Biography - JOSEPH L. ARMSTRONG
Success in any walk of life is not the result of chance, but is the outcome of keen sagacity in business affairs combined with well-directed effort, and it is these qualities which have made Mr. Armstrong, of Brookville township, one of the most enterprising and prosperous farmers of LaSalle county.
His birth occurred on the old family homestead March 1, 1847, his parents being Hon. George W. and Nancy Armstrong. His father was born in Ohio, December 11, 1812, and was a son of Joseph Armstrong, whose birth occurred in Ireland and who was of Scotch-Irish descent. The great-grandfather, John Armstrong, was a linen merchant, and came to the United States in 1780, locating in Somerset county, Pennsylvania, where he engaged in merchandising for a number of years. His son Joseph was a lad of only ten years at the time of the emigration to America. He was reared and educated in Pennsylvania and there married Miss Elsie Strawn, a representative of an old and honored Pennsylvania family. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Armstrong were born nine sons, namely: John S., who died in Ottawa, Illinois; George W., the father of our subject; William, who died in South Ottawa, in 1850; Joel, who died near Ottawa, in 1871; Jeremiah, who went west in 1849 and died in California in 1850; James, who died near Ottawa; P. A., a very prominent citizen of Morris; Clifford, who died in Licking county, Ohio; and I. Z., who went to the west in 1849, and is now living in Sacramento, California. Joseph Armstrong, the father, died in 1856, and the mother passed away in 1871.
George W. Armstrong spent his youth in Ohio and is indebted to its common schools for the educational privileges afforded him. In 1831 he came to the west, making the journey with wagon and team. Two years previously his brother John had come to Illinois and taken up his abode in Putnam county. During the Black Hawk war George W. Armstrong was with his mother and brothers in the fort at Ottawa. They settled in this county in 1831 on a half section of land, built a log cabin and began life in the west in true pioneer style. On the loth of March. 1835, George Armstrong was married, in Jacksonville, Illinois, to Miss Nancy Green, a native of Knox county, Ohio, and a daughter of John and Susanah (Winter) Green, both of whom are now deceased. Her sister, Matilda Green, was the first wife of Jacob Strawn, the great cattle king.
Mr. Armstrong, father of our subject, has led a very busy and useful life and is a prominent and influential citizen. For a year or two he operated a sawmill on Wauponsee creek, in Grundy county, and then built and opened a general store, which he later sold. For nineteen years he served as a supervisor and for twelve years was the chairman of the board. For ten years he was a member of the state legislature, being elected first in 1844. He was a member of the constitutional convention in 1847. He was elected to the legislature again in 1871, after which he served for six years without interruption. He was an active working member of the house and aided in securing the adoption of many important measures which have proved of great benefit to the state. He was also a member of the first county convention of LaSalle county, and at all times has been a progressive, public-spirited and loyal citizen. He was a war Democrat at the time of the hostility between the north and the south and was an ardent admirer of Stephen A. Douglas, the Little Giant of Illinois. Probably no man in LaSalle county has been more prominent in public affairs or done more for her best interests than George W. Armstrong, who has left the impress of his individuality upon many departments of our public life. A valued member of the Masonic fraternity, he was one of the active promoters of Seneca Lodge, in which he held his membership. He was a man five feet and seven inches in height, erect in carriage and quick in movement. He was of high moral character, firm in his convictions, and the temerity with which he made known his position and his marked ability well fitted him for leadership. His wife passed away February 25, 1893. Like her husband, she shared the high regard of all who knew her, for she. possessed many sweet, womanly qualities which endeared her to all. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong were born nine children, eight of whom are now living: William, of Pueblo, Colorado, who served for four years as a Union soldier in the civil war, being captain of Company A, Fifty-third Illinois Infantry; Rev. Julius C, a pastor in the Congregational church, who served for three years with the Ninety-first Regiment of Illinois Volunteers; Millie Eliza, wife of William Crowley, of Burlington, Kansas; Joseph L., who is living on the old homestead farm; Marshall W., a well known attorney of Ottawa; Susan Ida, wife of L. B. Laughlin, of BridgeM-ater, South Dakota; James E., principal of the high school at Englewood, Illinois; Charles G., an electrician in Chicago; and John G., who was a successful lawyer, and died in Ottawa in 1890, at the age of fifty-four years.
Joseph Armstrong, whose name begins this sketch, was reared and educated in LaSalle county, and having arrived at years of maturity he was married, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to Miss Laura J. Henderson, the daughter of John P. Henderson, now deceased. They located on the old home farm, which comprises four hundred and thirty acres of rich and arable land. Altogether Mr. Armstrong owns eight hundred and sixty acres, and from the golden harvests which he garners he secures a good income. He is accounted one of the leading agriculturists of the county, and in his methods he is progressive, practical and systematic. His dealings are also characterized by the utmost fairness, and he justly merits the confidence reposed in him.
Politically Mr. Armstrong is a Democrat, having supported that party since attaining his majority. He keeps well informed on the issues which divide the country politically, and is therefore prepared to give intelligent support to his views. He has served for four years as a county supervisor, and has been a member of the school board for fifteen years, discharging his duties in a most prompt and satisfactory manner. Not only as a representative of one of the prominent pioneer families of the county, but also because of his own personal merits, does he deserve mention in this volume among the leading citizens of his section of the state.
Extracted by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois published in 1900, volume 1, pages 121-123.