My paternal grandparents.
Benjamin was born in 1877 in Lawrence County, Ohio to John Riley ARTHUR and Amanda Jane GIBSON. He had two brothers, Joseph C., born 1880, and Luther A., born 1882. He married Polly Ann BURGESS on March 30, 1907 in Logan, West Virginia. Polly was born in 1888 in Logan, West Virginia to John BURGESS and Sarah E. WHITE. Ben and Polly had two sons, John Preston, born on Christmas day 1907 and my father, Luther Paul, born 1910. Polly died in April 1912 of consumption (TB). I believe that, based on some old postcards between Polly and her sister and aunt, she had been sick for probably about a year.
I have not been able to find Polly on any U.S. Census for 1910. Based on the postcards I have addressed to her, she was living in Ironton, Ohio in 1908, 1909 and possibly 1910. I have a Ben B. Arthur (unconfirmed as my grandfather, although all information of age and place of birth for him and parents is correct) living as a boarder on the 1910 census in McDowell County, West Virginia, over 3.5 hours away from Ironton, Ohio (by car per Mapquest today). I become skeptical about this being my Benjamin because I wonder why he would need to go so far away for work, especially since in 1910 she was expecting the birth of my father.
The little fragments of memories of conversations I had with Dad about his family seems to indicate that after his mother died, the boys spent a lot of time with their grandparents. At that time, it would have been with his grandfather’s second wife, Mary Samantha KORN Arthur. Dad also always talked fondly of his step-aunt, Jennie, who married a Wyatte COPELAND but never spoke to me of his father, Benjamin. On one of his postcards from Yellowstone he refers to Jennie Arthur COPELAND as “Mom”. For years I had the impression that Benjamin had also died young like Polly while Dad was just a young boy. That couldn’t have been further from the truth. Dad was 29 years old when his father died and they were living in the same town.
My mother’s youngest sister once told me she remembered Benjamin as being tall, thin and very nice looking. She said he was a very quiet man and always seemed to be well dressed. She said whenever she was around him she was more like in awe of him. I still hope someday to locate a photo of him.
Kind of an odd side note here. My notes indicate that sometime back in the 70’s my mother told me that my grandfather’s name was Benjamin Baxter Arthur. And that is how I’ve always researched him. I went back through all of my notes and hard copies (census records, obituary, marriage, etc.), and it seems he rarely, if ever, used his full name of Benjamin. I have found him as Benjamin B., Bennie B., Ben B., and B.B. but never with a middle name spelled out on anything. When I began new searches this month on Ancestry and FamilySearch I located a WWI draft registration card for him. On it he listed his name as Benjamin Burns Arthur. This gave me pause for thought because Burns is his mother’s maiden name, which is not unusual for the child to have as their middle name. Maybe I’ll get lucky and someone out there might have some information to share! You just never know!
The 1930 Ashland City Directory lists Benjamin as a carpenter living on Crooks Street with Mary ARTHUR, widow. I believe this would have been his stepmother, Mary Samantha KORN ARTHUR.
Then in 1933, the Ashland City Directory lists Benjamin as a carpenter, still living on Crooks Street, but now living with John ARTHUR (this would be his eldest son, a radio repairman), Mary ARTHUR (his stepmother, widow), and Paul ARTHUR (his youngest son [my father], bellboy at Ventura Hotel).
Benjamin died in Ashland, Boyd County, Kentucky in 1939.
Luther A. Arthur wrote a letter to my father, Paul, in 1954. He is responding to a letter inquiry Dad made to him asking about the Arthur family. I wish I had a copy of his inquiry to Luther but wishing doesn’t make it so. Although a lot of the letter is information unrelated specifically to my grandparents, I still want to include it. I imagine in time I’ll be drawing more from this letter as I work on other members in the line.
The following is a transcription of the letter:
July 15, 1954
Mr. Paul Arthur
17 East Spring St.
Columbus 15, Ohio
I certainly was glad to get your wonderful letter of July 11th and the information it contained.
