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W. F. M. Arny

Born: 5-9-1813 - Died: 9-18-1881

By Tom Todd

William Frederick Milton Arny was born on May 9, 1813 in the District of Columbia. He was the son of Joseph Arny from Krummenau, St. Gallen, Switzerland and Elizabeth Hyde (Joseph's first wife) from England.

He was well educated for the day, and notably religious. He converted from Baptist to the Disciples of Christ Church and formed a lifelong relationship with that church. He was an intenerant preacher,  traveling widely and conducting revival meetings. In 1848 a split over church matters developed and he moved to Bloomington, Illinois where he became interested in scientific agriculture, printing, and teaching. A new dispute occurred and in 1856 he moved to Kansas, settling first in Lawrence and then in Hyatt. Again he became heavily involved in political turmoil and when his friend Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860 Arny sought a political appointment.

He was named Indian Agent to the Utes and Jicarilla Apache of northern New Mexico, succeeding Kit Carson. He found the problems immense and the resources scarce, but accomplished what was possible with the means at hand. In 1862 he was appointed Territorial Secretary of New Mexico, then serving as interim governor in 1866. In 1867 he was appointed agent for two years for the mountain Utes in Abiquiu, New Mexico and for the Pueblos along the Rio Grande. In 1870 he became Special Agent for the Indians of New Mexico and he extended his concerns to the Mimbres and Mescalero Apaches, conferring with Victorio, Cochise and other noted Apache chiefs. In seven months he made a visit to every tribe in New Mexico, southern Colorado, and southeastern Arizona, took Indian census, evaluated their condition, and made a full report.

His reappointment by President Ulysses S. Grant was strongly disputed in the 1872 Senate, but he was eventually confirmed. In the summer of 1873 he was named the Navajo agent where, again, disputes and complications hampered his efforts. In 1874 he took a large contingent of Navajos to Washington, DC but his difficulties could not be overcome and he submitted his resignation on July 22, 1875. His last six years in New Mexico were lived in financial impoverishment. In 1879 he learned that he had inherited a large fortune in England, but he arrived there too late to collect.


(c) Tom Todd. All rights reserved.