Armitage, Frank Benjamin
Pioneer missionary to Africa. Born into a Seventh-day Adventist family in Wisconsin, he attended Battle Creek College. In 1884 he married Annie Olsen, sister of O. A. Olsen. For several years he taught at Union College and other places in the Midwest.
The Armitages went to southern Africa as members of the second party of American missionary workers to Solusi Mission. They arrived there in 1897, at the height of an epidemic of malaria. Within a year Mrs. Armitage died. Shortly thereafter Armitage married the widow of G. B. Tripp. Tripp had been the first superintendent of the Solusi Mission.
In 1901 new recruits arrived at Solusi. Then the Armitages went nearly 200 miles (320 kilometers) northeast to establish the Somabula Mission. Through five long hard years they slowly won the confidence of the tribal people. Mrs. Armitage opened a school for girls. Briefly they were aided by Mrs. W. S. Hyatt, Armitage’s sister, who remained and helped at Somabula when her husband, superintendent of the union, passing through, visited other missions in the north and in Nyasaland.
After their daughter Irene had suffered her fifth attack of blackwater fever the Armitages left Somabula. By this time they had greatly endeared themselves to the people. Not without reason was Armitage known as Matand’ Abantu (“the man who loves people”).
For nearly twenty years longer the Armitages worked in the Union of South Africa, building up the work at Maranatha, Bethel, Kolo (in Basutoland, now Lesotho), and Spion Kop missions. Then because of the failing health of Mrs. Armitage, the family returned to the United States in 1925. For a number of years after his return, Armitage pastored in California.
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