Armstrong

Studio shots, no. 88: Jack Armstrong, supercentenarian.

Among the dozens of families who migrated up to Wilson County from North Carolina’s southern Sandhills area were those of Dock Roberson and Margaret Armstrong McDougal Blue. After her husband Levi Blue died in Wilson County in 1919, Maggie Blue and Dock Roberson married, and Maggie’s parents John “Jack” and Annie Murphy Armstrong briefly came to live with their blended family in Taylors township. Likely during this time, Jack Armstrong traveled into Wilson to sit for a portrait in Picture-Taking George W. Barnes‘ studio. Jack’s descendants explained that his curled fingers were the result of an injury inflicted during slavery.

John “Jack” Armstrong (ca. 1820-1932), circa 1920.

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In the 1870 census of Flea Hill township, Cumberland County, North Carolina: farm laborer John Armstrong, 40; wife Anna, 38; and children Dublin, 14, Charles, 9, Penny, 8, Margrett, 7, Elizabeth, 5, Barbry, 4, William, 3, and David, 2; plus Amy Armstrong, 52.

In the 1880 census of Flea Hill township, Cumberland County, North Carolina: farmer John Armstrong, 54; wife Annie J., 43; and children Charley, 18, Margret, 16, Barbra A., 12, William J., 10, David, 8, Joe, 6, Daniel R., 4, and Rebecca, 3; plus A. Murphy, 60, mother-in-law.

In the 1900 census of Geddies Gin township, Cumberland County, North Carolina: farm laborer Jack Armstrong, 75; wife Annie, 68; daughter Janie, 15; and grandson George W. Murphy, 12.

In the 1920 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: tenant farmer Doc Robinson, 55; wife Maggie, 53; children Mary, 18, James C., 19, Virginia, 17, David, 14, Elijah, 12, and Jessie B., 3; Vangie, 32, Geneva, 17, and Addie McDoogle, 15; and Moses Robinson, 8, and lodgers Jack, 103, and Annie Armstrong, 101.

Annie Armstrong died 5 April 1920 in Taylor township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 103 years old; was born in Johnston County to Annie Murphy and an unknown father; worked as a farmer for George Piage; and was married to Jack Armstrong. William Jas. Armstrong was informant.

Maggie Roberson died 5 April 1928 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 55 years old; was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to Jack and Annie Armstrong; was married to George Roberson; and farmed for Will Carr.

Jack Armstrong died 5 January 1932 in Mingo township, Sampson County, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 11 February 1815 to John Wood and an unknown mother; was widowed; and was a farmer.

Newspapers across the state reported that Jack Armstrong had been “the oldest North Carolinian” at the time of his death.

Wilson Daily Times, 12 January 1932.

Photo courtesy of F. Cooper Jr., great-great-grandson of Jack Armstrong.

Studio shots, no. 87: Haywood and Agnes Bullock Armstrong.

Haywood and Agnes Bullock Armstrong.

In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Abraham Armstrong, 52, wife Cherry, 32, and children Nancy, 16, Haywood, 14, Nelson, 12, Joshua, 11, and Burlee, 7.

On 28 February 1878, Haywood Armstrong, 21, married Agnes Bullock, 18, in Township No. 13, Edgecombe County. Frank Bullock, Nelson Armstrong and B.P. Jenkins witnessed. [Agnes Bullock is listed in her (widowed?) mother Rena Bullock’s household in the 1870 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County. Serena Bullock was married to Crumel Bullock, and another of their daughters, Mary, married Haywood Armstrong’s brother Nelson Armstrong. If researching this line, please be mindful that several Cromwell/Crummel/Crumel Bullocks, both black and white, lived in northeastern Wilson County/southwestern Edgecombe County durimng the late 19th century.]

In the 1880 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County: laborer Haywood Armstrong, 23; wife Agnes, 18; and daughter Caroline, 1.

In the 1900 census of Richwoods township, Lonoke County, Arkansas: renting a farm, Haywood Armstrong, 48; wife Agness, 38; and children Charlie, 19, Mollie, 16, William, 14, Joshway, 12, Hirman, 11, Cherry, 10, Annie, 8, Frank, 6, Minnie, 4, and Agnes, 2. The last five children were born in Arkansas.

