Texas A&M University Kingsville, South Texas Archives

Armstrong Family Photograph Collection

Collection Summary

Creator Armstrong Family
Title Armstrong Family Photograph Collection
Dates: 1890-1930
Abstract: The Armstrong Family is one of South Texas' oldest and outstanding pioneer families. This collection of approximately 200 negatives and photographs cover the years from 1890 to 1930 but focus on the early Armstrong family around the 1920s and 1930s.
Identification A1985-003; A1986-043; A2002-034; A2004-017
Collection URL http://archives.tamuk.edu/ead.php?xml=Armstrong%20EAD
Quantity: 206 photographs and negatives
Location: STAD Photo Files and Negative File
Language: English

Historical Note

The Armstrong Family is one of South Texas' oldest pioneer families. The Armstrong Ranch history begins in 1852 when James H. Durst purchased 92,000 acres out of the La Baretta Spanish land grant from the descendants of the Balli Family. Durst, a friend of Richard King, fought in the Texas Revolution, was a Texas Ranger, served as a State Senator and prospered in his mercantile business in Rio Grande City. He died young and his wife was forced to sell the ranch. Two attorneys arranged the sale but Mary Durst never received payment. Her daughter Mollie married John B. Armstrong III in 1878. Armstrong pursued the case, eventually taking legal action and gained clear title of the land for the Durst Family in 1904. John B. Armstrong III played a prominent role in the development of South Texas. Previously in Tennessee he arrived in Texas in 1872, purchased large tracts of land in South Texas to raise cattle in Jim Hogg, Kleberg, and Cameron Counties, Texas. Armstrong was a member of the Travis Rifles, an elite guard, and a Texas Ranger. He rode with McNelly's Rangers and earned the nickname, "McNelly's Bulldog." Earning $4000 in reward money for arresting John Wesley Hardin, a notorious bandit, Armstrong married Mollie Durst, daughter of widow Mary Durst in 1878. In 1982 the Armstrong ranch was 50,000 acres. In 1885 John, Mollie and Granny Durst moved further south on their property. Their nearest neighbors were 25 miles away on the Kenedy Ranch at La Parra. Mollie died of a rabies bite in 1897. Following generations managed the ranch including Charles Armstrong, John B. Armstrong's son, Tom Armstrong, Charles' brother, and then Charles' son, Tobin Armstrong. Tobin Armstrong married Anne Armstrong, they had five children. Tobin was active with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association serving on committees and was an advisor on the European Common Market's agricultural policies, Anne became a political force in the 1960's and 1970's organizing for the Republican Party in South Texas and became the first woman ever elected Co-Chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1971. President Nixon appointed her the first woman counselor to the president and in 1975, she became the first woman United States ambassador to Great Britain. Taken from: History -- Armstrong Ranch http://www.armstrong-ranch.com/activities/

Scope and Contents

The negatives and photographs depict the early years at the Armstrong Ranch when Mollie and John reclaimed the property. Images from the 1930s chronicle three events: time in Venezuela while the family negotiated the buying of a petroleum processing plant; at a home in the northeast, probably the home of Henrietta and Peter Larkin; and the time spent at a camp known as Los Amigos on El Saus by the Norias division of the King Ranch in Kenedy County near Armstrong. The last group of images donated by the Armstrong family are from the early 1900s. These images concentrate on the St. Louis, Brownsville & Mexico Railroad track being laid south of Kingsville and the family on the ranch.


Arranged and numbered by family.

Index Terms

Armstrong, John Barclay, 1850-1913
Armstrong, Mary Helena "Mollie" Durst, 1855-1897
Armstrong, Charles Mitchell, 1886-1941
Armstrong, Tobin, 1923-2005
Armstrong, Anne Legendre, 1927-2008
Durst family
King, Richard, 1824-1885
Kenedy, Mifflin, 1818-1895
Hardin, John Wesley, 1853-1895
Texas Rangers
Travis Rifles
San Antonio Academy
Texas Military Institute
University of Texas
Texas A&M University
Santa Gertrudis Breeders International
National Cattle Industry Advisory Committee
Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association
Republican National Committee
Standard Oil Company
Geographical Names
Kenedy County (Tex.)
Kleberg County (Tex.)
Jim Hogg County (Tex.)
Armstrong Ranch (Tex.) -- Kenedy County
United States -- History-- Civil War, 1861-1865
Rio Grande Valley (Colo.-Mexico and Tex.)
Frontier and pioneer life -- Texas, South
Santa Gertrudis cattle
Ranch life
Crime -- Texas -- History -- 19th century
Mexican War, 1846-1848
Refineries, petroleum
Ambassadors -- United States -- History -- 20th century