A History of the Arnold family written on March 13, 1953
"It occurs to me that our children should have a record of their ancestors"
Father's (Henry Arnold) father was Niles Howard Arnold. He was born in Connecticut not far from R.I.
Woodstock or Thompson, I think. He was one of several children, four sisters and one brother, Frederick,
who was drowned while swimming and diving. The sisters were Cornelia (Mrs. Champlain), Sarah (Mrs.
Marquis Mowry), Margaret (Aunt May), and Louisa (Mrs. Tinkham). Their father was a mill worker and later a
farmer. He died of pneumonia, and his widow continued to run the farm in North Scituate, R.I. as long as
she lived. Mrs. Champlain had one son, Henry. They lived in Providence later. Mrs. Mowry had two sons,
and the Tinkhams a large family. "Aunt May" had no children.
Niles Howard Arnold was a Civil War veteran. Immediately upon his return from the South at the end of the
war, he married Harriet Randall Cook. They lived in North Scituate, R.I. He worked in the mill there. They
had four children born there: Frederick, Melinda and twins, Henry Ward Beecher and Elizabeth Meader.
(Named by a neighbor, a prominent man in the town, who offered $10. each for the privilege.)
When the twins were about two and a half years old, the family moved to Milford, Mass. because Mr. Asa
Westcott, who had employed the father, moved his business, spindle making, to Milford. (Hopedale now,
and called Spindleville). The children went to Milford schools until town of Hopedale was set off as a
Henry W B Arnold graduated from Hopedale High School in the first class, 1888, at age of 17 -- and was the
only graduate. Two former members had dropped out during the year. (In June 1938 he was toastmaster at
the 50th anniversary of the first graduation, a big celebration in the Community House in Hopedale.) Henry
worked in the spindle shop summers and one year until he went to Brown University the fall of 1889. (He
had passed examinations for Harvard entrance, but changed to Brown, when Mrs. Westcott offered to loan
him money.) Mrs. Asa Westcott offered to help hem finance his education at Brown, and the first year he had
a room with her youngest son, Frank Westcott, then a senior. Later he had a study with Mr. Daniel Snow and
Mr. Frank Lewis, and a sleeping room with his mother's aunt in the city of Providence. He continued to do
shop work on vacations, and also helped his Grandfather Cook on his farm at Attleboro Falls. (He joined
Beta Theta Phi Fraternity because Frank Westcott urged it, but was never a very loyal member.) After
graduation with high honors and Phi Beta Kappa membership, he began his teaching career. He was
offered a chance to go on with his studies, but decided against accepting the offer because he thought his
father needed his help. (When he borrowed money from Mrs. Westcott, he protected her with a life
insurance policy, and had her promise that she would never involve his father, if he could not repay.) (He did
farm work often for a Mr. George Gaskill who was a very fine friend all his life and very fond of Henry. W.B.)
(Often summers on the Attleboro Farm, visiting his grandfather and helping with the work, he had for a
playmate, Harriet Thornton (Claret), who also visited her grandmother, who was Grandpa Cook's second
wife. She later taught school in Providence and then married Capt Frank Claret, whom she met on his ship
going to Europe. She lived in England until her death the fall of 1952.)
His father continued with his work (Spindle Shop) in Hopedale until the spring of 1901, when Henry bought
the farm in North Attleboro, and moved his mother and father and sister Elizabeth to help his Grandfather,
Jonathan Cook, who was alone. The sister, Melinda, had married in 1901, and lived with her husband,
George Wilmerson, in So. Milford and later Hopedale, before going to New Hampshire to stay permanently.
Henry taught first for one year in Kimball Union Academy, Meriden, NH. Then as principal of High Schools in
West Lebanon, living with Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Tilden, who became lifelong friends. He returned to R.I.,
and was principal of High Schools in Central Falls and Valley Falls before being called to Hopedale, Mass,
where he stayed until the fall of 1902, when he began his Boston work in Dorchester High School, Codman
Square. He did general work for the first year, and then taught Latin and Mathematics until he had to choose
one or the other subject. He took the Math Department under Mr. Milford Power, until he was transferred to
the Dorchester High School for Boys, a new building, and finally moved to he Hyde Park High School, Head
of the Math Dept there. He worked with some very fine men, and had a great admiration for many of his
colleagues. Six months before he was to retire at age of 70, he was appointed by Boston's Supt., Arthur
Gould, as acting headmaster, but he was physically unable to continue in school work and retired the
January of 1941. Date of retirement pension, April 1941. You all know the rest of his story.
Now I'll tell you about your Grandmother Arnold. She was Harriet Randall Cook, the only child of Jonathan
Cook and Abigail Field Cook, and was born in 1847, Feb 5th, at what is now Fields Point, Rhode Island,
near Providence. Her mother died when she was a baby. She married Grandpa Arnold when she was very
young and they lived in North Scituate R.I. She was very deaf (condition caused by or following Scarlet Fever
when she was a child) and so lived a very quiet and secluded life. She was a beautiful mother and home
keeper. After the move from Hopedale to Attleboro to live with her father, she was never very well, and her
daughter Elizabeth had much care and responsibility. Grandfather Cook died in his eighty third year,
following an accident while mowing by machine with two horses. He died July 29th, 1904 in R.I. Hospital.
Grandma Arnold (Harriet) had a "shock" the summer of 1909. Elizabeth took care of her until her death,
which occurred at our Milton house, Mar 5, 1911, age 64 years. Grandpa Arnold (Niles Howard) and
Elizabeth went to live in Manchester, N.H. with Melinda and George, and Henry sold the farm, which had
many happy and very pleasant memories for all of us. Grandpa died of a shock in Sept 1917 (72 yrs) in
Manchester. The first shock came earlier, while he was visiting his sister, Mrs. Louis Tinkham, in N.
Scituate R.I. We took him by auto back to Manchester. Neighbors helped us, Mr. Holbrook Lincoln and Mr.
Elizabeth (Arnold) called her home with Melinda in Manchester. She worked as housekeeper in several
places, but longest with a Mr. Woodbury in New Boston. She died of cancer in a hospital Nov 10, 1942. She
was always a "standby" for all her family, and very devoted.
Melinda (Arnold) Wilmerson kept a beautiful and comfortable home for her husband, George Wilmerson,
and Elizabeth. She died of cancer in same hospital where Elizabeth died, Dec 10, 1942. George went to a
nursing home until his death the following October 8th. We settled their affairs. I hope ours will be left in
such an orderly and well-planned way. It was very hard to take proper care of their property accumulated
over a period of forty-one years with the greatest of care and effort. They always had a very small income, but
lived comfortable and left no debts.
Memories Menu HOME