Search billions of records on Ancestry.com

Welcome To Trinity County!  
Heart of the Texas Forest Country

Return to Home Page/Return to Biographies and Historical Narratives Page

THE JONATHAN ARNOLD FAMILY

By Alton Arnold

(Date of this writing is not known—probably the 1980’s—see page 2; paragraph 2)

            Jonathan H. Arnold lived an interesting life, sometimes romantic, sometimes tragic, and sometimes humorous.  The United States Census of 1840 shows him to be a boy of one year of age living with his father and mother, Elisha and Martha Arnold, in Choctaw County (or Panola County), Mississippi.  Although little is known about the early life of Jonathan, his descendants sumise that he was brought up in a pioneer family, accustomed to hardships and frugality.

            A person would guess that someone of his ancestors could have been a minister, for his grandfather Arnold was named Moses, and his father’s name was Elisha.  It is no wonder then that the family named him Jonathan.  Without any definite design it can be noted that these names cover the period from the Egyptian Exodus to the slaying of Goliath.  Indeed, no one knows the nationality of Elisha Arnold except word has been handed down, that he was of English descent, and that the Arnolds had, like so many others of their time, migrated from some southern English plantation searching for a better life in the West.  If Elisha had a biblical name it made little difference, for he might as well have had gypsy blood in his veins.  His travels will become obvious as you read this account.

            In the year 1848, just three years after Texas had become a state, Elisha decided that the new territory was a land of opportunity, and regardless of the fact that he had a wife, Martha, and several small children, he began the overland journey by wagon, aiming to settle somewhere West of the Nueces River.  We he arrived in Texas that same year, Jonathan was only nine years of age.

            The Arnold family is known to have sustained themselves by farming with the likelihood of raising some cattle, but Elisha was attracted to Trinity County sometime after his arrival in East Texas.  Evidently he had spent some time in Rusk County and Houston County before coming to Trinity County.  At any rate, Elisha eventually moved on to Bell County and tradition has it that he became the manager of a large farm[1].  In some of the records he at one time had designated himself as “overseer.”  He is later known to have moved to Grayson County in Northeast Texas where he died at the age of sixty years.  After his death his wife, Martha, came back to Trinity County where she died on January 1, 1891, at the age of 83 years.  Her grave and headstone may be located in the cemetery at Glendale, Texas.[2]

            The foregoing is given simply as a background for Elisha’s son, Jonathan, who lived the greater part of his life in Trinity County.  Jonathan had three brothers and seven sisters who grew up and moved to other parts of this country, but Jonathan always felt himself to be a part of Trinity County, and it is the purpose of this writing to give some account of his later life in that surrounding.

No doubt Jonathan early in life learned that survival meant work, and work in such a large family meant cooperation, but this man even in his teen years had a knack for meeting and mingling with people.  Before he was twenty years old he had been experimenting with the violin usually referred to as the “fiddle” and had learned the tunes of the day.  This love of music was contagious for later several of his children learned to play stringed instruments.  The young man, Jonathan, became, well known among the young people of the country round about when he attended the dances that were sometimes held for entertainment purposes.  He helped to furnish the music.

It was at one of these dances that Jonathan met and later married a young lady by the name of Tobitha Jane Rosamon.  In her old age she recalled the incident, “We young people used to travel miles to a gathering place for square dancing and for entertainment in general,” she said.  Sometimes because of the heavy rains and poor roads the dancers could not return home.  She remembered that on some occasions those living farther away stayed as long as a week before they could leave because of the high water in the creeks.  On one particular occasion Jonathan was playing for the dancers and Tobitha Jane was sitting with some of the girls.  She turned to the girl sitting next to her and said, “You see the boy playing the fiddle—he’s mine if I never get him.”  The young lady replied:  “You can have him, he’s my brother.”  Young people in the 1860’s were not much different from young people in the 1980’s.

Tobitha Jane and Jonathan were married in the fall of 1861 and immediately left Trinity County on horseback to take a job in Bell County.  Evidently his father, Elisha, had arranged for this job because Elisha had already moved to Bell County.  From all accounts the owner of the ranch where he worked was a rather wealthy man because he and his wife gave frequent entertainments.  Tobitha Jane remembered that there were many social affairs—food, music, and ladies in beautiful dresses. 

