Charles D. Arnett, Secretary of State for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, 1936-40, was born on March 9, 1879, in Hendricks, Ky., to Philip and Elizabeth Miranda (McQuinn) Arnett. He was educated at the high school in Salyersville and at Hazel Green Academy, which was located near the farm where he grew up. He came from a family that was sometimes called “the largest Democratic family in Kentucky.” On April 18, 1898, he married Amanda Helen Mann of Menifee County, Kentucky. They had five children: Harold G. (attorney), Dr. Earl T., Dr. O. B., Mrs. W. B. Cunningham, and Mable (Mrs. Charles F.) Frick.
Arnett held many positions during his lifetime. He had been a clerk on a steamboat, a traveling salesman, and a teacher in the counties of Magoffin and Morgan before opening a law practice in West Liberty. He made his political debut in 1913 when he was elected to the State Senate. There, he sponsored a bill that made it a felony to carry a concealed deadly weapon and a bill to regulate mines and mining. After serving one term in the Senate, he moved to Louisville, where he opened a law practice. Later, Governor W. J. Fields appointed him secretary of the State Athletic Board, and while holding that post, he was named secretary of the National Boxing Commission. He also became secretary of the Kentucky State Board of Barbers and Beauticians Examiners.
In 1935, Arnett was elected Secretary of State and served during the administration of Governor A. B. “Happy” Chandler. At the end of the term, he ran for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination on a platform strongly supporting the New Deal, but he was defeated.
On December 3, 1940, Arnett died at his daughter’s home in Louisville after having a stroke the previous night. A few days before, he had suffered from the effects of strenuous exertion in fighting a fire that seriously damaged his home in Buechel. He was buried in Resthaven Cemetery in Louisville on December 5, 1940.
"Louisville Courier-Journal," December 4, 1940;
Southard, Mary Young, and Miller, Ernest C., "Who’s Who in Kentucky: A Biographical Assembly of Notable Kentuckians," (Louisville, 1936).