LOOKING BACK: Three buildings, a multitude of stories

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, June 21, 2023

By Nancy Bell, Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation

This building on the southwest corner of Grove and Monroe Streets may have been built as early as the 1850s and was used by John Quincy Arnold for his undertaking business and home.

Born in Port Gibson on Jan. 12, 1828, Arnold began his funeral home business in 1848 in Vicksburg. He occupied these three buildings and owned stables to the south of the 1104 Monroe St. building which housed the horses that pulled his hearses.

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According to Arnold’s obituary on Feb. 24, 1910, he “was in this city during the siege of 1863, when he buried great numbers of the poor soldiers who were killed or carried off by disease, and again he was here during the trying days of 1878 when the yellow fever scourge cost hundreds of lives. Always Mr. Arnold braved dangers to pay the last respects to his unfortunate fellow men.”

Arnold and his first wife, Delia, had two children, William and Albert. Arnold buried Delia in 1862 at the age of 22 and then William, who died of Yellow Fever in 1878. He married Sarah Magee and in 1866 she gave birth to a son, Frank, who died in 1879 at the age of 13.

Albert lived to adulthood and worked with his father as an embalmer and later with Frank Fisher, a funeral home across the street from Arnold’s. He died just four months after his father, leaving a wife and six children.

The Vicksburg Post concluded its obituary of John Quincy Arnold, stating that “in all the walks of life Mr. Arnold proved himself a kind, charitable and truly good citizen, an indulgent husband and kind father.”

In 1860, Arnold was elected to the position of sexton of the city cemetery, a position that he held until 1888. He operated the funeral home until April 1908 when he sold it to Mr. Laurie Gaddis of Bolton.

The stock, consisting of a hearse, coffins, wagon, and funeral car was, however, purchased by W.H. Jefferson and “removed to my undertaking establishment on Main Street,” according to a notice in the Vicksburg Herald.

One of the ambulances was bought by Dr. S.W. Johnston and another by the state charity hospital “at a big reduction on the cost and was a great bargain. The new vehicle will take the place of the one that has been in use and which was pretty well worn out by constant use and rough streets.”

Arnold then advertised his funeral parlors, stables, hearse house and workshop for rent. By November, he apparently had not found anyone interested in the property and he announced that he was remodeling the buildings for residential use.

The three buildings have been single-family residences and apartments since this time.