Brown, Aris and Sirena “Rena” (Hare)

submitted by Edith Weldon (Brown) Cauble, Sanford Webster Brown, and
Mary M. (Nieblas) Brown
Aris and Rena were married by R.C. Sales in his Asheville home on December 24, 1895. Witnesses were B.C. Brown, M. Presley and Sallie Sales. The newlywed’s first night was spent as guests of Aris’ brother, Caney Brown. Aris was the sixth child of William Burton and Mary Catherine (Spain) Brown; Rena was the daughter of Elizabeth “Betsy” Hare. For many years Aris worked at Biltmore House as a laborer in the greenhouse, the yards around the mansion, and the dairy (milking cows) – all for $1.00 a day. As part of his duties, every morning and evening he carried milk to the Biltmore House kitchen. The morning after his first child was born, he mentioned to the cook that he had a “new” baby girl (Edith Weldon). When he returned that evening, the cook gave him an envelope addressed to “Baby Brown” – in it was a gold dollar. Aris and Rena had five other children: Frank Webster; Floyd Burton; twins, Paul and Pauline; and Fletcher Morris.

On October 6, 1904, Aris purchased from Mr. and Mrs. W. Reiley (Susan) Earwood a run-down farm in Buena Vista and 30 acres of land. With his wife Aris brought new life into the old buildings and farm land. Aris tried several crops on his newly purchased property including wheat and tobacco – however, corn and potatoes proved to be his best crops. Aris had the first wheat binder in this part of the country. The family was pretty self- sufficient – what with their vegetable garden, fruit trees, a cow, chickens, and a hog or two. Canning, smoking and salting were typical ways of preserving their food for post-season use. (During World War I salt was very scarce. Rena often told of scraping salt from the smoke-house walls for use in the house.) To supplement the staples. Aris helped grade roads in Biltmore Forest using a team of horses and a drag pan.

On April 24, 1925, after the family was firmly established, a barn caught fire destroying everything in it – two mules, two horses (Dock & Dan), a young cow and some setting hens. Also destroyed was a beautiful two-seated carriage that Aris used for earning extra money by meeting the train at the Biltmore Depot and carrying folks to the Vanderbilt Mansion.

During his life-time, Aris bought many parcels of land. Oral family history says that at one time you could start walking early in the morning and by sundown you would not have reached the end of his land. Like so many people, Aris “lost” his hard-earned savings when the banks failed during the 1930’s Great Depression. After that, he wouldn’t use a Bank, but preferred to create his own repositories.

Aris, a small, balding man with blue-grey eyes neither “dipper,” smoked, chewed nor uttered a curse word in his entire life. Aris was a founder of the Buena Vista Baptist Church and at the time of his death was its oldest member. That church contains a window as his memorial. He was a good provider for his family. Often this meant plowing even when his rupture was bothering him. He’d just pause momentarily, fall to his knees, clutch his abdomen, rest a while, and then struggle to his feet and continue plowing. He also loved his animals – especially two mules called Haley and Beck.

Rena, who grew up in the Gashes Creek area of Asheville, often recounted the tale of being chased up a tree by a wild pig. She was a tall, handsome woman with beautiful white, wavy hair and dark eyes. Her grandson (Sanford Brown) will always remember her as she was in later years – rocking away in her chair with its cloth bag on the side filled with hard candy for the children, humming an old mountain tune. He often wondered how she could be so content when she had been crippled with arthritis and confined to her chair for so many years. Her worn Bible with its many marked passages is in the safe keeping of Edith (Brown) Cauble.

Aris (1867-1951) and Rena (1871-1957) are buried at New Salem Cemetery, Skyland, NC.

Source: Personal knowledge
from Heritage II, article #71, p. 108

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