Poland Village’s first marshal rests in unmarked grave
POLAND — An effort is underway to raise funds to provide a grave marker for one of Poland’s early families.
The Arnold family plot was discovered at Riverside Cemetery, but there are no markers for the family members, nor for one Arnold member who played an important role in Poland Village history.
Alfred P. Arnold (1846-1940) served as the village’s first constable, or marshal as he is listed in historic records. Alfred was an African American who was a close friend of William McKinley and attended Poland Union School.
“We learned about the Arnolds through the Poland Presbyterian Church history,” said Dave Smith of the Poland Historical Society.
The historic research from 1952 showed William Arnold, a blacksmith from Maine, moved to Poland in 1849 with his wife Harriet, son Alfred, a brother Elwood, and a sister Charlotte. Alfred P. was 3.
The family settled on Springfield Road, and Alfred grew up and befriended a boy named Bill (William) McKinley. The two went to school and hung around the village together as good friends.
Alfred’s mother used to do washing for several Poland families, including the McKinleys. William, the future president, was said to have helped bring home the laundry with Alfred.
Alfred became known as Uncle Alfred and was sworn in as Poland Village’s first marshal in November 1915. He was paid $25 per year to start and later was given a raise to $40. The years of his service are not known, but it was said that he left the role of marshal and went into the plaster and carpet business, according to the history on file with the Poland Historical Society.
Smith said Alfred was a descendant of an African American man who served under Gen. Marquis de Lafayette in the Revolutionary War.
Alfred had a son, Alfred R. Arnold, but he was never shown to own any land in Poland. Alfred R. was recorded as living above a carriage house on College Street. He later moved to Los Angeles and is buried there in an unmarked grave.
Alfred P. died in 1940 at 93. He was remembered for his years as marshal.
“Because there was very little crime in Poland in the early part of the 19th century Alfred was admired for keeping the peace,” Smith said. “Oh, there was an incident in 1921 when Alfred deputized several men to thwart some illegal activity by striking steel workers, but otherwise little criminal activity.”
In researching the Arnold Family, Riverside Lot 144 was discovered in the cemetery records. According to Chris Nord, superintendent at Riverside, the plot where all eight Arnold family members are buried was discovered to have only one grave marker for a Geo. Hannah.
Smith said the bottom line is the Arnold family has an important tie to the history of Poland — not only as a link to the Revolutionary War, but also to the rich history of Poland village. Because of the ties, the Poland Historical Society is leading an effort to determine if funds can be raised to erect a marker for this family of eight, to include names and dates of birth and death. The cost of a marker and installation is estimated at $4,300, according to prices Smith received.
In the meantime, the Arnold story has become part of the Poland Historical Society’s walking tours. At the end of the last tour at Riverside last year, a black re-enactor stepped forward with an interest in portraying Alfred P.
“We are hoping to have the portrayal at our next cemetery walk,” Smith said. “We are working on it.”
That walk will take place 6 p.m. Oct. 4. For anyone wishing to donate for the headstone, donations can be made to the Poland Historical Society, P.O. Box 5052, Poland, OH 44514 or call 330-536-6877.