The Brothers and Sisters of Colonel John Armstrong


The Brothers and Sisters of
Colonel John Armstrong 1717 - 1795
and of his Wife Rebecca 1717 - 1797
of Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
By Raymond Martin Bell
Washington, Pennsylvania
1990



James Armstrong 1695 - 1745	Brookeborough	County Fermanagh, Ireland	
Children:  Margaret m John Lyon	
	Sons:	William, James, Samuel	Edward m ____ Maguire
	JOHN m Rebecca Armstrong Lyon	Daughter m ____ Grayson
	Ann m William Graham	James m Elizabeth & Jane
	George m Martha	William m Rebecca	Andrew m ___
	? daughter m Thomas McCord	? daughter m James 
        Turner
Archibald Armstrong c 1696 - 1775
	County Fermanagh, Ireland to New Castle Co., Delaware 1740	
Children:
	REBECCA m(1) Lyon, m(2) John Armstrong	John m Mary Springer
	Edward, single - killed at Fort Granville
	William m Ann	Margaret m George Duffield
John and Rebecca were both born Armstrong, and were likely cousins - common in 
early Ulster-Scot families.
Places of Residence: Carlisle, Cumberland Co:  John Armstrong, William Lyon, Samuel Lyon
Milford Twp., Juniata Co:  James Armstrong, John Lyon, William GrahamDerry Twp., 
Mifflin Co:  William Armstrong, James Lyon, Thomas McCordThe problem is the large 
number of Armstrongs in early Cumberland County.  Some were cousins, for example, 
Captain Joseph Armstrong, who lived near Chambersburg, called cousin by Colonel 
John’s son, John Jr.  In 1768 in Cumberland County there were 5 Williams, 4 
Jameses, 3 Johns, 2 Thomases, 2 Georges, as well as Alexander, Andrew, Joseph 
and Robert -all heads of families on the Tax List.There were Armstrong land 
grants in all parts of Cumberland andadjoining counties.  Colonel John 
had 1015 acres in (now) Mifflin County, a lot in Carlisle and 13 other grants, 
also land in Armstrong County. Land speculation was common around 1770.
Another discovery made many years ago by the writer was the record in the 
HISTORY OF THE SUSQUEHANNA AND JUNIATA VALLEYS (HSJV) (1886) of a deed showing 
that Lt Edward Armstrong, killed at Fort Granville in 1756, was brother-in-law, 
not brother, of Col John. Rebecca, the wife of Col John, was a daughter of 
Archibald Armstrong of New Castle County, Delaware – not of William Lyon 
of Enniskillen, Ireland, as her gravestone says.This was confirmed by 
William A. Hunter, who found the will of Archibald, probated in 1775 (K 228) 
in New Castle County. Archibald had migrated from Aghalurgher Parish, near 
Brookeborough County, Fermanagh, Ireland in 1740.Col John was born at 
Brookeborough in 1717. Archibald’s will names places in Ireland. Colonel John’s 
father died in 1745. The next year John came to America, probably landing 
at New Castle. In 1747 he married Rebecca, daughter of Archibald, likely 
Widow of ?William Lyon. Son James was born in 1748. Her tombstone was 
probably erected sometime after her death by her son or grandson. As 
mentioned above, the writer is trying to determine why Captain William Armstrong 
of Mifflin County (brother of Col John) in his 1784 will called James McCord his 
nephew. A Thomas McCord (likely father of James) and James Armstrong had 
jointly warranted land in Mifflin County in 1755, near where Captain William 
later lived. This will be discussed later.The best account of the Armstrongs 
in Ireland and Scotland, their original home, is given by James Lewis Armstrong 
in CHRONICLES OF THE ARMSTRONGS (1902).  He was descended from Edward Armstrong, 
older brother of Col John. Edward died in Ireland about 1744. He was not the 
one killed in Fort Granville, as reportedby JLA.In this monograph it 
will be “Colonel John”, although later he had the title of “General”, 
as did his son John. References to counties are often by present names. Colonel 
John Armstrong Colonel John Armstrong, the “hero of Kittanning”, is well known. 
