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Joseph Arthur Graybeal

Rural Mail Carrier

by Kyle Graybeal

My grandfather was Joseph Arthur Graybeal (Peter Sr., David, Joseph, David Melvin). He was the second child, of David Melvin and Maryann Jones Graybeal and was born on their farm 15 December 1879 in the Lansing Community, of Ashe County, North Carolina. Arthur, as he was called, was a descendant of Peter Graybeal and Christina Wampler, who came to the area of Wilkes County, North Carolina that is now Ashe County in the late 1780s.

On August 14, 1901, he married Ida Jane Thompson, daughter of Isham Thompson and Lucretia Simmons, at her father’s home in the Sussex Community.

On 26 December of the same year in which they were married, Arthur bought land bordering Isham Thompson’s farm from Ida’s brother Wilborn G. Thompson. Their first three children were born on this farm.

Arthur taught school for a short while, but in 1904 obtained a job as rural mail carrier with the U. S. Postal Department. Arthur worked out of the Grassy Creek, N. C. Post Office, sometimes on horseback, and sometimes in a small buggy. The roads in those days were rough, rocky, and often times muddy, connecting widely spaced, often isolated houses. Arthur carrier the mail under these less than ideal conditions for thirty years.

The job came with an assortment of hazards and hardships, all of which Arthur survived, although narrowly on one occasion. One calamity which he nearly did not survive, happened at the end of the day on his way home. Arthur was crossing Grassy Creek which had become swollen and was out of its banks. He proceeded to cross, thinking he would be able ford the stream in his one horse buggy; the current was so strong that the horse and buggy were washed away. Arthur survived only by grabbing hold of a fence which went over the stream down from where he had tried to cross. Sometimes during periods of winter weather where temperatures were sub-zero, Arthur would walk and lead the horse to keep from freezing while sitting still in the saddle.

Besides working his mail route he was also a farmer, raising an assortment of crops, cattle and other live stock.

In November of 1911 he moved his family to a farm on Grassy Creek in Grayson County, which he purchased from E. B. Spencer. It was here that their fourth child, Paul was born in 1912.

About 1919 he bought an even larger farm in Grayson County, part of which had been owned by W. H. Robbins. It was here that Arthur and Ida spent the rest of their lives. Some of Arthur and Ida’s neighbors in their new community were George Reeves, Roscoe Barker, Levi Vanhoy, James Vanhoy, William Kilby, Joe and Edna Peak, Robert and Sarah Peak, and Rush Peak. Robert Peak, Rush Peak and the Vanhoys lived on York Ridge on what in 1920 was known as York Ridge Road. The other families lived along what was then called Peak Branch Road. Arthur and Ida’s children were:
(1) Eva Notra (1903 – 1977) who married Albert Hobson Hash from the Fox Community;
(2) Horace Gwynn (1906- 1964) who married Pauline Threadgill Hensley;
(3) Kyle V.”Dutch” (1909 – 1985) who married Alice Tuggle from Bluefield, West Virginia;
(4) Paul Thompson (1912) who married Margaret Eloise Sexton from Grayson County.

Arthur retired from the Postal Service in 1932, but by this time cataracts were taking their toll on his eyesight which he eventually lost completely. In August 1951 he and Ida celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at their home with Arthur’s brother Winfield A. Graybeal, former Methodist Minister presiding.

During his days as rural mail carrier Arthur became well known and very well liked by all the members of the community. He was known as a solid citizen and widely regarded as a man of great integrity. One story told by an older member of the Grassy Creek Community, was that Arthur always carried candy for the children on his mail route at Christmas time.

Arthur died February 11, 1961 after being ill for about a year. Arthur and Ida are buried in the Grassy Creek Community Cemetery next to the Grassy Creek Baptist Church.

Sources: Information supplied, Paul T. Graybeal, Federal Personnel Records, personal knowledge.

Kyle R. Graybeal
37 Spring Lake Drive
Stafford, VA 22554
(703) 659-9551