ARMSTRONG, John Franklin, of Illinois, Missouri and Foss, Oklahoma

John Franklin Armstrong was born in Knoxville, Knox co IL on 29 Aug 1856.[1] He died in the hospital in Clinton, Custer Co OK on 28 Jan 1942.[2] Frank was a son of John and Nancy Ann (Morris) Armstrong.[3] He was originally buried at the Edwardsville Cemetery, but the construction of Foss Lake years later required and at the same time enabled my grandfather to place all the Armstrong family graves together at the Clinton Cemetery.

On 22 Sep 1877 in Illinois, John married as his first wife, Sarah J Ruth. She was born 20 Sep 1855 in Harford Co MD.[4] She died in Terre Haute, Henderson Co IL in 4 Mar 1887.[5] This writer was able to identify Sadie, as she was called, by way of her obituary[6] and her 1880 census.[7] She was a daughter of Henry Ruth and his wife Mary.[8] As far as is known, there were no children from this marriage.

On 15 Mar 1888 in Terre Haute, Henderson Co IL, Frank married as his second wife Lulie (Edmunds) Hays.[9] Lulie was born 26 Feb 1864 and died 17 Apr 1891 in Missouri. She was a daughter of Marion and Martha (Gittings) Edmunds.[10]  The identity of her first husband, Mr Hays, is not known; the three children mentioned in her death notice were possibly the two children she had with Frank Armstrong and a Hays child by her first marriage.

On 14 Jun 1892[11] in Grant City, Worth Co MO, Frank married as his third wife, Anna Samantha Turner.[12] Anna was born 19 Aug 1869[13] in Allendale, Worth Co MO and died 23 Jun 1942 in Clinton, Custer Co OK.[14] She was a daughter of Reuben Webster and Margaret Ellen (Parker) Turner.

John Franklin Armstrong moved with his family from Illinois to Missouri and back again. By 1892, he was settled in Missouri, but moved to Oklahoma Territory between 1893 and 1895. He was named in various publications as an early resident of Custer Co OK.[15] He was a farmer, later a stock buyer, then a merchant, and a restaurant manager, always a Baptist, and at least once a deputized member of the posse that captured outlaw Red Buck.[16] He was blind for the last years of his life.

Evelynne Alvis wrote that after dishes were done in the evening, they would sit around the stove and her grandfather would tell about the early days. He made the trip to El Reno twice a year for supplies. If things went well, the trip (about 75 miles each way) would take two weeks. Once when he was gone, a band of Indians came through and stopped at their homestead for water. They noticed daughter Nannie, with long black hair, and were so interested in her that Anna Samantha was afraid they would kidnap her.

John Frank Armstrong has been located by name in every census from 1860 through 1930, plus a second entry in 1870, as follows:

1860 Mason Co IL, Spring Lake PO, p 26, hh 170.[17]

1870 Harrison Co MO, Bethany PO, Lincoln Twp, page 11, 76-76.[18]

1870 Knox Co IL, Cedar Twp, p 14, 394-388, with aunt Mary Lowrey.[19]

1880 Harrison Co MO, Lincoln Twp, ed 291, sheet 12, 102-102.[20]

1900 Custer Co OK, Washita Twp, dwelling 387, family 391.[21]

1910 Washita Co OK, town of Foss, Jefferson St, Turkey Creek Twp, ed 269, 10-11.[22]

1920 Washita Co OK, ed 200, sheet 9 155-159.[23]

1930 Washita Co OK, town of Foss, 65-73.[24]

The children of John Franklin Armstrong and his second wife, Lula (Edmunds) Hays, were the following. It is no longer known if these children were living at the time of Frank’s marriage to Anna Samantha Turner.

1. Clifford ARMSTRONG. Born in say 1891. Clifford died in MO aft 12 Jan 1893.

2. Margie ARMSTRONG. Born in say 1890. Margie died in MO after 12 Jan 1893.  John Franklin Armstrong was born in Illinois about a year after his great-grandmother, Margery (Wilkinson) Barron, died in New York State. Since he never knew her, it is likely this daughter was named for his aunt, Margery Ann (Armstrong) Parsons. With the exception of Mansel’s middle name, Frank did not give any family names to his other children.

The children of John Franklin Armstrong and his third wife, Anna Samantha Turner, were:

3. Golda L ARMSTRONG. Born on 25 Apr 1893 in Worth Co MO. Golda died in Foss, Washita Co OK, on 19 Jan 1903; she was 9. Buried in Clinton OK.

