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Wed, 04.09.1851

Hobart Armstrong, Businessman born

Hobart Armstrong

*Hobart Armstrong was born on this date in 1851. He was a Black Miner, businessman, and small-town administrator.

Born in Tennessee as a young man, Hobart A. Armstrong migrated to Iowa in the mid-1870s. After developing close business ties with the Iowa Central Coal Company, he set up his own business, purchasing mules for the company on consignment. On May 23, 1873, Armstrong married Ida Alice Armstrong at Ottumwa, Iowa. The couple had 12 children. In 1881, officials of Consolidation Coal Company sent him across the South to recruit Black miners to break a strike at Muchakinock, IA.

The Armstrongs lived on a farm just south of old Muchakinock, Iowa until they settled in Buxton, Iowa. By 1880, Armstrong owned farmland near Muchakinock and enough acreage to employ two hired farm laborers. With such credentials, Armstrong could argue that Muchakinock offered significant financial opportunities for Blacks willing to move from the South. Newspaper accounts of the time describe him as an intelligent and capable businessman with a net worth of over $200,000.

After his early success in the mule business, Armstrong diversified his business holdings, eventually owning various businesses and rental properties in Muchakinock and later in the town of Buxton, as well as 16 to 18 farms in Mahaska and Monroe counties. In 1887, Buxton and Armstrong provided the food for Independence Day's barbeque and the fireworks display. His farm was also the site of the annual Muchakinock Fair, attended by whites from surrounding areas and Muchakinock's Black population.

Armstrong was also active in the school district, serving as president of the school board for Muchakinock and surrounding towns from 1895 until his resignation in 1902. In 1899, Armstrong was elected township trustee for East Des Moines Township and a delegate to the county convention. Hobart Armstrong died on October 18, 1932 (aged 81) in Bluff Creek, Monroe County, Iowa.

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