immediately he had  the magnifying glass in hand, and began to read with his one good eye.

Hours at the Typewriter Began to Pay
I have many of the magazine issues in which William is published, and the earliest one I've found is June 1936, when he began to  regularly publish a series of stories about the exploits of a fictional, eccentric old gentleman he called Bascom Sprowls.  He sold the stories to  The Southern Agriculturist, a magazine published in Nashville, Tennessee, which was a popular publication of the time, featuring articles by major political leaders such as Tennessee's Cordell Hull, President Roosevelt's Secretary of State.  The series continued until the start of the War in 1941.

From 1943, William began to be published in the  popular pulp market, and most often in Street and Smith's Love Story and Romance Magazines.  Finding a reliable agent, Mrs Katherine Grimes of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, he continued to publish in a variety of magazines through the 1940's.

He published in New York's Everywoman's Metropolitan Edition, from 1942 through 1946.  

Among my mother's favorite stories by my father was one published in Everywoman's during the years of World War II.  When Ships Come In tells the story of an elder farm wife, Susie, whose son had died in France  during the war, and she had saved her "butter and egg money all summer" to afford  a trip to see the ocean on which her son had sailed to join the war.  And troubles ensued, but the stranger she and husband Al Stone met along the way made a difference. 

For The Southern Agriculturist and too, for Family Circle in the late 1940's, William wrote many human interest stories.

In addition to his fiction . . .
William wrote feature articles for regional newspapers, most often for the Asheville Citizen-Times.  He  covered southwestern North Carolina resources, industries, and points of interest and recreation -  the lakes, rivers, and state parks - i.e. articles about the chestnut tree blight, TVA dams and their power plants under construction, the marble industry, lumber industry, etc.   He would privately research his articles, then, when it came time to interview on site,  he would usually take our family with him on an outing and picnic to have fun while he interviewed the client  on site for his feature. 

Family and Historical Context in which William wrote his stories.

Visits to Grandmother Eubank's Cottage
From our house in town we would visit grandmother Eubank at her cottage up near the Junaluska Terrace Hotel.

Grandmother's cottage, 1935 - Fanny Eubank, Bonnie, Mims, George running toward Daddy and the camera, and Betty Jean  in front.

The cottage was built in 1927 for grandmother by her son-in-law George B. Hoblitzell, who was husband of William's sister Clara Louise, known as  "Trilby."        

First Half  of 20th Century in Valleytown  
The Junaluska Terrace Hotel (below)was  built in 1926 by William T. Moore of Andrews.  The exterior and chimneys and fireplaces were built with thousands of small river rocks, geological periods old.  The hotel stood in east Andrews at the intersection of Junaluska Road and old highway Route 10 to Asheville, now Scenic Route 74, an 80-mile ride northeast.

The ballroom was huge. As a little girl I remember looking down at the floor and thinking it looked just like the floor at the cottage - both were oak flooring. (Electricity was connected at the time of construction in 1927. Plumbing was installed at the cottage in 1930 by a direct water line from the hotel.)  A huge stone fireplace was at the east end of the hotel ballroom.   A hunter had brought back the great head of a buffalo from the Western states, and it hung above the fireplace.  The only place I'd seen a buffalo was in the movies, yet I knew this guy, with cold glass eyes, and great mane about his head, used to be a complete and thunderful live buffalo.  During cold snaps in winter, grandmother took up residence at the hotel.

Later, after our move to Tennessee. . . .
On trips back home from Tennessee in the late 1940's to visit the cottage, I could not wait to see   that large, white latticed sign that stood at the intersection at Junaluska, where we turned to go up and around a couple of curves to the cottage.  The latticed sign had a large arrow that directed  and welcomed motorists to the hotel. Unfortunately, this beautiful and unique hotel was destroyed by fire in 1950.

Valleytown's Early Heritage
Junaluska Road was named in honor of, and to remember a prominent Cherokee Indian Junaluska, who owned land, and, at the time of the Indian Removal in 1838,  lived along this earliest road through Valleytown, crossing Wayah   Bald  to Franklin, North Carolina. (map below)

Library of Congress, Wellington Williams - 1855
This map shows the Smoky Mountain Range at top, and the old road from Valleytown to Franklin in the lower portion. The Tatham Gap Road takes off directly north from Valleytown, across the Snowbird Mountains, into the Santeetlah area, eventually crossing the Great Smokies, and a ferry across the Little Tennessee River.

During the Cherokee Removal, Junaluska traveled the arduous way to exile in the west with his people.  A few years later, he returned to his homeland near Robbinsville, North Carolina, and lived and died there on November 26, 1858.  A monument marks his grave (below).                                                 

William A. Eubank,  Asheville-Citizen, published  June 16, 1940.

Early settler William Walker built his home about a half-mile up Junaluska Road.  Enlarged and improved by the late 1800's, the home came to be known as the Walker Inn, a place that welcomed tourists and summer residents. The present proprietors continue to welcome travelers to their comfortable and historic inn. 

William Walker  was the grandfather of historian  Margaret Walker Freel, author of Our Heritage: the People of Cherokee County, North Carolina.

 Drawing of the Walker Inn, Andrews, North Carolina - Iris Teta Eubank Wagner 1973

When my husband George Wagner and I moved from New York to Andrews in 1971 to manage the local newspaper The Andrews Journal, I worked with Mrs. Freel for weeks at the Inn, labeling and cataloging her extensive collection which included items of family and county history.  In 1973 George and I, through the Journal, reprinted her valuable history with original copyright in 1957.   Mrs. Freel and my grandmother Fanny Eubank were close friends, fellow writers, and both intellectally gifted.

Thomas Tatham's Cabin 
Known as the oldest house still standing in  Cherokee County is Thomas Tatham's cabin.  Thomas Tatham was an early settler in Valleytown, and probably built his cabin  in the early 1830's.  The cabin is located a few hundred feet from the site of the Junaluska Terrace Hotel.  The cabin and much of Thomas Tatham's original tract is still owned by his descendants. 

The Decision to Move from Our Home
William learned of the enormous and "secret" government project . . . whatever it was . . .  under construction across the mountains in east Tennessee, known as Oak Ridge.  He learned the place was hiring engineers and paying well.  The decision to move away from his home and his mother, and sister in Andrews, took some time, a few years in fact.  William wasn't sure he wanted to leave Andrews. His writing was selling regularly. Bonnie was now the Andrews correspondent for the Asheville Citizen-Times, and she enjoyed the work.  These were the uncertain war years of the early 1940's.  Not sure he wanted to leave home was just as well, because of the difficulty in obtaining a work release from one employer to work for another.  But, for William, on applying for work in Oak Ridge at the personnel department of Tennessee Eastman Corporation, he was told, "You'll have  your work release immediately!"

In May, 1945, months before the War  was over, my father began work in  Oak Ridge.
      . . . of course, he kept writing.

Original Narrative and Website © Iris Teta Eubank Wagner 2015