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James Arango Armour

 

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James A. Armour

James Arango Armour (1825-1910) was born to Dutch settlers in New York City. He made his way to the Indian River in the 1850s and settled at Sand Point, now Titusville.

Armour enlisted in the Confederate infantry in 1862 but six weeks later deserted and returned to the Indian River. During much of the war Armour piloted patrol boats capturing Confederate blockade runners. When Southern sympathizers hid parts from the Jupiter Lighthouse to assist Confederate vessels in passing unseen, Armour helped to find the parts in a hammock and delivered them to Key West for safe-keeping. There he was made Keeper of Prize Ships for the rest of the war.

In 1869 Armour became the head keeper at the Jupiter Lighthouse. He married Almeda Catherine Carlile (1849-1931), making her the only white woman within 100 miles. The first of their seven children, Katherine “Kate” Dickerson Armour, was the first recorded birth between Biscayne Bay and St. Lucie. Pioneer life at this remote outpost was difficult. In order to survive, the Armours and the assistant keepers scavenged for goods that washed up on the beaches or could be salvaged from shipwrecks. Long boat trips to Titusville were necessary to purchase other supplies.

During his forty years as lighthouse keeper, Armour had many assistants. Frequently, they were new settlers, and their position at the lighthouse allowed them a base from which to explore the area until they chose a place to build a house. The Armours shared their 26-by-30-foot home with the assistants and their families until a separate keeper’s house was added in 1883.

Armour owned property throughout the county. He had a homestead of 159 acres in Ocean Ridge where he planted coconut trees in an attempt to establish a cash crop. Armour also purchased 48 acres on the Jupiter River, where he retired in 1908.

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