The Arnold family of Abington, one of the oldest in southeastern Massachusetts, is ably and worthily represented at the present time by Capt. Moses N. Arnold and his brother, William B. Arnold, both veterans of the Civil war and well-known shoe manufacturers of North Abington. The first of the family in America was Joseph Arnold, of Braintree. Going a step backward, crossing the ocean, the first of the Arnold family to adopt a surname was Roger Arnold, who was a descendant in the twelfth generation from Ynir, showing the Arnolds to be of great antiquity, the family having its origin among the ancient princes of Wales. According to a pedigree recorded in the College of Arms, they traced from Ynir, King of Gwentland, who flourished about the middle of the twelfth century, and who personally descended from Ynir, the second son of Cadwalader, King of the Britons.
Thomas Hand Arnold, the first of that name in the town of Abington, was born it is supposed in Hingham, Mass., and moved with his parents when quite young to the town of Charlestown, Mass., where his father was a land owner and farmer at the commencement of the war for independence. The father took an active part in that great struggle. He was arrested and made prisoner by the British, taken to Boston, where he was put on board a prison ship, and thence to Quebec, dying in the ship in the harbor of Quebec. Thomas Hand Arnold, being deprived of a father’s care by the cruelty of war, had to make his own way in life from early boyhood. He located in the town of Abington, Plymouth Co., Mass., and there followed shoemaking and spent the remainder of his life, dying there. He was a natural-born mechanic, being able to make most anything, and was known as “Tinker Tom,” and was the founder of a family of skilled mechanics. His home was at the end of Liberty or Tinker street, which street was named for him. On Feb. 16, 1796 (intentions published Jan. 16, 1796), he married in Abington Mary Chard, and their children, all born in Abington, were:
- Nathaniel Arnold, born Feb. 25, 1797
- Jonathan Arnold, May 20, 1798
- George Miller Arnold, May 15, 1799
- Polly Arnold, March 8, 1801
- Caleb Arnold, May 18, 1805
Jonathan Arnold, son of Thomas Hand and Mary (Chard) Arnold, was born in Abington May 20, 1798, and died Jan. 17, 1871, aged nearly seventy-three years. He learned the trade of bootmaker, which he followed all his active life, and was recognized as an exceptionally fine mechanic. He was a soldier in the war of 1812. He was one of the constituent members of the Universalist Church at Abington, which was organized in 1836. On Oct. 3, 1817, he married Mary W. Damon, and their children were:
- Jonathan Arnold, born April 5, 1818
- Leonard P. Arnold, March 4, 1820
- Mary Ann Wilder Arnold, June 30, 1822
- Sarah Jane Arnold, April 12, 1828
- Ezra Damon Arnold, May 15, 1831
- Nathaniel W. Arnold, 1833
- Francis Prescott Arnold, Feb. 21, 1836
- Eliza Arnold (who married J. E. Tower)
Jonathan Arnold (2), son of Jonathan and Mary W., was born April 5, 1818, in Abington, Mass. At the age of eight years he went to Warren, Mass., where he lived with the family of Homer and Joseph Ramsdell until he was seventeen years of age. He then returned home, and his father before him being a maker of boots and shoes the son naturally took up the trade, and for a time followed it; but ambitious for another calling, with his savings he supplemented his common school education, entering and graduating from Wilbraham Academy, and prepared himself for the profession of school teacher. He entered upon his new calling when twenty years of age, teaching first the winter schools. Suffice it to say that for twenty years he was an efficient and successful teacher in district and grammar schools. His heart was in his work and in the line of educational affairs, the uplifting of his fellow men and the advancement of his native town. For some fifteen years he was a member of the Abington school committee, ten years of this service – from 1847 to 1857 – being continuous. He was one of the selectmen of his town, assessor and overseer of the poor in 1875 and 1876, represented Abington in the General Court of Massachusetts in 1865 and again in 1866, being elected as a Republican, and in 1870, this time as a reformer of labor, again occupied a seat in the lower house of the General Court.
Jonathan Arnold did much in his day to improve the schools of Abington. He at one time recommended that the town establish one high school, four grammar schools, ten intermediate schools and as many primary schools as might be necessary. This recommendation was carried out and marked the dawn of a new era in the school history of the town.
