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Oklahoma Family Tree Stories

This beautiful sculpture of three redbud trees is located just outside the Eleanor and John Kirkpatrick Research Center in the Oklahoma History Center. Each leaf of the Oklahoma Family Tree memorializes an Oklahoma family with the family surname, first name(s), and the town or county where they lived. In addition, a short family history is preserved in the digital family history book at the base of the tree. Sponsoring a leaf is a special way to recognize your family history and benefit future generations at the same time. To find out how to honor your own family with a leaf visit the Oklahoma Family Tree Project page.

Armstrong Family

Family Tree Leaf
Armstrong, WRalph Lewis
Boswell, Choctaw County

(Note: This is a very unusual name with the first name containing two capital letters. The "W" is silent when the name is pronounced.)

WRalph Lewis Armstrong was the only child of William Lewis Armstrong and Debora Alice McCann. Born on June 11, 1906, in Boswell, Indian Territory, he was given his father's initials, W. L., but family and friends knew him as "Army." After graduating from Bennington High School with nine classmates in 1925, he attended Oklahoma Agriculture and Mechanical College at Stillwater. He joined the Oklahoma State Highway Department in 1927 and remained there for fifteen years. He belonged to the First Baptist Church in Bennington.

WRalph married Lucy Mae Jenkins in Ada on February 20, 1934. Lucy Mae, born February 9, 1911, in Ivanhoe, Fannin County, Texas, was the oldest daughter of James Isaac Jenkins's and Virgie Mary Duckworth's eleven children. Five of their seven sons and four daughters were born in Bennington between 1920 and 1931. After graduating from Bennington High School in 1930, Lucy Mae Jenkins attended Southeastern State Teachers College in Durant.

WRalph and Lucy Mae moved to Oklahoma City in 1940. In December 1942 WRalph enlisted in the United States Army. Lucy Mae went to work at the Douglas Aircraft Plant—later named Tinker Air Force Base—and remained there until she retired in 1973. WRalph served his country from 1942 to 1945 and received a Good Conduct Medal. Upon his return to civilian life, he resumed his career with the Oklahoma State Highway Department and retired in 1958. In his capacity as a survey crew chief, WRalph supposedly worked and lived in all of Oklahoma's 77 counties. He belonged to American Legion Post 35. WRalph's and Lucy Mae's only daughter, the last of the Armstrong line, was born in February 1951.

WRalph died on June 19, 1970, and was laid to rest at Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens in Oklahoma City. Lucy Mae followed him in death on August 9, 1993, and was buried next to her husband.

WRalph's father, William Lewis Armstrong, was the third child born to William Henry Armstrong and Mary Frances "Mollie" Roberts on September 16, 1877, in Jackson County, Alabama. He graduated from the Arkansas School of Music at Arkadelphia and, in 1905, married Debora Alice McCann in Boswell, Indian Territory. Debora, born on February 24, 1890, in Henderson, Tennessee, was the daughter of James Hugh McCann and Nancy Jane Wilson, both of whom settled in Boswell in 1901. In 1910 William worked as a merchant at a general store in Boswell. He died on April 12, 1918, as the result of an accident and was buried at Boswell Cemetery. Debora died on January 14, 1939, and was buried next to him.

William Lewis Armstrong's father, Reverend William Henry Armstrong, was born on December 20, 1851, in Jackson County, Alabama, and attended common country schools. He studied medicine and became a physician. He practiced medicine for a short time before opting for a career as a Baptist minister. He continued his ministry for about thirty-five years. In October 1880, he moved with his family from Alabama to Arkansas and, in 1894, was elected as Columbia County's representative to the lower house of the Arkansas legislature. He served through the thirtieth legislature that convened in January 1895.

In January 1904, Reverend Armstrong moved with his family to Boswell City, Indian Territory, in present-day Choctaw County, Oklahoma. He resumed his career in politics when Choctaw County voters elected him to the House of Representatives in Oklahoma's first state legislature. He served as chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Enrolled Bills and was a member of the Committee on Pure Food and Medicine. He was the author of two bills: one to create a complete statute for the control and regulation of railroad corporations; and the other to establish an industrial school for girls. After working through the legislature's first grueling session, he died the day it adjourned on May 27, 1908. As a member of the Masonic Order, Armstrong was buried by his fellow masons at the Boswell Cemetery.

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