Tobitha Jane came to Texas with some members of her family when she was seventeen years of age.  She was also from Choctaw County.  It is rather odd that the Arnolds and the Rosamons had lived in the same county in Mississippi and had to go across country so many miles before the families became acquainted with each other.  Tobitha Jane made her trip to Texas by train to New Orleans, by boat to Galveston, and then overland to East Texas where she settled in the same general locality that the Arnolds had chosen. 

After their marriage the Jonathan Arnolds had a short stay in Bell County because the stormy days of the War Between the States were approaching, and Jonathan was just the right age to be called up.  The Confederacy notified him to report to Camp Carter near Hempstead, Texas, where he was inducted on the 2nd day of April, 1862.  He was assigned to Company D, 21st Regiment Texas Lancers (Cavalry) as a private.  Tobitha Jane immediately returned To Trinity County where she waited out the war.  For about three and one-half years she was able to see her husband probably one time; however, even with her anxiety and sorrow she was able to sustain herself.  One incident which she later recalled will show something of the character of this remarkable woman.

While the men were at war, women were also expected to make their contribution to the war effort.  Many of them met in groups to sew, knit socks and sweaters, and contribute anything helpful.  When a sufficient quantity of these items were finished, they were sent to a gathering place or depot to be forwarded on to the Southern troops.  Tobitha Jane assisted in these efforts.  At one particular time the clothing was ready to be sent to Huntsville some 28 miles away so that it could be routed to various army camps; but there was no one to make the trip.  Tobitha Jane volunteered to go by horseback alone and deliver the package.  This remarkable girl did not turn back even when she reached the Trinity River and found its waters swollen.  She did make the crossing, and delivered her goods even though at times the horse had to swim to reach the other bank of the river.

When Jonathan returned from the War, he and his wife settled in Trinity County where he experimented in farming, finally purchasing a 200-acre farm near Glendale.  He built a home there and raised a family of ten children: six boys and four girls.  Their names were as follows”

            Robert Lee Arnold (named after General Robert E. Lee),

            Dr. James Jonathan (John) Arnold,

            Walter A. Arnold and Arthur A. Arnold (twins),

            Charlie H. Arnold,

            Ben Arnold

            Aurelia (Elia) Arnold Crawford,

            Elizabeth Arnold Blackshear,

            Laura Arnold Russell,

            Nettie Arnold Jordan

Jonathan H. Arnold became well known in the county of his choice, having served many times as a juror and grand juror in the local courts.  He chose a kind of retiring life, but never failed to meet any obligation.  His honesty and integrity were well known by his friends and fellow-citizens.  In his later years he cultivated some of his land on the halves and kept a small grocery store for the benefit of the neighbors and his renters.  He also became proficient as a cabinetmaker.

Jonathan Arnold died on the 8th day of June, 1920, and was buried in the Glendale Cemetery.  The Honorable G. C. Clegg, an attorney, of Trinity, Texas, attended the funeral and after the service requested that he be allowed to say a few words.  Mr. Clegg recounted some of the highlights in Jonathan’s life, praised his honest and integrity, and concluded his speech with words worthy to be copied here:

            “’There are billows far out in the ocean,

               That never will break on the beach,

               So waves upon waves of emotion

               Can find no expression in speech.’

                        --Jonathan Arnold, farewell.”

The following are lists of Jonathan H. Arnold and his wife Tobitha Jane Arnold’s grandchildren, which might be of interest to the reader:

ROBERT LEE ARNOLD—SARAH JULIA ARNOLD

                        Allie L. Arnold

                        Ernest Arnold

                        Bertrice Arnold Jopling

                        Bessie Jane Arnold

                        Jeff Arnold

                        Thomas Arnold

                        Mae Arnold Snell

                        Sarah Arnold Burke

                        Aurelia Arnold Royer

                        Gertrude Arnold Ramey

                        Robert Lee Arnold, Jr.

