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CHAPTER IV. Part 1.
To Noah Arnold, President, Jaysville, Ohio:
In submitting this personal history for a family record, we do it as a pleasure, as well as a duty to each other, to aid us in remembering in better form many incidents of home life which would otherwise be lost or remembered but imperfectly.
As the members of our family arrived at a proper age they all, with but few exceptions, removed to an adjoining state, and as time passes home associations fade and become merged in the more active duties of life. This makes it more necessary that as individuals of one family we should assist in preserving such mementos of home association as may become the common property of all.
The day and year of my birth was October 24, 1831, at the old home, near Greenville, Darke county, Ohio.
Among my earliest recollections was the death of my brother, Isaac, which occurred April 2, 1836; when I was near four and a half years old. I recall that I was playing in the garden with a little hand-sled, in company with Henry Spray, when brother Noah came for me, and that he also had charge of me at the cemetery and showed me the grave at the burial. I also remember the time of my brother Henry's birth, which occurred March 11, 1836.
My first attendance at school was in the log school house at the end of the lane, brother Noah being the teacher. Among my earliest school-mates I recall was Abe Studebaker, now living near Bluffton; the Martz family, and some of Phillip Williams's family.
Some years later I attended school, with Noah as teacher, near Abbottsville, boarding with My Aunt Polly Pearson.
These were primitive days, and although my Uncle and Aunt Pearson were living in a one-roomed cabin with a large family of their own, at my mother's request they kindly boarded me that I might attend a summer school, at that time an unusual advantage.
I also attended school in the log school house near Sanford Harper's, under the instruction of brother Noah Arnold, and also of James Harper, now living for many years in North Carolina.
Among my schoolmates at the Harper school house were the families of Judge Hays, James Hall, Elias Carnahan and the Widow Harper.
Occasionally when there was no school in our own district, I was sent to these neighboring districts. My school education was acquired in district schools - principally in our own.
Uncle Abraham Studebaker's new brick house, but partially finished, was used in the winter of 1837 or 1838 for a school taught by Conrad Burgner. Among the scholars at this school were Peggy Studebaker, sister Polly [Hook] and brother John.
The little brick school house near Studebaker's built by him about this time, was from this on my only place of school attendance in our own district. The teachers whom I recall in this school house were: Daniel Hewitt, "Master" Jelleff, Sanford Harper, M. Spayde and David Beers. Among my school fellows the families of Studebakers, Uncle John Spray, John Martz, the Craigs, Rushes, Millers, Houses, Steins, Boyces and Sebrings.
The course of study in the district schools until about my confined solely to the "Three R's", but geography and grammar were then introduced as quite an innovation. I remember that Father was quite astonished and pleased when we could tell him of the position and history of so many near and distant places. The principal school books used were Webster's Spelling-book, the New Testament, the English Reader and its Introduction, and Talbot's Arithmetic. Ray's Arithmetic was introduced about the time I left school. Higher arithmetic and algebra were not taught.
The exciting political campaign of 1840 and the visit of Gen. William Henry Harrison to Greenville in July of that year is well remembered.
In the fall of 1842, with others of my family, I went to Dayton where I saw and heard Henry Clay make a speech from the platform.
In the fall of 1847, in company with brother William, made a horse-back trip to Indiana, visiting brothers John and George, then living on their farms on Eel River, in Whitley county. Passing through Huntington we visited the Miami Indian camp near that place, where they were gathered to receive their last government annuity previous to their removal to the Indian Territory.
In the fall of 1849, I went to Springfield, in Whitley county, Indiana, to clerk in brother William's store, which he had recently opened there, remaining with him until the succeeding spring, when I returned to assist Father in the summer duties of the farm.
That fall I intended to teach school, but before completing an engagement I accepted an offer from my Uncle David Studebaker to clerk in the store of Schlenker & Studebaker, in Greenville. I continued in their employ until they sold out some months later to Hart, Arnold & co., whom I assisted a short time. I then clerked in the store of Swisher & Compton until the early spring of 1852, at that time having been offered by my brother, William, an interest in his business in Springfield, Indiana.
I left for that place on March 1, 1852, arriving March 3, 1852. The trip was made by way of Fort Recovery, Bluffton and Huntington.
William had commenced the construction of a flour mill in which I at this time became interested, brother John taking an interest in the fall. We completed the mill in June, 1853.
