LOREN E. ARNOLD. The real history of Western Kansas cannot be understood except through the careers of the individuals and families who have made it. It is a record of experience purely and simply. Of the families which have contributed their quota to the development of Pawnee County and whose expedients in meeting the problems and vicissitudes of existence constitute some valuable items in this history that represented by Loren E. Arnold of Keysville Township has more than ordinary interest.
The story really begins with his grandfather, William B. Arnold, who was a native of New York State, moved from there to Maryland, afterward to Lee County, Iowa, and finally to Larned, Kansas, where he died. He was self educated to a degree where he was able to teach school. On going west to Iowa he located on a farm in Lee County, subsequently had a successful experience as a merchant at Fort Madison, and most of his experiences in Kansas were as a retired business man. He was very active in the Methodist Church. William B. Arnold married Elizabeth Hennegin. Their children were: Peter Wesley, mentioned below; Euphemia, who married Capt. Henry Gill, one of the old settlers in Ash Valley, Pawnee County; Rhoda, who married Doctor Osborn, of Council Bluffs, Iowa; Sarah, who married John Bonnell, a veteran Union soldier; Dr. W. M., who served as surgeon in the Civil war; James, a business man of Kahoka, Missouri; John, and Joseph, who was killed during the Quantrell raid on Lawrence, Kansas, in 1863. William B. Arnold and wife also adopted or reared several other children, including a nephew, Tommy Arnold.
Peter W. Arnold, father of Loren E., was born in Maryland in 1833, and spent his early life near Baltimore, where the family marketed their produce. About 1838 the Arnold family moved to Iowa as pioneers in that territory and located at Dover, in Lee County. From Iowa Peter W. Arnold went into Clark County, Missouri, and lived there until he moved to Kansas. He was physically unfit for army service during the war. In politics he was a republican voter only and never sought public office. He belonged to no church.
The Arnold family came to Western Kansas from Clark County, Missouri, and the date of their arrival in Pawnee County was February 5, 1876. In the meantime Peter Arnold had acquired considerable property. On coming to Kansas he shipped to Larned two carloads of equipment, including cattle, horses, lumber to build a house, a few hogs and chickens. The Arnold home was at first north of Larned on Ash Creek. Peter Arnold bought some railroad land and began farming with a half section. For this land he paid $5.50 an acre on the installment plan, having seven years in which to pay out. The first home was built of the lumber brought from Missouri and consisted of four rooms, two above and two below. This house was the home of the family as long as Peter Arnold remained in Kansas. From the first he tried wheat farming. There were three years, 1876-77-78, which afforded the best wheat yields in the history of the county. At that time it was the custom to sow the May and Oregon wheat, a "soft wheat" which yielded abundantly. After the feast came the famine of 1879. Then followed several years of unmitigated drouth and crop failures, in which farmers were lucky to break even, but the crop of 1884 was a splendid one, Even in good crop years the Kansas farmers had to contend with the problem of low prices. Thus the Arnolds had to exercise every ingenuity to meet the problems of existence in those early days.
Crop shortage was not the only difficulty and trouble the settlers here had to face. Thieves infested the country, and a gang of them ran off a large part of the good horses and mules brought in by the early settlers. While Peter Arnold did not suffer this misfortune, he lost several horses by death, and the loss of one or two valuable work animals was more of a calamity than it would be today.
After remaining in Ash Valley seven years Peter Arnold left Kansas and went out to California. He had crossed the plains to the Golden State in 1852 and had never lost the desire to repeat the experience. On leaving Kansas for the west he went by railroad, located at Sebastopol and engaged in fruit raising. He is still a resident of the far west and is enjoying a hearty old age, being now eighty-five.
Peter Arnold married Emma Cochran. Her brother, John, enlisted from Lee County, Iowa, in the Union army and was never heard of again. Mrs. Arnold died a number of years ago. Her children were: Herbert, of California; Luella, wife of Frank Vitousek, of Healdsburg, California; Loren E.; John, of Sebastopol, California; Peter, of Oakland, California; Frank, of San Rafael, California; Grace, wife of Lester Reed, of San Pedro, California; Ruby, wife of James Voss, of Sonoma County, California; and William, who died in California.