4. Nannie Jane ARMSTRONG. Born on 30 Apr 1895 in Arapaho, Custer Co OK. Nannie Jane died in Norman, Cleveland Co OK, in Jan 1948, of breast cancer. On 16 Dec 1919, she married Jesse Calhoun WAGNON in Clinton, Custer Co OK. Born on 7 Aug 1890. Jesse Calhoun died in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Co OK, in Dec 1961. They had the following children:

i.            Zela Maurine (1921-)

ii.            Trecil Maxine (1931-2008)

5. Mansel Grant ARMSTRONG. Born on 30 Aug 1897 in Arapaho, Custer Co OK. Mansel Grant died in Oklahoma City, Okahoma Co OK, on 13 Feb 1977, of burns.  On 17 Oct 1920, he married Ethel Marguerite LIGHT, daughter of William Russell LIGHT & Mary Ellen DORSEY, in Hydro, Caddo Co OK. Born on 11 Dec 1900 in Geary, Blaine Co OK. Ethel Marguerite died in Hydro, Blaine Co OK, on 7 Jan 1991. They had the following children:

i.            Evelynne Maurine (1926-)

ii.            Mansel Eugene (1929-1940)

iii.            Ramona Lee (1934-)

iv.            Dorsey Dean (1937-1976)

6. Ralph Flynn ARMSTRONG. Born on 22 Feb 1900 in Foss, Washita Co OK. Ralph Flynn died in Clinton, Custer Co OK, on 6 Feb 1938, of cancer. On 18 Aug 1918 Ralph married Minnie Manilla WILLIAMS in Clinton, Custer Co OK. Born on 30 Sep 1897 in Van Buren Co IA. Minnie died on 20 Oct 1974. They had the following children:

i.            Eldon York (1921-2004)

ii.            Ralph Flynn Jr (1924-1991)

iii.            Loyd Warren (1926-1991)

iv.            Patricia Rose (1929-2006)

7. Jeter Fay ARMSTRONG. Born on 16 Apr 1903 in Foss, Washita Co OK. Jeter died in Foss, Washita Co OK, on 14 Jul 1912.

8. Frankie ARMSTRONG. Born on 23 Nov 1906 in Foss, Washita Co OK. She died in Foss, Washita Co OK, on 28 Jan 1909.

9. Glyde Lavon ARMSTRONG. Born on 11 Aug 1910 in Foss, Washita Co OK. Glyde Lavon died in Temecula, Riverside Co CA, on 20 Apr 1992. On 20 May 1928, she married Walter SPECK. Born on 24 May 1906. Walter died in Weatherford, Custer Co OK, in Jun 1973. They had the following children:

i.            Delvin Edwin (1930-2005)

ii.            Linda Lee (1939-1998)

© 2009, Kathy Alvis Patterson

[1] His son and my grandfather, Mansel Armstrong’s birthday was August 30th; I shared a near birthday with my grandfather, August 28th, although I never knew my great-grandfather. My granddaughter Kaila was born on August 27th, and my sister’s grandson Charlie has an August 26thbirthday. That’s a busy week for this family. Gramps was born in 1897, my uncle Dorsey in 1937, me in 1947, and my cousin Debi in 1957. I remember quite well on Gramps’s birthday in 1957: adding my dad’s 30, Dorsey’s 20, my 10 and Debi’s 0 totaled his 60.

[2] Death certificate no. 20-03170 (1942), Oklahoma State Board of Health—Bureau of Vital Statistics. This death certificate gives John Franklin Armstrong’s grandmother’s name instead of his mother’s.

[3] John Armstrong will (1890), Harrison Co Will Book, Probate Judge’s Office, Bethany MO. Typed transcription, no specific source data included, in Ramona Duff, Armstrong Album and Light Lines, 5-8. Also, “Mother Coulson Celebrates Eightieth Birthday, Friday,” La Harper, LaHarpe IL, 22 Nov 1940, original clipping. The clipping from the LaHarper, edited at the time by Alice (Armstrong) Coulson’s son, gives details on all the children of John Armstrong Jr, as well as his two wives, his mother and her family. This article was written during the lifetime of John Franklin Armstrong and saved in the family.

[4] LaHarpe Cemetery.

[5] LaHarper, LaHarpe (IL), 11 Mar 1887 reads: “Our Terre Haute correspondent writes the particulars of the death of Mrs. Frank Armstrong. The lady was universally beloved by her acquaintances. All speak in the kindliest manner of her. Her retiring disposition and quiet ways did not permit of a very extended nor intimate acquaintance, yet a friendship once formed was lasting. The attendance at the funeral attested the esteem in which she was held. The bereaved husband and friends extend their grateful acknowledgement to the Terre Haute friends who so kindly assisted throughout her long sickness and for their help until the last sad rites of burial.”


