RYAL ARMSTRONG. - Dependent upon his own resources and business ability from early manhood Ryal Armstrong has steadily worked his way upward and is today the owner of a valuable farming property near Oakford. Many of the representative business men of Menard county are numbered among its native sons and to this class Ryal Armstrong belongs. His birth occurred September 13, 1867, on the farm where lived his parents, Elijah J. and Susanna (Watkins) Armstrong. The father was born in Jasper county, Missouri, July 18, 1841, while the mother's birth occurred in Menard county, Illinois, December 11, 1840. They were married in December, 1860. Elijah J. Armstrong had been reared on the old family homestead and lived with his mother until her second marriage, when he began earning his own living by working as a farm hand and was thus employed until his marriage, when he started to farm on his own account. He removed to his farm in 1861 and thereon he engaged in the cultivation of the fields and in the raising of stock. He has been feeding and shipping stock for forty years and is now actively engaged in the breeding of coach horses. He is interested in the ownership of a fine stallion, Amandus, No. 1282. It is a standard bred and is of the best Oldenburg German coach stock. Mr. Armstrong has conducted a successful business as an agriculturist and stock raiser and is now one of the representative farmers of the community in which he has so long made his home, conducting his business affairs so as t win success and also gain an enviable reputation for reliability. His wife died in Menard county, December 28, 1898. They were the parents of nine children, six sons and three daughters: Matilda, who died in infancy; Samuel H., who died at the age of twenty years; Mary, who died in infancy; Ryal, of this review; John D., who died at the age of twenty-two years; Catherine R., who was fifteen years of age at the time of her demise; George K., who married Miss Elsie Davis, and is living on the old homestead; James S., who wedded Miss Maude Maltby and resides near the old homestead; and Will C., who married Fannie Boeker and is living on a part of the old home place. Mr. Armstrong is well known because of his advocacy of measures for the general good and has promoted social, intellectual and moral interests as well as business activity in his neighborhood. He has served as a member of the school board for about twenty years, gives his political support to the Democracy and is a member of the Concord Presbyterian church.
At the age of nineteen years Ryal Armstrong started out in life on his own account. Before this time he had worked on the home farm and had pursued his education in the public schools. On leaving home he engaged in teaching for two years. Later he was employed at farm labor on the old homestead and then was married and began farming for himself. He has since followed that vocation and in addition to the cultivation of the fields he has engaged in fattening and shipping stock to the Chicago markets, sending from two to five carloads of cattle per year and as many or more hogs. He is also at the present time agent for the Turner-Hudnut company, grain dealers in Pekin, Illinois.
Mr. Armstrong was married to Miss Martha A. Skaggs, a daughter of Cyrus and Martha (Ogden) Skaggs. Her father, who was born in Cass county, Illinois, May 5, 1847, died May 19, 1892. His wife, who was born in Mercer county, Illinois, in 1848, passed away in 1872. Mr. Skaggs had remained with his parents in his boyhood days and was a public school student, but later he began working at the carpenter's trade and was employed as a builder up to within five years of his death. He also was a drover, buying and shipping cattle, hogs and sheep. He made extensive shipments to Chicago and also sent considerable stock to the Peoria market. His headquarters were at Havana, Illinois, but he bought stock all along the line of the Chicago, Peoria & St. Louis Railroad. His influence in public affairs was great and his labors were of value in his community. He served as justice of the peace at Oakford for a number of years and he was a member of the New Hope Baptist church. His political views were in accord with the principles of the Democracy.
Mr. Armstrong is a member of the town board and at this writing, in the fall of 1904, is serving as township school treasurer. He belongs to the Knights of Pythias lodge at Kilbourn, Illinois, and he votes with the Democracy. His life is in many respects exemplary and he has ever supported those interests which are calculated to uplift and benefit humanity, while his own high moral worth is deserving of the highest commendation. In his business he has persevered in the pursuit of a persistent purpose and has gained a most satisfactory reward. He is always courteous and affable and those who know him personally have for him warm regard.