An excellent biography (up to 1775) has been written by Robert Grant Crist in 
JOHN ARMSTRONG, PROPRIETORS MAN (1981, Thesis, Pennsylvania State University). 
Numerous short articles have been written about this 18th century man.
The map on page 2, made by Col John about 1757, shows places associated with 
the family. As a surveyor he was well-acquainted with this territory. Note: 
Carlisle, where he lived: Patterson’s near which lived his brother James, 
whose wife was captured by the Indians - his brother-in-law William Graham, 
whose son was killed by the Indians - his brother-in-law John Lyon: Fort 
Granville, where his brother-in-law Edward Armstrong was killed, and near which 
lived his brother William, and Thomas McCord.According to his gravestone at 
Carlisle John Armstrong, son of James, wasborn in Brookeborough (Parish of 
Aghavea), County Fermanagh, Ireland on October 13, 1717. He died March 9, 1795. 
He left for America about 1746, probably landing at New Castle, Delaware, 
where he likely married about 1747 Rebecca Armstrong Lyon (1719-1797), 28 
year old widow, a native of an adjoining parish in County Fermanagh. 
Soon after, John moved to the Marsh Creek settlement in now Adams County, 
earlier York. When York County was formed in 1749, 32 year old John became a 
Pennsylvania assemblyman. He had already become a man of considerable 
importance. In 1750 he moved to the newly-formed Cumberland County, where 
he was assemblyman 1752, 1753. He had likely learned surveying in Ireland - a 
talent much needed in expanding Pennsylvania. On February 18, 1772 he reported:
About the time of settling Carlisle, (he), then living on a farm in York County, 
was fixed up by Mr. Peters as the most proper person to man the proprietors’ 
affairs in and about Carlisle. PA Archives III, 1, 336.Armstrong was reluctant 
to make the move, but he did and on October 8, 1750 was named deputy surveyor.
More is given about his settlement at Carlisle by Richard Peters. PA Archives 
III, 1, 146. 
As surveyor, John Armstrong knew where the best land was and, when the land 
north of Carlisle became available (through Indian purchase), the Armstrongs 
of Delaware and Carlisle took out a number of warrants. The land office opened 
February 3, 1755. In 1759 Colonel John was granted a tract of 1015 acres 
in Kishacoquillas Valley, near Belleville, Mifflin County, for his work 
as surveyor.  His son, James, lived an the land from 1787 to 1795. While 
here he was elected to the U. S. Congress,  serving 1793 to 1795. He 
returned to Carlisle after his father's death in 1795?- Colonel John in his 
will, written February 1795, proved July 25, 1797, named his wife and two 
sons, brother Andrew in Ireland and Rebecca Turner (likely his sister) in 
Chester County, Pennsylvania.  All other brothers and sisters were likely dead. 
Children and grandchildren of John and Rebecca Armstrong:
   1.	James b Aug 29-1748 d May 6-1828 Carlisle m Jun 18-1789 Mary (daughter 
of George) Stevenson b 1766 d May 27-1813
      a.  John 1790 - 1794
      b.  Hannah b c 1792
      c.  Rebecca b c 1794 d young
      d.  Rebecca b c 1796
      e.  John Wilkins 1798-1870 physician m Mary Shell 1813-1855
      f.  Mary Ann 1798-1879
      g.  Alfred 1801-1884 teacher ml 1829 Mary Ranking m2 1838 Ann Carothers,  
m3 1863 Mary Hamill
      h.  Catharine b c l803
      i.  George Stevenson b c l806 d young
   2.	John b Nov 28-1758 d Apr 1-1843 Red Hook, N Y m Jan 19-1789 Alida 
(daughter of Robert R) Livingston 1761-1822
      a.  Horatio Robert Gates 1790-1859 m Mary Hughes 1792-1866
      b.  Henry Beekman 1791-1823 m Mary Drayton
      c.  John 1794-1852 g single
      d.  Robert Livingston 1797-1834, single
      e.  Margaret Rebecca 1799-1872 m 1818 William B Astor 1792-1875
      f.  James Kosciuszko 1801-1868. single
      g.  Edward 1802-1802 
Dr James Armstrong, son of Col John
The sons of Colonel John are well-known. They and their father were members of 
Congress. Biographical Directory of U S Congress, 1989, page 546. John 
Sr 1779-80, John Jr 1787-88, James 1793-95. Extensive biographies 
have been written about John the father, and John, Jr the brother of Dr 
James. Accounts of the life of Dr James are more limited. James Thacher: 
American Medical Biography
Alfred Nevin: Men of Mark of Cumberland 
Valley 1876 p 103James E Pilcher: John Armstrong of Kittanning and His Sons
Old Northwest Genealogical Quarterly 11 159 1908
From these sources and the Archives of the University of 
Pennsylvania, the following material has been gathered.
