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Arnell Family Papers

Identifier: MS-3703

  • Staff Only

The Arnell Family Papers contains correspondence, diaries, scrapbooks, photographs, memorabilia, newspaper and magazine clippings, financial and legal papers, manuscripts and historical accounts, and historical society papers. These materials date from 1780-1957, with the bulk of the material covering 1860-1910.

Series I: Family Papers, 1820-1946, undated -- This series includes personal and business correspondence, diaries, journals, scrapbooks, photographs and memorabilia, and news clippings collected by members of the Arnell family, including Samuel M. Arnell (Sr.), his wife Cornelia C. O. Arnell, their son Samuel M. Arnell, Jr., his wife Hattie Rummel, and their daughter Harriette L. Arnell.

Subseries A: Correspondence, circa 1827-1937 July 13 -- This subseries contains letters written between Samuel M. Arnell (Sr.) and his wife, children, extended relatives, friends (including William G. Brownlow and John B. Brownlow), and legal colleagues. It also includes legal, business and political correspondence. Correspondence sent to and written by Arnell's children -- Mayes, Nina, "Willie", Harry, "Sam", and "Neal" are also contained within this series, including correspondence between Samuel M. Arnell, Jr. and his then future wife, Hattie Rummel.

Subseries B: Diaries and Journals, 1873-1917 -- This subseries holds diaries and journals written by Samuel M. Arnell (Sr.), Cornelia C. O. Arnell, and Harriette L. Arnell. It also contains a large ledger and stub books where Samuel M. Arnell (Sr.) kept personal anecdotes, in addition to accounting records.

Subseries C: Scrapbooks, 1848-1918 -- This subseries contains scrapbooks Samuel M. Arnell (Sr.) maintained from 1848-1903. It also includes a scrapbook with news clippings published during World War I, possibly collected by Harriette L. Arnell.

Subseries D: Photographs and Memorabilia, circa 1820-1946 -- This subseries includes family photographs, flyers, programs, pamphlets, cards, notes and other memorabilia collected by Samuel M. Arnell (Sr.), Hattie R. Arnell, and Harriette L. Arnell. It also contains a will for Samuel M. Arnell (Sr.).

Subseries E: News Clippings, circa 1860-1918 November 17, undated -- This subseries contains newspaper and magazine clippings, most likely collected by Samuel M. Arnell (Sr.), Cornelia C. O. Arnell, and Harriette L. Arnell.

Series II: Financial and Legal Papers, 1782 October 4-1929 -- This series contains legal documents from when Samuel M. Arnell (Sr.) and Samuel M. Arnell, Jr. practiced property law in Columbia, Tenn., Washington, D.C., and Johnson City, Tenn. These documents include property deeds, abstracts of title, leases, and legal statements. The series also contains financial documents such as receipts, invoices, insurance papers, account records and ledgers.

Subseries A: Samuel M. Arnell Sr. Papers, 1782 October 4-1902 July 7 -- This subseries contains legal and financial documents pertaining to the elder Samuel M. Arnell's law practice in Columbia, Tenn., Washington, D.C. and Johnson City, Tenn. It includes titles, indentures, accounting documents, deeds, decrees, invoices, claims and reports. It also contains legal documents in Cornelia C. O. Arnell's name.

Subseries B: Samuel M. Arnell Jr. Papers, 1889 April 8-1929 -- This subseries holds legal and financial documents related to the younger Samuel M. Arnell's law practice in Washington, D.C. and Johnson City, Tenn. It includes Samuel's law license in addition to deeds, certificates, abstracts of title, indentures, leases, statements, and insurance policies.

Historical Papers, 1780-1957, undated -- This series includes Samuel M. Arnell (Sr.)'s manuscripts describing events that took place during the Civil War, with descriptions and analyses of significant events and people in Tennessee. This also contains papers relating to the elder Arnell's involvement in the Washington County Historical Society while he lived in Johnson City, Tenn.

Subseries A: Historical Manuscripts and Accounts, circa 1780-1957, undated -- Samuel M. Arnell (Sr.) wrote several drafts about Tennesseans' involvement in the Civil War, including biographies of the state's Reconstruction governor, William G. Brownlow. This series includes drafts, notes and manuscripts on Civil War battles, the Reconstruction era, and the "Brick Church" (Zion Presbyterian Church) in Columbia, Tenn. It also includes personal accounts from Civil War veterans and Arnell's wife, Cornelia, on particular battles, missions and engagements.

Subseries B: Washington County Historical Society Papers, 1861-1901, undated -- When the Arnell family relocated to Johnson City, Tenn., the elder Samuel M. Arnell became heavily involved in the Washington County Historical Society, where he attended meetings, gave speeches and participated in projects. He also campaigned with the society to establish a free-circulating public library in Johnson City. When the campaign succeeded, Arnell became one of the chairmen for the Johnson City Public Library, and his daughter Mayes became one of its librarians. This subseries contains papers, correspondence and documents recording Arnell's time in the historical society, including correspondence, project papers and meeting minutes.


  • 1780-1957, undated

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Conditions Governing Use

The UT Libraries claims only physical ownership of most material in the collections. Persons wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants on for detailed information. Collections must be requested through a registered Special Collections research account.


3 Linear Feet


The Arnell Family Papers represents three generations of the Arnell family: Radical Republican Reconstruction politician and U.S. congressman Samuel Mayes Arnell, U.S. Bureau of Pensions worker and lawyer Samuel Mayes Arnell, Jr., and University of Tennessee graduate Harriette Locke Arnell. The collection contains family papers, financial and legal papers, and historical papers dated 1780-1957, with the bulk of the material covering 1860-1910.

