Thursday, October 2, 2014

Arthur B Armstrong: The California Armstrongs

My 2nd great grand uncle, Arthur B. Armstrong was born in Cape Elizabeth, Maine on May 8, 1827.  He was the son of John Armstrong and Betsey Woodbury Armstrong.  Arthur B. Armstrong was one of 6 children his siblings:  Ebenezer, Lucy, John, Israel, & George.

At the age of 26. Arthur married Ellen L. Simonton.  They were married on Sept 15, 1853  in Portland, Maine.

While living in Cape Elizabeth, they had 4 children (One died before adulthood):

  • Arthur B. Armstrong Jr. b. Mar 1, 1856 d. Sept 2, 1943
  • Lucy (Lulie) Armstrong b. Feb 1859  d. Mar 26, 1933
  • Ulmer Armstrong  b. Aug 13, 1864  d. May 28, 1941

Arthur's profession in Cape Elizabeth was as a Sparmaker.  Sparmakers work on the wooden ships as carpenters.  Usually the job is associated with building and repairing ship masts which are also knows as spars.  Cape Elizabeth is right on the coast of Maine and close to Portland which was a busy seaport.

The civil war brought a dramatic reduction to the numbers of ships being built in Maine and decreased the commercial shipping.  Scratching out a living in Maine was never easy, but had become even more difficult during this time.

We may never know the reason, but Arthur B. Armstrong decided to uproot his family and move to California.  One has to think that some specific story or idea of a job opportunity must have spurred him to action.  We do know that the San Francisco area was growing rapidly.  By 1870, San Francisco had become the 10th largest city in America.  He must have believed that California was the place he oughta be, so he loaded up the family and moved to Oakland.  Hmm....that sounded better in my head than when I write it.  Just assume it is a joke relating to the Beverly Hillbillies TV show.

Between 1873 and 1876, Arthur and family removed from Maine and arrived in Oakland, California.

In 1873, Arthur Armstrong is listed as a sparmaker in the Portland, Maine City directory
In 1876, Arthur B. Armstrong is listed as a Carpenter for C.P.R.R Co. in the Oakland City (California) directory.
By 1878,  he is listed as a sparmaker and living at 716 Market Street

I haven't found much about his life living in Oakland, California.  We can expect that his life and that of his family was much improved over what it might have been for if he had stayed in Maine.

Arthur B. Armstrong died at the age of 66 on Nov 10, 1893.

Arthur's parents and siblings lived and died in Maine and New England.   I can not find any evidence that Arthur ever returned to visit his family living in Maine of they visited California.

In a very real way, he branched off from his Maine roots and didn't look back.

Next Post:   Lulie Armstrong's Marriage Improves the Fortunes of the California Armstrongs

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