In the 1910 census of Richwoods township, Lonoke County, Arkansas: Haywood Armstrong, 54; wife Agness, 48; and children Henry, 23, Joshaway, 22, Himan, 21, Cherry, 19, Anna, 18, Frank, 16, Minnie, 14, Agness, 11, James Haywood, 10, Eddie, 8, and Lottie, 3.

Agnes Bullock Armstrong died 10 September 1915. Haywood Armstrong died in 1917. Both were buried in Hickory Grove cemetery, Lonoke County.

Many thanks to Lydia Hunter for sharing these photographs of her ancestors, who migrated from Wilson County to Lonoke County, Arkansas, about 1889.

Liquor bust.

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Wilson Daily Times, 22 August 1944.

  • Clarence Barnes
  • Mark Jenkins — on 17 October 1944, the Daily Times reported that Jenkins received one year’s probation for a liquor law violation.
  • Gus Armstrong — the same article reported that Armstrong was sentenced to a year and a day at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary for a liquor law violation.
  • Sam Moore — Moore also received a year and a day at Atlanta.

Cemeteries, no. 19: the Nelson Armstrong family.

This cemetery — way down an unpaved track and surrounded on three sides by soybeans — is back in the cut, as they say, but lovingly maintained. Nelson Armstrong and his brother Gary were prosperous farmers who owned large farms northeast of Elm City near the Edgecombe County line.

In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Abraham Armstrong, 52, wife Cherry, 32, and children Nancy, 16, Haywood, 14, Nelson, 12, Joshua, 11, and Burlee, 7.

On 10 January 1884, Nelson Armstrong married Mary Ann Bulluck in Edgecombe County.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Nelson Armstrong, 45, wife Mary Ann, 40, and children Mamie, 15, Hattie, 13, and Henry, 12.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot, Wilson County, on Wells Daws Avenue, Nelson Armstrong, 58, Mary, 45, daughter Hattie Armstrong, 22, son Henry Armstrong, 20, son-in-law Thomas Hilliard, 25, daughter Mamie, 24, and their children Carnelia, 3, and Magnora Hilliard, 2.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot, Wilson County: Nelson Armstrong, 60, wife Mary, 50, and boarder Grover Barnes, 19.

Nelson Armstrong was an initial investor in Commercial Bank of Wilson.

In the 1930 census of Toisnot, Wilson County: Henry Armstrong, 42, wife Mimia, 33, and children Mary, 11, Fred, 8, Rosa, 6, Clarence, 4, and Nathan, 1, plus widower father Nelson, 75.

Nelson Armstrong died 8 December 1934 in Toisnot township. Per his death certificate: he was 80 years old; was born in Edgecombe County to Abraham and Cherry Armstrong; was a farmer; and was a widower.

  • Mary Ann Armstrong

Mary Armstrong died 25 September 1924. Per her death certificate, she was 58 years old; married to Nelson Armstrong; and born in Edgecombe to Crumel and Rena Bulluck.

  • Hattie Armstrong Lucas

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Nelson Armstrong, 45, wife Mary Ann, 40, and children Mamie, 15, Hattie, 13, and Henry, 12.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot, Wilson County, on Wells Daws Avenue, Nelson Armstrong, 58, Mary, 45, daughter Hattie Armstrong, 22, son Henry Armstrong, 20, son-in-law Thomas Hilliard, 25, daughter Mamie, 24, and their children Carnelia, 3, and Magnora Hilliard, 2.

In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Elias Lucas, 44; wife Hattie, 40; and children Ada, 16, Turner, 14, Eva, 13, Marie, 6, and Nathaniel, 5.

In the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Elias Lucas, 54; wife Hattie, 52; and children Marie, 16, and Nathanel, 15.

Hattie Lucas died 17 November 1943. Per her death certificate, she was 56 years old; born in Wilson County to Nelson Armstrong of Wilson County and Hattie Armstrong of Edgecombe County; was married to Elias Lucas; and was buried in the Armstrong cemetery.

Photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2017.

Robbed the watchman.

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Wilson Daily Times, 2 September 1921.

In 1917, Jake Armstrong registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 11 May 1890 in Wilson; lived at 210 Stantonsburg Street, Wilson; worked as a laborer for Farmers Cotton Oil Company; and had a dependent mother and sister.

On 8 September 1919, Jake Armstrong, 23, of Wilson, married Della Jones, 22, of Wilson. B.P. Coward performed the ceremony at the A.M.E. Zion church in the presence of Rose McCullers, Berta Faulkland and Lucy A. Richards.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Broad Street, oil mill laborer Jake Armstrong, 23; wife Della, 21; and children Kathryn, 6, and Charlie, 1.

Obituary of Elnora Williams Armstrong.

elnora armstrong

Wilson Daily Times, 27 October 1945.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Alnora Armstrong, 37, widow, with son Allen, 10.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: odd jobs laborer James Daniel, 50; wife Louise, 53, laundress; daughters Minnie, 21, Louise, 19, and Lillie, 17, all cooks; daughter Debie Black, 30, and her children Jessie, 9, Moses, 6, Minnie, 2, and Gertie Black, 1 month; plus Ellen Armstrong, 50, widowed house servant, and her son Allen, 18, a railroad laborer.

On 25 November 1915, Allen Armstrong, 26, son of Allen and Elenora Armstrong, married Annie Lewis, 23, daughter of Ed and Sophia Lewis. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony at Ed Lewis’ home in Wilson in the presence of Bessie Woodard, Nathaniel Williams, and Isum Harris.

On 5 June 1917, Allen Armstrong registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 15 November 1887 in Wilson;  resided at 532 Church Street; worked as a machinist for W.T. Clark; and supported his mother and wife.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 407 Viola Street, Allen Armstrong, 35, laborer, and mother Ellen Armstrong, 70, widowed family cook. [Both are erroneously reported as Texas natives.]

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 311 North Hackney Street, Sarah Mursley, 45, widowed laundress; son George, 15, tobacco factory laborer; and lodgers Doc Battle, 50, and Elnora Armstrong, 67, a widowed family cook.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 415 East Green Street, insurance collector N. Andrew Pierce, 61; wife Ada W., 58, a seamstress; nephew Otha R. Davis, 28, a beer parlor owner; his wife Lillie, 23, a nurse; their son Otha R., Jr., 6 months; and mother Ella Davis, 52; plus lodgers Elnora Armstrong, 90; Thomas Williams, 35, and Johnie Sarvis, 33.

Elnora Armstrong died 22 October 1945 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born in 1869 in Halifax County, North Carolina, to Monroe and Susie Williams; was widowed; had worked as a domestic; and resided at 608 East Green Street.

[Armstrong’s long-time employer was William T. Clark (1868-1939), a wealthy tobacconist.]

Elm City’s Negro Community, pt. 2.

Cecil Lloyd Spellman was a professor of rural education at Florida A&M in Tallahassee. In 1947, he published “Elm City, A Negro Community in Action,” a monograph intended to employ sociology to “interpret the Negro in his actual day to day activities and interrelationships with members of his own and other races.” This is an excerpt:

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In searching the records, one finds no mention of early Negroes in this area, however, by contacting some of the older living residents, the following information dealing with pioneer Negro residents has been obtained.** All the following people are now dead unless the fact is otherwise indicated.

[Part one here.]

The following people are early settlers of the Turner neighborhood:

Gary Armstrong and his wife Henrietta were among the first to be mentioned in this section. They bought farm land and settled upon it. Nelson Armstrong and his wife Mary, were also mentioned here as landowners. There is no indication as to the existence of relationship between these two Armstrong families; they may, or they may not be related. The Turner area at present has in it a very large number of families of Armstrongs, many of which are not related to each other.

Thomas Hilliard and his wife Forthea came into the area from Edgecombe County, on the north. His wife became a midwife, and was prominent in this activity for a long time. During this formative period of the community, midwives are very important to welfare of families. Doctors were few, and transportations was not very speedy, so the quickest and most certain maternal care was that furnished by the local midwife. The history of the development of the family institution will never by completely satisfactory, until the contribution of the local midwife has been included in its pages.