On Aug. 3, 1841, Mr. Arnold married Abigail Noyes, of Abington, daughter of Moses and Lucy E. (Bennett) Noyes. He died at his home in Abington Jan. 6, 1891, aged seventy-two years, nine months, one day. Mrs. Arnold passed away in February, 1875. Their children were:
- Abby Noyes Arnold, who died Nov. 16, 1865
- a daughter, twin to Abby Noyes Arnold, who died May 5, 1842
- Moses Noyes Arnold, born Jan. 31, 1844
- Susan Hall Arnold, Jan. 13, 1846
- William B. Arnold, Feb. 15, 1848
- Homer Ramsdell Arnold, July 27, 1850 (died in infancy)
- Homer Ramsdell Arnold (2), July 12, 1851
- Maria Arnold, Oct. 5, 1852
- Edward Arnold, March 4, 1854
- Thomas Arnold, April 17, 1856
- Allen Arnold, Feb. 10, 1858
- John Pierpont Arnold, Aug. 24, 1861
- Wallace Elipha Arnold, June 27, 1863
- Rachel T. Arnold, Feb. 8, 1866
- Emily G. Arnold, Feb. 17, 1870
Moses N . Arnold, son of Hon. Jonathan and Abigail (Noyes), was born Jan. 31, 1844, in Abington, Mass. He received a common school education, and while yet a lad of but nine years began making shoes, his father and grandfather before him following, as stated, that occupation. While he was yet in his teens on came the Civil war and with it the call for men, and that call found an eager response in the heart of young Arnold, who went to the defense of his country. On April 19, 1861, only a few days after the firing on Fort Sumter, he enlisted, becoming a private soldier in Company G, 12th Mass. V. 1., which was known as the Webster regiment. He followed for three years the fortunes of war of his command, which was with the Army of the Potomac, participating in many of the notable engagements of the 12th, and. at the close of hostilities returned home with an honorable war record. He rose from the ranks for gallantry on the field of battle to a captaincy; in 1862 he was promoted to first sergeant, and the same year was advanced to second lieutenant and first lieutenant, being commissioned captain in 1863, serving on the staff of Brigadier General Baxter with the rank of captain during the last year of his service in the army. Captain Arnold performed gallant service in a number of the important battles of the war, among them Cedar Mountain, Second Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and in Grant’s campaign from May 3 to June 26, 1864, during which latter, in fifty-two days, his regiment was under fire forty-one times, losing 191 men, which was two thirds of its number at the time. It is to his honor that he was pierced by the enemy’s bullet in one of the greatest battles of the Civil war – Antietam. His discharge from the service is dated July 8, 1864.
After the close of the war the young soldier resumed his position at the bench, but in less than a year, in 1865, he was found rising. His energy, ambition and courage asserting themselves, he began business on his own account, and as a manufacturer of shoes his enterprise and progressive spirit placed him at the head of an extensive enterprise. This business was incorporated in 1905 under the laws of Massachusetts, as the M. N. Arnold Company, Moses N. Arnold being elected president and treasurer, and his son, James Dwight Arnold, secretary.
At the beginning Captain Arnold cut his own sole leather, and as he had no rolling machine he was accustomed to take the leather to the shop of a neighboring shoemaker and roll it by hand. In 1867 he moved his business to the factory that had been occupied formerly by S. E. Wales. His business so increased that in 1870 it had outgrown its quarters and another move was necessary, and there was fitted up for him the south part of the steam mill of Amos Read, to which he moved. Five years later the same condition of affairs demanded still larger accommodations, and the original building of his present plant was erected, it being a building 120 feet x 40 feet, four stories high. At various times since additional buildings have been erected, all fully equipped with the most modern machinery, until the plant is now extensive and modern.
In time one or more of the brothers of Captain Arnold joined him in the business, which is now conducted under the name of the M. N. Arnold Company. The concern makes a high grade of shoes. The Arnolds have the reputation of making perhaps as fine a quality of footwear as any shoe establishment in this country; and perhaps few concerns have done more business. They give employment to hundreds of persons and pay wages to the extent of several hundred thousand dollars annually. The annual, output of shoes numbers into the thousands, with a market value of two million dollars. This is the more notable in the light of the fact that when he started in business Captain Arnold had but a few hundred dollars, which he saved in fourteen months’ work at the bench, during that time paying four dollars a week for board and helping to support the family.
