AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF DWIGHT ARNOLD


OTTERBEIN COLLEGE WRITING ASSIGNMENT

MARCH 2, 1923

Dwight Arnold's parents, Winfield Arnold and Rebecca Eisele, were married in Darke County in 1883, and lived in Darke County until 1887, when they moved to Oregon. Dwight was born in Oregon, on July 19, 1899, the sixth of seven sons. In the spring of 1907, when Dwight was 7 years old, the family moved back to Darke County. Much of this autobiography tells of Dwight's experiences growing up in Darke County from the age of 7 when his family returned to Darke County to the age of 23, when he wrote the autobiography.

Dwight Arnold died in Barnesville, Ohio, June 24, 1984. According to his obituary, "Dr. Dwight Arnold spent a lifetime doing battle for peace and social justice" and "was recognized as one of the founders of modern guidance counselor training in Ohio." He began teaching in 1929 and joined the College of Education faculty at Kent State University in 1946. "He formally retired in 1966 and received emeritus status, but pursued an active retirement as a full-time peace advocate, serving at KSU as a fellow for the Center for Peaceful Change." According to the obituary, "His career as a peace activist could be traced to 1919 when, in the aftermath of World War I, he delivered a high school valedictory address (at Arcanum High School) entitled, "Should We Arm for Peace?" An editorial from the RECORD-COURIER, Ravenna-Kent, Ohio, commenting on Dwight Arnold's life follows the autobiography.

AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF DWIGHT ARNOLD

If tradition has it right, the history of our Arnold family in America begins with a man clinging to a board and floating to the shore off the Carolina coast after a shipwreck. Among other things that are accredited to this line of Arnolds is that during a certain prominent battle of the Revolution, they, being Quakers, helped hold the horses of those who fought the battle. From the Carolinas, they gradually migrated to West Virginia and some to a little town in western Ohio by the name of Jaysville, where my father was born.

On my mother's side, the story begins back in the southern wine producing regions of Germany where my grandfather became dissatisfied with the compulsory service in the German army and escaped on a forged pass coming then to America in the early forties. Here he married a German girl and started farming in western Ohio near Eaton. It was at that place that my mother was born in a home where German was spoken entirely and where only the bare necessities of life were present. When my mother was small, the family moved to Darke County near Jaysville.

Neither father nor mother had much chance for education as the idea seemed prevalent then around there that it was all right to go to school providing there was nothing else to be done, which was generally not the case. My father wanted very much to go to college but, as his father didn't think he could be spared, he did not get to go.

Back in the bureau drawer at home I read once in a while a fancy written statement of this nature, "This is to certify that Winfield L. Arnold and Rebecca C. Eisele are united in the bonds of holy matrimony" and is dated 1883. Then father and mother began their journey together. For a few years they lived near their parents' homes, but, hearing of the great golden west in 1887, they went to Oregon and started farming in the Willamette valley. Some years after this, father began his career as a circuit preacher in the hills of Oregon on a salary that ranged from $101 up per year. But this work made up in experience what it failed to furnish in salary from what my father tells of those years.

It was into this circuit preacher's home at a place called Sweet Home that the sixth boy of this family made his appearance in the person of myself not long before the old century closed its doors. Sweet Home was simply a little settlement up in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains and did not always live up to its name. Here, amid wonderful scenery and plenty of fresh air, I spent the first year of my life. When about one year old, my parents moved to the town of Dallas. Here, for over six months, I was very sick with lung pneumonia, even the doctor despairing of my life, but to all appearances survived.

My first recollections begin at a farm home which I remember as the "place up on the hill." And if there ever was an ideal place for scenery or a summer resort, it was that place, with hills on all sides except where there were valleys, a fish pond close by, spring water flowing all the time, and wild game and fish a plenty. It was an ideal place except that it was not very well adapted to agriculture which my father was attempting at that time along with preaching.

After about a year here, we moved to what we called "the Bump place," which was down in the flatter part of the valley. Perhaps my best recollection from this place is of an old-fashioned horse-power threshing machine, which, as its name implies, derived its power from horses driven around a small power plant.

From here, we moved to the Hubbard place, still farther down the valley. Here the seventh boy of our family, Lynn, was born. In a well-equipped school house not far from this home, with a good teacher but only four pupils, I began attempting to mount the ladder of knowledge.

After living nineteen years in Oregon, my parents decided to come back to Ohio, so, in the spring of 1907, they, with six of the boys, returned, the other boy remaining in Oregon to finish a college course.

We lived a short time at my grandfather Eisele's home. Here I met many new things. Among these were the barrels full of red juice in grandfather's cellar of which we boys were all sternly forbidden to taste. For a short time we lived near Jaysville, and it was here that the happy family circle of seven boys was first broken into by the grim hand of death. Little Lynn, my three year old brother, died here of diphtheria.

As five or six boys furnished considerable man power, father rented a large farm near Arcanum, Ohio, where we raised eight to twelve acres of tobacco each year. Here I finished my grade school work and, for one year, had all the inconveniences of going to my brother as teacher. The one experience that stays with me of these years is that of herding cows. As there was little pasture on the farm and I was the youngest and least useful (around the farm) it fell to me to take the cows out on the roadside in the summer and care for them. And I can say that I was almost supremely happy when lying along the roadside dreaming or telling myself some great story of what I would do or be later. But too often these reveries would be interrupted by the misbehavior of the cows. While we lived at this place, three of my brothers were married and I began to realize that the jolly home life was being broken up.

