Chatham Daily Planet
Thursday, September 4, 1902
HISTORIC KENT CLAN HOLD REMINISCENT REUNION
Successful Annual Gathering of the Descendants of Frederick
Arnold – A History of Fascinating Interest – Entertained
Tecumseh on the Eve of
His Last Battle.
The Arnold picnic – an annual event which was instituted last year – was again held yesterday in F. Arnold’s grove, Kent Bridge. The picnic was considered a huge success last year, but it was even better this year. There were over a thousand people there, fully five hundred of whom were descendants of the Arnolds.
Everyone spent a day of keen enjoyment and many were the old-time stories and incidents, which were brought to the minds of the present generation of Arnolds through conversation with the older members of the family who were present. The idea of this picnic is a good one and is intended to draw the members of the family closer together and to keep fresh in their minds the history of the people from whom they are descended.
In the afternoon a program of speeches and music was given, presided over by M. Arnold, of Blenheim.
T.S. Arnold, of Toronto, was the first speaker. He spoke at considerable length, dwelling chiefly on the history of the family. Mr. Arnold has been appointed historian of the Arnold family and has in his possession a complete history of the family from the first Arnold who came to this country up to the present time, extending over 136 years. It came about in this way. Mr. Arnold, three years ago desired to join the U. E. Loyalist Society [at] Toronto, and in order to do so he was obliged to show that he was a U. E. Loyalist descendant. He commenced then on his "history," and has just got it completed. Mr. Arnold is justly proud of his work and well he may be, as such a document is certainly very valuable. Mr. Arnold has in his possession even the Lutheran Bible in which the names of Frederick Arnold’s family were registered before they left Germany 136 years ago. This is the man from whom all of the Arnolds in Canada are descended. Mr. Arnold’s speech was extremely interesting and was eagerly listened to by his audience.
Rev. Mr. Iler, of Ridgetown, was the next speaker. Mr. Iler is also a distant relative of the Arnolds, and he gave an very eloquent address.
He was followed by O. M. Arnold, of Bracebridge. Mr. Arnold is a barrister by profession and is a cousin of "Doc" Arnold, Chatham’s well-known lawyer. He spoke for a considerable length of time, expressing his delight at being present and touching lightly, with patriotic feeling, on the conditions which exist between Canada and the United States.
Louis Arner, of Essex, who is connected to the Arnolds through his mother, was also present and spoke for a few minutes.
J. H. Osterhout, pastor of the Methodist Church, also delivered a short address.
He was followed by James Houston, an old resident of Chatham Township, and S. B. Arnold of this city. Mr. Houston was the only man on the platform who was not related in some way to the Arnold family. He, however, has been closely associated with the family since his boyhood days, and his speech was heartily welcomed.
Alvin Merritt then treated the audience to a number of selections on the phonograph.
Orr’s orchestra was in attendance and after the program furnished music for dancing, which was indulged in until six o’clock.
One interesting feature of Rev. Mr. Iler’s address was the reading of a letter written at Colchester on November 3, 1814. It was written by the late Katie Arnold, better known as Aunt Katie, to her relative and friend, Esther Snider. Mr. Iler secured this letter while tearing down an old log house, in which Katie Arnold once lived. The letter is a good one and well written considering the advantages which the people then had. In it she asked Miss Snider to send her good clothes and described the elopement of her sister, which had occurred shortly before she wrote. It was addressed on the outside to "Lewis Arnold, River Thames." The postmasters at that time came down the river in canoes and delivered the mail as they went along. Mr. Iler also had another letter written in German, in the year 1818. This one, however, was destroyed by rats so that the writing could not be distinguished.
The history of the Arnold family as given by T. S. Arnold, of Toronto, is very interesting indeed.
Frederick Arnold, the first man of the family to land in America, left Germany with his wife and family in 1773. His wife died on the way over and was buried at sea. Mr. Arnold with his family landed at Maryland and lived there for a few months, where he married Susan Rebly, a Pennsylvania girl, and continued to live in Maryland for 14 years. Mr. Arnold was a U. E. Loyalist and after the revolutionary war life was made so uncomfortable for them that they decided to come to Canada. They arrived at Petet Cote, Ont., near Sandwich, on the 17th of November, 1787, and lived there for seven years, and then the family moved up the River Thames in Indian canoes.
Frederick Arnold had three children by his first wife. One son, Lewis, settled on the farm near Louisville, where the family now live. He was born on the first of January, 1770. He built one log house in which he lived for a number of years and then he built a second one, the first one being burned. He lived in this second log house until 1837, when he built the frame house in which the family now live. This second log house was still there on the bank of the Thames until a few years ago, when it was washed down in the river.
