Joseph Armstrong

b. 20 July 1711, d. January 1761
Joseph Armstrong|b. 20 Jul 1711\nd. Jan 1761|p1882.htm|Joseph Armstrong||p1892.htm|Susanna (—?—) (Armstrong)||p1893.htm|||||||||||||

3rd great-grandfather of Louise Underwood.
5th great-grandfather of Laura Jane Munson.
Family Background:
Underwood and Allied Families
Appears on charts:
Pedigree for Louise Underwood
     Joseph Armstrong was baptized on 20 July 1711 in Parish of Templemore, diocese of Derry, Londonderry, Northern Ireland.1 He was the son of Joseph Armstrong and Susanna (—?—) (Armstrong).1 His wife's name was Jennet.2 He died in January 1761 at his home in Hamilton township, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.2 His will was proved on 25 January 1761 in Cumberland County.3
     The information regarding Joseph's baptism and parentage is not considered by the writer to be reliable. The baptismal date is consistent with all sources that give that information, and 1711 is often reported as the year of his birth. However, most sources give the location as Fivemiletown in Fermanagh. As far as the writer can tell, Fivemiletown is not in Fermanagh, but in County Tyrone. At least one source says he was baptized at St. Colomb's Cathedral in Fermanagh, but St. Colomb's is in Londonderry. Some sources say his parents were John and Susanna, but the only Joseph Armstrong found who was baptized on the 1711 date, was the son of Joseph and Susanna, and the location was that given above (parish of Templemore). Whether St. Colomb's is in the parish of Templemore has not been determined by the writer, so those two bits of information may not conflict.

     Joseph left Northern Ireland about 1731. He was probably a single young man, though at least one source says he married and had a son (John) before he emigrated. If so, and providing he was the Joseph who was baptized on the above date, he was probably at least several years old when he was baptized. Otherwise, he married at an unusually young age.

     Joseph settled on Armstrong Run (obviously so named after he settled there) in the Cumberland Valley of Pennsylvania in what was then Lancaster County, subsequently Cumberland, and now Franklin County. He was one of the first to settle in that area, and he accumulated more than a thousand acres of Cumberland County land before his death in 1760. He also owned land in Orange County, North Carolina, but how much or how it was acquired has not been determined by the writer.

     Joseph, like most or all of his neighbors, was a Scots-Irish Presbyterian. Beginning in the early 1700s, the Scots-Irish, or more properly, Ulster Scots, began to immigrate to America in great numbers. High taxes and religious persecution were among the reasons the emigrants left Northern Ireland, but the timing was most likely precipitated by the termination of their 100 year leases of the Ulster plantations. The Ulster Scots are said to have been the first immigrants who got off the boats and never looked back. In other words, they were the first who felt no allegiance to their mother country. Most pushed west almost immediately, settling on the very outskirts of civilization where they were most often responsible for their own defense. This is a contributing factor to why so many Ulster Scots rose to prominence in the French and Indian War and the American Revolution.

     The French and Indian War (also known as the "Seven Years War") was a wide-spread conflict in which the British were pitted against the French, the Austrians and the Spanish. Hostilities began in the Americas when George Washington was forced to surrender Fort Necessity in the Ohio Valley in 1754. The following year, British general Edward Braddock attempted to attack the French held Fort Duquesne (later Fort Pitt, now Pittsburgh). British troops were ambushed by the French and the Indians, and Braddock was mortally wounded. (The French had found allies in the Lenni-Lenape Indians, called Delaware Indians by the British, by playing on their fear that the British would drive them from their lands. Thus the French were able to use the Lenapes as a devastating tool against the British.) Despite all the military activity, war between the French and British was not declared until 1756. It ended in February 1763 with the signing of the Treaty of Paris that ceded all French territory east of the Mississippi to the British.

     The first "Petition of Defence from Cumberland" to Governor Morris was made on 7 August 1755 following Braddock's defeat. "The Humble Petition of a Number of the Inhabitants of Cumberland County, Heartily join'd as a Company Under the Care & Command of Joseph Armstrong, Esq." states, in part,
That Your Petitioners are at present in A most Dangerous Situation, as we live upon the frontiers, Expos'd to the Inhuman Cruelty of Barbarous Savages, and Nothing to Impede them or Defend us, but the Sovereign Benignity of Almighty God, for we are in A Defenceless Condition having Neither arms nor Ammunition, and in this Lamentable Case Our Only Door of Hope (next to the Divine Goodness) is Your Honour's Compassion" etc.
Among those who signed the petition were Captain Joseph Armstrong's two oldest sons, John and Thomas.4 Other than the two sons just mentioned, the membership of Captain Armstrong's company was made up of his neighbors in the present townships of Letterkenny, Hamilton and St. Thomas, in Franklin County, and was composed of nearly all the men capable of bearing arms in his neighborhood.5

     After Fort Granville fell in 1756, and English prisoners were marched to the Lenape Indian village of Kittanning (in present day Armstrong County, Pennsylvania), the governor and council at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, dispatched Colonel John Armstrong, cousin of Captain Joseph Armstrong, and 307 men from Fort Shirley, to Kittanning. Among them were Captain Joseph and his three oldest sons, John, Thomas and Joseph who was just seventeen.6 After a five day march, the men arrived at the village about dawn on 8 September. What followed was complete destruction of Kittanning, and the death of the Indian leader, Captain Jacobs. The attack severed the French and Indian alliance, and the Lenapes moved from the region. For a while, at least, the raids mostly stopped and the Cumberland Valley was secured.

