History of Amos George Arnold


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Life History of Amos George Arnold

Amos George Arnold, son of Daniel Arnold and Lydia Willey, York. He was the fourth child of 13 children--nine boys and four girls.

His schooling was very limited although he was always fond of studying and spent most of his leisure time reading. He was a self-educated man.

When he was a small child, the family home burned down and left them in very poor circumstances.

As the children grew older, they had to secure work for themselves. So when Amos George was 18 years old, he left home and worked his way around until he met up with a circus. As a hired hand, he traveled with them in nearly every state. This kind of work he enjoyed. His last move was to New Orleans. While there, he contracted a minor ailment and had to quit work. He talked to a druggist one day about his complaint. The druggist told him he thought he could help him, so he gave Father a job in his drugstore where he got treatment and was cured.

He then went to different places of interest until he met with a merchant wagon train coming into Utah. He arrived in Salt Lake City safely. He didn't stay there, however. He wanted to go to California to the Gold Rush. So with a map and pocketknife, he started on his journey by foot, walking the whole distance of 1000 miles. He landed in Trinity, California (near San Francisco). On his way he sidetracked and spent the winter of Oregon and got a job making shingles. In the spring he continued on his journey.

While walking through a canyon one day, he came in contact with a mountain lion and had nothing to defend himself with but a jackknife. He was near a canyon stream. He reached a branch on the opposite side and swung himself across. The animal was approaching nearer, so he broke a limb and pointed it in the direction of the lion. This seemed to frighten the animal away, so he escaped on safety. He traveled the rest of the distance without meeting any serious opposition.

While in California, he worked as a miner until 1853. He took advantage of all the good books and magazines that were available to improve his education. He said that while some of the miners were drinking, gambling, and carousing around, he was very content after a day's hard labor to just lie on his bunk bed to rest and read.

In the same year he went on to British Columbia. He remained there but a few months. He returned to California and there he stayed until 1862. He went from there to Montana, where he spent two years freighting to Salt Lake City. Montana was truly a frontier where the laws were not enforced for the protection of man. The miners were troublesome.

One of the older men that father worked with buried his gold dust for safe keeping and accused a young boy at the camp of stealing it when he couldn't find the spot where be thought he had buried it. The young boy was so frightened he ran away, stole a horse at a farm house, and tried to get into Canada. He was caught before reaching the border, brought back, and was hung at the old hanging post in Virginia City, Montana. Father witnessed the hanging. The boy was later found innocent when the man found his gold dust.

While freighting to Montana, he was traveling along the road and saw a stream of water, so he stopped to refresh himself and give his team a rest and drink of water. He said he became so lonely he climbed upon his wagon to see if he could see any living creature besides his horses. As far as he could see, he was all alone. But nearby in the crotch of a tree, he saw a ten dollar bill that someone had probably left while taking a swim in a nearby creek.

On one of these travels to Montana, Father had just retired for the night when he heard horsemen coming. He sat up in bed and saw it was a few Indians. One of them said in their native tongue, "Ki Ki." Father reached under his pillow, took out a rifle that didn't have a bullet in, pointed it at them and said, "You Ki Ki." They left in a hurry. Father could talk enough of their language to make them understand. They didn't come back.

He said, "If the white man was agreeable, so would all the rest of the men be." He worked with nearly every nationality that he knew of and never had any trouble with any of them.

One time he was camped close to a cook house along the road and a Chinese cook stood in the doorway. Along came two cowboys on their horses, shot the cook, and rode away. All this took place before the law was enforced.

In 1865 he took a load of passengers to Oregon. After returning to Salt Lake City, he sold his team, went back to San Francisco, and from there to Washington. On his return to Salt Lake City in 1867, he joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am not aware of how he came to join the church. It could be through the teaching of Brigham Young because to worked with him for a short time. It was through the wise counseling of the church authorities that he married Maria Winchester, the sealed wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith, so she might become a mother. By doing so he was promised a young wife he could call his own. In 1868 was born one son, George Stephen Arnold, leaving Mrs. Arnold's health very poor. She lived until March 17, 1876. Young George was just eight years of age at the time of her death.

At this time Father was living in his mother-in-law's house, she being elderly and not able to care for herself. He advertised for a hired girl. Mother, a poor emigrant girl of 19 with her widowed mother and two younger sisters just coming from England, went to work for him. This acquaintance must have pleased him very much, and after a short courtship of a few months, they were married. This must have been the young bride he was promised.

To this union were born 13 children. They lived in Salt Lake City until 1883. They had four children here. While living in Salt Lake City, their oldest daughter died at the age of 15 months.

