W. D. Bostick
October, 2003



"William Arnold" is not an uncommon name, and it is easy to confound references in early records. This research attempts to establish that the William Arnold of this narrative was the son of Major John Arnold, the latter of whom relocated from Franklin County Kentucky to Madison County, Tennessee, about 1822. Madison County was at the time part of the larger "Western District," created out of Chickasaw Indian lands. There, Col. William Arnold ran (unsuccessfully) against Davy Crockett for a seat in Congress, and later ran (successfully) against Col. Robert Dyer for the Major-Generalship of the Western District Militia. Thus, key to assigning identity are references to "General William Arnold," as cited in early newspapers published in Tennessee, especially in Madison County.

Key places for establishing this connection include Franklin County in Kentucky (where his family resided prior to 1822); Roane, Madison, and Davidson Counties in Tennessee (where he spent much of his military career); and Brazoria County in Texas (where he died). Select resources are cited at the end of this article, and finally a timeline is proposed.


Ancestors of William Arnold

In Beginnings of West Tennessee, in a discussion of Soldiers of the Revolution who lived in Madison, County, Tennessee, noted that John Arnold, father of General William Arnold, died about Sept 1, 1830, age 82 (b. abt 1748).[1].

John Arnold (ca. 1748-1830) was himself a soldier (in both the Revolution and the War of 1812), and a magistrate. In fact, John, his brother Stephen and father were at one time all three magistrates in Franklin, Kentucky.[2] John Arnold married Jane Scott in June 1782. Major John Arnold's distinguished career is summarized in his obituary, appearing in the Jackson Gazette, Sept. 4, 1830:

Another revolutionary hero has sunk to his silent tomb, full of years and honors. Our venerable and highly respected fellow-citizen Major John Arnold is no more! He died at his residence, in this vicinity, Thursday morning after a protracted illness.
        The deceased was a native of Virginia, and at the commencement of the revolutionary war, he entered the service of his country, and continued to serve until the close of the war. He was among the first settlers of Kentucky, and lived thirteen years in the forts erected for the defense of the inhabitants, and on all occasions displayed that cool intrepidity for which he had rendered himself conspicuous in the war of the revolution. During the Indian war in Kentucky and on the north-west frontier he commanded a spy company, and such was his vigilance in partisan warfare, that he was known among the Indians as the "Black Wolf."
        After peace had been made with the Indians, he retired to his farm, near Frankfort, until the late war, when he again (at the age of sixty-two) entered the service, and was in all campaigns at the northwestern frontier, the last of which eventuated in the defeat of the famous General Proctor, and the death of Tecumseh, at the battle of Thames. After the war ceased, unsolicited and unsought for, he was elected to the Legislature of Kentucky, from Franklin County. In 1822, he removed to this county, where he lived highly respected by all who knew him, and has left a numerous offspring to lament his loss."


For more about Major John Arnold, see: www.tngenweb.org/madison/familes/arnold.htm.

Son, William Arnold appears to have been born about 1790 to 1800, as estimated from the 1830 Census for Madison County, Tennessee (q.v.); Stephen F. Austin's "Register of Families" for the Austin Colony in Texas gives Arnold's age as 38 in 1833 (i.e., born about 1795).


War of 1812

The earliest records found to date for William Arnold appear during his service in the War of 1812.[3] (Below: an attempted transcription of a microfilm copy of a faint handwritten service summary).

Arnold, William, 2nd Lieut., U.S. Rifles. Rgt. Commander Col. T.A. Smith. AGO Washington DC March 18th 1823 to be 2-Lieut. Dec. 3 1812 Order book 1813 to 1815 Malden. Oct 17 1813 attached to Capt. Hamilton's Co. — promoted Lieut. May 11 1814. MoRet (monthly return, i.e., muster) Sackett's Harbor June 30 1814. A.R. Oct 1814. Present order dated Ref Fall Nov-5-1814. Ordered to Knoxville, Tenn, on recruiting service. MoRet Columbia SC Mar 15, 1815, Absent at Columbia CH GA AR Columbia Apr 30 1815 Present. MoRet Chalk Hill, near Columbia SC Jun 30, 1815. Absent with leave at Frankfort, KY

Lieutenant William Arnold thus appeared to have served at the second battle of Sackett's Harbor in New York, in an unsuccessful drive on Montreal. Note also the recruiting trip to East Tennessee (see below), and the reference to leave of absence to Frankfort, KY, where his parents resided (his father also served during in the War of 1812).

