Arnett, William Washington (1823–1892)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: November 1, 1994

William Washington (Fuzzy Buck, Judge) Arnett was born three miles from Tuscumbia in Franklin County, Alabama, on January 5, 1823, the son of David and Rhoda (Curlee) Arnett. The family moved to Mississippi in 1828 and settled first in Madison County, then in Hinds County, and finally near the site of present Carthage in Leake County. In 1837 Arnett's mother died, and the boy contracted "inflammatory rheumatism," from which he never fully recovered. After living with a brother in Tipton County, Tennessee, for a while, Arnett returned to Mississippi in 1839, and on March 1, 1843, became tax assessor of Leake County. He held this position until 1845, when, his proposal of marriage having been rejected by a local heiress, he departed for Texas.

In Texas Arnett resided with his older brother in the Tyler County communities of Town Bluff and Wolf Creek, where he taught school. There he married Emiline Varnell; they eventually had seven children. The couple resided briefly in Milam County. During the Mexican War Arnett served as a private in Capt. John A. Veatch's company of Col. Peter H. Bell's regiment of Texas Mounted Volunteers. This company was recruited primarily in Tyler County, mustered into federal service on October 23, 1847, and left federal service on September 20, 1848. On February 10, 1852, the Arnetts moved to the present site of Uvalde, then a wilderness. There Arnett built a shanty on the banks of the Leona River and delivered hay to Fort Inge under a contract to the army. For years after the family settled in Uvalde County they had no close neighbors and were in constant peril from Indians, wolves, and mountain lions. From January 1 until December 31, 1856, Arnett served as a private in Capt. Reading Wood Black's company of minutemen.

Mrs. Arnett died in 1871, and Arnett married Mrs. Mary Herrington Copeland at Salado on July 27, 1874. She was a teacher and the daughter of H. H. Herrington, a founder of Marshall, Texas. She and Arnett had five children. Arnett was elected treasurer of Kinney County in 1876, a position he held until his death. In 1885 he began writing a delightful memoir, now on deposit at the Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.

Arnett died in Brackettville on December 23, 1892, and was buried there. He was a Mason, a member of the Disciples of Christ, and a frequent contributor of editorial and historical materials to the Castroville Quill and the Uvalde Hesperian. His widow died at Uvalde on January 11, 1925.

W. W. Arnett Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Frances Terry Ingmire, comp., Texas Ranger Service Records, 1847–1900 (St. Louis, 1982). Charles D. Spurlin, comp., Texas Veterans in the Mexican War: Muster Rolls of Texas Military Units (Victoria, Texas, 1984).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Arnett, William Washington,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994