Robert F. Arnold biography

ROBERT F. ARNOLD. Of the strong and able bar of Young county during the era of federal court practice, only a semblance of the “old guard” yet remains, but that remnant includes a noted scion of the profession whose abilities have shown forth in scores of legal contests and marked him as the leader of the local bar. He is not less prized as a citizen than admired and trusted as a lawyer, and the whole course of his citizenship of more than a quarter of a century in the county has won him a substantial place among her first and honored countrymen. We refer in this connection to Robert F. Arnold, of Graham, the subject of this review. It is nearly thirty years since Mr. Arnold came to Texas, a young man yet under age but equipped for life’s duties, and prepared to engage in the profession which he was destined to honor and adorn. He had been coached and trained by his worthy father, a careful and painstaking lawyer of the old school, and accompanied the latter to the Lone Star state during the centennial year to win a position among the able expounders of the law. The twain established themselves in Fort Worth, where the firm of Arnold, Paddock & Arnold was an active and effective factor of the bar from October, 1876, till December, 1879, at which time the Arnolds withdrew and followed the Federal court to Graham, over afterward the radial center of their professional activity.

While Robert F. Arnold was only twenty-two years of age when was enrolled at the bar of Young county he possessed the natural endowments so essential to a good lawyer, was a hard student and was ambitious to succeed. Night study of Blackstone and Parsons and other authors had prepared him for admission in youth, and the day and night study now prepared his invulnerable brief or planned and builded impregnable fortresses about his court cases. He knew and understood the law and his arguments before the court came early to be strong, clear and complete, and by the time he had extended his acquaintance throughout the district his fame as an able lawyer had been achieved. He was on some side of most of the murder and other important cases of the county from the start, and the firm of Arnold & Arnold embraced two lawyers whose banner seldom bore the word “failure.” In 1889 he defended the noted Marlow mob prisoners and carried the case to the supreme court of the United States to get a verdict for his clients. When the federal court was removed from Graham to Abilene a strong support of the legal fraternity of the county was taken away, and the most desirable business and best source of revenue to attorneys was cut off. The bar dwindled down to suit district and county courts until only Mr. Arnold and C. W. Johnson of the “crowd” now answer to the roll. John F. Arnold, our subject’s father, passed away in 1887, after having been identified with the courts of the county eight years. He was regarded strong at making up a case, safe in counsel, loyal to the ethics of his profession and a model of integrity in his professional life. His office was always his place of business and if accosted on the street about a business matter he seldom failed to say, “Come down to my office and we will talk it over.” He was a lawyer of the antebellum days in Mississippi, and many of the proprieties and peculiarities of that age clung noticeably to him to his death.

Robert F. Arnold was born in Alcorn county, Mississippi, March 14, 1857, a son of Judge J. F. Arnold, who served Tishomingo county many years as Judge, and who represented his county in the legislature of the state. The latter was born in Aberville [Abbeville] district, South Carolina, in 1826, but grew up to manhood in Mississippi, was practically educated there and prepared himself for the law. During the rebellion he served in the quartermaster’s department with the rank of major, Confederate service, and married a Tippah county lady, Miss Julia Fields, in 1855. Following the war he returned to his profession and was closely identified with it the remainder of his busy life. He was a Chapter Mason, and in his political views a Democrat. His wife survived him five years and was the mother of Robert F., of this notice; Mrs. M. M. Chandler, of Young county; Mrs. Nina Ford, Mrs. Julia Meece and H. G. Arnold, also of Young county.

Robert F. Arnold, after completing his education, engaged in teaching a few months, and while so doing took up the study of law. He was only nineteen years old when he was admitted to practice and was only twenty-five years old when elected county judge of Young county. He served in the office two years and eschewed politics for all time. He is in harmony with the views of the Democratic party and is a Master Mason. He owns a large firm on the Brazos, with seven hundred acres under cultivation, upon which he has discovered coal in paying quantities and upon which he has spent much money prospecting for oil and gas, and with some degree of success.

December 22, 1882, Judge Arnold married Miss Kate Taylor, in Alcorn county, Mississippi. Mrs. Arnold was a daughter of Colonel C. A. Taylor, a merchant at Rienzi. She and Mr. Arnold are the parents of Fred T., Ed C., Robert F., Jr., Carl and Katie, all members of the family circle.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 265-266.