Lieut. Wm. Arnold, of the 39th Regiment of Regulars, was sent to Kingston, TN, to recruit for the war (of 1812); one of his most distinguished recruits was private citizen Sam Houston (future Governor of Tennessee and Texas).[4] A lesser-known soldier also recruited by Lieut. Arnold in 1813 was Littleton Davis.[5]

Sam Houston enlisted in 1813. "Soon after this, Lieut. Arnold had received 39 soldiers, and was ordered to send them forth to join the troops, marching to the Creek War, under the command of Col. John Williams, of Knoxville, who commanded this regiment of regulars in person at the battle of Horse Shoe, and afterwards became a distinguished Senator in Congress from Tennessee."[6] Houston, serving under General Andrew Jackson, would be wounded twice at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (near present day Alexander City, Alabama).

Brittain (1999), Roane County Tennessee Militia Companies, 1806-1820 & 1828-1839, p. 48, refers to "Captain Arnold's Co." Thus, Lt. Arnold advanced in rank while in East Tennessee.


Roane County and East Tennessee

Knoxville Register, Vol. 4 #163, 7 September 1819: "Married on the 17th of August last in Roane County, Tennessee, Capt. William Arnold of Kentucky, to Miss Martha D. King of that County."[7]

William Arnold married Martha D. King, August 17, 1819, R. Richards, M.G. (see also: E. M. Wells, "History of Roane Co., TN", p. 92: Aug-17-1819. William Arnold and Martha D. King, bondmen William Arnold and Rufus F. King).[8, 9]

A contemporary Jackson, Tenn., newspaper item recording Martha's death, about Aug-26, 1824, confirms that this is indeed "our" William Arnold. Jackson Gazette, No. 15, Vol. 1, Saturday, Sept. 4, 1824: "Died, on Thursday last, Mrs. Martha D. Arnold, consort of Col. Wm Arnold of this place and daughter of Mr. Walter King, of East Tennessee." (Note: Col. Arnold was later elected to Gen. Arnold).

Walter King (abt 1764 to 1830) was a socially prominent and wealthy citizen of Kingston in Roane County; in 1795, he had married Nancy "Patsy" Sevier (1779 to abt 1830), the daughter of General and Governor John Sevier of Tennessee, and Sevier's first wife, Sarah Hawkins. The marriage gave William strong political connections. John Sevier (1745-1851) was a Revolutionary War hero, Governor of the ephemeral "State of Franklin" (1803-1809), and later first and multi-term Governor of the State of Tennessee (1796-1801, 1803-1809). But the popular Sevier also had powerful political foes, including arch-rival William Blount, and Blount's protege, Andrew Jackson. [When President Washington in 1790 appointed Blount as Governor of the "Territory of the United States of America South of the River Ohio," he also appointed John Sevier as brigadier-general for Washington (East Tennessee) District, and James Robertson as brigadier-general for Mero (Middle Tennessee) District].

Martha King Arnold died in 1824, prior to her father's death in 1830. Therefore she is not mentioned in Walter King's will, and she is absent from the list of children compiled based upon this will (although she is mentioned in, e.g., Roberts, 1980). Walter and Nancy Sevier King had at least ten children. One tradition says that another of the King daughters was engaged to Gen. Sam Houston, but died before the wedding day (Sevier and Madden, 1961, p. 247). Austin Augustus King (1801-1870) was a brother of Martha; he a lawyer who practiced in Jackson, Tennessee [10] (where William and Martha would also later reside). A. A. King moved to Columbia, Missouri, in 1830, and was later elected Governor of that State, serving in that capacity from 1848-1852.

Bailey, in Roane County, Tennessee, Newspaper Abstracts (1998) lists: Page 134: Letter awaiting Col. Wm. Arnold, notice dated Aug-1817; p. 137: letter awaiting "William Arnold, Esq." Dated Jan-1825. (The William Arnold of this narrative was also an able lawyer). [One letter, dated May 18, 1821, is preserved at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. It was sent by William Kelly of Milledgeville, GA, and was addressed to Col. William Arnold of Kingston, TN, regarding a partnership formed at Huntsville with Hutchison.]


Madison County, Tennessee

Beginning about 1819-1820, after the final treaty with the Chickasaw Indians by which they gave up West Tennessee, settlers began to pour into these lands. Madison County was formed 1821 from the Western District and Jackson, the county seat, was laid out in 1822. Eastin Morris, in the Tennessee Gazetteer (1834) wrote: "In 1830, (Jackson) had a population of 675, and in 1833 near 900. It is rapidly improving and will unquestionably be one of the finest towns in the Western District."

