Joseph Franklin Armfield was born on January 24th, 1862, in Yadkinville, North Carolina, a son of Robert F. and Mary Ann Denny Armfield. In 1870 the family moved to Statesville, North Carolina, where Joseph received his early education and began his life as a farmer. In 1882 he joined the local State Guard Company, the "Iredell Blues" and began his connection with the North Carolina State Guard that would last until his death. He was promoted through the ranks and in 1892 was elected as the Colonel of the 4th Regiment of the State Guard. During the Spanish American War he was appointed by the Governor of North Carolina as the Colonel of the 1st North Carolina Volunteer Infantry Regiment and led the regiment to Cuba as part of the occupation following the fighting there, during his time in Cuba he spent part of his time acting as the Brigade Commander as well as the regimental commander. Following the War with Spain he was promoted to Brigadier General in the North Carolina State Guard, and in April of 1909 was appointed as the Adjutant General of the State of North Carolina. He continued in this post until he died of Bright's disease on October 12th, 1910, at his home in Statesville, North Carolina.
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