Biography of A. A. Arms

A. A. Arms, now living retired at Thomasboro, has truly lived the strenuous life. He has entered heartily into all the experiences that come to the farmer in a new country and after subduing his own acres and acquiring the fatness of the land he was not content to settle down into a life of studied ease, but has sought adventure and knowledge far afield. Mr. Arms is without doubt the best known hunter in Champaign County. He has the riches of trophies gained from the chase sufficient to stock a museum. He has traveled to many remote fastnesses of the wild game and knows the haunts and character of wild animals from the standpoint of the naturalist as well as the hunter.

Mr. Arms comes of pioneer stock. He is a son of Orrin and Cynthia A. (Hubbard) Arms. His grandfather Hubbard spent his early life at Sheffield, Massachusetts, and soon after Indiana was admitted to statehood, which occurred in the year 1818, he migrated to this far western country and settled at the highest point then occupied by a white resident on the Wabash River at the mouth of the Vermilion. He arrived in the spring and his nearest neighbor, excepting Indians, was a white family ten miles below who arrived in the following November. In that frontier district he began making a home, and he went three miles from his cabin to break up land for his first corn crop in what was known as Meed Prairie.

Orrin Arms was born near Montpelier, Vermont, son of Jesse Arms. Orrin Arms moved to Attica, Indiana, and his first deed to land there was dated 1828. He died June 5, 1885, on the same place where he had located in 1828. While a cabinetmaker by trade, he spent most of his active career as a farmer. Orrin Arms and wife had the following children:’ Mrs. Lucetta Paine, living at Wabash, Indiana; Solon H., who was born in 1833 and lived at Attica, Indiana; Azro A.; Laura A., who married John Dungan and died at Boswell, Indiana; and Ira. Cynthia Arms died at Attica, Indiana, and Orrin Arms married for his second wife Elizabeth Stephens. Their children were named Amanda, Cynthia and Charles. All these children received their preliminary advantages in one of the log cabin district schools of Indiana.

On January 18, 1856, A. A. Arms and his brother Solon arrived in Champaign County, Illinois. Mr. Arms has been a resident of Rantoul Township since April 5, 1866. The two brothers bought 320 ‘acres, comprising the west half of section 13, township 21, range 9, in the third principal meridian. The brothers were in partnership in this land deal and their deed to the land was signed by President Franklin Pierce. The purchase price was $2.50 an acre. The same land is now worth $250 an acre, an increase fully a hundredfold. Mr. Arms lived there sixteen years.

He married Elizabeth Stockdale, a daughter of Hugh and Harriet Stockdale, the former a native of England and the latter of Castlemahone, Ireland. In the Stockdale family ‘were the following children: Mary J., Harriet, William, Eugena, Joseph, Elizabeth, Arabella, Grace, Jessie and Mabel. Hugh Stockdale was a boot and shoe dealer. In March, 1861, he bi ought his family to America, lived a time in Pennsylvania and from there came to Illinois.

After their marriage Mr. A. A. Arms and wife started out to build a home and fortune for themselves. They bought land and by application of the principles of industry and economy their labors have met with pleasing success. Mr. Arms has proved a vigorous farmer and has exercised great wisdom in his investments. At the present time his holdings as a real estate man include 5,409 acres, scattered over the states of Illinois, Indiana, Arkansas and Texas, and peopled by an industrious, contented tenantry, all working harmoniously for mutual interests, and who unanimously pronounce him the prince of landlords.

Mr. Arms believes that his success in life has been 1 due to the rigid adherence to three cardinal principles. The first is that the primary law of nature is self-preservation; the second is care of health; and the third is an admonition to take care of wealth, including home and possessions, liberty and family. Some years ago Mr. Arms removed to Thomasboro, and established himself in one of the most beautiful and commodious homes of that village.

Mr. Arms has a truly mechanical genius. In many ways he has sought to lighten the burden of farm management and farm labor. On his place he has installed an electric motor which serves to pump the water for house and barn, shell the corn in one hopper and grind in another, runs the washing machine, and the power thus derived is in fact employed for nearly everything except milking the cows. Mr. Arms has also used concrete to advantage in many ways, including the building of walks, cement floors and large drinking troughs for his cattle. He is one of the farmers in Champaign County who have cement floors in the barns.