William Arnold was a prominent citizen in Madison County in the 1820's. He was appointed commissioner by an Act of Legislature November 16, 1821, when the city of Jackson was laid out, and was appointed again in 1822 when the city was incorporated.[11] He was granted permission to practice law in the Madison County courts in June of 1822.[12] He was also among the earliest attorneys practicing about this same time in near-by Carroll County.[13] Although said to be a capable lawyer, William often was the defendant in debt cases found in favor of the plaintiff.[14] It was an era of excessive land and other financial speculation, and individual fortunes frequently waxed and waned.

Many of William Arnold's kinsmen also located in Madison County. From Roane County, Tennessee, Rufus F. King, bondsman for the marriage of William to Martha King, was an early settler there.[15] Also, as mentioned earlier, brother-in-law Austin Augustus King practiced law for a while in Jackson. His father, Major John Arnold, relocated from Franklin County, Kentucky, about 1822. A brother-in-law then living in Jackson was Col. James Theobold [16], one of the first inn-keepers in Jackson.[17] Joel Prewett married Abigail Arnold in Franklin County Kentucky (Nov. 5, 1811), and later they also relocated to Madison County before 1840. William Hogsett, who married Sarah Arnold in Franklin County Kentucky (Jan. 14, 1800), was an early resident in near-by Lauderdale County.[18] William Arnold, James F. Theobald and Rufus F. King were each members of Jackson Masonic Lodge #45 (Chartered October 6, 1823).[19]


William Arnold Is Elected Major General of Tennessee Militia (1826)

In 1826, there was a battle royal for the major-generalship (regarded as a high honor) between two gallant soldiers — Col. R. H. Dyer and Col. William Arnold, both at the time residents of Madison County.[20] Arnold was elected and became the first Major General of the District.[21] Under Tennessee law, the office of major-general of militia was filled in an election by the field officers of the command, and Col. William Arnold beat out Col. Robert Dyer (himself a hero of the War of 1812) by a vote of 25 to 16.[22]

In a bit of political irony, it was the bitter feud between Andrew Jackson and John Sevier (Martha King Arnold's grandfather) that caused the Tennessee militia to be split into Eastern and Western districts. Jackson and Sevier had vied against one another for the major-generalship in 1802. Jackson campaigned actively and brilliantly while the less organized Sevier relied on his popularity as a Revolutionary War hero and Indian fighter. The election ended in a tie, to be broken by Governor Roane, an associate of Jackson who had recently succeeded Sevier as Governor of the State. Sevier was livid "that a lawyer, speculator, and politician would dare to vie for military office with a man whose miltary experience included the great victory of King's Mountain (Oct. 7, 1780) during the Revolution seemed incredible to Sevier — nay monstrous — and his friends, in revenge, jammed through the legislature a bill stripping Jackson of part of his command by creating two militia districts, one in the east and one in the west, and permitting Jackson to retain only the western command."[23] This animosity would result in a near-comical (and fortunately, bloodless) duel in Knoxville between Jackson and Sevier. "Fortunately for Jackson, the two events most important to his military career — his election as major general of the militia, and the outbreak of the War of 1812 — came at times when Sevier was out of office and had been replaced by someone from the Blount faction."[24]


William Arnold Remarries (1826)

Also in 1826, the widowed William remarried, to Mrs. Martha Eliza Robertson, in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee. The politically ambitious General Arnold likely visited Nashville, the State Capital from 1826 forward, many times in his capacity of General of Militia. The dominant political figure in the State at that time was General Andrew Jackson, political enemy of his former in-law, hero of the War of 1812, resident of Nashville, and presidential candidate in 1826. General Jackson had married Rachel Donelson Robards, daughter of Col. John Donelson. Nashboro (later renamed Nashville) had been founded in 1779-80 by Col. John Donelson and Captain James Robertson.

"Mrs. Eliza Robertson married General William Arnold, of Jackson, in Nashville, Nov. 5, 1826" [this from the Jackson Gazette, Nov. 16, 1826, as abstracted by J. K. T. Smith (1996), A Genealogy Miscellany III. Madison County, Tennessee, p. 18].

Davidson County Marriage Record Book 1:
Arnold, William to Martha E. Robertson, sol. Nov. 5, 1826 by Robt. Paine, M.G. (Bondsman: David Craighead).

Martha Eliza Goodloe, daughter of John Minor Goodloe and Elizabeth Jelks of Maury County, Tenn., had first married Benjamin Franklin Robertson, grandson of General James Robertson.

