The year was 1912 – Woodrow Wilson won the fall election to become the 28th President of the United States, New Mexico became the 47th state to join the union and the Titanic sank just days after embarking on a historic journey from Queenstown, Ireland to New York. It was also the year Edna Teutsch Arnold was born.
She was born in Cotton Valley on February 27, 1912. Her parents, Sam and Mitty Teutsch, had nine children. Of the five boys and four girls, Edna was the second child born into the family.
The Teutsch family moved to Bossier Parish when Edna was 10 years old. She recalled living on the family’s farm in Plain Dealing and how much she loved every single part of it.
“The farm life is good,” Edna said. “It makes you work when you don’t want to and when you don’t feel like working. I walked five miles in the morning hauling cotton and corn for 50-cents a day. That wasn’t fun, but that’s all we knew. Back then you worked for what you got.”
Edna’s family really did live off the land. They milked their own cows, churned their own butter and hunted fresh meat. They would dry fruit by putting a sheet or cloth on the roof of their home, letting the sun do the work from there.
“My father trapped a lot so we lived off of deer meat, dove, squirrel, raccoon and fish,” Edna said. “He would skin the animal and tack the hide on the barn. Then he would sell them and that’s how we started off, from what I can remember.”
They bought eggs, though, and it cost them a nickel. But Edna said she was happy and her family was happy with the life they lived.
“We were always happy,” she said. “That’s why I always say just be happy regardless of what happens, love people and appreciate what you have.”
Edna attended school in Plain Dealing through the seventh grade. Then she met Edward H. Arnold. They married in December 1929 when Edna was 17 years old.
“I married on a sand bar on the Red River. My brother-in-law run the ferry up there,” she said. “I had to runaway to get married. My father never did like my husband, but I did. That’s all that counted.”
They moved to the Benton area in 1941. The couple had four children together and was happily married for 55 years when Edward passed away from a heart attack.
Over the years, she’s lost three sons, five brothers, two sisters, her mother and her father. Yet, Edna still has a positive outlook on life.
“You don’t get over that, but you don’t grieve all the time. Life is what you make it,” she explained. “Whether you are sick or not, life is what you make it. I think I have made my life a pretty good life. I still love living.”
One of Edna’s favorite things in life is making quilts and piece quilting, a skill she learned from her mother and grandmother.
“They used to light a little lantern and move it around the quilt to see at night,” she recalled.
She also loved being outside and working in the garden, planting and harvesting potatoes, string beans, peas and corn.
Edna lived alone until about a year ago. She now lives with her daughter, Margene Yagel, in Haughton.
Edna has 13 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. There are three sets of five generations, all living, in her family.
Being 103 years old, Edna’s memory of the past is still vivid and fresh. The part of life she cherishes most is her family and her memories of the old days.
“A lot of times I get to thinking about what has happened in my life. And I want to cry sometimes, but I have lived a happy life,” she said. “I’ve had my ups and downs, but still I feel alright. And I’ll be alright as long as I live. We have a good Lord.”