ARNOLD B. WATSON
Biography




Arnold B. Watson, the subject of the following memoir, was born 
in the town of Rensselaerville, Albany County, N. Y., Aug.
12, 1798. His fatherís name was Josiah Watson. He was a

respectable, independent farmer, and at times held important
offices in the town. His motherís maiden name was Mary Besch,
who died when Arnold was only two and a half years, leaving
him as her only surviving child. The sympathies and


attachment of the father for his orphan son were very great,
and continued through life. He was proud of his moral bearing
and scholastic attainments. He was placed at school at an
early age, and there was never a year of his life from the
time he was five years old until June 1, 1824, but what he
was either attending or teaching school. In school he often
took the highest prize awarded to merit or proficiency in his
class.

When Arnold was four and a half years old his father married his
second wife, who was to him a kind and watchful mother. At eleven
years of age he became an anxious inquirer after religious truth,
and a hopeful convert to the teachings of the Bible. At the age
of fourteen he was baptized and soon after was confirmed by
Bishop Hobart, of the Episcopal Church,---neither of his parents
at that time being professing members of any church. At fourteen
years of age his father, at the urgent solicitation of the
trustees of a very large district school in his native town,
consented to let him take charge of the summer school which he, a
mere boy, taught through a term of six months, with an average
attendance of about seventy scholars, to the satisfaction of all.
His father, at an early day, placed him in a select school,
taught by a talented clergyman, where he was associated with
young men much older than himself, who were pursuing the advanced
classics. His classical studies were closed at the Greenville
Academy, in Greene County, N. Y., and a very complimentary
certificate tendered him by its principal. He taught with entire
satisfaction a large school in Oakville, Greene Co., N. Y., and
while there received an application to take charge of an
academical school in Unadilla, Otsego County. The news of his
leaving was received with universal regret in Oakville. The
Masonic lodge of that village held a special session and
conferred upon him, without charge, the three first degrees of
that order as an evidence of their regard. This was an agreeable
surprise to the subject of our sketch. Not long after his advent
in Unadilla he was elected Master of the Masonic Lodge in that
place, and continuously re-elected for fifteen years. He was also
elected High Priest of the chapter of Royal Arch Masons, holding
the office for nearly fifteen years. The grand royal arch chapter
of the State of New York deputized him as an instituting and

installing officer of that body for his vicinity.
Since the fall of 1821 Unadilla has been his residence. After
teaching the academy two and a half years, a prominent merchant
of Unadilla village, who health was then quite delicate,
solicited him to become a partner in his business. He accordingly
dismissed his school and (June 1, 1824) entered upon his business
career. The copartnership, which continued six years, was only
terminated by the death of his partner, Mr. Wright, who esteemed
him so highly that he presented him, just before his death, with
a valuable gold seal, and by his will made Mr. Watson the
executor of his estate. In fulfilling the wishes of his late
friend and partner, and in closing up the estate, he received a
valuable testimonial to his faithful services from the lawyer
representing the widow and minor heirs.

In the fall of 1840, without solicitation, he was elected a
member of the State legislature, where he served not only upon
several important committees, but while in "committee of the
while" called to the speakerís chair to preside over the
deliberations of the house.

For forty years he was interested in mercantile pursuits. In 1844
he established the Unadilla bank, as an individual bank, with a
capital of $50,000; this bank he owned and operated himself for
twenty years, and during that time no bank in the State stood
higher. In 1852 he became interested and actively engaged in the
construction of the Albany and Susquehanna railroad. One of the
original movers in the enterprise, Mr. Watson, at the first
meeting, held in 1852, was elected a director, and it is but just
to say that to no member of that body is more credit due for the
successful completion of the road. He was offered, but declined,
the presidency of the company in consequence of his own business,
which required the greater portion of his attention. He was,
however, chairman of the committee to locate depots and assess the amounts for which each town on the line of the proposed road
should issue bonds to secure the building of the same.

No man has done more to build up and advance the interests of his
village than Mr. Watson. To his church for thirty years he was
its senior warden and treasurer, and a liberal contributor to the
purchase of the cemetery, parsonage, etc. The Unadilla academy
passed through a long financial struggle, endeavoring to raise
the means for building, etc., but without success, until Mr.
Watson came to its relief; he raised the money in one day to buy
the lot, building the house, and furnish the same with library,
laboratory apparatus, and bell. This institution is now one of

the most flourishing in this section of the country. There are
few persons who, from early childhood, have spent so active and
industrious a life as the subject of this sketch. In his family
relations he has been peculiarly blessed, and his children have
given unmistakable evidence of thorough education as well as
religious and moral training.

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