Benjamin Franklin Robertson was born ca 1798 to Jonathan and Ciddy (Kitty) Davis Robertson, who had married about 1791 (Kelley, 1973, pp. 38, 54). Jonathan (b. June 13, 1769) was the eldest son of James Robertson, co-founder of the city of Nashboro (later, Nashville, which would become the administrative center for Davidson County, and Capital for the State of Tennessee), and Charlotte Reeves. The Craigheads were kinsmen of the Robertson family (Ibid, pp. 99-100). (Note: David Craighead was bondsman for the marriage of Martha E. Robertson to William Arnold in Nashville, Tennessee in 1826). Thus, William Arnold would have had another link to famous Tennessee pioneers, by helping to raise the great-granddaughter of General James Robertson (1742-1814).

About the time of his marriage to Martha Goodloe Robertson in 1826, William announced a new law partnership [25]: "William Arnold and J. D. Martin have associated themselves in the practice of the law and have concluded to settle permanently in the town of Jackson. Their office is situated near the public square, where one of them can at all times be found. They will practice in all the courts held in Jackson and in the neighboring counties. Any business confided to their care, either from a distance or at home, will be strictly and faithfully attended to by one or both when necessary."

Also at this time, Arnold had a brief, and unsuccessful, business alliance with H. Norvell, as reported in the Jackson Gazette:
(August 12, 1826): "For sale, dry goods, hardware, queensware & groceries. William Arnold, Jackson, and H. Norvell, Nashville"
(September 13, 1826): "Will those indebted to Messrs Arnold and Norvell please come forward to settle their accounts."
(March 24, 1827): "The partnership of Arnold and Norvell is dissolved by mutual consent. Wm. Arnold and H. Norvell."


William Arnold Runs for Congress, 1827

          In 1827, Davy Crockett ran for Congress against Adam Rankin Alexander and Mjr. Gen. William Arnold, both then of Jackson (Madison Co., TN); Crockett won easily; see below. (Crockett at this time was a supporter of Andrew Jackson).

Jones, (1979) wrote: "In 1827, (David) Crockett ran for Congress against (Col. Wilson) Alexander (the incumbent). A third candidate was General William Arnold, a prominent citizen of Jackson and the area. The Congressional district was large and Crockett campaigned vigorously. A severe decline in the price of cotton hurt Alexander, and he and Arnold attacked each other while ignoring the backwoodsman. The result was that Crockett won by a sizable margin."[26] (Derr (1993) records the outcome of the August 1827 election: 5,868 votes for Crockett, 3,646 for Alexander, and 2,417 for Major General Arnold, of the Western District militia.[27])

Although Crockett would win handily, he had considered Arnold a formidable opponent. Arnold was a major-general of militia and a successful lawyer, so that, as Crockett said, he had the law and military prestige to work against.[28] Or, as Shackford (1956) [29] wrote:

Gen. Arnold had been one of the Commissioners appointed for the city of Jackson by act of the legislature on August 17, 1822; and as Col. Arnold he had defeated, in 1824, the popular Col. Robert H. Dyer, for the position of Major General of the old Third Division [comprised of the 12th, 13th and 14th brigades]. Arnold held his position until he resigned it in 1833 [note: that was the year he moved to Velasco, Texas, q.v.]. David Crockett says of Arnold that he was not only a "major general in the militia", but also "an attorney-general at the law."


An anecdote from the campaign, as allegedly told by Crockett [30], relates to an incident when General Arnold, directing his remarks at Alexander, had been speaking for a long time "when a large flock of guinea-fowls came very near to where he was, and set up the most unmerciful chattering that was ever heard." Arnold interrupted his speech and asked that they be driven away. When David rose to speak, he said: "Well, Colonel [purposely demoting him], you are the first man I ever saw that understood the language of fowls." He went on to say that when Arnold failed to mention him in his speech, and his "little friends, the guinea-fowls, had come up and began to holler 'Crockett, Crockett, Crockett,' he had been ungenerous enough to stop and drive them all away." With the aid of such tactics, Crockett carried the day and won the election by a wide margin.

Arnold did not get a lot of press in the local Jackson Gazette, which as Cisco described, was the only paper in West Tennessee at the time, and which was published in the interest of General Andrew Jackson and Davy Crockett.[31]


1830 Census, Madison County, Tennessee

          William Arnold appears in the 1830 Census for Madison County, Tennessee, enumerated adjacent to his father, John Arnold:

1830 Madison Co (MA-84): William Arnold

1 (0-5) - b. 1820-1825
1 (15-20) - b. 1810-1815
1 (30-40) - b. 1790-1800 (= William Arnold, b. abt 1795)

1 (5-10) - b. 1820-1825 (= Mary Eliza Robertson, b. 23-Aug-1824)
1 (20-30) - b. 1800-1810 (= second wife, Martha Eliza Robertson, b. bet. 1801-1807)

William and Mrs. Robertson married in 1826 (q.v.), so the youngest male child listed in the 1830 census appears to have been from William's previous marriage to Martha King. In 1830, William would have been about 35, and Martha about 23 years of age, so the male age 15-20 is likely a visiting brother (i.e., he was born before William's first marriage in 1819).


