Martin Armstrong (surveyor)

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Martin Armstrong was an American soldier and surveyor, notable for devising the plan for Clarksville, Tennessee in 1784.

He was a colonel in the American Revolutionary War from North Carolina. Following the war, he moved to the western region of North Carolina that later became Tennessee. He met John Montgomery and was interested in joining Montgomery in his plan to establish a town along the Cumberland River. The proposed site by the confluence of the Red River was still unsettled and Armstrong, who was an experienced surveyor agreed to help Montgomery explore and map out the proposed new town. North Carolina had declared the region of the Cumberland River as a military reserve in 1782. Martin Armstrong was appointed entry taker and chief surveyor for the military reservation. His office was to be in Nashville, Tennessee. His responsibility was to help eligible soldiers lay claim to their land-grant parcels.

Martin's brother John Armstrong was also involved in distribution of the western reserve lands. An office authorized by the state of North Carolina was opened in Hillsboro. Its purpose was to handle the entries for military land grants. John Armstrong was the entry taker. In these affairs, Martin Armstrong operated the only other office for the western reserve, serving as the military entry taker and chief surveyor.

It was Armstrong who set up the original survey map of the town, soon to be named Clarksville. Lots were laid out along the Cumberland and streets were designated. Both Montgomery and Armstrong sold lots to interested settlers.

Between 1783 and 1790 both John and Martin Armstrong were accused of becoming involved in activities of fraudulent land grant documentation. The initial report of wrongdoing was reported to a North Carolina senator by Andrew Jackson. Southwest Territory governor William Blount was also accused of wrongdoing in the scandal. Ultimately, a judgment for £50,000 was levied against the bondsmen for General Armstrong by the state of North Carolina.[1] The state of Tennessee moved to block any further land grants to Martin Armstrong.[2]


  1. ^ Biographical History of North Carolina from Colonial Times to the Present. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  2. ^ The Land Laws of Tennessee. Retrieved 2 January 2015.