Biography of Thomas Arnold

Thomas Arnold. In recalling the Kansas of sixty years ago a natural interest is aroused concerning the brave and hardy pioneers of that time, for they blazed the way and lighted the fires for the stable civilization that now makes this noble state one of the grandest lying within the great central plain of the United States. One of the earliest to establish a permanent home in Coffey County was Thomas Arnold, and his primitive log cabin stood for many years on his Government land claim, six miles northwest of Burlington.

Thomas Arnold was born in Kentucky April 26, 1816. The early family records are not available, but it is certain that a stable ancestry was behind him, for courage, perseverance, self reliance and integrity indelibly marked him and have continued family traits to the present day. He grew to manhood and was married in his native state and probably learned the cooper’s trade before removing to Indiana, from which state he came to Kansas in 1857, but three years after the present state had been made a territory, and while the disputes between the slavery and abolition parties made Kansas a scene of bitter partisan conflict. Securing Government land near Burlington, Mr. Arnold took possession of it, but a long time elapsed before comfortable conditions of living were established here. Indian raids were not infrequent in the neighborhood, permanent laws either had not been established or were not executed, and pioneer hardships of all kinds had to be encountered and resourcefully faced.

When the Civil war was precipitated, Mr. Arnold became a member of the Kansas Home Guards, in which he held the rank of captain and served with his regiment in the defense of Lawrence and during the period of General Price’s raid on the border. He remained with the regiment until all immediate danger was over and then, with his comrades, all naturally peaceful men, returned to his farm industries. He erected a cooper shop on his property and customers came from near and far, as it was the only shop of its kind in this part of the state, that being long before machinery in this, as in other industries, had taken the place of hand work. Mr. Arnold remained on his farm in Coffey County until his death in 1897, never having parted with any of his original homestead. He was a member of the Christian Church. In the organization of the county and the regulation of public affairs for many years he was recognized as a useful factor and his advice was often solicited and his judgment consulted.

On January 10, 1839, Mr. Arnold was married to Maria Hutchinson, who was born in Kentucky and died in Kansas in 1900. They became the parents of the following children: Margaret, Lighter, Lucy, Mary, Hiram, Samuel, Catherine, Alice and Elmer, all of whom have passed away except Catherine, Alice and Elmer. Samuel, the sixth born in the above family, accompanied his parents to Kansas in 1857, became a farmer in Coffey County and died here in 1876. He was married to Amanda Keith, who was born in Missouri, a daughter of Walker Keith. She died in 1876, the mother of three sons and two daughters: Lighter, Lillie, Walker, Harry F. and Cora Evaline.

Miss Cora E. Arnold is well known to the people of Coffey County, filling, as she does, an office of great responsibility. She attended the public schools and completed her educational training in the Kansas State Normal School at Emporia, teaching school in the meanwhile in order to defray her expenses. She became a teacher in whom public confidence was placed and in 1914, when a superintendent of public instruction was to be chosen for Coffey County, she was elected to this office on the democratic ticket. To the work of this arduous position Miss Arnold devoted every energy and so thoroughly performed each duty and brought the schools to such a high standard that in 1916 she was re-elected without any opposition. She is a member of different educational bodies and is recognized as a woman of very superior mental attainments.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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