George W. Arnett, who is now living in retirement in one of the attractive homes located on College Avenue, is still connected with the agricultural interests of this county as the proprietor of one of the many highly improved farms found within its bounds. He is a son of one of the early pioneers of this section of the State, and though a native of Overton County, Tenn., born there June 24, 1829, the most of his life has been passed here, and he has lived to see the country develop from a wilderness to a well settled and flourishing community, with beautiful farms and busy towns, and with well stocked pastures of fine horses and cattle where formerly deer, bears, wolves and other wild animals roamed at will over wild and uncultivated prairies or through the forest growths on the banks of the streams.
Our subject is of sturdy Scotch descent. His father, Thomas Arnett, was born in North Carolina in 1804, and was a son of John Arnett, who is supposed to have been born in the same State, whence he removed to Tennessee and was a pioneer of that State. In 1829 he came from there to this State and was one of the early settlers of Morgan County, where he dwelt until 1834, and then came to this county where he died in 1876.
Thomas Arnett was ten years old when his parents went to Tennessee, crossing the mountains with pack horses and carts. He grew to man’s estate amid pioneer surroundings, and continued to live in Tennessee until 1829. In the meantime he had taken unto himself a wife in the person of Elizabeth G., a daughter of Jeptha and Winifred (Harrison) Reeder, who was born in Virginia in 1805. In the year mentioned, he started forth from his old home to push forward to the frontier to try life in the wilds of the State of Illinois, accompanied on his momentous journey by his wife and three children, and traveling with a yoke of oxen and a wagon, in which all their earthly possessions were conveyed. Camping and cooking by the wayside at night fall, the little family proceeded slowly to their destination. On their arrival in Morgan County Mr. Arnett rented land on Buck Horn Prairie, and dwelt there until 1834, when he pulled up stakes and coming to Macoupin County, became a pioneer of what is now Bird Township. At that time this region had but few white settlers, and the greater part of the land was held by the Government and for sale at $1.25 an acre. The father of our subject rented land for a time and then bought a tract in the same township. He worked steadily at the pioneer task of preparing his land for cultivation and making improvements, and on the farm that he developed he spent his remaining days. His wife also died thereon. They were the parents of twelve children, eight of whom were reared to maturity.
Our subject was an infant when he was brought to Illinois and as he grew up he was a witness of the gradual change of the country from its primitive state to its present advanced condition as a wealthy agricultural centre. He can remember when the farmers of other days had no machinery to assist them in their hard task of subduing the forces of nature; when they were obliged to cut their grain by hand with a sickle or cradle, and thresh it with a flail, or have it tramped out by horses or oxen. There were no free schools for him to attend in his early boyhood, as they were all conducted on the subscription plan. They were taught in log houses, that had seats made of puncheon and supported by wooden pegs, and a board laid on wooden pegs driven into the wall served as a writing desk for the scholars.
As soon as large enough to be of assistance, Mr. Arnett had to work on the farm, and he helped his father until he was twenty one. At that age he engaged with his uncle in farming in Bird Township, remaining with him three years. At the expiration of that time he rented the farm for a period of two years, and then bought land on section 9, of the same township. A log cabin and a small tract of broken prairie constituted the improvements at the time of the purchase. Our subject erected a comfortable frame house, which he later replaced by a more modern and commodious residence, besides making many other substantial improvements, that made that farm one of the best in its vicinity. It comprises two hundred and ten acres of farming land and forty acres of choice timber. In 1888 he rented his farm and retired to his present pleasant home on College Avenue, Carlinville, where he and his amiable wife can enjoy the fruits of their years of industry at their leisure. They are among the most worthy members of the Baptist Church, as they carry their religion into their everyday lives and in all things do as they would be done by. Their place in the community is among out best people, and they are held in universal esteem.
Mr. and Mrs. Arnett entered upon their wedded life in October 14, 1852, and their marriage has been hallowed by the birth of four children, one of whom awaits them on the other shore, Horace W., their second child, who died at the age of twenty two years. The children who have been spared to bless their declining years are Viola, wife of Elery P. Deeds; Lillie, wife of Harry Wilhite; and George B.
Prior to her marriage Mrs. Arnett’s name was Serena E. Lasater. She is a native of Greene County, Ill., and a daughter of Enoch Lasater, a native of North Carolina. His father, Stanford Lasater, is also supposed to have been born in that State. His last years were spent in Tennessee, of which he was a pioneer. Mrs. Arnett’s father went to Tennessee with his parents, and came from there to Illinois when he was a young man. He was an early settler of Greene County, where he bought a tract of land six miles east of Carrollton, and in the log house that he built upon it his daughter of whom we write was born. He improved a good farm, upon which he dwelt until his death. The maiden name of his wife was Charity Hill. She was born near Nashville, Tenn., and was a daughter of Abner and Annie (Johnson) Hill. She was married a second time, becoming the wife of John Courtney, and she died in Bird Township, this county.
Source: Chapman bros. Portrait and biographical record of Macoupin county, Illinois. Chicago: Biographical publishing company, 1891.