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To my Three Sons:
The little black book, entitled "The Arnold Family", that is in my library, purports to cover, so far as was determinable in 1888, the factual data regarding the ancestry and descendants of Moses Arnold, who was my father's grandfather. In this volume, particular attention was given to the family of William Arnold, third son of Moses Arnold, who was my grandfather.
As William Arnold had thirteen children, twelve of whom grew to maturity, the cousins of mine, second cousins of yours, and third or fourth cousins of your children, naturally fans out into quite a family, although the mortality rate has been rather high in my generation. It has been intimated to me several times that I am the logical one to take up the task of bringing "The Arnold Family" down to date. While this suggestion has a certain appeal to my vanity, it would be quite a task and I have no particular desire to attempt it, feeling as I do that the story of the Arnolds is essentially a private, unimportant matter at best. However, for such benefit or satisfaction as it may be to your or your children, I am undertaking to supplement the book to the extent of developing the story of my father, James Townsend Arnold, and his descendants. In this connection, I will introduce such information as I am able to recall regarding the history of my mother's family, leaving to your own mother the task of furnishing data regarding her background. In this way, you and your children will have as nearly a complete family record as can be assembled without tedious genealogical investigation.
You will find that the work is largely a biography of my father, interlarded with anecdote piled upon anecdote, in an effort to make him live again for you, as he has lived for me for so many years.
My father always insisted that it had been his good fortune to live in the most interesting period of the world's history, and considering that the ninety years of his life covered the development of industrial America, from the electric telegraph to the radio, and all that lay between, his claim was not entirely without foundation.
My own career, beyond certain events of my childhood and early youth, which arise as incidental to the story of my father, does not really enter into the tale, I feeling that, should the occasion ever arise to make its recording desirable, it might better be taken care of by one of you.
The use of real names has prevailed throughout and, as I have told things as I remember them, and with some frankness, a bit of caution might be advisable passing it around or quoting from it to people who might be offended. This is for your protection - they can't get back at me, I will probably be dead long years before time gives the story any value.
James S. Arnold
New York, N.Y.
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