Times were hard and much difficulty was experienced in carrying forward our business. Fort Wayne, thirty miles distant, was our nearest market, reached only by wagons over rough roads. From that place produce was transported to Toledo, Ohio, by canal. We continued in our milling and mercantile affairs until the fall of 1855, at which time brother William left the business, going first to Muscatine, Iowa, and later to Grand Rapids, Wisconsin, where he died in the fall of 1860. His withdrawal at this time left the business in a chaotic shape, as he had been the recognized head of the firm, and the circumstances under which he left was injurious to the credit of the concern. By hard work we saved it from bankruptcy.
I was married October 27, 1858, to Sarah A. Thomson, at the residence of Thomas Cleveland, in Columbia City, Indiana. She was the daughter of Ezra and Sarah Thomson and younger sister of Elmira Thomson, wife of brother John. She was born May 12, 1832, in Washington county, New York, and came to Whitley county, Indiana, in 1836, with her parents, settling on their land in that county. The common schools in Indiana were poor but the establishment of the Fort Wayne Female college gave advantages of education which she was enabled to employ, and she graduated from that institution in 1854 with the highest honors of her class, delivering the valedictory address.
She afterwards taught in the college, the Fort Wayne graded schools and elsewhere until her marriage.
We established our home at Springfield and I continued the mercantile in connection with the milling business which was managed by brother John, until the spring of 1872. During this time we associated brother Henry in the mercantile business. The fall and winter of 1860 and 1861 was spent in the law office of James S. Collins, at Columbia City, with the view of pursuing the profession of the law, but the breaking out of the war and the exigencies of the business at Springfield prevented my continuance in that design. I had not removed my family from Springfield.
My son, Thomson Arnold, was born August 7, 1859. He graduated from Asbury (now DePauw) University in 1882.
The following year he took a special course in the law school at Ann Arbor, Michigan, and later read law in the office of Judge Taylor, of Fort Wayne, and was admitted to practice in the State and Federal courts. He is now living in North Manchester, and is cashier of the First National Bank of that place. He was married November 4, 1886, to Miss Nellie Frazer, daughter of Judge James S. Frazer, of Warsaw, Indiana. They have one son, Frazer Arnold, born August 2, 1887.
My daughter, Margaret Arnold, was born April 19, 1862, and died December 31, 1864, of some sort of brain disease, after an illness of but few days duration. Her health had always been good and she was a bright and active child.
My second daughter, Frances, was born June 9, 1865. After completing the course in the North Manchester High School she attended the Indianapolis Female Seminary, graduating from there in 1882. The following year she spent at Wellesley College, Massachusetts, completing the Freshman course in that institution. From the fall of 1883 to the fall of 1887 she occupied the position of book-keeper and assistant cashier in the First National Bank of this place. She was married October 27, 1887, to Charles S. Baker, of the law firm of Stansifer & Baker, at Columbus, Indiana, where she now has her home. She has assisted me in this work.
My youngest daughter, Narcissa, was born May 14, 1870. She was graduated from the North Manchester High School in 1887, and from the Girls' Classical School at Indianapolis in 1888, and entered Wellesley College the following autumn, where she finished her Freshman course this spring. She has a position as teacher in the North Manchester Public Schools for the coming winter.
The business of Springfield was successfully and well established. We were until 1871 without a railroad to our town, but notwithstanding we maintained a good trade. The receipts of goods for us at the Columbia City depot, our place of shipment, ten miles distant, were stated by Mr. N.F. Follet, the freight agent as that place, to be larger than that of any other single firm in the county.
The building of the Eel River Valley railroad and its completion in 1871 induced me to remove to North Manchester, Wabash county, Indiana, for the purpose of establishing a bank. It was opened for business December 11, 1871, and I removed my family to that place May 22, 1872, where I have ever since lived. My bank was a partnership bank with brother John, and so continued until May, 1883, when it was reorganized into "The First National Bank of North Manchester, Indiana".
The death of brother John occurred October 11, 1880. By will he provided that the partnership business might continue without interruption for five years after his death.
We continued the business awhile and closed it up by agreement, the heirs being all of full age and competent to contract, excepting Ruskin Arnold, the youngest son, who will be 21 in November, 1889. The interest of John Arnold's heirs was merged in the First National Bank as the same had been held in the partnership bank.
