Armstrong is a freedom colony founded by the Armstrong family near Flatonia, Texas, at the border between Fayette and Gonzales Counties. In 1876, Mt. Olive Baptist Church was founded with revival services taking place in a Brush Arbour. Later a church and a school were established. Armstrong colony grew and thrived for decades until economic changes and school consolidation after WWII brought about a decline in population. Descendants still attend Mt. Olive Baptist Church but baptisms have become rare, and times when members were baptized in ponds as shown on the picture have passed. One of the girls standing near the water was Karen Armstrong who grew up in the colony as a direct descendent of the founders. Karen followed her mother's wish to reconnect with her church community after spending years in other parts of the state working for Texas A&M. In 2021 during her interview with David, Karen remembered her childhood at the farm in Armstrong, and also reflected on her experiences after school integration which put an end to segregation. But it also meant the end of successful black schools such as the Albrecht School in Armstrong. Karen and her siblings learned painfully that not every community was welcoming. While relationships were good between Armstrong and neighboring Flatonia, treatment was different in nearby Cistern. Interestingly, Flatonia was settled by Czech and German immigrants, and Karen remembers many people having an accent when growing up. By contrast, Cistern was mixed, and had a more dominant Anglo-Texan population.
(Picture: The former Albrecht School building of the community; it is now a Museum space)
(Picture: courtesy of Mount Olive Baptist Church )
A few local newspaper reports confirm Karen's account of good relations between Armstrong and Flatonia. For instance, in October of 1922 when the school building was dedicated at Armstrong colony, several officials from Flatonia were invited. During the ceremony, Mayor Fernau raised $115 for the building fund on the spot. Click on the Flatonia Argus newspaper clipping below to read the full report.
(Clipping from the Flatonia Argus, Thursday, November 2nd, 1922, courtesy of the Arnim Museum in Flatonia)