Barbara, the oldest of the family, married Jacob Arner, of Essex, from whom a large family sprung up.
John Arnold was 26 years of age when he settled on the farm adjoining Lewis with whom he lived three years before he settled on his own place. He died on his farm, an old man.
After Frederick Arnold’s second marriage, he raised four boys and six girls. Of these Christopher Arnold is the best known. He was 13 years of age when he landed in Canada, and held a captain’s commission in the war of 1812. He was at the fighting of the Maumee and at St. Stevension, where Proctor was defeated. Tecumseh, the famous Indian chief, stayed at Christopher Arnold’s house the night preceeding the battle in which he was killed and ate his last meal at Christopher’s table.
Christopher Arnold was a powerful man and was said to possess strength equal to that of two ordinary men. He was 76 years, 9 months and four days old when he died and he was buried on the old homestead burying ground. In 1901, the remains were taken from the old burying ground and removed, with those of his wife, to the Knight cemetery. He has descendants over the whole of the county of Kent.
Frederick was another son of Frederick Arnold Sr. Unlike his brother Christopher, he was a weakly man, died at early age. In his married life he had four daughters, all of whom married in this country and raised large families. One peculiar thing about the Arnolds was that they all raised large families and this accounts for their being such a large number of descendants.
John Arnold, another son of Frederick, lived on the Thames, and married Miss Lizzie Traxler, by whom he had two boys and five girls, all of whom in their turn married and settled down in Kent. One son, John, lived near Chatham until his death a few years ago.
The Arnolds, the descendants of these old pioneers – and they were many – have organized a fraternal society in connection with the family. All the descendants of the late Frederick Arnold, Sr., male and female, are entitled to membership. This society has been in existence for some time and is known as the "Frederick Arnold Memorial Society of Canada" It is of a fraternal character and is intended to assist any member of the Arnold family who may be in distress, and to defend the good name of Arnold. It is also proposed to follow in the footsteps of the U. E. Loyalist ancestors in defending the good name of Canada. These picnics will be kept up from year to year by this society. A blue ribbon has been chosen for the badge of the society.
Although the Arnolds are, as a rule, Conservatives, there are a few exceptions.
Lewis Arner of Essex, who was present at the picnic yesterday, is one of these exceptions. He is president of the Reform Association of Essex. He is an old man, 73 years of age, but he and his brother, Jacob Arner, who is 79 years old, were able to attend the picnic yesterday and renewed old friendships. Chas. T. Arner, son of Jacob Arner, was also present.
A good story is told of Lwis Arner during a political campaign when Sir Oliver Mowatt, Blake, and a number of lawyers attended a meeting at Paradise Grove, Essex. Mr. Mowatt spoke about the improvements which had been made and was surprised to see such a fine country. Lewis Arner, who was the chairman of the evening, spoke after Mr. Mowatt and said, "Mr. Mowatt said he was surprised to see what a fine country we have, but my surpirse is still greater to find lawyers in Paradise."
The other man on the grounds yesterday was Jacob Arnold. He is a son of Captain Christopher Arnold, and was born in 1820. He has a sister living, born in 1816. Mr. Arnold lives in Hariwch, and was married twice. First to Elizabeth Courtney, by whom he had one boy and four girls, two of whom were present at the picnic yesterday. His first wife died May 25, 1849. His second wife, Elizabeth Burns, is living at present. He tells many an interesting story about Tecumseh, who was so closely associated with his father, Christopher Arnold.
"The last thing Tecumseh did," said Mr. Arnold, was to eat a piece of bread out of my mother’s hand just before the battle of the Thames. He was riding a white horse, and stood with one foot in the stirrup of his saddle, and the other on the ground, with one hand rresting on the horse’s weathers. He ate his meal in this attitude, and then sprung in his saddle and rode off."
Samuel Arnold, a descendant of Lewis Arnold, was another old resident who was present. He is 78 years of age, and is enjoying the best of health. He owns a large farm in Harwich, opposite Louisville. Lewis Arnold was his grandfather.
Christopher Williston was another of the old Arnolds who was enjoying the day in the woods. He has lived 20 years in Kent and is now living in Sombra. He is a son of Susan Arnold, daughter o Christopher Arnold. He is 72 years of age and is enjoying good health for a man so old. His father, Silas Williston, and Captain Christopher Arnold, together built the first mill ever erected in this country.
One interesting thing about the picnic was that it was held in a grove which has been in possession of the Arnolds since 1805, and a descendant of Christopher Arnold still holds it.