Capt. Moses N. Arnold, the founder of this business and the senior member of the firm, though interested in politics, a zealous Republican, has not had sufficient taste or liking for politics to be drawn from his business to seek political preferment. A gallant soldier, now veteran, of that stormy period of 1861-65, it has been both to his taste and desire to cling close to that great organization which perpetuates the memories of the war – the Grand Army of the Republic, and of the local post in Abington, MePherson Post, No. 73, of which he was an original member, he has long been an active and prominent member, serving as its commander. He is also a member of the Loyal Legion; of John Cutler Lodge, A. F. & A. M., of Pilgrim Royal Arch Chapter, and of Old Colony Commandery, K. T., of Abington. He also holds membership in the New England Leather Association, the Chamber of Commerce of Boston and the Board of Trade of Abington. He is president of the Abington National Bank and a director of the Fourth National Bank of Boston.
Captain Arnold has the reputation of being a most capable, farsighted business man, successful in an eminent degree; of possessing a high sense of business honor and integrity; a citizen enterprising and progressive, with the best interests of Abington and her people ever at heart.
In Island Grove, at Abington, for years in the forties and fifties, during that long period of the antislavery movement waged here in Massachusetts so aggressively by Garrison and others, it was the custom of the people yearly to hold meetings; and here assembled to address the people such characters as Garrison, Quincy, Parker, Phillips, Pillsbury and many others of the stalwarts of that day for that cause. When but a boy Captain Arnold went with his father to those meetings, was interested in the cause, and it has fallen to him now in his mature life to perpetuate those scenes and memories of those active leaders for the freedom of the slave by the erection of a fitting memorial on the spot where they, so often gathered. This memorial, in the form of a tablet, was given by Captain Arnold to ancient Abington and unveiled amid great rejoicing and with suitable ceremony and exercises, May 31, 1909.
On Sept. 17, 1867, Captain Arnold married Martha Ford, daughter of Deacon James and Deborah (Jones) Ford. Seven children have been born to them:
- Abbie Noyes Arnold, born in North Abington, received unusual educational advantages, attending the public and high schools of Abington, Smith College and Radcliffe College, at Cambridge. She has been a teacher for a number of years, and is now engaged as instructor of English in a high school of Boston.
- Agnes Ford Arnold was educated in the North Abington public schools, Abington high school and private schools in Boston, and has been a kindergarten teacher in Boston. She married Albert Annett, of East Jaffrey, N. H., a member of Governor Quimby’s council of New Hampshire.
- James Dwight Arnold, born in North Abington, attended the public and high schools of that town, and graduated from Harvard, when he received the degree of Master of Arts. He then took up law, entering the Harvard Law School, and was admitted to the bar of Massachusetts. He is now a practicing attorney in New York City and is secretary of the M. N. Arnold Company of North Abington.
- Martha Evelyn Arnold died at the age of five months.
- Ethel Hall Arnold, born in North Abington. received her early education there in the public and high schools and later graduated from Smith College. She married Harold Fobes of Portland, Maine, and has one child, Arnold, born Feb. 11, 1903.
- William Percy Arnold, born at North Abington, was educated in the public and high schools of Abington and also in Boston, and is now a member of the firm of M. N. Arnold Company. He married Ethel Cobb, daughter of Charles Cobb, and they have had three children,
- Malcolm P. Arnold
- Dwight Cobb Arnold
- William Percy Arnold, Jr.
- Helen Arnold, born in North Abington, was educated in the public and high schools, Thayer Academy and Smith College, and is now a teacher of English in the high school at Portland, Maine.
William Bennett Arnold, son of Hon. Jonathan and Abigail (Noyes), was born Feb. 15, 1848, in North Abington, where he received a public school education. From early boyhood he worked at shoemaking with his father, and later learned the trade of lastmaking with his uncle, Leonard P. Arnold. Meantime, however, the Civil war had broken out, and he was only fifteen and a half years old when he enlisted, in December, 1863, in Company H, 4th Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry, under Capt. Albert F. Ray and Col. Arnold A. Rand. He served faithfully for twenty-two months, participating in all the battles of his company and regiment, a youthful patriot of which his family and community had every reason to feel proud. As a cavalryman he served with the detailed troops assigned to reconnoitering in and about Richmond, Va., and to the pursuit of General Lee and his army, and was present at the surrender of Lee at Appomattox, being one of those who escorted the General from his lines. Mr. Arnold was mustered out of the service in November, 1865, and upon returning from the war again took up the shoemaking trade, which he has followed ever since. When his brother, Moses N. Arnold, started in the manufacture of shoes in North Abington, William B. became superintendent of the factory and in 1892 became a member of the firm of M. N. Arnold & Co., and is now a member of the corporation, being one of the directors of the M. N. Arnold Company. He still holds the position of superintendent in the factory. Mr. Arnold is a thorough business man and knows the details of all the branches, besides being familiar with the important executive work of the shoe industry, so much so that he has himself invented or improved over fifty patented appliances now in use in the manufacture of shoes. His grasp of mechanical possibilities, no less than his perception of the needful and useful in his particular line, is truly wonderful. Tn 1876 he invented the peg cutting machine, which he had patented and which has been used extensively in the shoe factory. In 1889 he in-vented the hinged last, which he patented and later improved, and which has been used in almost all the shoe factories in the country. He also invented the Arnold Flex Welt and machine for cutting the same, which he patented and which is now extensively used in the manufacture of shoes. There are many other useful devices in connection with the shoe industry of his invention, notably a machine for bottom filling which he invented, perfected and patented. His keen intellect and judgment have led him to give much time to the study of the shoe business and its needs.