            AURELIA ARNOLD CRAWFORD—WILLIAM H. CRAWFORD

                        No children

            NETTIE ARNOLD JORDAN—ROBERT W. JORDAN

                        Adker Jordan

                        Lola Jordan Skains

A.     Leslie Jordan

Earl Jordan

Maud Jordan Perry

Letha Mae Jordan Skipper

Ida Mae Jordan Haggard

Velma Net (“Tootsie”) Jordan Richards

                        JAMES JONATHAN (JOHN) ARNOLD—ALLIE RAY RHODES ARNOLD

                                    Johnnie Ray Arnold

                                    Alton C. Arnold

                                    Ethel Carrie Arnold

                                    Ruby Aurelia Arnold Hester

                                    Verna Mae Arnold Driskell

                                    Jay Arnold

                        ELIZABETH ARNOLD BLACKSHEAR—JOHN BLACKSHEAR

                                    No children

                        WALTER A. ARNOLD—FLORENCE ALICE JOPLING ARNOLD

                                    Odell Jopling Arnold

                                    William Arthur Arnold

                                    Jonathan Homer Arnold

                                    Noble David Arnold

                                    Walter Edwin Arnold

                                    Thomas Hale Arnold

                                    Henry Stone Arnold

                                    Roy Richard Arnold

                                    Mary Jane Arnold Dominy

            ARTHUR A. ARNOLD—DOLIA HOOKS ARNOLD

                        Lorene Arnold Turner

                        Vera Arnold Baird

                        Myrna Arnold Steele

            CHARLIE H. ARNOLD—LELA HOOKS ARNOLD

                        Clara Arnold Hall

                        Myrtle Arnold George

                        Jonathan Arnold

                        Tom Ball Arnold

                        Eugene Arnold

                        Jane Arnold

                        Jesse Arnold

                        Rachael Anne Arnold

                        Raymond Arnold

                        Dick Arnold

                        Richard Arnold

            LAURA ARNOLD RUSSELL—JOEL RUSSELL

                        Ruth Russell Skipper

                        Arnold Russell

            BEN A. ARNOLD—JOE NANNIE ARNOLD

                        Maurine Arnold Martin

                        Wilma Arnold Allen

                        Russell Arnold

                        Archie Arnold

                        Arthur Arnold

                        Lanham L. Arnold

                        Doris Arnold Nelms

The following death notice was taken from the local paper published in Trinity, Texas, in June, 1920:

J. H. ARNOLD

(Died Tuesday, June 8, 1920)

            Mr. Jonathan H. Arnold, age 81, died at his home near Glendale last

            Tuesday evening (June 8,1920).  He had been in failing health for

            several weeks, but the end came suddenly.

            He was born in Mississippi and came to Texas when he was 9 years of

            age.  Four months prior to his enlistment in the Confederate Army he

            was married to Miss Tobitha Jane Rosamon.  To this union 14 children

            were born, 10 of whom were reared to manhood and womanhood. 

            Besides their own children they reared two orphan children.

            Mr. Arnold was known far and wide as a man who stood for the best

            Things in life, in a firm, yet not antagonistic way and until after the

            70’s he served each year as a grand juror.  He was loved for his good

            principles as a citizen and everyone was welcome in his household.

            He settled the homestead on which he died, 60 years ago and has lived

            there continuously during that time.

            As evidence of the esteem in which he was held, his funeral was attended

            by vast numbers from near and far, for to know this gentleman was to

            love him.  He was honored and loved not for what he had of this world’s

            goods but for the deeds to his fellowmen and truly this is the greatest

            legacy any man can leave.

GRANDMA ARNOLD

(TOBITHA JANE ROSAMON ARNOLD)

Died Wednesday

(February 17, 1932)

            The following death notice was taken from the local paper published in Trinity, Texas, February, 1932:

                        Mrs. J. H. (Grandma) Arnold, age 89 years, who has been confined

                        to her bed since last October, died Wednesday morning at 11:20

                        o’clock, at the family residence at Glendale.

                        “Grandma,” as she was known to her many friends was a native of

                        Bankston, Mississippi, having been born in that state in 1844 and

                        Resided there until 1861 at which time she came to Texas and to

                        Trinity County, where she has since made her home.

                        Before her marriage in 1861 to J. H. Arnold, she was Miss Jane Rosamon,

                        Mr. Arnold having passed to that great beyond in 1920.

                        Funeral services were conducted from the family residence at Glendale at

                        2:30 o’clock Thursday afternoon, Brother T. C. Sharp officiating.  Interment

                        in Glendale Cemetery.

                        Nine children survive:  four girls and five boys, as follows:  Bob Arnold,

                        Trinity; Walter Arnold, Bremond; Charlie Arnold, Burkburnett; Ben

                        Arnold, Glendale; Mrs. Will Crawford, Glendale; Mrs. John Blackshear,

                        Glendale; Mrs. Bob Jordan[3], Trinity; and Mrs. Joe

                        Russell, Fort Worth.



[1] Plantation?

[2] Martha Arnold’s tombstone says, “Wife of Joshua Arnold.  Age 82.”

[3] Mrs. Robert W. (Nettie) Jordan