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Richmond & Arnold
Chicago, Illinois

Page 471


whose portrait accompanies this sketch, is classed among the retired business men of Girard who have been most active in advancing the city's material interests, by reason of the fact that for many years he successfully conducted a general store here, and also aided the administration of public affairs. He is a fine representative of one of the old pioneer families of Illinois, and is himself a native of this State, born on a farm near Fielden, Jersey County, January 2, 1837.

Our subject's father, Maurice Armstrong, was a native of Kentucky, a son of one of its early pioneers, Joshua Armstrong, who was a Pennsylvanian by birth. The last named was also a pioneer of this State during territorial days, migrating from Kentucky with teams in 1810, and being one of the first to settle in what is now Madison County. At that time there were but few white settlers in Illinois, and the Indians, who were often hostile, still boldly ventured within their domain, to avail themselves of the advantages afforded by the rich virgin soil, built blockhouses in which to live when the Indians were on the war-path, and they always went armed into the fields. The grandfather of our subject, after spending several years in Madison County, removed to Jersey County, and there died in the fullness of time. His wife bore the maiden name of Sarah Morris, and she was born in Virginia, of French ancestry.

The father of our subject was young when the family came to Illinois, and he grew to a stalwart, vigorous manhood in the wilds of Madison County. When he started out in life on his own account he bought in that county, a tract of land with a few improvements, and lived upon it until 1833, when he sold that place, and took up his abode in what is now Jersey County, where he bought a tract of timber land and built the log house in which his son, of whom we write, was born. He rived shingles for the roof, and made the house in the primitive manner common in the construction of dwellings in those days. After he had his family comfortably domiciled, he commenced to evolve a farm from the wilderness. He had not the conveniences of modern machinery to aid him in his work, and there were no railways to bring the markets within easy access, so that whenever he needed supplies or wished to dispose of his produce, he had to go to Alton with a team, that being the nearest city. His wife, who was an adept at the old-fashioned arts of carding, spinning and weaving, used to manufacture the cloth with which she clothed her children, and she cooked their meals before the fire in the rude open fireplace of the olden days.

In 1854 Maurice Armstrong sold his place in Jersey County, and going to Montgomery County settled on land he had entered from the government. He built upon it and resided there one year, after which he rented it and, removing to Girard, bought a home in the town, in which he lived quietly until his life was rounded out by death. In early manhood he married Elizabeth Sims, a native of Kentucky. She died at a venerable age at Girard. She was the mother of 12 children: Aholla, James, Eveline, Mary Adeline, William, Thomas, Andrew, Jane, Christopher Co., Benjamin F., Maurice and Elizabeth.

Christopher C. Armstrong was reared under pioneer influences, and obtained his education in the primitive schools of Jersey County, that were taught in log school-houses, furnished with slab benches without backs and with wooden pins for legs. There were no desks in front of the seats. The light was admitted by a log being cut out of the wall, and a row of glass inserted into the aperture thus made. Our subject can well remember the wild condition of the country in which he passed his boyhood, when deer, wolves and other kinds of wild game were plentiful. Before he attained his majority he left his home with its familiar scenes, and in 1855 moved with his folks to Girard, then a small but flourishing village, and opening a general store, he soon became one of its most enterprising merchants. In 1870 he established himself in the drug trade, and until recently carried it on very prosperously, having a neat and well equipped store, fully stocked with everything usually found in such an establishment. Mr. Armstrong sold this business in June, 1902, and in September, 1903, with his son Byron, opened a large and well appointed drug store in Jacksonville, Illinois, operating under the firm style of Armstrong & Armstrong. Their stock, which is complete and up-to-date in every respect, is valued at $10,000. They make a specialty of physicians' supplies.

Mr. Armstrong was married in 1862 to Fanny D. Weed, and they have made their home the center of a charming hospitality. Six children have been born to them, of whom four are now living: Herbert, Paul, Byron and Irene.

Mr. Armstrong is justly held to be one of the county's citizens, for his private life is irreproachable and in every public position he has held he has always acted for the best interests of the city and county. His fellow citizens, appreciating his worth, his sound business instincts, and his genuine integrity of character, have often called upon him to fill responsible offices. He has represented Girard as a member of the County Board of Supervisors several terms; he has served as a member of the City Council of Girard, and also as a member of the School Board. He belongs to Girard Lodge No. 171, A. F. and A. M.; Girard Chapter, No. 132, R. A. M.; St. Omar Commandery, No. 30, K. T.; and Macoupin Council, R. and S. M. Politically, he is a Democrat, and has always stood firmly by his party. Aside from his private business, our subject is identified with the financial interests of the city - as treasurer of the Girard Building and Loan Association, and as president of the Girard Coal Company, he has contributed greatly to their success and importance.

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