Thus Loren E. Arnold is the only member of the family still represented in Western Kansas. He was born while his parents lived in Clark County, Missouri, near Kahoka, on March 11, 1862, and was about fourteen years of age when he came with his brothers and sisters and parents to Pawnee County. He had attended the Missouri country schools but had little school training after he came to Kansas. His home was with his parents on their homestead on Ash Creek until he was twenty years of age, and he then went to California and spent ten years in that state, most of the time working for monthly wages. It was customary, and he followed the custom, for farm hands to work from sixteen to eighteen hours a day. He was paid good wages for efficient work, proved thrifty and far sighted in the handling of his salary, and had about $1,500 of cash capital when he returned to his early home in Kansas. As his father always had a hankering after California, Loren E. Arnold was likewise afflicted with the desire for the level prairies of the Sunflower State.
On returning to Kansas he rented a quarter section of land and started farming with the capital he brought from California. He drove a walking plow to put in his first crop. This plow he loaned out to many neighbors for use, but always with the admonition that it be not allowed to rust. Because of the care with which it was used the plow is still a cherished possession of Mr. Arnold. His first wheat crop was a yield of 1,900 bushels. Not content with his original acreage, he began buying other land and in spite of some rather disastrous experiences his prosperity has been on the up grade for many years.
During 1893-94-95 crops in this section were estimated by pecks instead of so many bushels to the acre. There were times when the yield was scarcely more than two pecks to the acre. After such a crop, to state the matter in his own words, he "felt like he did not know what a dollar was." Reference to one particular crop will serve to show what the Kansas farmer was up against in those early days. Mr. Arnold had planted an eighty-acre tract to wheat. Apparently it was a total failure. He had a German neighbor who had no wheat at all, and it was arranged that the neighbor should cut the wheat for half the yield. That was done and the total grain thrashed amounted to 48 bushels. The German secured 24 bushels as his share, Mr. Arnold 12 bushels and the landlord 12 bushels. At that time wheat sold at only 30 cents a bushel. Mr. Arnold, therefore, estimates that he received about 10 cents an acre for his work and his crop. In those days, Mr. Arnold recalls, everybody in the country, including the "bon tons" used the familiar buffalo or cow chips for fuel.
Mr. Arnold's experience as a renter continued for four our five years. His first purchase was a quarter section of land. He did not pay a dollar down on this transaction, but paid out the purchase price, $2,000, with the proceeds of the crops. Later he sold that quarter section for $3,100 and then bought section 35, where he now has his farming estate. The purchase price of this land was $9 an acre, and that too, was paid out from the crops raised upon it. For many years Mr. Arnold has concerned himself with the improvement and development of his farm. He has accumulated some live stock and always has had plenty of equipment, including horses, to work his land. His most profitable experiences have been in raising wheat. In 1910 his harvest gave him 28 bushels to the acre. The largest aggregate crop of grain was over 11,000 bushels. In his individual experience wheat has sold as low as 30 cents a bushel, and the best price, and almost the world's record, came in 1917, when he sold his crop of 1916 for $1.81 a bushel.
Besides his home section Mr. Arnold's success in Western Kansas is partly measured by the accumulation of 400 additional acres. For that land he paid in the aggregate $20,000. His farms have two complete sets of improvements. At his home place is a residence of six rooms, barns, sheds, granary with a capacity of 7,000 bushels, machine building for tools, poultry house and other structures, all representing a goodly sum of investment. Politically he has manifested no special concern beyond voting as a republican. He and his wife are members of the Rozel Methodist Church, and he is affiliated with the Ancient Order of United Workmen, the Grange and the Anti-Horse Thief Association.
In Pawnee County, on August 17, 1892, Mr. Arnold married Miss Lizzie Griffith. Her father, William P. Griffith, was one of the pioneers of Pawnee County. Mrs. Arnold is a sister of Elmer A. Griffith, now one of the county commissioners of Pawnee County. To their marriage were born six children: Fred, who died in infancy; Lee W.; Ruby, a student in the Rozel High School; Helen, Elmer and Charles Monroe.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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