[7] 1880 US Census Harrison Co MO, Lincoln Twp, ed 291, sheet 12, 102-102. J. F. Armstrong 23 mar farmer IL NY OH, Sarah 25 wife mar house keeping MD MD MD. This census was next door to John’s parents’ household.

[8] At first I had only two newspaper clippings, her 1880 census showing a birthplace of Maryland, and a photo of her gravesite. I spent some time trying to locate a possible family in the census images. Sarah J Ruth, was _in Knox Co IL, 1870, oldest child of Henry and Mary Ruth, with 6 younger brothers and sisters. In 1880, the parents and sons Harry, Adam and John and daughter Henryetta/Ettie, 11, the only child b IL, still lived in Knox Co. The sisters Mary Ruth, 22, was “keeping restaurant” with head of household, her sister, Annie Sanders, 19, in Henderson Co IL, both b MD, two houses aways from Mary (Armstrong) Dilts and her family. In 1900, Anna Day was living with her brother Adam Ruth in Chicago; Adam was a widower with 3 children and brother Henry was also living in the household.

Parents were both born in Maryland, preceded her in death, but she left 3 sisters and 3 brothers still living. Sisters Mrs Day and Mrs Kimball from Peoria are mentioned in a newspaper article as having helped care for her. I was able to identify these ladies in the 1900 census, based on census searches which confirmed this family.

In 1860 this family was in Halls Cross Roads, Harford Co MD.

[9] Armstrong-Hays marriage, 15 Mar 1888, Terre Haute, Henderson Co IL. Certificate was in the possession of Mansel G. Armstrong, 1966, when Kathy Alvis, his granddaughter, copied it. Gramps did not know about his father’s two earlier marriages or his two children who died young, until after Frank’s death in 1942.

[10] LaHarper, LaHarpe (IL), 24 Apr 1891: “A telegram announcing the death of his wife was received from Frank Armstrong of Allendale MO Fri. afternoon. Her mother, Mrs. Mat Edmunds of Terre Haute [IL] had been summoned to her bedside the week before, and her brother Frank departed for their home upon receiving the death notice. Her age was 27. Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong had gone from Terre Haute to Harrison Co MO this spring, having bought a small farm in the vicinity of Allendale. Mr. Armstrong is left with three small children, two less than two years of age.” All three children died soon after, possibly of diphtheria. I only know the names of two of them. Lulu (Edmunds) (Hays) Armstrong was buried in LaHarpe IL.

[11] Note that Frank’s remarriages were each a little more than an exact year from the dates of his previous wives’ deaths. This writer assumes both conventions and respect were involved.

[12] Worth County Marriage Book C:193, County Clerk’s Office, Grant City MO.

[13] Although her tombstone and her son, Mansel Armstrong, both said her birthdate was 1870, her 1870 and 1880 census show her as having been born one year earlier. Actually the 1870 census was taken two weeks before her supposed birth and lists a one-year-old named Samuel. Comparing this with the 1880 record, where Annie was listed as 11, I believe Samuel was probably Anna Samantha. There is no indication of another child. Her parents’ October 1883 divorce decree gives her age as 14, as follows: Divorce record, Reuben Webster Turner and Margaret Ellen (Parker) Turner, Worth Co MO, 25 Oct 1883. Margaret E. Turner, Plaintiff against Reuben W. Turner, Defendant. Now on this 25th day of October 1883 comes the plaintiff by her Attorney and it appearing to the satisfaction of the Court that the defendant has been duly notified of the pendency of this suit by his accepting service on the summons and prior to the last term of this Court come not but made default and now again makes default, and all and singular the matter being submitted to the Court are by the Court fully seen and heard. The Court with order adjudge and decree that that the decreetise at last term of this Court be made final for divorse and that the bonds of matrimony heretofore contracted and now existing between plaintiff and defendants be unmade, rescinded, and held for naught and that the plaintiff be allowed to marry, and that it is further ordered that plaintiff have the care and custody of her minor children to wit: Annie Turner aged fourteen years Rose Turner aged five years, Pearl Turner aged seven years and Blanche Turner aged three years.

[14] Death certificate no. 186 (1942), Oklahoma State Board of Health—Bureau of Vital Statistics. The death certificate gives the wrong maiden name for her mother, calling her Margaret Howard. Christopher Howard was her mother’s stepfather. See also obituary, “Funeral Rites Held for Mrs. Armstrong,” no date or newspaper name.