Brazoria County, Texas

In 1833, William Arnold resigned his commission as Major-General of the Tennessee militia, and relocated to Texas (where, unfortunately, he promptly died!). Why would he migrate to Texas? Does this relate to the friendship with Sam Houston; see notes under "Roane County, Tennessee".

William Arnold received a land grant of 1 league (4428 acres) in Austin's Colony in Brazoria County, recorded Apr. 15, 1833. This appears to be the General William Arnold of this narrative, who died shortly thereafter, probably during one of the cholera epidemics that occurred when the Brazos River flooded.[32]

Lucas, Obituaries from Early Tenn. Newspapers, 1794-1851: "Arnold, Gen. William of Tennessee, died in Velasco, Texas" (from National Banner & Nashville Whig, Fri., Nov. 18, 1833).[33] The Knoxville Register (#889: 7-August-1833) tersely recorded "General William Arnold of Jackson in the Western District of this state, died lately in Texas."

The family is recorded in Stephen F. Austin's "Register of Families" (page 30):
William Arnold, 38 years of age (b. abt 1795)
Martha Eliza, his wife, 26 years of age (b. abt 1807)
2 female children
From the state of Tennessee and just arrived
Took the oath and entered in Coast Colony
(Note: this entry appears to be made in early 1833)

The eldest female child would likely be Mary Eliza Robertson (born 1824), who would survive to marry Dr. John Martin Taylor of Union County, Kentucky, in 1843; this union would produce ten children.[34] The other female child (not listed in the 1830 Census) may have been aged 3 years or less. Nothing more is known about the youngest child, perhaps she also died in the cholera epidemic. Their mother, Martha, survived the epidemic, but appears to have left Texas, later remarrying (see below).

M. S. Fay, in War of 1812 Veterans in Texas, wrote (p. 10) [35]:

DIED: 9 June 1833, Velasco, Brazoria County, Texas
RESIDENCES: Davidson County, Tennessee; Madison County, Mississippi Territory; Brazoria County, Texas.
SERVICE: Private in Captain William Locke's Company and Colonel Alcorn's Regiment of Tennessee Militia. Private in Captain Blackman Coleman's Company of West Tennesse Volunteers under Colonel Samuel Bayles's Regiment, Tennessee Militia.
COMMENTS: National Archives service records: There are five files on William Arnold. 1816, Captain William Locke swore to Arnold's service before Harry M. Hudson, J.P., in Rutherford County, Tennessee. Brown's History of Texas, I, 230-1, calls Arnold a General in the War of 1812 and states that he was an able lawyer.


Brown wrote of Arnold in a footnote:

In a note written by Captain Archibald Hotchkiss, giving his recollection of James Bowie (the original being in my possession), he said: "I first met Bowie in Washington City in 1832.... Again I saw him at the convention of April. 1833, in San Felipe, and, after its adjournment, traveled with him to Brazoria. Among them were General Sam Houston, General John T. Mason, General William Arnold, Samuel A. Sawyer, Captain Henry S. Brown, Thomas J. Chambers, and Sterret, a brother-in-law to Bowie." General William Arnold died at Velasco, June 9th, 1833. He was an able lawyer from Tennessee, had been an officer in the war of 1812, and subsequently a General in the Tennessee Militia. He left a family in Velasco.[35]


The narrative by Fay (above) may be confounding several contemporary "William Arnolds" including one private from Rutherford County, Tennessee. (Another Lt. William Arnold died during the War of 1812). It is assumed from the Lucas abstract that it was indeed General William Arnold who died in Velasco at this time. A grant of 4428 acres infers that William Arnold had been a substantial citizen. General Arnold had spent much of his adult life in Madison County, Tennessee (perhaps formerly referred to as part of the "Mississippi Territory," but actually formerly Indian land), and apparently he had also lived in Davidson County, Tennessee at one time (q.v.). As noted previously, General William Arnold was also a lawyer. However, the narrative under "Roane County, Tennessee" (q.v.) suggests that "our" William Arnold was a Lieutenant at the time of the War of 1812. (See also: War of 1812" narrative).

