Jesse Arthur (14 Jan. 1846-10 May 1919)

Jesse Arthur was the son of John W. Arthur (1792-1862), a plantation owner, and his wife, Cornelia Truax (1818-1874). He was born in Camden, SC. Jesse was too young to join the Confederate service until late in the War. In May 1864, he joined Company K, 7th South Carolina Cavalry, which was recruited mainly from Kershaw County, SC. The unit served in battles in the Richmond area, and at Appomattox Court House.

Young Arthur attended the University of Virginia in session 42 (1865-1866), then attended the Cincinnati School of Law in Cincinnati, OH in 1869-70. He was admitted to the Bar in Newport, Kentucky. He practiced in Newport from 1873-1889. In 1886 he was elected Mayor of Dayton, KY, but resigned before the expiration of his term. He served 2 terms as city attorney of Dayton, and served as Temporary Judge of the Circuit Court of Campbell County, KY for two terms. He arrived in Spokane, WA in Oct. 1889, and began practicing as a lawyer.

Jesse Arthur married his first wife, Ida Lee McArthur (b. 1850), on 13 Sep. 1870, in Campbell County, KY. I have not been able to discover any children for this couple. On 10 Sep. 1890, Arthur married, as his second wife, Florence Bell Russell (1873-1935) in Spokane, WA. Their children were Esmond Russell Arthur and Lucile Arthur, both born in Spokane.

In Nov. 1892, Arthur was elected Superior Judge for the counties of Spokane and Stevens. Though he served on the bench for 5 years, it cannot be said that he was truly successful as a judge.

“Increasing dissatisfaction with the conduct, judicial and personal, of Judge Jesse Arthur of the superior court, developed in February into an organized movement for impeachment. At the request of J. R. Lambly, Representative Tull of Spokane introduced a resolution in the house for an official investigation. Judge Arthur was charged with malfeasance and misconduct in the trial of Herman L. Chase, excessive and habitual use of morphine, falling asleep on the bench while cases were on trial, and wilful absence from his judicial duties. The resolution was adopted and a legislative committee held extended hearings at Spokane and Colville, and submitted majority and minority reports. February 22, [1895] by a vote of forty-seven to twenty-one, the house adopted the majority report against impeachment, which, though finding Arthur negligent in regard to the Stevens county grand jury, and culpable in permitting instructions to go to the Chase jury that were contrary to law, nevertheless recommended, in view of “extenuating circumstances” that “the house take no further action.” (Durham)

At some point in the late 1890s, Arthur became the General Conference Attorney for the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and by June 1900 had moved his family to Battle Creek, Michigan. However, he was caught up in the doctrinal argument between Ellen G. White and Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, and in 1907, reported the Cass City Chronicle, “Among those expelled Monday night [8 Jul. 1907] are Judge Jesse Arthur; W. K. Kellogg, brother of Dr. J. H. Kellogg; Moses Kellogg, former editor of the Review and Herald, which is the church paper; and Prof. F. E. Belden, once a member of the Adventist college faculty. … Prominent Adventists say the cause of the wholesale expulsions is over the refusal of many to look upon Mrs. Ellen G. White, the acknowledged head of the church, as inspired.”

Arthur and his family remained in Battle Creek through 1910, but by 1917, they had moved to Los Angeles, California. (Central Law Journal) Both Jesse and Florence Arthur died in California, but the family is buried in the Quaker Cemetery, in Kershaw County, South Carolina.


  • “Adventists Fired.” Cass City Chronicle. July 12, 1907, p. 2. (Accessed 5/15/12)
  • and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1850-1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc.
  • [Arthur, Florence Russell] Obituary 2 — no title. 1935. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File), Jun 05, 1935. (accessed May 15, 2012).
  • [Back material 1 — no title. 1917.] The Central Law Journal (1874-1927). (accessed May 15, 2012).
  • “Death Record #21063, Jesse Arthur.” “California, Death Index, 1905-1939.” Images. FamilySearch. : accessed 2013. Citing California State Registrar. California, Death Index. Office of the State Register, Sacramento, and the Butte County Courthouse, Oroville.
  • “Death Record #33158, Florence Arthur.” “California, Death Index, 1905-1939.” Images. FamilySearch. : accessed 2013. Citing California State Registrar. California, Death Index. Office of the State Register, Sacramento, and the Butte County Courthouse, Oroville.
  • Durham, Nelson W. History of the city of Spokane and Spokane country, Washington. Spokane, WA, 1912, v. 1, p. 471-472.
  • Hawthorne, Julian. History of Washington, the Evergreen state, from early dawn to daylight. New York, 1893, v. 2, p. 574-575.
  • Hill, T. M. “The early 1900’s crisis: Kellogg and the Holy Spirit,” c2008, in The Prophet still speaks. [paper published online] c2011.
  • “International Law List.” Central Law Journal, v. 68, no. 25, June 18, 1909, p. 1, listed as a practicing lawyer in Battle Creek, MI. & v. 76, no. 26, June 27, 1913, p. 1.
  • [Jesse Arthur, General Conference Attorney mentioned in advertisement for Battle Creek Sanatorium.] The Life Boat, v. 6, no. 3, March 1903. (accessed 5/15/12)
  • “Kentucky Marriages, 1785-1979,” index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 10 Sep 2013), Jessee Arthur and Ida Mçarthur, 13 Sep 1870.
  • Timm, Holly. Blood, Collateral and Otherwise. [database online] c2012.
  • Washington (State). Delayed Birth Certificates. (
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