You did very well, even if it is a characteristic of the Arthur family not to write letters. I have noticed this myself. I do not mind writing since in a way I can use a typewriter, but if I had to do it in long hand it would (be) both difficult for me to write and for the one addressed to read it.
I will tell you all I know about the Arthur family and it is not much. I have a very hazy rememberance (sic) of your great-grandfather and mother on the Arthur/side. I do not recall her first name, but he went by the name of Press Arthur. Whether “Press” was a short way of pronouncing a longer name, or the real name, I do not know. He was a Baptist minister so I have been told. Her name was also Arthur before marriage, but it was said they were no relation.
Caleb and Willis Arthur, were my uncles. Your grandfather’s brothers. It seems that there was also a sister of my father’s who lived at one time in Unity Ky., but I am not clear on this, and it has been so long since I have back there that I don’t know what happened to her and her children. I do not know what happened to Caleb and Willis Arthur and cannot recall whether I saw them when I was back there in 1923 or not.
Your grandmother (my mother) was a Gibson. Daughter of Lewis Gibson, and I believe her mothers name was Ollie McCorkle. She was born on Leatherwook (sic) Creek (back of Ironton) Ohio. This great grandfather of yours died age 93 and is buried at Getaway Ohio. By his first and second wife he had 16 children. Two of them lived to be 93, but they are all dead now but Jesse B. Gibson, who lives some place in Florida.
This grandmother of yours had three boys. Your father, one they always called Joey (I suppose his name was Joseph) and myself. I do not recall ever seeing Joey. I do not know his age when he died and do not know where he was buried.
When I was less than a year old, your grandmother (my mother) died. I do not even have a picture of her, but those who knew her have always spoken very highly of her. I have been told your father resembled her more than Joey or myself.
When my mother died, I being the baby of the family, my father gave me to a childless aunt to raise.
After that I do not suppose I saw my father more than half a dozen times in my life.
There are a number of Arthurs left in Lawrence County Ohio. On Soliday Creek, which is near Southpoint Ohio.
Urania Neal, 627 South High St., Huntington, W. Va., is a daughter of Joe Arthur, and he was your grandfather’s cousin.
Bess W. Gibson, who lives at 1204(?) Charleston St. Huntington, is my cousin and your second cousin.
There is a tradition in the family that an Arthur was with General Washington when he crossed the Delaware, and our family has usually had a painting of this event in the family.
This is about all I can think of concerning our family and probably all I know.
Regarding your question: “In your youth was there bad feelings in the family?” So far as I know, the answer is “no.” If there was it was even before my time and I havn’t (sic) heard of it.
It is true we did not visit each other very often, but that may have been due to the distance. While it would not be considered great with present means of transportation, in those days we had to walk.
I know your father and myself visited all branches of the family and seemed to be welcome everywhere. I do not recall my father visiting any of them, but remember again, that I did not see him more than half a dozen times in my life, so I do not know what he did.
I am glad to hear about your family and the news you gave me about the others.
My daughter lives in Long Beach which is about twenty minutes drive from here. She has two children and the newspaper clipping herewith will give her picture and also that of the oldest child. The other child is a boy. This daughter of mine, I gave her the best education money could buy and she can teach in any school in California, but she does not teach, preferring to take care of her family.
This is about all I can think of at this time, and again I thank you for your letter.
P.O. Box 42
Huntington Beach, California
OVER … OVER … OVER
Near Chillicothe Ohio you will find the Logan Elm. There is a monument there and on this monument you will find the name of General John Gibson. It was at this place that peace was made with the Indians and the treaty was never borken (sic). The General was a relative of ours.
Luther’s letter has given me some more leads to pursue which is exciting. There is always more to learn about one’s family. The search is definitely a never-ending story! It’s not always easy but it’s definitely a roller coaster ride of adventure! Especially when you come upon a hidden treasure!