Here in 1913 the family was again saddened by the visitation of death when Frank, the next to the oldest, died after a sickness of 3 or 4 months. He had been married several years and left two small girls. Frank was of that lovable and gentle disposition that everyone loves. And his death left a great vacancy in our home.

After six years on the big farm, we moved to "Straight Line" a few miles north of Arcanum onto a twenty acre farm. As my father had been denied the privilege of an education, he made sure that his boys should have a good opportunity for it. So, in the fall of 1913, I entered the "dear old Arcanum High School." The next year, as one of my brothers was in college and we were building a house, I had to stay out of school and help at home. I did not at the time see any sense in their keeping me out but since have been very glad as high school was not up to standard that year. At home I was carpenter, farmer, and most of the time cook's assistant. As we boarded the carpenters and I have the grave misfortune to have no sisters, it devolved to me to help mother in the kitchen whether I liked it or not.

The last three years of high school went quickly with the usual fun and work and lack of work. For a couple of seasons I "starred" at basketball by subbing for guard on the scrub team. My summers were spent on the farm, with most of my vacation a vacating of the kitchen for the tobacco patch.

After getting my diploma from the high school at Arcanum and being a loyal United Brethren, I set my face toward Otterbein in the fall of '19. College life surprised me very agreeably and I enjoyed it more than I did high school. One of the most interesting happenings of that first semester was a trip with Harold or "Duke" Halderman to Circleville to preach for Rev. Cox. "Duke" preached in the morning and, when starting, upset a vase of flowers standing on the front of the pulpit. Duke, by a heroic effort, managed to catch the vase, but it did unsettle him for the sermon. In the afternoon I gave my first sermon to about ten or a dozen people. About this time, my brother who was running the farm became sick, and, as my father had not yet recovered from a stroke of paralysis in 1918, I was forced to quit school at the end of the first semester and go home. That spring and summer I was kept busy waiting on the sick and running the farm.

In the fall of 1920, the Miami Conference convened at the United Brethren Church in my home town. On the third or fourth day of the conference, my brother Orrie, who is a preacher in that conference, created some excitement around home by proposing that I preach during the next year. As the work had lessened on the farm but it was still impossible for me to get to college, I was given two appointments, Savona and Weavers Station, for half time work. One day, soon after taking over my duties, I stopped at the home of one of my parishioners. When going toward the house, their little boy, seeing me, asked his mother, "Who is that?" She said, "That's the new minister." The little boy answered, "Why he's nothing but a great big boy." The boy had told the truth and I felt it more than he did. My sermons may have been brilliant masterpieces, but it seemed that no one in the audience was capable of appreciating them. But one of the experiences I shall never forget was a five week meeting at one of my churches that first year of my preaching. I was assisted in it by Rev. Rotroff, a Methodist minister who was also in his first year of preaching. Only he had the advantage of having a wife and a few more years than I. But we had a revival in which twenty-five were converted and it proved to me beyond a doubt the power of God to change men's lives because I saw it there. The two churches I served were made up of fine people and whether or not they received much good from my work there I don't know, but I do know that I got a lot of experience. In these two summers, as I was not needed on the farm, I tried to strengthen my financial condition by working on a fence gang and by peddling fresh fish over the county in my old Ford.

In the fall of 1922, things were again in shape so that I could return to college. So last fall I came back to Otterbein. There has been one moment of supreme satisfaction since returning to college, and that was when we heard Professor Fritz read the second "negative" and we knew that we had beaten the sophomores in debate.

Of the future, I can only hope, but of the past I must say that it has been good to me, as it has given me a lot of good experience, four good brothers, and the best mother and father that ever lived.

1984 editorial from the RECORD-COURIER, Ravenna-Kent, Ohio

A FIGHTER FOR PEACE

Dr. Dwight Arnold hoped that someday the people of this planet would find a better way to get along with each another. He believed that their lives depended on it.

"We're all brothers, we shouldn't kill each other," the octogenarian peace activist commented as he neared the end of more than three decades of service to the Kent State University community.

An educator and humanitarian, Dr. Arnold devoted a lifetime to serving the cause of peace and social justice, fervently believing that individuals could make a difference in the struggle to ease world strife.

"War is inevitable as long as people think it is. We must get people to think otherwise. It's that simple," he once said.

Getting people "to think otherwise" was serious business for Dr. Arnold, who died this week at the age of 84.

His quest for a better world manifested itself in a quiet but persistent activism which was reflected throughout his academic career. Education was Dwight Arnold's mission - and, for him, peace was the most important lesson to be learned.

So he preached a gospel of brotherhood and human dignity, a "plowshares pacifism" rooted in the belief that humanity, if given the chance, would opt for peace.

He remained undaunted in that belief during more than six decades as a peace activist. The four major wars which took place during that time did nothing to shake his commitment; instead, they strengthened it.

Dwight Arnold was an idealist, a consciousness-raiser who never hesitated to raise his voice on behalf of a more tranquil world. His message was timeless, the words spoken from the heart.

In a world of "moral victories," he refused to compromise or settle for anything less than what he believed was right. In a world beset by hatred and violence, Dwight Arnold tried to make a difference - and he did.


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