His Brazoria County, Texas, probate case has been inventoried as Case no. 13. Arnold, William, 1833-41. Eleven papers in one container. Inventories, appraisals, claims, receipts, letters testamentary, and other matters relating to estate.[37, 38]

The only item of genealogical significance is found in Probate Records, Vol. A, p. 21 (March 21, 1837): "The petition of John A. Wharton representing that he signed a bond with Martha E. Arnold Adminx of the succession of Wm. Arnold dec'd, and that the said Martha E. Arnold was compelled to leave the Republic and circumstances have prevented her return in consequence of which this said Estate has not been brought to a settlement. [See note for Davidson County, Tenn: this would be Martha Eliza Robertson Arnold]. Regrettably, among the property listed were two slaves, claimed by Martha Wharton.[39]


More About Martha Goodloe Robertson Arnold and Her Daughter, Mary Eliza

The LDS FamilySearch™ database suggests that Martha Eliza Goodloe (AFN: HCCW-L7), widow of Benjamin F. Robertson (AFN: HCCW-PQ) and later William Arnold (AFN: HCCW-R3), would next marry Peter G. Rives (AFFN: HCCW-58) on Feb. 14, 1836, and yet later would marry James B. Harris (AFN: HCCW-TF) on Sept. 29, 1852.

S. F. Kelley (1973), in Children of Nashville — Lineages of James Robertson, Blue & Gray Press, wrote (p. 170):

Benjamin Franklin Robertson married Martha Goodloe of Maury County, Tennessee, and moved to Union County, Kentucky. A daughter, Mary Elizabeth, was born in 1824 to the couple. Shortly thereafter Frank died, leaving a widow and fatherless child. The mother remarried sometime later. Mary Eliza was educated at St. Vincent's Convent in western Kentucky. By 1843 she married Dr. John Martin Taylor, a graduate of Transylvania University at Lexington, Kentucky. Dr. Taylor was the son of Samuel Mitchell Taylor, who was kin to the distinguished family of Taylors which produced two presidents of the United States. In later years, the family of Dr. John M. Taylor lived at "Mauvilla," a plantation in Oldham County, Kentucky, near Westport. A second home was located on Bayou Bartholomew in Arkansas. It was called the "Hollywood" plantation.


Rebecca DeArmond-Huskey gives additional information on the widow Martha and her daughter Mary in her book Bartholow's Song: A Bayoo History (2001). Martha, said to be a wealthy widow, married a third time, to Peter Rives of Crittenden County, Arkansas. According to Ms DeArmond-Huskey, Peter Rives died there in 1852, and Martha would later die there January 4, 1881.



William Arnold, soldier, lawyer, and would-be politician, died prematurely in Texas at age about 38. He had been well acquainted with the major pioneers and politicians of early Tennessee history. By marriage, he was connected to both General John Sevier and General James Robertson; of these famous Tennesseans, one gushing author wrote: "Under these two leaders, John Sevier and James Robertson, the people developed a boundless courage, a constant fortitude, a self-devoted patriotism, worthy of the most heroic ages."[40]

Had General William Arnold not died in Texas a couple of years before the Texas Revolution, what role might he have played? Would he have served with his former recruit, General Sam Houston, or fought at the Alamo alongside his former political rival Col. David Crockett? It was not to be.


Proposed Timeline for William Arnold

NOTE: Gleanings from various records; NOT PROVEN that all of these refer to the same individual.

Ca 1790-1800

Birth - estimated from 1830 census for Madison co., TN (MA-84); see below:
1 (0-5) - b. 1820-1825
1 (15-20) - b. 1810-1815
1 (30-40) - b. 1790-1800 (= William Arnold)
1 (5-10) - b. 1820-1825
1 (20-30) - b. 1800-1810 (see below: in 1830, this is probably 2nd wife, Eliza Robertson)

Father = Major John Arnold
S.C. Williams, "Beginnings of West Tennessee," Watauga Press (1930): p. 233: (re: soldiers of the Revolution) Madison, TN: John Arnold, father of General William Arnold, died about Sept 1, 1830, age 82 (b. abt 1748).


Lieut. Wm. Arnold, of the 39th Regiment of Regulars, was sent to Kingston, TN, to recruit for the war; one of his recruits was Pvt. Sam Houston (future Governor of Tennessee and Texas). (Ref: S. E. Roberts (1980), Roots of Roane County, Tennessee 1792-.)


William Arnold marries Martha D. King Aug. 17, 1819 in Roane Co., TN. (Martha was the daughter of Walter King of Kingston, TN).


Appointed Commissioner for laying out the city of Jackson in Madison County, TN


William Arnold, served as Commissioner in Jackson, Madison County, TN. [Acts of Tennessee 1796-1830; Serial No.27 Chapter & Section 99.1]


Holiday toast. (Quoted in Jackson Gazette, Sat. July 3, 1824, No. 6, Vol. 1). By Col. Wm. Arnold - (to) Edmund P. Gaines, the gallant soldier and accomplished gentleman."
[General Edmund Pendleton Gaines (1777-1849) was a senior U.S. military officer in the War of 1812 and the associated Indian Wars. As commanding officer of the Western Department, he would be ordered by President Jackson in 1835 to proceed to the western border to lend support to Sam Houston, a protege of the President.]