James was born August 29, 1748, likely in what is now Adams County. In 1749 
his father was well-enough known to be named to the state assembly, then 
colony. In 1750 the family moved from then York County to Carlisle. Here 
James was married and here he died at the age of 80.
Each year Dr James made a trip to Armstrong County (PA) to check the land 
holdings he and his brother had inherited from their father.
Toward the end of James' life financial problems caused this land to be 
sold. He was active in the Presbyterian Church as was his father before him. 
(He should not be confused with the James Armstrong of Georgia, who got one 
electoral vote in the presidential election of 1789.)
General John Armstrong Jr. son of Col John
	John Armstrong, Jr died at Red Hook, New York. He was born the day 
his father raised the flag at the fort at Pittsburgh. He married into the New York 
Livingstons. His brother-in-law, Robert R Livingston, gave the oath of 
office to George Washington April 30-1789, John Jr, daughter Margaret, 
married William B Astor, who in 1848 was the richest-man in America.
John Jr attended Princeton. Was active in the Revolution, U S Senator, 
Minister to France, General in the War of 1812, Secretary of War in Madison's 
cabinet.  See JOHN ARMSTRONG# JR 1758-1843 by Carl Edward Skeen, Syracuse, 
New York 1981.  It is an excellent book.
The brothers and sisters of Col John
The brothers and sisters of Col John
Edward, died in Ireland about 1744 - Chronicles of the Armstrongs   
by James L Armstrong       1902
James, died in Milford-Twp, Juniata Co about 1774
Deed of William Armstrong Oct 5, 1784, "James deceased brother of William”
George, in Bedford 17696 died before 1785, Letter of John Armstrong Jul 
20, 1758, “My brother George”Deed of John Armstrong   “My late brother George” 
- Jan 17, 1785
William, died in Derry Twp, Mifflin Co 1785 Letter of John Armstrong Nov 2, 
1755, “My brother William” Andrew, died in Ireland about 1800 - will of 
John Armstrong 1795
Margaret, married John Lyon, Milford Twp - HSJV 760----, married Lt Graydon, 
died in Ireland
Letter of Ann Buchanan 1809 - Crist 233 
Ann, married William Graham, Milford 
Twp - Crist 233? ---- . married Thomas McCord, Derry Twp
Will of William Armstrong 1784. naming nephew, James McCord?
Rebecca married Nov 1-1759 James Turner, Chester Co
Will of John Armstrong 1795 --(she in not called sister or daughter)
James Gillespie Blaine was a great great grandson of John and Margaret Lyon, 
above. William Lyon 1729-1809, son of John, come to America with his uncle, 
John Armstrong. He lived in Carlisle and was active in Cumberland 
County affairs. He assistedhis uncle in surveying; he got land warrants on 
April 10-1755 the same day as James Armstrong and Thomas McCord, and on 
September 8, 1755 the same day as Edward Armstrong, brother of Col John's 
wife. He served under Col John as a lieutenant in 1758, having been an 
ensign in 1756, PA v 1. An interesting document connecting three Armstrong 
brothers is on file in York County, Pa Deed Book 2C 223. It was written 
shortly after the death of William Armstrong, a fourth brother, who had 
no heirs. On January 17, 1785 John Armstrong of Carlisle, the surviving 
brother, gave a quitclaim to land in Huntingdon Township, now Adams County, 
warranted June 3, 1762 by his deceased brother, George Armstrong. The 
land was to be for the use of Alexander Brown of then York County in 
trust for the heirs of James Armstrong. Could it be that George had no heirs? 
