When Harrison was a bustling river community and the seat of county government, William Arnett operated one of its two hotels. Two of his grandsons marched off to fight for the South, and one did not return.
William Arnett was born in North Carolina about 1797, and his wife, Elizabeth, was a Virginia native. They were in Marion County at the time of the 1830 census. Arnett was in Hamilton County as early as November 1834 when he was a witness on two slave transactions.
The Arnetts were staunch Cumberland Presbyterians, and William Arnett and George R. Cannon in 1840 gave 20 acres "on Ooltever Creek'' for a Cumberland Presbyterian congregation at Ooltewah.
The church was organized Sept. 6, 1841, and William Arnett was one of the 30 charter members. The deed to the tract specified that "when not occupied by them (the Cumberland Presbyterians), it is free for all other denominations for public worship.''
Arnett and Cannon in 1839 had paid James and Joseph Johnson $46 for 23 acres on the creek that was first known as Ooltewah Creek and later as Wolftever Creek. The property included a campground and a spring. Arnett lived nearby as did Pharoh Denny. Arnett sold some of his land to John Yarnell, who was buying up large tracts around Ooltewah. One 40-acre piece Yarnell got from William Arnett for the bargain price of $10.
Arnett was an elder in the Harrison Cumberland Presbyterian Church and often was a delegate to Presbytery. He was elected the Presbytery clerk in March 1844, and its October session was held at Harrison. When the Harrison Building and Loan Association was created by the Legislature in 1855, Arnett was one of its trustees. The Arnett Hotel was south of the town tavern at the corner of River and Main streets.
William Arnett died in the late 1850s, and his widow, Elizabeth, continued to reside on their farm with her son, William, and daughter Elizabeth Bell. Another daughter was Virginia. The eldest Arnett daughter, Martha Jane, had married William Jarrett Rawlston in 1837.
The other Arnett son was George Washington Arnett, who lived with his wife, Lorinda, in Savannah Valley near the Rev. Hiram Douglas, leader of the area Cumberland Presbyterian movement. The George Arnett children were John D., William, Luke, Martha, J.C. and Sarah E. Martha married William C. Douglas, a son of the Rev. Douglas.
The brothers William and Luke Arnett went together on Aug. 1, 1862, to Ooltewah to enlist in
2nd Co. K of the 1st Confederate Cavalry. William Arnett was trying to make his way through the Union lines to rejoin his company when he was killed near Loudon on May 12, 1863. The family later recovered his uniform showing the hole where the bullet tore through the breast of the coat and left blood stains. The slain soldier was about 19. Luke Arnett was captured at Chickamauga along with his Douglas brother-in-law. They were placed in jail at Chattanooga, but Mr. Douglas pleaded with Gen. George H. Thomas and gained their release. Confederate records show Luke Arnett as deserting on Jan. 6, 1864.
Luke Arnett in 1865 married Elizabeth Elder. Many members of the Arnett and Douglas families then decided to move to Arkansas, believing the prospects were brighter there. The families of George W. and Luke Arnett and William C. Douglas settled at Washington County at McGuire's Store. William and Elizabeth Rogers also moved along with them from Ooltewah. When Beersheba Cumberland Presbyterian Church was organized in 1878 on the Middle Fork of White River, George W. Arnett and William C. Douglas were among the trustees. When the post office was set up in April of 1883 at Arnett, Ark., in Washington County, Luke Arnett was named postmaster.
Later, George W. and Lorinda Arnett went to live in Lake County, Tn., with their son, John D. Arnett, and his much-younger wife, Blanche. John D. Arnett had a son, William G. Arnett - born when John D. Arnett was 55.
William M. Arnett, brother of George W. Arnett, stayed in Hamilton County and when he was almost 40 years old married Sarah Hixson, who was previously wed to Samuel Hixson. This was in 1866. Their children included Mary M.E., William F. and Margaret L.
William F. Arnett, who was born in 1873, was first married to Laura E. Hixson, daughter of John F. Hixson and Mary Barker. His second wife was Blanche Powell Gadd. William F. Arnett resided at Hixson and served as county road superintendent. He was living at 5412 Old Hixson Pike when he died in 1966 at the age of 93. He was buried at the Hixson Cemetery. He left a stepson, J.A. Gadd, and foster daughter, Mrs. Thomas K. Goodler of Manchester, Tn. His sister, Maggie Arnett Hixson, also lived at Hixson.
The town of Harrison, where the Arnett Hotel once welcomed guests, was submerged under
the waters of Lake Chickamauga.