73 Appendix A5: Biographical Sketch of William A. Arant

Crater Lake National Park: Administrative History by Harlan D. Unrau and Stephen Mark, 1987

 APPENDIX A5: Biographical Sketch of William A. Arant


William F. Arant was born on September 29, 1850, in Tazewell County, Illinois, the son of Jesse T. and Mary Jane (Emmett) Arant. The family, which would eventually consist of twelve children, resided in Illinois until March 12, 1852, when they left for Oregon, crossing the plains in ox-pulled wagons. They arrived at the Sandy River in September and located in Linn County. After a year they moved to Douglas County, where Arant’s father secured a “donation claim” of 320 acres some seven miles northwest of Roseburg in September 1853. Arant’s father devoted his entire life to farming and stock raising.

Arant acquired a common school education and worked on the home farm during his youth. On October 29, 1871, he married Emma L. Dunham, who had come to Oregon with her family in 1864 from her birthplace in Livingston County, Missouri. In the fall of 1872 he moved his family to Klamath County, where he engaged in farming and stock raising for some thirty years. He became active in Republican Party political circles in southern Oregon. His father had been a member of a local militia company known as the Minute Men during the Rogue River Indian War in 1855, and he followed his father’s footsteps by serving in the state militia for five years–one year as private, one year as company bugler, two years as first sergeant, and one year as guidon sergeant. During the Modoc Indian War in 1872-73, he served as a teamster in the employ of the U.S. Government and engaged in furnishing supplies to the troops. In 1892 he won the championship medal as the finest shot of Troop B, Oregon National Guard, one of the two cavalry troops in the state. On June 7, 1902, he was named superintendent of Crater Lake National Park, being recommended for that position by Representative John H. Tongue, Senator John H. Mitchell, Governor T.T. Greer, the Republican Congressional Committee, First District, the secretary of state, and the secretary of the treasury. He assumed his full-time duties several months later and served as superintendent until July 1, 1913.

During those eleven years he wintered at his home in Klamath Falls, devoting attention to his private farming and stock raising interests.

Joseph Gaston, The Centennial History of Oregon: 1811-1912 (4 vols., Chicago, 1912), IV, 287-88, and “Crater Lake National Park,” June 5, 1911, RG 79, Central Files, 1933-49, File No. 101-0, Part 1, Crater Lake, History. Steel bitterly opposed Arant’s appointment, thus straining his own lifelong friendship with Tongue. According to a letter written by Steel in May 1909, however, he soon recognized that Arant was “industrious, conscientious and painstaking in his work” and apologized to both Arant and Tongue. Steel to Bourne, May 12, 1909, Steel Correspondence Collection, Letter File 2, Item 47, Museum Collection, Crater Lake National Park.

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