Oliver Armstrong: militia general and abolitionist

1 Early Life

2 Marriage and Children

3 Locke, Cayuga County, New York

3.1 Land Inheritance from Hopestill Armstrong

3.2 Relationship to President Millard Fillmore

4 Maumee Rapids, Ohio and the War of 1812

5 Springfield, Clark County, Ohio

5.1 Death of Wife and Remarriage

5.2 General of the Militia

5.3 Abolitionist Activities

6 Death and Legacy

7 References

Early Life

Oliver Armstrong of Bennington, Vermont came into this world with big shoes to fill. He was born 26 Apr 1783, at the tail end of the America’s war for Independence.1 His father Hopestill, along with uncles John, Lebbeus and Hezekiah Armstrong, were Revolutionary War veterans.2 Hopestill Armstrong was at Mount Independence in October of 17763 and fought at the famous Battle of Bennington on 16 Aug 1777.4 He was a private in Capt. Elijah Dewey’s company of Colonel Robinson’s Regiment of the Green Mountain Boys.5
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Marriage and Children

Oliver married 16 year-old Anna Poole in 1801.6 Her father Oliver Poole was also a Revolutionary War veteran. He was a Corporal in Captain Joseph’s Soper’s North Militia Company of Hanover, Massachusetts.7 Oliver and Anna had four children: Oliver H Armstrong (1802), Cyrus Armstrong (1804), Fidelia Armstrong Humphries (1807), and David Armstrong (1812).8

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Locke, Cayuga County, New York (1807-1811)

Land Inheritance from Hopestill Armstrong

Hopestill Armstrong died in Bennington on 28 Jan 1806.9 Oliver moved his young family from Vermont to Locke Township, Cayuga County, New York. He is listed among the citizens of Locke in the 1810 US Census.10 Oliver inherited 450 acres of land in Locke, Cayuga County, New York in Hopestill’s will.11 At first I thought Hopestill had received this land as a Bounty Grant for his war service. In fact, John Day was the initial recipient of the 600 acre lot in Locke.12 John Day sold the land to Benjamin Prescott in 1794. The 600 acres (450 reserved for private ownership and residence) changed hands several more times until Hopestill bought the parcel, sight unseen.

Relationship to President Millard Fillmore

Hopestill Armstrong purchased Lot 7 in the township of Locke, from brothers Calvin and Nathaniel Fillmore on 12 Nov 1803.13 He paid $1054. Nathaniel and Calvin were the brothers of Hopestill’s son-in-law Elijah Fillmore. Elijah had married Hopestill’s daughter Sarah Armstrong.3 Nathaniel’s son Millard Fillmore, born in Summerhill in 1800, would grow up to be the 13th President of the United States. Their father Ensign Nathaniel Fillmore Sr. had served with Hopestill Armstrong in Elijah Dewey’s company of the Green Mountain Boys.2

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Lot 7 is shown on the map below near Summer Hill State Forest, the outline of the original lot still clear. The road cutting across the northeast corner of the 600 acre plot is Filmore Road.

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Maumee Rapids, Ohio and the War of 1812

Oliver sold the land to his brother-in-law Francis Wood (the husband of his wife Anna’s sister Lydia Poole) for $2000 on 12 Nov 1811.14 He then took his family to settle near Perrysburg in the Maumee River Valley of Ohio.8 The timing did not work in Oliver’s favor, however. Settlers in the Maumee Rapids had to flee their homes after General Hull surrendered Fort Detroit during the War of 1812. Most of the property and possessions they left behind were looted, stolen or burned. In 1816, he and other settlers petitioned for compensation by the United States Government for lost property.15 Oliver Armstrong is on record, claiming for a stolen horse valued at $60. He also claimed a total of $525 in property that had been stolen, used or burnt, including wheat, hay and clothing.16 There is no evidence to indicate the US Government compensated him or any other setter in the area who filed a claim.

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Springfield, Clark County, Ohio (1814-1836)

Death of Wife Anna and Remarriage

Oliver Armstrong brought his wife and four children to Springfield, Clark County, Ohio in 1814.17 Here he became a fixture among the town’s early leaders and earned a permanent place in its history books. Tragically, Oliver’s wife Anna died on 17 Mar 1814, shortly after their arrival in Clark County.18 Having four young children to care for, Oliver quickly remarried in 1815 to Mrs. Lucinda Paige Muzzy, widow of Joseph Muzzy.8 Together Oliver and Lucinda had four more children: William Armstrong (about 1816), Ominda Armstrong Huntington (1818), Lucinda Paige Armstrong Frankenberg (1824), and Louisa Armstrong (1825).8 Oliver Armstrong and family appear in the 1820 US Census and 1830 US Census for Clark County, Ohio.19, 20

General of the Militia

The Octogenial Book was a publication celebrating the 150th anniversary of the First Presbyterian Church in Springfield. It mentions Oliver Armstrong as one of the first members elected to its board of trustees. The book contains a passage from his daughter Lucinda Armstrong Frankenberg. She fondly recalls watching her father, who they called General Armstrong, at militia muster days. Oliver Armstrong was a militia general along with Charles Anthony and Sampson Mason.21

Abolitionist Activities

In volume 2 of Yesteryear in Clark County, Ohio, Lucinda Armstrong Frankenburg again discussed her father’s early years in Springfield. Oliver Armstrong was an abolitionist with a reputation of providing employment for runaway slaves.

My father was a strong Abolitionist, and I can remember in my childhood there was always a great many colored servants about, for as soon as a runaway slave came to this part of the country he would go to my father for employment. That little frame house which stands back in the lot at the northwest corner of Greenmount Ave. and High St. was built by my father for a runaway slave and his wife.22

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Death and Legacy

Oliver Armstrong died on 14 Sep 1836.23 The Springfield Pioneer published his obituary on 23 Oct 1836.24 It is quite long and offers some valuable biographical details about the family.

“A Faithful Man shall abound with Blessings.”GEN. OLIVER ARMSTRONG, whose death was noticed in our last, was born at Bennington in Vermont, in April 1783, and was therefore 53 years old in April last.

In 1811, he emigrated with his family to Perrysburg in this State. In 1812, after Hull’s Surrender, it became necessary for the inhabitants of Perrysburg to flee from the tomahawk and scalping knife of the indians. At that time, Gen. Armstrong and all his family were sick with the ague, and his horses were taken away by the Indians. Having no time to spare, he and another set out with their families, with a single yoke of oxen, and such property only as it was supposed the team could bring through the wilderness, leaving every thing else, including their crops, to certain loss. The road through the wilderness proved to be so nearly impassable that almost every thing with which they set out was thrown away and abandoned. When they reached Urbana, worn down and exhausted by sickness and fatigue, they were without even the common necessaries of life, and without any money, and necessarily dependant upon the kindness of strangers for shelter and for immediate support. In a short time, however, the industry of the family, with returning health, was sufficient to supply their common wants. General Armstrong soon after removed to Springfield, where he resided until his death. In March 1814, the partner of his toils was taken from him by death, leaving him with 4 children. In the spring of 1815, he married Mrs. Muzzy, (widow of Mr. Joseph Muzzy,) who had six children, by which last marriage 4 children were afterwards added.

In the death of Gen. Armstrong, his numerous and excellent family have lost a friend whose place can never be supplied—this community has lost one of its most substantial, most useful, and most universally esteemed citizens—and the church of God has lost one of its most humble and sincere, one of its best members and brightest ornaments. Gen. Armstrong was “a faithful man,” and he “abounded with blessings.”

Commencing the world in 1815, with a family of 10 children, afterwards increased to 14, he was enabled to raise them to usefulness and respectability, maintaining among them a degree of harmony and affection alike creditable to parents and children, but seldom found in families similarly situated.He acquired at the same time, if not a fortune, an easy competency.

But he was not only blessed in the affection and duty of his family, and in the prosperity of his affairs at home; for he was honored and beloved by all who were personally acquainted with him, and respected and confided in by this whole community. His modesty did not permit him to be brought forward in the public service so as to become conspicuous by high official station; but in the stations he did consent to fill he was conspicuous for the uprightness of his intentions, and for intelligent discrimination, and soundness of judgment.

But above all, he was blessed for many years before his death, and up to the time when reason ceased to operate, with a firm belief in the truth of the christian religion, a lively faith in the Savior, and an humble but bright hope and confidence in the enjoyment of an immortality with him. He was formerly a moral man; but when his attention was awakened, and his vigorous intellect fixed upon the subject, he became satisfied that although morality might happily regulate his intercourse with his fellow creatures, it was altogether insufficient to produce internal tranquility and spiritual peace, and turning his honest and candid mind to the gospel, he found and freely admitted that its revelations, if true, were fully sufficient. And the evidences of truth which it bears upon its face, enforced by that spirit which had awakened him and convinced him of the necessity of a spiritual regeneration, satisfied him and that the gospel was true, and he publicly professed his faith. And if human testimony can add aught to the proofs of the scriptures, or give fresh assurance to the believing christian, we have in all his after life, in his public profession, and in all his private declarations and acts, including his last illness up to the time when his transit took place, the strongest assurance of the reality of that religion which he professed, and of the preciousness of that hope which he enjoyed.

He has left behind him the treasure of a good man’s memory—
“Happy to him the change,
The loss our own.”

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Reference Notes


  1. “Vermont Vital Records, 1760-1954,” Oliver Armstrong, son of Hopestill Armstrong and Lydia, born 26 Apr 1783, Bennington Vermont; digital images of FHL Microfilm 27461, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XFFP-WFF : 6 Dec 2014); citing original town records of Bennington, Vermont, State Capitol Building, Montpelier, Vermont.
  2. John E Goodrich, The State of Vermont, Rolls of the Soldiers in the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783 (Rutland, Vermont: The Tuttle Company, 1904), 10, 26, 634-635; digital images, Google Books (https://archive.org/details/rollsofsoldiersi00verm : accessed 1 Oct 2016).
  3. Blanche S. Grover, Membership application, no. 90955, Daughters of the American Revolution, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Washington, DC.
  4. Ada Brosius Minick, Membership application, no. 170017, Daughters of the American Revolution, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Washington, DC.
  5. Helen Treva Armstrong Bergen, Membership application, no. 440732, Daughters of the American Revolution, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Washington, DC.
  6. Murray Edward Poole, The History of Edward Poole of Weymouth, Mass (1635) and His Descendants (Ithaca, NY: Press of the Ithaca Democrat, 1893), 19, 85; digital images, Archive.org (https://archive.org/stream/cu31924029843673#page/n23 : accessed 30 Sep 2016).
  7. Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth, Massachusetts soldiers and sailors of the Revolutionary War: A compilation from the archives, prepared and published by the Secretary of the Commonwealth in accordance with chapter 100, resolves of 1891, vol. 12 (Boston: Wright & Potter Printing Co., 1904), 552; digital images, Google Books (https://books.google.com/books?id=WfYQAQAAMAAJ : accessed 1 Oct 2016).
  8. The History of Clark County, Ohio: Containing a History of the County; Its Cities, Towns, Etc.; General and Local Statistics; Portraits of Early Settlers and Prominent Men (Chicago: W. H. Beers & Co., 1881), 952; digital images, Google Books (https://books.google.com/books?id=9v8-AQAAMAAJ accessed : 30 Sep 2016).
  9. “Vermont Vital Records, 1760-1954,” Hopestill Armstrong, age 60, died 28 Jan 1806, Bennington; digital images of FHL microfilm 27461, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XFFP-Q6P : 6 Dec 2014); citing original town records of Bennington, Vermont, State Capitol Building, Montpelier, Vermont.
  10. 1810 United States Census, Cauyga County, New York, population schedule, Oliver Armstrong, Francis Wood, Locke Township;  Image: 00026; FHL Film: 0181385; digital images, Archive.org (https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu0031unix#page/n21 : 2016); citing: “Third Census of the United States, 1810,” NARA microfilm publication M252, Roll: 31; Page: 1122, Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC.
  11. “Vermont, Bennington County, Manchester District Estate Files, 1779-1935,” Hopestill Armstrong, 10 Oct 1806; digital images, images 753-760 of 1000, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-27665-34795-96 : accessed 1 Oct 2016); citing Probate Records, Box 3, Abbott, Larnard-Atherton, Elimus, Supreme Court of Vermont, Montpelier.
  12. Bernie and Susan Corcoran, “Revolutionary War Bounty Land In ‘The Military Tract Of Central NY’ For The Area Within Cayuga County, New York,” database, USGenWeb Archives: New York (http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nycayuga/land/mtractdg.html : 1998), entry for John Day, Locke, Lot 7, Summerhill.
  13. “New York Land Records, 1630-1975,” Grantor: Calvin and Nathaniel Filmore, Grantee: Hopestill Armstrong, Book E, Feb 1803, p. 335; digital images, images 443-445 of 543, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9WK-8DN5 : 22 May 2014); citing Cayuga County Deeds, 1802-1804 vol D-E, Cayuga County Courthouse, New York.
  14. “New York Land Records, 1630-1975,” Grantor: Oliver Armstrong, Grantee: Francis Wood, 12 Nov 1811, 101 acres in lot 7 of town 18 in Locke Township, Cayuga County, Book M, p. 30-31; digital images, image 370 of 664, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-89WK-ZPLK : 22 May 2014); citing: Cayuga County Deeds 1811-1812 vol L-M, Cayuga County Courthouse, New York.
  15. Patrick M. Tucker and David M. Stothers, “The Amos Spafford Farm and the War of 1812 in Ohio: A Case of Historic Memory Loss,” Northwest Ohio History 78 (Fall 2010), 18-47; online archives, Ohio War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission (http://www.warof1812.ohio.gov/_assets/docs/spafffordfarmandthewarof1812.pdf : accessed 1 Oct 2016).
  16. Charles Elihu Slocum, History of the Maumee River Basin: from the Earliest Account to its Organization into Counties (Defiance, Ohio: the author, 1905), 516-517; digital images, Archive.org (https://archive.org/details/historyofmaumee00sloc : accessed 28 Sep 2016).
  17. William Mahlon Rockel, 20th Century History of Springfield, and Clark County, Ohio, and Representative Citizens (Chicago: Biographical publishing Company, 1908), 373; Google Books (https://books.google.com/books?id=XNoyAQAAMAAJ : accessed 30 Sep 2016).
  18. Ancestry, Inc., Find A Grave, digital image (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 2 Oct 2016), photograph, “gravestone for Anna Armstrong (1785-1814), wife of Oliver Armstrong (1783-1836), Memorial No. 35795607, Records of Greenmount Cemetery, Springfield, Clark County, Ohio,” photograph © Carol Crawford.
  19. 1820 United States Census, Clark County, Ohio, population schedule, Oliver Armstrong, Springfield; digital images, Archive.org (https://archive.org/stream/populationsc18200088unit#page/n21 :accessed 30 Sep 2016); citing: “Fourth Census of the United States, 1820,” NARA microfilm publication M33, Roll: 88, Page: 10, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29.National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC.
  20. 1830 United States Census, Clark County, Ohio, population schedule, Oliver Armstrong, Springfield; digital images, Archive.org (https://archive.org/stream/populationsc18300128unit#page/n245 :accessed 30 Sep 2016); citing: “Fifth Census of the United States, 1830,” NARA microfilm publication M19, Roll: 128, Page: 121, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC.
  21. First Presbyterian Church, Springfield, Ohio, The Octogenial Book : being the report of the celebration of the eightieth anniversary of the organization of the First Presbyterian Church, Springfield, O. (Springfield, Ohio: Young People’s Association, 1900), 75, 94; digital images, Archive.org (https://archive.org/details/octogenialbookbe00spri : accessed 30 Sep 2016).
  22. Orton G Rust, ed., Yesteryear in Clark County, Ohio, vol. II, Springfield, Ohio: Clark County Historical Society, 1948, 5-6.
  23. Ancestry, Inc., Find A Grave, digital image (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 2 Oct 2016), photograph, “gravestone for Oliver Armstrong (1783-1836) and wife Anna Armstrong (1785-1814), Memorial No. 35796817, Records of Greenmount Cemetery, Springfield, Clark County, Ohio,” photograph © Carol Crawford.
  24. Gen. Oliver Armstrong obituary, The Springfield Pioneer, Ohio, 23 Sep 1836.

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