Charles Elmo Arnold was born in San Francisco on June 11, 1880 to Gilbert C. Arnold and Susan J. (née McConaughy). In October
1880, the family moved to San Diego, where Gilbert joined the prospering real estate firm founded in 1869 by his brother,
Cyrus, and his father, Philander. Arnold’s first job was as a paper boy for the San Diego Union newspaper. Between 1898 and
1900, Arnold served in the U.S. National Guard. In 1907, after a number of jobs at local banks, he joined the family business
where his father was now the sole proprietor.