Stories Behind The Buckeye State
Tuesday November 21st 2017

The Arnold Homestead – Carriage Hill Metro Park

The Arnold Homestead located in Carriage Hill Metro Park

One of the joys of setting out to experience Ohio’s rich history is when you accidentally stumble on the unexpected. One such gem for me is the Arnold Homestead, now a part of Carriage Hill Metro Park. I recently recounted the story for blissmersion.com and now I’d like to share some of the history of the the Arnold Homestead & Estate.

The Dunkard Come To Dayton

If you’re wondering what the Dunkard are, don’t worry I was to. The Dunkard are a faith that adhere to a strict Anabaptist form of Christianity. This includes the similar offshoots you might be more familiar with like the Amish and the Mennonites. They are from Germany originally but like many other faiths came to the United States seeking religious freedom. Some settled in Pennsylvania, others in Virginia, but as the Ohio Territory opened up many folded their homestead and came westward.  The Arnolds were one of many Dunkard families to settle in the Miami Valley area. In fact, Ohio has the largest congregation of practicing the Dunkard faith in the US.

The Arnolds Arrive

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It was 1830, Andrew Jackson was president and Ohio had been a state for some 27 years. Meanwhile in Virginia, Daniel and Catharine Arnold were contemplating a move westward. Word continued to spread that fertile farm land was plentiful. On top of this the new Hickory Grove congregation was looking for elders and deacons. That combination proved too irresistible so they sold their 200 acres of land in Rockingham County. The Arnolds packed all of their belongings into an ox drawn wagon. With their five children in tow they set out towards Ohio following the newly built National Road. They were headed to a piece of land already purchased by Catharine’s father, Henry Harshbarger and began living in a log cabin already built on the property. Daniel purchased 158 acres from Harshbarger for $2,000 (a little over $50,000 in today’s money) and began planning a more proper home for his family.

The Arnold Homestead

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Daniel and his son Joseph set to work designing what would be their new home. They constructed a two story house on a limestone foundation topped with an asphalt roof.  It is built in simple, locally appropriate, federal style that most would consider plain. It’s true that the house lacks the flourish and fancy details one would find in a mansion but that’s not where it’s beauty lies. This was to be a simple house for simple folk and what they built was a masterpiece of quality craftsmanship that has stood the test of time. Inside, the Arnold Home again shows beautiful workmanship. Even though the wood paneled walls lack great detail or embellishments it would have surely been a show piece of the small farming community. It’s not hard to see why it took nearly five years to construct.

Later Life

By all accounts the Arnold Family lived happily and prospered. Their farm was profitable and they were well respected both in their church and the local community. As the their sons reached adulthood Daniel sold portions of his land to them to start their own family homestead. Daniel and Catharine lived a quiet, hardworking life for many years. Catharine passed in 1852 at age 57. Daniel continued to work hard well into old age. He died in 1864 at age 72 from injuries sustained falling from a wagon at a friends farm. Both are buried in a small cemetery inside the Carriage Hill Metro Park grounds.

Passing It Down

The Arnold sons continued their parents legacy both continuing to work the land and improve the farm. Around 1878 a new barn was built and additions were made to the main house including a winter kitchen by the Arnold’s son Henry. The farm would continue to remain in the Arnold family name for 86 years and prosper all the while.  The last decedent to own the farm was Emma Arnold, Henry’s daughter. In 1916, Emma sold the farm to another family and left for Dayton. The farm would change hands several times over the years before being bought by the Dayton Metro Parks system in 1968.

Carriage Hill Metro Park

Dayton Metro Parks not only bought the Arnold Homestead but much of the adjoining land totaling some 900 acres.  Today the park includes a small lake for fishing, riding stables, and many more amenities. The parks system has turned the Arnold Homestead into a historically accurate working farm giving visitors a glimpse into what the Arnold’s life would have been like.

Closing Thoughts

I didn’t know the Arnold family personally nor did I really know anything about them before I started researching this article. I can’t helped but be moved after reading about their story. They obviously had a great love for their family, their home, and their land. I have a feeling that they would be very pleased that their homestead has not only been preserved but that the farm is operating in much the way they had operated it. That families come today to see the way that their family had lived and learn about their way of life.

See It for Yourself

With fall here and the changing leaves just around the corner, there is no better time to see the Arnold Farm for yourself. Carriage Hill Metro Park is located in Huber Heights, Ohio just off of Interstate 70. The park is open daily and offers a wide variety of things to do and see as well as scheduled programs and events.

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Sources:
“Ohio Historical Dictionary” – North American Book Dist LLC
“Dunkard Brethren” –  Wikipedia.org
“Daniel Arnold” – Findagrave.com
“Carriage Hill Metro Park” – Metroparks.org

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