This quitclaim would give it all to James' heirs. Did James ever live in York 
County? More research is needed. A James Armstrong was ensign in York County 
1758.
The brothers-and sister of Rebecca, wife of Col John
The brothers and sister are named in two places:
   (1)	In a deed recorded in Mifflin County in 1797t dated May 23-1775, five 
days after the proving of the will of Archibald Armstrong, are named the 
heirs of Edward Armstrong, who died without issue:
John of Christiana Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware:  
William of White Clay Hundred, New Castle County: Margaret, wife of Rev 
George Duffield of Philadelphia; Rebecca, wife of Col John Armstrong of 
Cumberland County.
   (2)	The will of Archibald Armstrong, proved May 18, 1775 (K 228 New Castle 
County), written in 1767, lists wife Ann: sons William and John; daughters 
Rebecca, wife of Colonel John Armstrong and Margaret wife of Rev George 
Duffield. Since John Armstrong has been claimed to have married Rebecca Lyon, 
it appears that John married widows Rebecca Armstrong Lyon then page 12 
(I am missing page 11)28.  The marriage was likely in Delaware, but it might 
have been done in Ireland. Rebecca’s tombstone at Carlisle incorrectly 
reads: Rebecca, daughter of William Lyon of Enniskillen.A write-up of 
Rebecca is given in Egle, 
NOTES AND QUERIES 1896 126.1769 Cumberland County tax lists
Carlisle     John Armstrong, 2 lots, 2 horses 3 cows, 2 negroes
	     William Lyon, 2 lots, 1 h, 1 c, 1 negro             
             Samuel Lyon, single, 1 hMilford Township
             James Armstrong, 100 acres, 7 cleared, 1 h, 1 c
Juniata County
             John Lyon, 200 a. 10 cl, 1 h, 1 c             
             William Graham, 100 a. 7 cl, 2 h, 2 c
Derry Township
     	     William Armstrong. 200 a. 5 cl, 1 h, 1 c, 1 servant
Mifflin County	
	     James Lyon, 200 a. 8 cl, 1 h, 1 c, 1 servant
Bedford	
             George Armstrong, land, 3 h, 2 c, 1 servant
             Colonel George Armstrong, brother of Col John
Little is known about George. He was a captain in 1756, a major in 1758, a 
colonel in 1759. As early as 1755 he was surveying. In May and June 1756 he 
was stationed at Fort Patterson, Juniata County, near where his brother, 
James, lived. In June 1756 (Col Rec 7 161) he was ordered to built Fort 
Pomfret in Juniata County. This was not done, so he was assigned to Shippensburg,  
In May 1757 he was sent to Frederick, Maryland (Col Rec 7 535) to consult 
with the Cherokee Indians. In July 1758 he was ordered to lay out a road 
from Bedford to Fort Duquesne.He lived at Carlisle until 1767 when he moved 
to Bedford. He had widespread land interests. He warranted and bought land 
in York, Mifflin, Juniata, Cumberland and Bedford Counties. Having financial 
difficulties in 1767, he mortgaged 41 properties. The sheriff sold some 
of them. As noted above, Col John in 1785 said that George was dead. He 
had a wife, Martha. It is not known if he had children. (He should not 
be confused with the George Armstrong, who was taxed 1753-1782 in Allen 
Township, Cumberland County.)
Captain William Armstrong of Derry, brother of Col John
William is better known. He was taxed at Carlisle in 1751. He became a 
lieutenant in 1756, a captain in 1757. By 1766 he had moved to Derry Township, 
now Granville Township, Mifflin County. His farm was near the site of Fort 
Granville. William helped Col John survey, as did brother George, and 
nephews William and Samuel Lyon. The name of William Armstrong appears on 
land records of (now) Juniata County.
When Presbyterianism moved into what is now Mifflin County, one of three 
preaching appointments was "near Captain William Armstrong's". (Dept of 
History, Presbyterian Church, Phila). Supply preachers were sent to William 
Armstrong's 1773-81.  Then the preaching point became known as "Derry on 
Juniata". In 1781 William witnessed the deed for a church to be built on 
land adjoining his farm. The deed was not recorded until 1822. This was 
the beginning of the Lewistown Presbyterian Church.