Though devoted to business throughout his active years, and having important interests demanding the most intelligent and thoughtful care, Mr. Arnold has always found time for social recreation, in which he takes much pleasure. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, belonging to John Cutler Lodge, Pilgrim Chapter and Old Colony Commandery, Knights Templar, all of Abington; and is a member of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston. But his strongest interest has ever been in the Grand Army of the Republic, in which he has been active and prominent, the association of his youthful experience in the army being particularly dear to him. He is a member of McPherson Post, No. 73, of Abington, and was its commander two years. He also filled the office of commander of the Plymouth County G. A. E. Association, and is an aide de camp on the staff of the commander in chief of the National G. A. E. organization, with the rank of colonel. He is president of the Past National Officers Association of Massachusetts, and in September, 1909, was chosen president of the Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry Association. Mr. Arnold was vice president of the Mount Vernon Cemetery Association of Abington for several years, and in 1909 was elected president of the same. In political conviction he is a stanch Republican, but independent in voting, and is not an office seeker. He and his family are Unitarians in religious belief.
In October, 1871, Mr. Arnold married Abbie Louise White, of Weymouth, Mass., daughter of Sanford and Louise (Fessenden) White, of Weymouth, and they have had a family of seven children:
- Edward Webster Arnold, born in North Abington, was educated in the public schools and high school and at Exeter Academy, where he graduated, after which he entered the shoe factory of the M. N. Arnold Company, learning the different branches of the business. He is now superintendent of the bottoming department of the factory. He is unmarried and resides at home.
- Emma Isabelle Arnold died young.
- Lucy E. Arnold married Leonard D. Chandler, of Somerville, Mass., and they have one daughter
- Louise Fessenden Arnold
- Blanche Gertrude Arnold married George Sylvester, and they resided in Brockton, Mass.; she died in North Abington in 1907.
- Homer Arnold, who was educated in the local public schools and high school and at Harvard University, is now engaged in the manufacture of sporting shoes and moccasins in Brockton. He married Grace Lamson, and they have one child, Phyllis.
- Florence Arnold died when six months old.
- Robert Stanley Arnold received his education in the public and high schools and at Andover Academy, and is now employed by the Old Colony Trust Company, of Boston. He is unmarried.
Wallace Elipha Arnold, brother of Moses N. and William B. Arnold, is a native of Abington, Mass., where his life has been passed. Mr. Arnold is a partner in the M. N. Arnold Company, manufacturers of shoes, of North Abington, and is known as a man of sound business judgment. He is practical and the people know it. A live, enterprising and progressive man, one of such type as to commend himself to his fellow citizens, he has become active, and prominent in politics, taking a great interest in public affairs. He has been twice elected from the Fifth Plymouth district a representative to the Massachusetts Assembly, as a Democrat. In the election of 1907 he put a district which has always been strongly Republican into the Democratic column. In 1908 the district indorsed his first year’s record in the house by reelecting him, by a majority of 213 votes. It is evident that he drew many votes from his Republican friends. He has never allowed partisanship to interfere with his votes on the various measures which come before the house. During the recent session Mr. Arnold not only retained his old place on the important committee on Mercantile Affairs, but in addition was given a place on the Election Laws committee by Speaker Walker. Two such important committees for a member of the minority party is unusual and there are not many Republicans so honored. He has also a place on the committee on Elections. In his first year in the house Mr. Arnold was one of the most valued members of the committee on Mercantile Affairs. He is a member of the Quincy Yacht Club and the Cape Cod Club.