We had purchased a flouring mill in Huntington, Indiana, in the year 1867, in which we still hold our interest, and also our property (including the mill) at Springfield, now called South Whitley. The store having been sold about 1877, a private bank was opened there which is still continued by myself and nephew, James, brother John's son.
My experience in official life has been limited. The interests of a continued and active business would have compelled this even if my tastes, habits and inclinations had been in that direction.
During the period of my mercantile business I was postmaster for nine years and notary public and conveyancer for eight years. I was made custodian of the bounty fund raised by the people of Cleveland township, Whitley county, for the purpose of securing men to fill the quota of troops required from that township during the war. I was treasurer of Cleveland township one or two years and was also trustee of the town of North Manchester two terms at the time of its incorporation. I was also representative from Wabash county in the Fifty-first Legislative Assembly of the State of Indiana, spending the winter of 1879 in Indianapolis.
My business associations have been mainly with my brothers - William, John, Henry and Isaac N., also my son, Thomson, as heretofore mentioned, and since the death of brother John, his sons, James, William and Ruskin have become associated with me in the prosecution of the business, and I take this occasion to say that better or more exemplary young men, possessed of good sense and judgment, I cannot remember to have met, and what is quite unusual, they are all free from the tobacco habit either of chewing or smoking.
My health has been good during the thirty-seven years of business in which I have now been actively engaged since the spring of 1852. I have not, but with one exception, missed a single week's time from my duties by reason of sickness.
The conditions under which I began with brother William in 1852 and the attending circumstances since that time, including especially the death of brother John in 1880, leaving me as the business survivor, has seemed to place me in positions of such responsibility that I could scarcely at any time disengage myself without a sense of discomfort and fear of loss and possible disaster. I still continue in good health, free from pain or any organic weakness, and my weight of 155 pounds has varied little in thirty-five years. My height is about five feet and eleven inches.
The health of my family and their situation socially and otherwise, is satisfactory. My business is in a hopeful condition and fairly prosperous, but I am wishing to disengage myself from its more exacting duties and requirements as fast as I can without loss, and with due regard to the proper interests involved.
Many thoughts come to the mind as we contemplate the years of the vanishing past. As the central figures in our memories we see our parents, ever present from the earliest childhood recollections until in the years of our maturity we bade adieu to our old home. We recall the care and trials they endured to bring us up with those advantages of school education and moral and religious teachings which the times could permit, and to which we are so much indebted for whatever standard of integrity and high character we may be permitted to boast.
We believe few men were our father's superior in the qualities of strong common sense and good judgment. A man of much energy of character, he was yet a man of peace and not given to overreaching in matters of business, and a high sense of justice and equity was ever apparent in his actions and conversation.
The strength and characteristic energy of my mother, coupled with a degree of intelligence and great firmness and decision in all matters pertaining to the moral and intellectual, as well as physical well-being of the family, recurs to me at this time of my life as a main factor of that influence by which a family so large as ours was preserved from many baneful habits and associations.
Father took the Western Christian Advocate, published at Cincinnati; the Dayton Journal, published at Dayton, Ohio and the Greenville Journal. Our books were few and a common sort, but mother was a great reader and possessed a good memory, and, as I remember, there are few women even at the present day so well informed as she was in the current topics of the time. She was a Methodist from my earliest recollections, and always maintained a high degree of respect for the influence and teachings of the church. It was doubtless largely through her influence and example that our family became identified with the Methodist church. Our father's earlier associations were mostly with the Friends, or Quakers. Becoming the stepmother of a family of six children, who with the seven of her own (one of whom died at the age of 6 years), necessarily made her household duties very great. This large family was all settled in life from the home excepting James and Lydia, who were not married at her death. I think it may be said that no house or home in our neighborhood was better kept or better cared for than was ours. We can say of our parents that they recognized the duties of life and had the firmness and prescience to carry them out.
In recalling personal associations, sister Delilah and brother Noah are not remembered by me as living in the old home. I do remember Noah's marriage to Amelia Stingley, but he had been engaged in business for himself previous to that event. But after these, brothers George, John, sister Polly and brother William, all older than myself, and sister Maria and brothers Henry, Isaac, James and sister Lydia were all part of the household at some time during my stay at home.
Of this family of twelve children, all lived to mature years and settled in life. Four have departed, and the old home, now in the hands of strangers, it but seldom visited.
North Manchester, Indiana, July 23, 1889.
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