Biographical/Historical Note

Samuel Mayes Arnell

Samuel Mayes Arnell was born on May 3, 1833 in the Zion Settlement in Maury County, Tenn. to Rev. James Morrison Arnell (1808-1850), a pastor of the Zion Presbyterian Church, and Jane Frierson Mayes (circa 1806-1855). After graduating from Amherst College in Massachusetts with a law degree in 1855, Arnell was admitted to the Tennessee bar and practiced law in Columbia, Tenn. He married Cornelia Churchwell Orton (1833-1905) on November 15, 1855. The couple had seven children: Mayes Arnell (1857-1926), Nina Morrison Arnell (1858-1884), Harry Churchwell Arnell (1860-1881), William Borland Arnell (1862-1879), Mary Arnell (circa 1864-1876), Samuel Mayes Arnell, Jr. (1868-1944), and Cornelia W. Arnell (circa 1870-1933).

Although a slaveholder, Arnell ardently supported the Union during the Civil War, traveling across Middle Tennessee to urge Tennesseans to maintain their allegiance to the United States in 1861. His support for the Union jeopardized his and his family's safety during the war. The Battle of Columbia, part of the Franklin-Nashville Campaign, prompted Arnell to evacuate his wife and children to Columbia and to secure himself in Nashville in November 1864. After the war, the former Whig turned Radical Republican represented Lewis, Maury and Williamson counties in the Tennessee General Assembly of 1865-1866. Arnell authored two bills that prevented ex-Confederates from voting in state and national elections, which were signed into law in June 1865 and May 1866. In a disputed election in the fall of 1865 between Arnell and Dorsey B. Thomas for the Sixth U. S. Congressional District, Governor William G. Brownlow granted the election certificate to Arnell. Arnell served in the 39th, 40th and 41st Congresses, chairing the Committee on Expenditures in the Department of State (40th) and serving on the Committee on Education and Labor (41st).

The Arnell family eventually returned to Columbia, where Arnell practiced law, served as the town's postmaster (1879-1885), and became the superintendent of Columbia's public schools (1885-1888). Arnell then moved back to Washington, D.C., where he continued to practice law. In 1894, Arnell and his family settled in Johnson City, Tenn. due to his failing health. Arnell, an avid history scholar who wrote about Tennessee during the Civil War and Reconstruction, became active in the Washington County Historical Society. Arnell died on July 20, 1903, with three children surviving him: Miss Mayes Arnell, a librarian; Cornelia "Neal" Arnell, an artist; and Samuel Mayes Arnell, Jr., a lawyer.

Samuel Mayes Arnell, Jr.

Samuel Mayes Arnell, Jr. was one of seven children born to Samuel Mayes Arnell and Cornelia Churchwell Orton on April 9, 1868 in Columbia, Maury County, Tenn. He received his Tennessee law license in 1889. When he corresponded with his future wife, Hattie Rummel, he worked in the law division of the U.S. Pension Office in Washington, D.C. (later named the Bureau of Pensions under the U.S. Department of the Interior). The two married in 1894. Samuel's father was unable to attend their wedding but gave his blessing in a letter. The couple lived in Washington, D.C., Johnson City, Tenn., and North Carolina, where their daughter, Harriette Locke Arnell, was born in 1898. Samuel continued to work for the Bureau of Pensions as a special examiner based out of Wilmington, N.C., and later as an assistant chief of section in the western division of the bureau. Like his father, Samuel appreciated and studied history, becoming a member of the Sons of the American Revolution in 1909 (his wife, Hattie, was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution with his sister, Mayes). The family eventually settled in Knoxville, Tenn., where Harriette attended and graduated from the University of Tennessee. Samuel died on September 24, 1944 in Knoxville.

Harriette Locke Arnell Farrar

Harriette Locke Arnell was born to Samuel Mayes Arnell, Jr. and Hattie Rummel on January 15, 1898. She attended Randolph-Macon College and George Mason University before entering the University of Tennessee on September 23, 1919. While there, she became a member of the Sigma Kappa and Omega Sororities, the Thalia Literary Society, and the YWCA. She also served as the vice-president of the Women's Student Government, as a member of the Advisory Council, and as the secretary of the Education Club. She graduated with honors with her Bachelor of Arts on June 8, 1921. Harriette married University of Tennessee English professor Broadus Fleshman Farrar (1902-1981) on December 22, 1927, and the couple settled in Knoxville, where Broadus taught from 1925-1971. The couple had two children, Arnell Farrar and Buford Farrar. Harriette died in Knoxville in July of 1987.


The collection consists of four boxes and is arranged in the following series:

Missing Title

  1. Series I: Family Papers, 1820-1946, undated
  2. Series II: Financial and Legal Papers, 1782 October 4-1929
  3. Series III: Historical Papers, 1780-1957, undated

Previous Citation

This collection was previously listed as MS.0163, MS.0823, MS.1297, and MS.2488.

Acquisition Note

Harriette Arnell Farrar donated these materials to Special Collections between 1956-1986.

Related Archival Materials

Interested researchers may also wish to consult:

Missing Title

  1. AR.0453: O. P. Temple Correspondence Regarding the University of Tennessee, 1869-1907
  2. AR.0477: University of Tennessee Scrapbooks, 1919-1920
  3. MPA.0306: Congressional Papers of Southern States, 1813-1929
  4. MS.0021: O. P. Temple Papers, 1832-1922
  5. MS.0164: The Fighting Parson: Biography of William Gannaway Brownlow Manuscript, 1903
  6. MS.1940: William G. Brownlow Papers, 1848 December 18-1902 August 5
  7. MS.3627: Republican Party Broadside, circa 1872
  8. MS.3683: Charles Lanman Collection of Political Autobiographical Sketches, 1860 March 17-1868 January 14, undated

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA