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Benjamin F. Armstrong. A man of high scholarship, Mr. Armstrong was for many years an able and popular representative of the pedagogic profession, and his initial service after coming to Indian Territory, in 1894, was as a teacher in the school at Valley View, Washington County, His gracious and popular wife is proud to claim a strain of Delaware Indian blood, and through her lineage became eligible for and received an allotment of land in Indian Territory, the same having proved specially valuable through the development of an oil well on the property, and the substantial financial status of Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong being largely based on the wonderful returns from this source. They own and occupy a most modern and attractive residence, eligibly situated on a tract of five acres adjacent to the city limits of Bartlesville on the south, and this fine residence, recently completed, is one of the most beautiful in Washington County, even as it is one of the most hospitable, with Mrs. Armstrong as its popular ch√Ętelaine. Mr. Armstrong was doubly orphaned when a mere child and became dependent upon his own resources before he had attained to the age of fifteen years. Ambition and high aspirations had their way, however, and that he has made good use of opportunities is shown by his high intellectual attainments and his mature judgment in practical affairs.
Benjamin Franklin Armstrong was born in Lee County, Arkansas, on the 26th of October, 1868, and is a son of James and Nancy (Davis) Armstrong, the former of whom was born in Ohio and the latter in Mississippi. Mr. Armstrong was but eighteen months old at the time of his mother’s death, and when he had attained to the age of four years his father likewise passed to the life eternal. Thereafter he was reared to the age of fourteen years in the home of a widow, Mrs. Wood, and in the meanwhile he acquired his rudimentary education in the public schools of his native state. At the age of fourteen years he went to Pea Ridge, Benton County, Arkansas, where he worked at various occupations, turning his attention to any employment that was within his powers and that he could obtain. He was fortunate on forming the acquaintance of Professor Robertson who was then teaching in an academy and who became a loyal and helpful friend to the aspiring youth. Mr. Armstrong remained with Professor Robertson seven years and in the meantime was able to advance his education into higher academic branches. He became specially proficient in mathematics and languages. For six months he was a student in Kane Hill College, Washington County, Arkansas, and Major Earl, who had been in charge of the institution for a quarter of a century, gave to Mr. Armstrong the credit of being the best mathematician of all students who had attended the college.
For six years Mr. Armstrong devoted his attention to teaching in his native state, principally in Benton and Johnson counties. In the latter county he was for two years a teacher in a fine German colony, in which he gave instruction in both German and English, as well as mathematics.
In 1894 Mr. Armstrong left his home state and removed into Indian Territory, where he devoted one year to teaching in the Valley View School, near Afton, in what is now Craig County. There he met and married the wife who has proved his devoted companion and helpmeet. Thereafter he was engaged in farming on Grand River for one year prior to Mrs. Armstrong’s reception of her allotment of land. At Bartlesville this allotment of 260 acres was made, and Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong still retain the ownership of this property, which is leased for oil development and operation and which is all cleared and eligible for cultivation, much of the tract being at the present time devoted to agriculture. The oil development on the land has brought substantial wealth to Mr. Armstrong and his wife, and on the tract there are eighteen oil wells in operation in 1915. Mr. Armstrong has himself done a certain amount of development work, in the leasing of land and the drilling of oil wells. He formerly had in operation three drilling outfits, and he derived due profits from his enterprise in this field of industry. He is a liberal and progressive citizen, taking a loyal interest in community affairs and having well fortified opinions concerning governmental and political policies, his support being given to the principles of the democratic party. He is affiliated with the Masonic fraternity.
The marriage of Mr. Armstrong to Miss Flora D. Lunday occurred on the 23d of March, 1895. Mrs. Armstrong was born in the Cherokee Nation of Indian Territory, on the 11th of August, 1878, and she was educated in Willie Hansel College, at Vinita, Oklahoma. She is a daughter of Robert J. and Louisa (Ketchum) Lunday, the former of whom was born at Atlanta, Georgia, and the latter at Leavenworth, Kansas. The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Lunday was solemnized in Kansas City, Missouri, which was then a mere village, and Mr. Lunday was at the time the owner of one of the largest of the few mercantile establishments of the embryonic city. He was of pure Caucasian lineage and his wife was one-fourth Delaware Indian blood. Mr. Lunday was formally adopted into the Delaware Tribe after his marriage, with the understanding that he would receive an allotment of land under the same conditions as would a full-blood Indian. He and his wife each received an allotment of 160 acres about ten miles west of the present City of Vinita, the judicial center of Craig County, Oklahoma, and they accompanied other representatives of the Delaware Tribe at the time of its removal to Indian Territory. Mr. Lunday originally had in his possession fully 1,500 acres of land, but when Oklahoma was admitted to statehood his allotment was made according to the system adopted by the Government for a just distribution of the land among the various tribes. Mr. and Mrs. Lunday continued to reside on their old homestead during the residue of their lives, she having passed away March 23, 1894, and his death having occurred July 14, 1907. They became the parents of three sons and six daughters, and the death of the mother was the first break in the immediate family circle. All of the children are living except the eldest daughter. Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong have two sons: Carral McT., who was born November 22, 1898, and William L., who was born May 30, 1902.
The beautiful home of Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong was completed in 1914, and is situated on an extension of Delaware Avenue just outside of the corporate limits of the City of Bartlesville. They made a special visit to Kansas City, Missouri, to consult able architects and contractors before beginning the erection of their new residence, and by following advice and suggestion given at the time, Mr. Armstrong was able to build a commodious and attractive dwelling that has the best of modern improvements and accessories and that is of specially effective architectural design. At this pleasant suburban home Mrs. Armstrong finds pleasure in giving personal attention to her fine Jersey cows and to the raising of White Leghorn poultry. Two of her Jersey cows have captured blue ribbons at county fairs. The utilitarian element is not so clearly represented in the prized “live stock” of Mr. Armstrong, for he keeps a good pack of hounds, the same being brought into service in connection with the hunting excursions which he grants himself at frequent intervals.