Peter McArthur

 

 
Peter McArthur-1838-

The following has been contributed by Janine Lockwood.

 

MEMOIRS OF THE LOWER OHIO VALLEY
Pages 57, 58, 59

PETER McARTHUR, a retired citizen of Dayton, Ky., is a member of a family that has been long 
and prominently identified in the history of Campbell, County, KY. His grandfather, whose name 
was also Peter, was born in Argyleshire, Scotland, in 1764. When he was about twenty years of age 
he came to America, having for his traveling companion on the voyage his cousin, Duncan McArthur, 
who rose to the rank of general in the war of 1812 and was the eighth governor of the State of Ohio. 
Peter McArthur came to Kentucky, located near Georgetown, and soon afterward found 
employment as a surveyor, following that occupation for several years in Central Kentucky and 
Southern Ohio, locating land warrants for the soldiers who served in the Revolutionary War.

 In 1815 he settled in Newport, where he engaged in the hotel business, and lived there until his death in July, 1828. On Dec. 26, 1800, he married Mrs. Mary Tompkins, nee Michie, a native of Louisa 
County, VA, but of Irish extraction. She died Sept. 1, 1853, and was buried by the side of her 
husband in Evergreen Cemetery at Newport. Their children were Augustus E., Thomas Jefferson, 
Gilbert, Nancy, and James Madison, all now deceased. James Madison, the youngest of the family, 
was born near Georgetown, Jan. 31, 1810, and was five years old when his parents removed to 
Newport. There he attended private schools until he was fifteen years of age, when he entered 
Center college, at Danville, and studied for one year, which completed his schooling. Upon reaching 
manhood he became an extensive dealer in real estate, at one time owning over one-third of the land 
in Campbell county. He then turned his attention to the improvement of Newport; opened the first 
street in the city; invested large sums of capital in the building of houses for residence and business 
purposes; sold much of his property on long time to assist others in getting homes; established the 
Newport Safety Fund bank, and was its president from 1852 to 1856; in company with James T. 
Berry and Henry Walker he laid out the town of Dayton; spent both time and money in building up 
the new town; built the street railway between Dayton and Newport; owned it for nine years, after 
which he sold it and turned his attention to other lines of business. Mr. McArthur was also active in 
politics. For ten years he was president of the Newport city council; was twice elected to the 
legislature in 1846 and in 1873; introduced and secured the passage of the "Cemetery Act;" the act 
of leving tax on real estate to aid in the establishment of common schools; the mechanics' lien law; 
and various other important acts of legislation.

In 1837 he was married to Miss Mary J., daughter of Charles Stricker, of Philadelphia. She died on April 6, 1893, and he on Feb. 11, 1900. They had seven children, viz.: Peter, born May 28, 1838, the subject of this sketch; Mary, born April 10, 1840, and died June 1. 1865; Alice, born March 4, 1842, now the widow of Henry M. Rand; Annie, born Sept. 30, 1844, now Mrs. T. J. Haggard, of Dayton, KY,; Charles, born Jan. 8, 1847, connected with the Savannah, Florida & Western railway, at Jacksonville, Fla.; Ida, born June 1, 1850, and died March 17, 1894; William W., born Oct. 23, 1858, and died Jan. 3. 1903.

Peter McArthur, the eldest child of the family, has always claimed Campbell county as his home. He was educated in the public schools of Dayton and finished his education with a course at College Hill, O. After leaving school he engaged in mercantile pursuits at Carthage and continued in that business 
until the war broke out. During the war he did all he could do to advance the cause of the 
Confederacy. After the war he went to Missouri, where he followed merchandizing for about two 
years, when he returned to Newport and was superintendent of the Newport and Dayton Street 
railroad until 1875. For some time succeeding this he was proprietor of a line of steamboats running 
between Memphis, Tenn., and points on the Black and White rivers in Arkansas. In 1902 he sold 
out his interests in this business and since then has lived retired at Dayton. Mr. McArthur has always 
taken an active interest in politics; served as deputy sheriff for a number of years; was once 
nominated for sheriff but was defeated by a combination of circumstances; and is always ready to 
do his part to advance the interests of his party. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity and the 
Independent Order of Odd Fellows. On May 18, 1865, he was married to Miss Calista E., daughter 
of Dr. Willard F. TAft, a distant relative of the family from which comes W. H. Taft, the present 
secretary of war. Mr. and Mrs. McArthur have five children: Mame is the wife of Charles 
Auspaugh, of Dayton; Ida Lee is deceased; Jesse is in the laundry business at Dayton; Belle is now 
Mrs. Hubbard Schwartz (see sketch); and Calista is at home with her parents. Mrs. McArthur and 
the children belong to the Baptist church.