1st wife (Martha D. King) dies. Jackson Gazette, No. 15, Vol. 1, Saturday, Sept. 4, 1824: "Died, on Thursday last, Mrs. Martha D. Arnold, consort of Col. Wm. Arnold of this place and daughter of Mr. Walter King, of East Tennessee."
(LDS: William Arnold married Martha D, King 17 Aug 1819 in Roane Co., TN).


Elected Major General
Williams, Historic Madison, p. 100: Militia and the Seminole War: in 1825, Col. William Arnold was elected to the major-generalship of the Old Third Division, Tennessee Militia, by a vote of 25 to 16 over Col. Robert Dyer.

S.C. Williams, Beginnings of West Tennessee, Watauga Press (1930): p. 228: (re: Western District Militia) There was a battle royal for the major-generalship (regarded as a high honor) between two gallant soldiers - Col. R.H. Dyer and Col. William Arnold, both at the time residents of Madison Co. Arnold was elected and became the first Major General of the District. He was succeeded in this post in 1836 by Alexander Bradford.


William remarries
(Gen.) William Arnold m. 1826 (Madison, TN) Eliza Robertson
William ARNOLD
Spouse: Martha E. ROBERTSON
Marriage: 5 Nov 1826
Davidson, Tennessee
(Ref: Marriage records, 1789-1951; Licenses and bonds, 1789-1886; index, 1944-1946 Davidson County (Tennessee). County Clerk)


Forms Law partnership with J. D. Martin; forms mercantile partnership with H. Norvell.

After 1826

Runs for public office
In 1826, Davy Crockett ran against Adam Rankin Alexander and Mjr. Gen. William Arnold, both of Jackson (Madison Co., TN); Crockett won.


A William Arnold received a land grant of 1 league (4428 acres) in Austin's Colony in Brazoria County, recorded Apr. 15, 1833. (see below)


William dies.
Lucas, Obits from early Tenn. newspapers, 1794-1851:
"Arnold, Gen. William of TN. Died in Velasco, TX" (from National Banner & Nashville Daily Advertiser, Mon. July 29, 1833).



