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Armstrong Family

  • Family
  • 1852-present

The Armstrong Family is one of South Texas's oldest families. In 1852, James H. Durst purchased 92,000 acres out of the La Baretta Spanish land grant from the descendants of the Balli Family. Durst 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 widow, Mary Durst, was forced to sell the ranch. Two attorneys arranged the sale but Mary Durst never received payment. Her daughter Mary Helena ("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 was born in Tennessee; he arrived in Texas in 1872 and purchased large tracts of land in South Texas to raise cattle in Jim Hogg, Kleberg, and Cameron Counties. Armstrong was a member of the Texas Rangers and is best known for arresting John Wesley Hardin, a notorious bandit. By 1882 the Armstrong ranch was 50,000 acres. Mollie died of rabies in 1897. Following generations managing the ranch included Charles Armstrong, Tom Armstrong, and then Charles' son, Tobin Armstrong.