More About the Campground

Nell Morisette
NewsTribune Special Columnist

Hello, Tribune readers. The dogwood and redwood trees in Benton County are in bloom and very pretty. Makes me glad I'm alive, well, happy and am a Benton County woman (can't say "girl" at my age).

Tragedy of Young Lovers at the Old Campground

Last week I wrote about the Methodist campground on Beaverdam Creek near Eva. It was the most popular place in Benton County from 1836 to about 1890. Besides the more serious aspect of camp meeting time, the truly religious sentiment, there was much socializing, especially among the young, and a heap of courtin'.

There is a tragic tale, with which many people are still somewhat familiar that deals with three young people whose lives were changed forever by a tragedy that occurred at this campground.

A "city boy" from Camden, 19 years old, named Stephen Congo Pavatt Arnold, was present at the campground on October 12, 1873. He was the oldest son of Aaron and Josephine E. Hawley Arnold.

Aaron built a large frame hotel, the Arnold House, in Camden on the present site of Union Planters Bank. The Arnolds were a respected family who first settled in Beaverdam Valley in the 1820's. Connie's sister Bettie became the wife of Tom C. Rye of Camden and Paris, who was governor of Tennessee 1915-19.

Connie Arnold was sweet on Ella Weatherly about 14 years old, the daughter of Joe Weatherly of Old District 10 (the Eva area). He had a rival for her company and affection, a "country boy" named Henderson Hargis, likewise of a decent family.

On the day stipulated, the two young men had a violent quarrel over Miss Ella, and Connie started towards Henderson with obvious intentions of beating him up. Henderson drew his pistol and shot Arnold, who, in his death throes, stepped forward towards his assailant, buckled, and died.

Hargis left for Kentucky and was said never to have returned to these parts. Arnold's remains were buried in the Wilie Arnold graveyard on Beaverdam, but his body was removed and reburied on November 9, 1893, in the Camden City Cemetery. Ella Weatherly remained a spinster until about the age of 24, when she was married to C.K. Hudson.

Some 60 years later, S.W. Hollingsworth found a small pistol in a local field while plowing. This pistol was suspected to be the one used in the Hargis/Arnold shooting about 1/4 of a mile away. This pistol was later misplaced.

Connie Arnold
Connie Arnold

This story has never died because it is somewhat touching that a young man died for love.

The property where the campground was located belonged to a Mrs. Cuff. There was an agreement that the land be used for a Methodist meeting place, and if at any point the meetings were discontinued, the land would resort back to the Cuff heirs. Soon after this tragic event, the meetings at this place were discontinued.

Thought For The Week

God's timing is perfect, even in death. To God each of His children is brought home right on time.


If you have suggestions and/ or additions for these pages, please feel free to write County Host

Brian Nichols

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