[15] “Mr. and Mrs. Frank Armstrong,” Trail of 100 Years: Arapaho Oklahoma, 1892-1992,  90-91. Custer County, Oklahoma Pioneers: Names From Publications of Homestead Proofs, Estray Notices, and Contest Notices 1892-1905. From: Arapahoe Arrow 1892, Arapahoe Bee 1893-1906, Arapahoe Argus 1893-1896. This Internet source ncludes witnesses to homestead proofs and the township and range of the homestead they witnessed to and is located at An old photo, possibly copied by Evelynne Alvis at the Oklahoma Historical Society, was reprinted in an Arapaho OK newspaper, by Roy H Ball, 24 Apr 1969, showed a fish “caught by Frank Armstrong and Frank Hartronft, 23 Jul 1909. It weighed 101 lbs. Two of these were caught in the Washita River.” Also, “Rites Set for Foss Pioneer,” undated clipping from unidentified newspaper, found by Evelynne Alvis at Oklahoma State Historical Society, Microfilm Room.

[16] His family was proud of his role as a deputy sheriff in the capture of Red Buck, an alias for a reknowned outlaw of early days. Outlaw Days in Oklahoma, p 52-53, has a picture of George Waightman, “Red Buck,” ready for burial, with this statement: “…for horse stealing, convicted, sentenced, and sent to the penitentiary, where he remained until 1893. Within thrity days after he was released, he had stolen seven horses—seven good saddle horses which he took with him to Ingalls, and there joined the Wild Bunch, as the Doolin gang was known at that time.”An Internet site,, has this: “While Tilghman was tracking down Doolin, other deputies were hot on the trail of George Waightman, alias Red Buck. Not much is known about the outlaw’s early years, but after he joined the Doolin Gang, he was known to be meaner than a snake. He was a tall Texan horse thief with the reputation of a killer – a surly, vicious man who cared nothing for anyone. His hair was red, which gave him his nickname. In the Fall of 1890, Heck Thomas had arrested him for stealing mules in the Cherokee Nation, but he had escaped from the special prison car taking him to prison, and had not surfaced until he joined up with Bill Doolin. He killed for pleasure, and shortly after Doolin kept him from shooting Bill Tilghman in the back, Doolin tired of his cutthroat nature and tossed him out of the gang. Running on the fringes of the Wild Bunch, he ran into a desperado named George Miller, and the two of them finally shot it out with deputies Joe Ventioner and William Holcomb in March at a dugout near Arapaho. Red Buck was finally dead, and to prove it and because there were rewards totaling $4,800, his body was roped to an undertaker’s board, propped against a wall, and photographed.”

[17] John Armstrong 40 farmer $525, NY, Nancy Armstrong 31 OH, Mary 14 IL at school, Margery 11 IL at school, Sarah R 7 IL at school, William T 5 IL at school, John F 4 IL, Katie 2 IL, Margaret 15 OH, Harriet 9 OH.

[18] John Armstrong 50 wm farmer NY, father of foreign birth, male citizen of US, Nancy 40 wf keeping house OH, Sarah 17 wf IL at school, Wm 16 wm IL at school, Frank 14 wm IL at school, Kitty 13 wf IL at school, Alice 10 wf IL at school cannot write, Jennie 9 wf IL at school cannot write, Charles 7 wm IL at school cannot write, Grant 5 wm IL at school cannot read or write, Henry 4 wm IL, Frederick 1 wm MO. The census-taker here mistakenly checked “cannot read” and “cannot write” when the reverse was meant.

[19] Shaftoe Lowry 55, Mary 52, Matilda Sanders 18, John Armstrong 13.

[20] J. F. Armstrong 23 married farmer IL NY OH, Sarah 25 wife married house keeping MD MD MD. His parents were next door.

[21] Armstrong, Frank, head wm Aug 1956 48 married 8 IL NY OH farmer, Annie wife wf Aug 1871 29 married 8 4 4 MO IN IN, Golda daughter wf Apr 1893 7 single MO IL MO, Nannie daughter wf Apr 1895 5 single OK IL MO, Mancel son wm Aug 1896 3 single OK IL MO, infant son wm Feb 1900 3/12 single OK IL MO.

[22] Armstrong, Frank, head wm 63 married 32 MO NY OH, English, stock buyer for market, own account, can read & write, Anna wife fw 39 married 32 7 5 MO IN KY, Nannie dau fw 15 single OK MO MO, Mansel son mw 13 single OK MO MO, Ralph son mw 10 single OK MO MO, Jeter son white male 7 single OK MO MO, Glyde Lavon dau female white 8/12 single OK MO MO. Was 32 years married Frank’s total?

[23] Frank Armstrong 63 married read & write IL NY OH manager restaurant, Anna S 49 married read & write MO IN IN, cook restaurant, GlyLavon dau 10 single in school read & write OK IL MO.

[24] Armstrong, John F, head, 1200, male white, 73, married, 22, no yes, IL NY OH; Anna S, wife, female white, 59, married 22, MO IN IN.

Published on June 21, 2009 at 1:04 am  Leave a Comment  

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