Jerry Drake and his wife Vince were also here at the time. Vince was also a midwife.

Skipper Dunn was a landowner in the section. The name of his wife was not mentioned, but we know he had a granddaughter, who now lives in Elm City. She is familiarly known by both the white and colored people as “Aunt” Aggie Williams.

Aggie Williams, granddaughter of Skipper Dunn, came to Toisnot, North Carolina (now what is the village of Elm City) in 1882. While we do not know when Skipper Dunn came, the date mentioned fixes him as one of the real old settlers of the area. Nothing was reported concerning Aggie’s husband. It is known, however, that she was married. She owned some farm land, and also a home where she now lives in Elm City. She lives alone in a seven room house in the white residential section of Elm City. She reared a fine family by sewing for people. She is well thought of by her neighbors.

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  • In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County, Gary Armstrong appears as a 20 year-old farm laborer sharing a household with 20 year-old George Batts. In the 1880 census, Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: farmer Gary Armstrong, 30, wife Henrietta, 25, and children Cherry, 8, William, 6, James, 4, and Gary, 2. In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Garry Armstrong, 56, wife Henreta, 47, and children James H., 22, John H., 21, Moses, 19, Edward, 17, Mammie J., 15, Minnie, 13, and Hattie, 11. In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Garey Armstrong, 65, wife Henrietta, 55, James T., 30, Moses, 28, Mamie I., 24, and Minnie J., 22. In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County, on Wilson Rocky Mount Road: farmer Gary Armstrong, 73, wife Henrietta, 65, and daughter Minnie, 28. Garey Armstrong died 1 February 1928. His death certificate lists his age as 82, his birthplace as Edgecombe County, and his parents as Abraham and Cherry Armstrong, both of Edgecombe.
  • Gary and Nelson Armstrong were, in fact, brothers. In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Abraham Armstrong, 52, wife Cherry, 32, and children Nancy, 16, Haywood, 14, Nelson, 12, Joshua, 11, and Burlee, 7. On 10 January 1884, Nelson Armstrong married Mary Ann Bulluck in Edgecombe County. In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Nelson Armstrong, 45, wife Mary Ann, 40, and children Mamie, 15, Hattie, 13, and Henry, 12. In the 1910 census of Toisnot, Wilson County, on Wells Daws Avenue, Nelson Armstrong, 58, Mary, 45, daughter Hattie Armstrong, 22, son Henry Armstrong, 20, son-in-law Thomas Hilliard, 25 daughter Mamie, 24, and their children Carnelia, 3, and Magnora Hilliard, 2. In the 1920 census of Toisnot, Wilson County: Nelson Armstrong, 60, wife Mary, 50, and boarder Grover Barnes, 19. In the 1930 census of Toisnot, Wilson County: Henry Armstrong, 42, wife Mimia, 33, and children Mary, 11, Fred, 8, Rosa, 6, Clarence, 4, and Nathan, 1, plus widower father Nelson, 75. Nelson Armstrong died 8 December 1934 in Toisnot township.
  • In the 1880 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: Thomas Hilliard, 38, Fortune, 40, William, 13, Mary, 12, Robert, 10, Cornelia, 8, Sealey, 6, Ollis, 4, and Becky, 2. In the 1900 census of Toisnot, Wilson County: farmer Thomas Hilliard, 56, wife Fortino, 58, and children Olive, 24, Becky, 21,  and Thomas, 16, with adopted son, Thadeous Battle, 12. [Thomas Hilliard Jr. married Nelson Armstrong’s daughter Mamie, see above. Thomas’ death certificate, filed in August 1866, identifies his mother as “Fortney Killebrew.”] In the 1910 census of Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County: Thomas Hilliard, 63, wife Forty, 65, and daughter Celia Allen, 45.
  • In the 1880 census, Jackson township, Nash County: farmer Jerry Drake, 43, wife Viney , 39, children Henrietta, 18, George, 17, Bettie, 14, Nancy E., 10, Caroline, 7, Emma, 5, and stepdaughter Jane Westray, 9.
  • In the 1880 census, Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: farmer Skipper Dunn, 60, wife Fannie, 50, and son James, 15.
  • Aggy Mercer, 17, married Thos. Williams, 21, on 5 February 1876 at Toisnot. In the 1880 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: farmer Thomas Williams, 24, wife Aggie, 21, and daughters Clara, 3, and Mattie, 1. In the 1900 census of the Town of Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County: widow Aggie Williams, 41, dress maker; and her children nurse Cora, 18, and day laborer Burtas, 14. In 1910 in the Town of Elm City, Toisnot, Wilson County: Aggie Williams, 59, lived alone in a house she owned on Main Street. In 1920 in the Town of Elm City, Toisnot, Wilson County: Aggie Williams, 51, dress maker, lived alone in a house she owned on Main Street. In 1940 in the Town of Elm City, Toisnot, Wilson County: Aggie Williams, 81, lived alone in a house she owned on Main Street. Daughter Cora lived next door. Aggie M. Williams died 21 March 1951 in Elm City. Her death certificate records her birth as 14 February 1859 in Edgecombe County to Jessie and Fannie Mercer. [The informant was Cora C. Lucas, her daughter.]