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A similar sketch of this family can be found in the HISTORY OF KENTUCKY AND KENTUCKIANS pages 966 & 967.

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James M McArthur 1810-1900



CONFEDERATE MILITARY HISTORY
Pages 444, 445, 446

J. M. McArthur, of Dayton, KY., born January 31, 1810, died February 11, 1900, was prominent in 
public affairs for sixty years, and though not in the military service of the Confederacy, he and his 
family did much for the cause and are gratefully remembered by many a soldier to whom they 
rendered help in time of need. He was born near Georgetown, KY., in 1810. His father, Peter 
McArthur, a native of Argyleshire, Scotland, came to America in 1784, and followed the profession 
of surveying; was a cousin of Duncan McArthur, governor of Ohio; for a long time was engaged in 
locating land warrants for the soldiers of the Revolution, and in 1815 made his home at Newport. J. 
M. McArthur was reared at that city, and near there, in 1837, was married to Mary J. Stricker.

Quite early in life he began investing in real estate, and persevered with such determination that at one time he owned actually more than one third of the land in Campbell County. While at Newport he was elected to the legislature in 1846, and for ten consecutive years was president of the city council. In 1848 he removed to Dayton, then known as Jamestown, which he had laid out with the assistance of 
James T. Berry and Henry Walker. There he was president of the city council eight years, built the 
street railway between Dayton and Newport in 1870 and in 1873 was again sent to the legislature. 

During the war his home was a refuge for escaped prisoners, Confederate scouts and recruiting 
agents, and he furnished money liberally for their assistance. On one occasion he gave Mrs. 
Parmenter, a poor washerwoman, $300 with which to secure the escape of two prisoners at McLean 
barracks, one of whom, a Mr. Wood, of Missouri, afterward did his country good service. Several 
times escaped prisoners were hidden in what was called "the black hole" at his home, while the 
Yankee soldiers walked over their heads in a fruitless search. Though almost constantly shadowed 
by Federal spies, many daring schemes to aid the Confederacy were planned beneath his roof. On 
more than one occasion it was threatened to send his family through the lines or to Canada, and take 
his home for use as official headquarters or hospital, and he was always ready for emergency, 
keeping large sums of money hidden in cans in his garden.

When the end came with Lee's surrender, there were about a dozen poor stranded "rebels" with him, whom he furnished money with which to pay their way home. His wife, no less devoted, was untiring in sending food to the prisoners at Kemper and McLean barracks, Cincinnati, and boxes of clothing and edibles to prisoners at a distance. The eldest, Capt. Peter McArthur, who before the war was with the party that dumped into the Ohio river the entire outfit of an abolition paper, printed at Newport, was a 
gallant Confederate soldier, spent seven months at Camp Chase prison, Ohio, and after Capt. T. H. 
Hines escaped from prison at Chicago, piloted him safely to Gubser's Mills, where he was taken in 
charge by Jim Caldwell, a successful recruiting officer, who guided him through the lines. Mamie, 
the second child, famous as a beauty, spent her entire allowance purchasing arms and clothing for 
Confederates. She died June 1, 1865, aged twenty-four years. Alice, another daughter, took 
Captain Hines in a buggy loaded with arms and ammunition to the home of Judge Boyd, while he 
was recruiting a regiment near Florence, at a time when a reward of $50,000 was offered for Hines, 
dead or alive.

 After the war she married a gallant Confederate, Lieut. H. W. Rand, of the Kanawha 
Riflemen, Twenty-second Virginia infantry, who served under Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee. 
Annie married Lieut. T. J. Haggard, of Morgan's cavalry, who was captured during the Ohio raid 
and imprisoned a long time at Johnson's island. Charles, now in the railroad service in Florida, at the 
age of sixteen years waited in a buggy at the Newport ferry to take Captain Hines to his father's, after his escape from the Sam Thomas house. Ida Lee, a strikingly handsome woman, became the wife of Dr. C. B. Schoolfield, of Dayton, and died in 1894. Will, the youngest, was also a warm little 
"rebel." Accompanying his parents to Columbus, Ohio, to secure the release of his brother, who 
was sick, he was bought a toy gun, and when an officer at the camp asked him why he was carrying 
tht gun, he promptly replied "to shoot Yankees." He was remonstrated with by his parents 
afterward, and told he would spoil the hopes of his brother's release. So, when quizzed again by the 
same officer on the second visit, about the purpose of his gun, he diplomatically answered, "to shoot 
rabbits."

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