     Captain Joseph Armstrong continued his service in the Provincial forces until 1758. Of his five sons, four distinguished themselves as officers in the American Revolution. The land he occupied in what is today Franklin County, and was then in Hamilton township, Cumberland County, is, according to one source, now in St. Thomas township and is designated a historical landmark.

Additional Data
Located in southeastern Pennsylvania, Lancaster County was created in 1729 from Chester County.

Joseph Armstrong immigrated to America circa 1731 and settled in the Cumberland Valley in what was then Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.2 The earliest date which shows positive possession of land is 1737.7

A draught in the name of Joseph Armstrong was dated August 1738. The warrant called for 283 acres and was located between the lands of William Rankin and Robert Elliott.7 This land was willed to son Thomas.3

Cumberland was formed from Lancaster County in 1750.

Joseph Armstrong was was a member of the Colonial Assembly in 1750-51, 53-55,8,6 and 1756-58.2

Hamilton township was formed in 1752.

Three warrants were issued in 1752. One for 275 acres on Armstrong Run became Thomas Armstrong land and was the site of the Armstrong Fort. The other warrants were for 226 acres and 267 acres, and were probably the lands willed to son Joseph.7

Joseph Armstrong appeared on the tax list in Hamilton township, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, in 1752.9

Joseph Armstrong was a captain in the Provincial forces, serving almost continuously from 1755 to 1758.5,2

Joseph Armstrong was was paymaster of the Colony in the building of the great road from Fort Loudon to Fort Pitt, now Pittsburgh circa 1755.

Joseph Armstrong made his will on 3 September 1760 in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. He bequeathed to Jennet, "my dear and well beloved wife, one equal third of all my movables or personal estate with other dowrie" &c; "beloved and eldest son John my plantation in Orange County, N.C." &c; "beloved son Thomas Armstrong, the tract of land lying between Robert Elliott's and Wm. Rankins in Hamilton Twp."; "My beloved son Joseph Armstrong the plantation whereon I dwell"; "Beloved sons" Joseph Armstrong and James Armstrong, land purchased from Chapman; "Beloved son William Armstrong," land purchased from James Veley; "to my beloved dau. Katherine Armstrong, otherwise Courey, 20 lbs. over and above what she has received"; "Beloved dau. Margret Armstrong, who is unmarried, if she contracts marriage with consent of executors, she is to receive 50 lb."; executors, sons John Armstrong, Thomas Armstrong and Joseph Armstrong; witnesses, Robert Elliott, John Stuart, Nath. Wilson.3,10 Click to view image

Franklin was formed from Cumberland County in 1784.

Children of Joseph Armstrong and Jennet (—?—) (Armstrong)


  1. [S307] Dr. James Lewis Armstrong, ed., Chronicles of the Armstrongs (New York: The Marion Press, 1902), 351.
  2. [S307] Dr. James Lewis Armstrong, Chronicles of the Armstrongs, 378.
  3. [S312] Joseph Armstrong will (1760), Cumberland County Will Book A: 79, County Clerk's Office, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
  4. [S316] I. Daniel Rupp and Gilbert Hills, The History and Topography of Dauphin, Cumberland, Franklin, Bedford, Adams and Perry Counties (Lancaster:, 1846), 146, 147.
  5. [S311] George Overcash Seilhamer, "From Braddock to Bouquet", The Kittochtinny Magazine 1 (October 1905): 384, 385.
  6. [S317] Harry E. Foreman, North Mountain Shadows and Loudon Road History (Chambersburg, Pennsylvania:, 1952), 7.
  7. [S317] Harry E. Foreman, North Mountain Shadows and Loudon Road History, 6.
  8. [S318] Virginia Shannon Fendrick, comp., American Revolutionary Soldiers of Franklin County Pennsylvania (Chambersburg, Pennsylvania: Historical Works Committee of the Franklin County Chapter DAR, 1944), 19.
  9. [S316] I. Daniel Rupp and Gilbert Hills, The History and Topography of Dauphin, Cumberland, Franklin, Bedford, Adams and Perry Counties, 460.
  10. [S318] Virginia Shannon Fendrick, American Revolutionary Soldiers of Franklin County Pennsylvania, 19, citing Pennsylvania Archives 5th Series, vol. 1, p. 37, 62, 70, 336.