  1. S. C. Williams, Beginnings of West Tennessee, Watauga Press (1930).
  2. L. F. Johnson, History of Franklin County, Kentucky (1912).
  3. Register of Enlistments in the United States Army, 1798-1914, Vol. 1-2: 1798-May 17, 1815. p. 211 (No. 2058).
  4. S. E. Roberts (1980), Roots of Roane County, Tennessee 1792-. (Also cited in W.W. Clayton (1880), History of Davidson County).
  5. Roane County Tennessee Minute Book, 1816-1818, p. 213 (Oct. 20, 1817).
  6. Bailey, Roane County, Tennessee, Newspaper Abstracts (1998), p. 183.
  7. Cited by P. Creekmore (1995), Tennessee Newspaper Extracts and Abstracts.
  8. W. Hutchinson and M. McCluen (1973), Marriage Records of Roane County, Tennessee, 1801-1855, p. 47 (original item 286; copy on file at Roane Co. Courthouse). Also abstracted in reference 4.
  9. Like William Arnold, Esq., brother-in-law Rufus King would later migrate to Jackson in Madison County, Tenn.: "Married on Tuesday eve the 2nd inst., in Madison County, Western District, Rufus King, Esq., of Jackson, formerly of Roane County, (married) to Miss Nancy Gibson, daughter of the late Col. John H. Gibson of the former County." Knoxville Register, Vol. 10 (#471), 19-August 1825, as abstracted in P. Creekwood (1995), Tennessee Newspaper Extracts and Abstracts, Vol. 1 1816-1830, Knoxville Press, p. 86.
  10. C. B. Sevier and N. S. Madden (1961), Sevier Family History, pp. 246-7, 315.
  11. Williams, 1946.
  12. Madison County Court Minute Book One, p. 26 (June 17, 1822).
  13. http://www.rootsweb.com/~tncarrol/Goodspeed/history.htm
    At the second term of the court of pleas and quarter sessions, held in June, 1822 (in Carroll County), William Arnold, Robert Hughes, Will Stoddart, Archibald C. Hall and Thomas Taylor were admitted and sworn as attorneys to practice in said court. At the same time William Arnold produced his commission from the governor and was sworn as solicitor general of the Thirteenth Solicitorial District.
  14. WPA (1938), Madison County Minute Book 1 (1821-1825). Numerous entries for "William Arnold," although in many cases he was being sued as being the security for other persons (e.g., John D. Shannon, constable, and Samuel H. Shannon, the latter possibly a brother-in-law). Goodspeed, p. 822, refers to William Arnold as one of the first practicing attorneys in Madison County.
  15. Goodspeed’s General History of Tennessee, p. 807. Also, administrative papers in the Roane County, Tennessee, Court House, regarding the estate of Walter King, note that Rufus King lived in Gibson County, west Tennessee, during the 1830's.
  16. James F. Theobold married Martha "Patsy" Arnold Feb. 15, 1817 in Franklin County, KY
  17. See p. 809 in History of Tennessee Illustrated (Madison County), originally published by Goodspeed in 1887, and reprinted in 1979 by Southern Historical Press: "Col. James Theobold, a brother-in-law of Gen. Arnold, was one of the first inn-keepers in Jackson."
  18. Robert H. Cartmell, in his Diary, volume 10, April 1892 writes about his aunt, Mrs. Jane Hogsett Lemon: "she was born 1800 in Franklin Co. Ky., came with her father and mother to Tenn. in 1827, and that her father was a Revolutionary War soldier; her mother was a sister of Gen'l. Wm. Arnold, whose father, John Arnold was also a Revolutionary soldier." (http://www.tngenweb.org/madison/riverside/mrc2-12.htm#a203).
  19. J. K. T. Smith, A Genealogical Miscellany IV, Madison County, p. 2.
  20. However, J. K. T. Smith (1996), Genealogical Miscellany III. Madison County, Tennessee, p. 61 states "Col. Dyer ran against William Arnold of Henderson County for the major-general post, 3rd Division of State militia in the spring and summer of 1825, but lost to his opponent."
  21. S. C. Williams, (1930), p. 228.
  22. E. I. Williams (1946), Historic Madison.
  23. R. V. Remini (1966), Andrew Jackson, Twayne Publishers, Inc., pp. 40-41.
  24. Remini (1962), p. 42.
  25. National Banner and Nashville Whig, Vol. XV, No 52, November 18, 1826 (and repeated other issues).
  26. B. M. Jones (ed.) (1979), Heroes of Tennessee, Memphis State Univeity Press, p. 77.
  27. M. Derr (1993), The Frontiersman, p. 143.
  28. J.W. Burke (1984), David Crockett, p. 152.
  29. J. A. Shackford (1956), David Crockett, the Man and the Legend, p. 81.
  30. The Autobiography of David Crockett, With an Introduction by Hamlin Garland (Schribner edition, New York, 1923), pp 131-2. See also recent biographies, such as M. Derr (1993), The Frontiersman, p. 141.
  31. American Historical Magazine, Vol 7(4), October 1902 (archived at www.tngenweb.org/madison/history/ma-cisco.htm).
  32. Inventory of the Colonial Archives of Texas, 1821-1837, No. 3, Municipality of Brazoria (Brazoria Co. Courthouse, Angleton, TX), prepared by the WPA, San Antonio, TX, June 1937. p. 4: "Capt. Austin died during the severe cholera epidemic which followed the flood of the Brazos river in June 1833."
  33. Old Velasco, on the east side of the Brazos River 16 miles south of Angleton and 4 miles from the Gulf of Mexico in southeastern Brazoria County, was founded in 1831. According to one writer, Old Velasco became the "Boston harbor of the Texas Revolution," as the site of the battle of Velasco in 1832. A cholera epidemic reduced the population to 100 by 1834.
  34. S. F. Kelley (1973), Children of Nashville, p. 228.
  35. M. S. Fay, War of 1812 Veterans in Texas, Southern Historical Press, Inc. (1979, reprinted 1994).
  36. J. H. Brown (1892), History of Texas, Vol. I, L. E. Daniel, Publisher, St. Louis.
  37. Index to Probate cases of Texas (publ. 1942), No. 20. Brazoria County. Arnold, William, dec. Filed Sept. 28, 1833, Case No. 13.
  38. Inventory of the Colonial Archives of Texas, 1821-1837, No. 3, Municipality of Brazoria (Brazoria Co. Courthouse, Angleton, TX), prepared by the WPA, San Antonio, TX, June 1937, p. 23: Estates, Probate cases
  39. G. White (1966), "1840 Census of the Republic of Texas," p. 120. These slaves would be claimed by Sarah Ann Wharton (Brazoria Conty Probate Court, Vol. C, p. 76, June 30, 1840).
  40. J. R. Gilmore (Edmund Kirke) (1887, 1997), John Sevier as a Commonwealth Builder, p. 9.