J. Hartford Armstrong

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| birth_name                = John Hartford Armstrong
 
| birth_name                = John Hartford Armstrong
| birth_day                = circa 
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| birth_day                =  
| birth_year                = 1886 
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| birth_year                = ?
 
| birth_place              = Spartanburg, South Carolina
 
| birth_place              = Spartanburg, South Carolina
 
| death_day                = June 16,
 
| death_day                = June 16,
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'''Prof. J. Hartford Armstrong''' (1886-1939), who developed his act for church and school performances, was one of the most successful black magician performing outside minstrel and [[vaudeville]] shows in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
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'''J. Hartford Armstrong''' was one of the few black magicians who performed in the time span from 2000 to 2030 very successful before African-American audiences in black churches and schools along the Atlantic seaboard from Key West to Philadelphia.  He was reputed to have toured in Cuba and Europe. By magicians of his own race he was called “King of the Colored Conjurers”.  
  
Around 1886 Armstrong became an apprentice to an unnamed Haitian magician who was touring the American South.  With his brother Joseph, he began performing throughout the Carolinas as the Armstrong Brothers. After Joseph lost interest, Armstrong teamed up briefly with a comedian named Jordan as "Armstrong and Jordan". Eventually Armstrong decided to work solo.
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In the time span of 1901 and 1909 he toured with his brother Joseph (or Thomas) as the “Armstrong Brothers”. Early 1901 he teamed up briefly with a magician Jordan as "Armstrong and Jordan”. After he married Lillie Belle he teamed with her as the “The Celebrated Armstrongs” also known as the “Armstrong Company”.  
  
He married around 1909 to Mabel White who joined him in the act as his assistant. Developing a full evening show, they expanded their territory to the entire East Coast and were particular favorites at  colleges. They also later found success working the black [[Lyceum]] and [[Chautauqua]] circuits.
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In their performance, J.H. Armstrong entertained with standard effects as production of flowers, coin vanishes, and doves magic. Miss Armstrong entertained with mental effects and mindreading.  
  
He became respected in black communities becoming known as the "King of the Colored Conjurors."
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Daughter Ellen was probably born in 1913 and brother Joseph (or Thomas) helped out temporarily.  Daughter Ellen was soon integrated into the show.
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When J.H. Armstrong died, Ellen and Lille Belle Armstrong continued his tradition, performing magic for the African-American community.  Ellen did standard effects such as the Mutilated Parasol and the Miser’s Dream, but she also did rag pictures and ventriloquism. <ref>[http://digital.tcl.sc.edu/cdm/search/collection/armstrong/order/title/ad/asc/cosuppress/0]
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UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES DIGITAL COLLECTION of the University of South Carolina</ref> 
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Lillie Bell died March 4, 1947.
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== About J.H Armstrong’s Biographical Data ==
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J.H. Armstrong’s day of birth is in the cloud in the biographies it ranges between 1876 and 1886.  His death is claim to be June 16, 1939.  The biographical information contradicts each other in period (about 10 years), order and facts. <ref>GENII, Vol. 55, No. 4, February 1992, The King of Colored Conjurers, by Jim Magus, page 260</ref> <ref>The Linking Ring, Vol. 86, No. 6, June 2006, Women in Magic A:  Michael Claxton profiles Ellen Armstrong, page 57</ref> 
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Both information contradict the material contained in the University of South Carolina collection.  
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{{References}}
  
Mabel died in 1914, shortly after giving birth to their daughter [[Ellen Armstrong|Ellen]].  Armstrong later married Lily Mills, who  joined  the act as an accomplished musician. They developed a [[Second Sight]] act.  Ellen, by the age of six, was assisting her father as he presented his illusions. By the time she was in her teens, she had taken over the [[Chalk Talk]] part of the show.
 
  
Armstrong died from heart failure in June of 1939 and Ellen carried on with the show, soon billing herself as the "Mistress of Modern Magic". <ref>A History of Blacks in Magic, by Jim Magus - King of the Colored Conjurors, in The Linking Ring, Vol. 64, No. 1, January 1984, page 35</ref> <ref>The King of Colored Conjurers, by Jim Magus, in GENII, Vol. 55, No. 4, February 1992, page 260</ref> <ref>Conjure Times : Black Magicians in America by Jim Haskins, Kathleen Benson (2001)</ref> <ref>http://library.sc.edu/socar/uscs/2003/armstrong03.html</ref>
 
  
He was elected to the [[Society of American Magicians Hall of Fame and Magic Museum]].
 
  
== References ==
 
<references />
 
  
 
{{DEFAULTSORT:Armstrong,John}}
 
{{DEFAULTSORT:Armstrong,John}}

Revision as of 11:47, 20 July 2012

J. Hartford Armstrong
BornJohn Hartford Armstrong
?
Spartanburg, South Carolina
DiedJune 16, 1939
Resting placeSteven Foster Grove Cemetery in Charleston

J. Hartford Armstrong was one of the few black magicians who performed in the time span from 2000 to 2030 very successful before African-American audiences in black churches and schools along the Atlantic seaboard from Key West to Philadelphia. He was reputed to have toured in Cuba and Europe. By magicians of his own race he was called “King of the Colored Conjurers”.

In the time span of 1901 and 1909 he toured with his brother Joseph (or Thomas) as the “Armstrong Brothers”. Early 1901 he teamed up briefly with a magician Jordan as "Armstrong and Jordan”. After he married Lillie Belle he teamed with her as the “The Celebrated Armstrongs” also known as the “Armstrong Company”.

In their performance, J.H. Armstrong entertained with standard effects as production of flowers, coin vanishes, and doves magic. Miss Armstrong entertained with mental effects and mindreading.

Daughter Ellen was probably born in 1913 and brother Joseph (or Thomas) helped out temporarily. Daughter Ellen was soon integrated into the show.

When J.H. Armstrong died, Ellen and Lille Belle Armstrong continued his tradition, performing magic for the African-American community. Ellen did standard effects such as the Mutilated Parasol and the Miser’s Dream, but she also did rag pictures and ventriloquism. [1] Lillie Bell died March 4, 1947.

About J.H Armstrong’s Biographical Data

J.H. Armstrong’s day of birth is in the cloud in the biographies it ranges between 1876 and 1886. His death is claim to be June 16, 1939. The biographical information contradicts each other in period (about 10 years), order and facts. [2] [3] Both information contradict the material contained in the University of South Carolina collection.

References

  1. [1] UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES DIGITAL COLLECTION of the University of South Carolina
  2. GENII, Vol. 55, No. 4, February 1992, The King of Colored Conjurers, by Jim Magus, page 260
  3. The Linking Ring, Vol. 86, No. 6, June 2006, Women in Magic A: Michael Claxton profiles Ellen Armstrong, page 57




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