Father and his son George Stephen (better known as Jed) helped with the hauling of rock for the Salt Lake L.D.S. Temple. After they moved to Idaho, Father would go twice a year to conference and stay a few days longer to do temple work. He used to tell me the temple is the most sacred place on earth.

He, with his family, emigrated to Idaho in 1883. While traveling on their way in a covered wagon with three children (the youngest being four months), they met with Indians. This frightened Mother. She thought the Indians would take ger baby; she had heard such terrible stories about them. But the rest of the women in camp helped protect her. She was raised in a city and wasn't used to the rough and rugged country life.

When they first landed in Rexburg with their company, it was two blocks (a little east) of where the courthouse now stands. Shortly after they settled in what is now known as Archer (southwest of the store, close to the river).

The first summer they lived in a tent and the mosquitoes were terrible. The first home built was a log house of two rooms. It was in this log house Amos George was set apart as bishop of the old Lyman Ward by John Taylor of the First Presidency. They held meetings in one of the unfinished rooms of the house, sitting on the floor joists and spring seats of their wagons. At one of these meetings, President Thomas E. Ricks presided. While John Taylor was speaking, he pointed in the direction of the Rexburg Bench and predicted saying, "Someday there will be a temple built there." Sister Jane Reid, still living in Lyman at the age of 88, was telling me this a number of years before she passed away. She and her husband were at the meeting and witnessed the prediction.

In those early years, times were hard and machinery scarce as well as everything else. Father was short on work horses. The reason was that when he was fording the Snake River the second time traveling from Salt Lake with provisions to his home in Idaho in company with Mr. Lee, the men had hitched a team of fine horses to the wagon along with a team of mules as leaders. When they were halfway across, the mules turned around tangling with the horses, and both horses drowned. Father cut the harness loose and the mules swam across. I don't recall how Father got the wagon over to the other side.

I was amused when he told me where he had hidden his savings. It was in the front end of the tongue of the wagon. He pried the iron off, bore a hole, put in the money, and put the iron back again. No one would ever think to look there. You see, there were numerous holdups and robbers in those days. But after all, he loaned his cash amounting to $500 to a good friend-never to be paid back. That left him short of cash.

The first grain they planted was cut with a scythe by Father and tied in bundles by his son, George Stephen. Jed, as he was called, would work away from home while his father took care of the family and farm. With the money they earned they bought calves, thinking it would better their living condition. But the calves got a disease called black leg, and they all died. They had no veterinaries in those days, and the farmers had to do the best they knew how with their sick animals.

While living on this farm (the old homestead), there were times when money was very scarce. Father was called to Blackfoot on some kind of business. He only had one good shoe as the other one had worn out so he put on an overshoe, took a cane, and made believe he had a sore foot and got away with it!

They lived on this piece of land for about 10 or 12 years. It was just what was called "squatter's right." He then homesteaded a 160 acre farm farther north (about 6 miles from Rexburg) now known as Lyman Ward, where he lived the rest of his days, and which is now owned by members of his family.

In 1883, he went in partnership with his son, George Stephen, in the sheep business. He was also a stockholder in Flamm and Company Store.

Besides being bishop a short time, he was also president of the YMMIA and a teacher in the Sunday School. After the ward was divided, he served as counselor to the bishop and also served as a stake missionary.

He was always interested in education and assisted in building the first school house, suggesting the name of Cedar Point by which it was always known. He acted as trustee for many years and he and his son, Jed, paid a liberal amount on Ricks Academy, as it was called in those days.

He also paid the last $500 on the Rexburg Tabernacle. Father didn't tell me this, but a good brother, D. Rolla Harris from Sugar City, was one of the Sunday night speakers at our Lyman Ward. He told me this story. He said he was sent out to collect the last payment on the Tabernacle before it could be dedicated. As he was walking up the street, the first man he met was my father. They greeted each other as they were well acquainted, and he asked my father if he could pay a donation on the Tabernacle. He said Father started to write him a check, then stopped and said to him, "How much do you owe on the building yet?" He told him. So Father paid the balance. He said one cannot express the feeling it gave him to know he did not have to go any farther. I don't think I would ever have known this if this good man had not told me. I was very appreciative of knowing it.

Father was a natural composer. He composed a number of poems, one of which was a 17 verse poem called "The Mormon Boy." He was always active to social events in old folks' gatherings. He was always assigned to take part in entertaining and usually gave one of his own readings.

He was the only one of his father's family to join the church. They were devoted to the Methodist faith. After 40 years, he went back to his old home in New York to visit with his people and gather genealogy. He had at the time of his death 90 descendants. He lived to the age of 93 years and remained true and faithful to the end.

Death came to him one Sunday evening, the 27th of June, 1926.

By: Emma Arnold Smith (daughter)
Lyman, Idaho
Date: 15 July 1963




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