At his Thomasboro home Mr. Arms has almost innumerable trophies, and among other things a sportsman’s cabinet which contains almost an arsenal of firearms. He has some examples of the old flintlock guns and from that the collection ranges to the most modern repeating rifles and shotguns, including the Winchester and Savage makes. Some years ago he won in a shooting match a fine double-barreled Parker Brothers Meredith gun valued at $80, and has used it frequently in his sporting expeditions. For twenty-two winters out of the past twenty-five Mr. Arms has been in Texas, Louisiana and Florida, in the remote and wild districts of those states on big hunting expeditions. One of the trophies in his home is a mounted deer head which he secured in LaSalle County, Texas. His hunting companion in Texas is J. W. Buckow and together they have killed over 200 deer. The favorite gun with which he hunts big game is a Marlin rifle. Mr. Arms is not content with the ordinary sights found on the best of guns, and he makes his own, and they are better and truer than any found on the market. A hunter of no mean reputation himself, Mr. Arms has always been an admirer of the great Americans who have been similarly famed. In his library he possesses and has read through from cover to cover the lives of such American hunters and frontiersmen as Wild Bill, Kit Carson, William Drannan, Texas Jack, California Joe, Buffalo Bill (William F. Cody) and Theodore Roosevelt.

In his hunter’s museum Mr. Arms has a beautiful seven-foot diamond rattler skin. The snake was shot by his brother Ira in the latter’s dooryard in Florida. Another curio is a rich brown necktie made from a brown rattler skin, with the rattlers for pins. Other specimens include an armadillo, a sawfish killed in Texas, a number of articles from the noted San Pedro Park at San Antonio, a Texas leopard cat, an anteater, civet cat and many other rare animals. In 1874 Mr. Arms participated in a buffalo hunt. That was only a few years before those vast herds of bison were practically exterminated from the American prairies. In that hunt he killed four buffalo and has the horns and robes in his home. There is an alligator skin from an animal seven feet long, numerous beards of wild turkey, the tusks of the wild hog known as the peccary, the tusks of wild boars, sea beans from the Gulf of Mexico, any number of Indian arrowheads and samples of Mexican onyx. There is a cane made of Texas ebony. Two of the firearms are the old-fashioned muzzle-loading rifles with which the early American hunters killed the antelope and buffalo.

Mr. and Mrs. Arms are connoisseurs of Japanese art. In their parlor stands a vase 3!/o feet tall with a pictured illustration of Japan’s bravest generals and their wives, and containing the history of that country dating back for 500 years. The parlor is completely furnished in costly Japanese wares. Much of it is made of the famous Anoka, richly carved with dragons, the emblems of Japan. The 1 chairs contain carvings of dragonheads, each holding between its jaws an apple, this being a symbolic representation of the old story of the temptation of Eve. On the wall of the parlor hangs a piece of Japanese royal tapestry. Worked in the design are two large white swans, a body of water surrounded with a grove of evergreens. The tapestry is made of the finest of silk, and it is a rich and handsome piece of artistic embroidery.

Any exposition would set a high value upon such a collection of souvenirs and trophies as is possessed and cherished by Mr. and Mrs. Arms. It requires a long examination to really understand how widely Mr. Arms has sought wild game and how well justified his fame as a Nimrod is. Mr. Arms has spent many happy vacations on Texas ranches, especially the ranch of his friend and comrade, Jim Dougherty. He has in his collection a photograph of a real Texas longhorn, once owned by Dougherty. From tip to tip these horns measured 9 feet 2 inches.

In politics Mr. Arms has been first and always a stanch supporter of the principles of the Republican party. He cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln and has been voting the ticket regularly ever since. He has been affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows for the last forty-eight years, having joined that order before he was married. Mr. and Mrs. Arms have lived in close affiliation with the best interests of Champaign County. This county they have witnessed transformed under their very eyes from a rude and little productive community into what is now one of the richest farming sections in the entire world. Mr. Arms voted for and did all he could to secure the University of Illinois for this county and has lent a similar support to every other progressive movement. His wife is an active member of the Episcopal Church at Rantoul.

Mr. Arms has long been a successful stock raiser and his herds of Holstein, Red Poll and Shorthorns have long been noted.

Mrs. Arms has enjoyed frequent trips with her husband and is a congenial comrade and completely in sympathy with his outdoor sports and recreations. She received her education in the Rantoul High School, finishing at Champaign, and prior to her marriage was a successful teacher in this county. Mrs. Arms is a cultured woman, of striking appearance, broad minded, an entertaining conversationalist and is a splendid type of the true American woman.



Stewart, J. R. A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York. 1918.

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