**This is odd. African-Americans came to the Toisnot area with the earliest white settlers pushing down from southern Virginia. They were the pioneers, not people who moved in after the Civil War. Spellman named black county extension agent C.W. Foster as his source.

 

Elm City’s Negro community, pt. 1.

Cecil Lloyd Spellman was a professor of rural education at Florida A&M in Tallahassee. In 1947, he published “Elm City, A Negro Community in Action,” a monograph intended to employ sociology to “interpret the Negro in his actual day to day activities and interrelationships with members of his own and other races.” This is an excerpt.

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In searching the records, one finds no mention of early Negroes in this area, however, by contacting some of the older living residents, the following information dealing with pioneer Negro residents has been obtained.** All the following people are now dead unless the fact is otherwise indicated.

J.H. Bellamy and his wife Cherry were among the first Negroes to move into the Sharpsburg vicinity. Bellamy was a preacher and a teacher. He did some good work in the general section in both these capacities. Together these two acquired a small tract of farm land. This was held up in his preaching and teaching as an example of what Negroes generally should do in order to succeed in life.

Sam Rice, a minister, was another of the early settlers in this area. No mention was made of the fact that he had a wife. He also bought farm land.

Thomas Dawes came early to this section and bought farm land. Dawes was an ex-slave. He came into the section from South Carolina. We are told that Thomas and his twin sister, Sarah (Bunn) were sold as slaves when they were about twelve years hold. It is not clear whether they were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, or achieved their freedom in some other manner.

Henry Bunn and his wife Sarah (sister of Thomas Dawes) came into the section from South Carolina. Sarah was an ex-slave. She and her twin brother Thomas Dawes were sold into slavery when they were about twelve years old. Sarah became a midwife, and was in constant demand for her service by both white and colored people during the late years of her life.

Dawson Armstrong was a very conspicuous early character of the area. He was known as the root doctor. Many fancy tales are told about him and his roots and herbs. He was well liked and no doubt his root medicine did some good because of the confidence which so many of the people had in him. Of course, there were always fanciful tales about some of his doings as he moved about in field and forest in search of the right roots, herbs and barks for the concoctions which he brewed.

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In the 1900 census of Sharpsburg township, Edgecombe County: farmer James H. Bellamy, 42, wife Cherrie, 34, and children Clara, 18, Jacob, 8, Cora, 6, and Rena, 1.

Dawson Armstrong died 24 May 1911 in Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County. Per his death certificate, he was at least 45 years old, was born in Wilson County to Abram and Priscilla Barnes Armstrong, was single, and engaged in general labor. Mattie Bryant was informant.

**This is odd. African-Americans came to the Toisnot area with the earliest white settlers pushing down from southern Virginia. They were the pioneers, not people who moved in after the Civil War. Spellman named black county extension agent C.W. Foster as his source.