Armistead Nickens was born into a family of free people of color that included at least 12 veterans of the Revolutionary War. In 1867 the local agent of the Freedmen’s Bureau identified him as a strong potential candidate for public office. After attending Virginia’s Republican State Convention in Sept. 1871. Nickens won election to the House of Delegates that year and served two terms. becoming Lancaster County’s first Black elected official. According to oral tradition, he was an early advocate of what. decades later, became the Downing Bridge. He is credited with building one of the county’s first schools for African Americans. Nickens owned more than 150 acres of land by 1906.