The land William was living on had been sold to him by his brother, Col 
John, on March 25, 1776, William Lyon was a witness. The land had been 
warranted by Col. John April 30-1763.
In a study of the McCord family of Mifflin County, two items link it 
with the Armstrongs:
   (1)	Capt William Armstrong in his will written October 4, 1784 
(Cumberland Co Will Bk 2 29) gave his nephews James McCord, half of the 
farm (James sold it in 1793).  William's wife, Rebecca, got the other half.
   (2)	Thomas McCord and James Armstrong, jointly, on April 10, 1755 
(the same day that William Lyon got land) warranted land across the river 
from where William Armstrong later lived, now Granville Township, 
Mifflin County, Thomas McCord sold his interest to William Armstrong 
in 1763.  In 1765-66 Daniel Jones challenged the McCord-Armstrong grant.  
See below.  Later Daniel's son William married Jane, daughter of Thomas McCord. 
Who were these persons?  From the Derry Township tax lists it appears that 
James McCord was a son of Thomas: 
Thomas McCord (Sr) taxed 1776-82 - likely died 1782 
James McCord, single freeman, taxed 1779+, with land 1783+ 
Thomas  McCord (Jr) g single freeman 1787
James McCord served In the Revolution.  When he died in 1835  his will named 
(great) nephew, Thomas McCord.  The McCords and William’s nephew, James Lyon, 
lived near Capt William Armstrong. page 14Passed down through the McCord family 
is this certificate: That Thomas McCoard his wife and family lived a 
considerable time in the bounds of this congregation and behaved in a sober 
and Christian manner, free from scandal and church censures known to me 
is certified at Donegal (Ireland) November 1, 1772
Joseph Tater VDM
This was copied by the writer in 1922 at the home of James McCord at 
Bloomington, Illinois.  He was a greatgrandson of the above Thomas McCord.  
Donegal is about 40 miles northwest of Brooke borough.
The witnesses to the will of William Armstrong, probated March 15-1785, 
were James Lyon (nephew), Thomas Martin, Edward Purcell.  The executors 
were Thomas Martin and William Smith.  The day after the will was written, 
William Armstrong deeded to John Brown the land which Thomas McCord and 
James Armstrong had warranted in 1755.  (lG 397) Thomas McCord had sold 
his interest to William in January 1763 at Wilmington, Delaware.  
Witnesses to the deed were Robert (son of Thomas) Martin, Edward Purcell, 
Robert Smith.  The deed was recorded the day after the will was probated.  
The deed by William said his brother James was deceased.  Thomas McCord was 
likely dead, too.  Was the bequest to James to compensate for the fact that 
Thomas McCord had no land at his death?
Where was Thomas McCord living in 1755?  
Is he the same Thomas, who was in Delaware in 1763? 
in Ireland in 1772? in Derry Township in 1776?  
The complete story will likely never be known.
Some of the events in the life of Captain William Armstrong:
	1751		Taxed Middleton Twp, Cumberland Co
	1753		Taxed Carlisle	1755 Nov 2	Reported 
to brother John that settlers were fleeing		
	Tuscarora and Juniata - 			
	Pa Arch I 2 458	1756 May 16	Named lieutenant
	1757 Dec 24	Named captain	1758 fall	On 
Forbes expedition	1759 Jan 17	Stationed at Carlisle
	1763		Taxed for land in Lack (now Milford) 
Twp, Juniata Co	1767	Taxed in Fermanagh Twp - became Derry in 
1768	1768+		Taxed as "Capt" in Derry (now Granville) 
Twp	1773 Apr	Request for Presbyterian preaching near 
Capt William's1776 Mar 25	John and Rebecca Armstrong of 
Middleton Twp sell land to William, "where William now lives" - 
1E 4061781 May 24	Witness with James Lyon for deed for 
church  
        1784		"Farmer", Will written Oct 4, deed Oct 
5 1785		        Will probated Mar 15, William buried in 
old Presbyterian cemetery at church(Another William Armstrong 
was a major on the 1764 Bouquet campaign - likely the one 
captured at Ft Washington, New York on November 16, 1776.)

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