Today I am reading about the family of Jasper Samuel Armstrong (4/8/88-1967) and Ella Josie Eugenia Spurlock (4/30/89-12/12/1979) Armstrong, the ancestors of Olin and Dale Armstrong of Pineville and Jim Armstrong, Charlotte Gardner and Mark Armstrong, all of Pineville.

Taken from McDonald County Sesquicentennial Family Histories, printed by McDonald County Press 1999, I learned their ancestors in 1883 came in a caravan of covered wagons to Southwest Missouri to find a new home. It was a hard trip as it was wintertime. They traded a team and wagon for some land and began farming. James Leroy had a son, Jasper, who married Ella, had Etta, Bill, Deck, Wes, Robert, Lola and Ella. The younger girls, Ella and Lola walked behind the wagons and picked up sagebrush to start the fires.

They settled in Caverna near the state line and the house they lived in is still there. Ella’s father, Henry Banty Spurlock, was in the Civil War. He lied about his age to get in, as he was just 15 years old. The soldiers were never formally discharged from the Army, they just came home. Ella went through eight grades in rural school and then to Horner Institute at Rocky Comfort for one year.

She was teaching school at Jacket, met Jasper, and romance bloomed. She got the measles and gave them to Jasper. On their wedding day he hadn’t recovered so he sent word for Ella to come over to his father’s house and got married there in 1910.

Four children were born while they lived at Jacket or Powell. They were: Hazel, Carl, Ross and Rex. Jasper and Ella were very busy running a store, raising a family and were very active in the Primitive Baptist Church. Olin and Dale Jasper were born in Pineville. Jasper opened a feed store and had a route to Arkansas to sell feed and buy eggs. Jasper had an opportunity to go to work in the McDonald County Bank in the late 1920s. He became a cashier in the 1930s and started buying bank stock. By the early 1940’s he owned 51 percent of the stock and was president of the bank.

The bank stayed strong through the Depression and after World War II two sons, Olin and Dale, joined him in the bank. Olin had been in the Navy and Dale was in the Air Force. Carl married Leora Johnson (who passed away last Saturday), mother to Charlotte, Sharon and Jim and Rick. Leora was a beautiful Lady in the finest sense of the word and will be missed. Harvey Dale married Natalie Thornbrugh and their children are Stephen Dale, Mark and d’Ann.

McDonald County thrives because of fine, dedicated citizens like the Jasper Armstrong family. These families can be traced at the Historic Old Courthouse on the square in Pineville: we hope you will find the time to drop in and visit. Hours are Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as volunteers are available and Sunday 1 to 4 p.m. You may find us if you google McDonald County, we look forward to a visit with you. Also, available to you are the sesquicentennial book as well as many other books on our local history. You may call 417-223-7700 and leave a message or visit online at McDonald County Historical Society Facebook page or at    

Alberta Anders writes a weekly column for the Daily News.