Many of these devout pioneers from Tennessee were
slaveholders. From letters written by J. H. Armstrong while he was away
in the Confederate Army, we can see that the relationship between the
Armstrong family and their slaves was affectionate and benevolent. Many
of the slaves took the Armstrong name when they were freed, and some of
their descendants have lived here ever since. The Armstrong home was
built by Mr. Armstrong and his slaves. It was considered a fine home
for its time.
Although J. H. Armstrong was in his 40s when the war broke out, he was
finally called to serve. His son, James W. Armstrong was in a nearby
unit and Mr. Armstrong took with him a faithful slave named, Daniel. In
letters to his wife, Armstrong regularly sends greetings from both
Jimmy and Daniel.
W. L. Coppedge became a captain in Confederate service, and died of
disease far away from his East Texas home. The Murray Institute never
opened again, except as an elementary school. Their hopes dashed, their
fortunes lost, many of the people moved away when the war was lost.
Even the church had to close and the people became members of the
Coffeeville Methodist congregation.
After the death of James H. Armstrong and his wife, Martha Coppedge
Armstrong, the farm became the property of their youngest daughter,
Lula Caroline, and her husband, John Wesley Williamson. The Williamson
family lived in the old Armstrong home.
Around 1910, a commercial company led by Col. F. E. Featherstone was
formed to mine the iron ore in the East Texas hills. A site for a
company town was selected which happened to be right on the Armstrong
farm. The land for the city was purchased from the Williamsons and
streets and lots were laid out. A new home was built for the Williamson
family and the old Armstrong home torn down.