Died at His Late Home in Irvington Monday of this Week.
He Was One of the Foremost Pioneers of the County and One of Its Strongest and Best Characters.
On Monday last Dr. J.R. Armstrong passed from this life surrounded by his children and friends. In his passing one of the ablest and best loved, and in his time, one of the most influential of the pioneers has joined the silent majority. He was a rugged character, a strong man mentally and physically, well educated, broad and generous in his views, and kind and helpful to his brother pioneers who needed advice and material assistance. Among all that sturdy band of pioneers none enjoyed a larger following than did Dr. Armstrong, and none retained so wide an influence so long. He made Irvington his home from the first to the last, and the whole community for miles around sought his advice on nearly every thing and looked up to him as a guide, philosopher and friend. And their confidence was never betrayed by Dr. Armstrong. He was public spirited and contributed freely to institutions from which he could get not return personally or financially. Such men as he do honor to our common manhood are indeed too few.
J.R. Armstrong was born in Sussex county, N.J., April 14, 1829. He was the son of Hugh and Levina Armstrong. In the spring of 1830 the family moved to Steuben county, N.Y., where his father bought a farm. There young Armstrong attended the district school and later attended Franklin Academy at Prattsburg, N.Y. Later he attended Alfred University in Allegany county, N.Y., where he graduated in 1855. In 1856 he came to Waterloo, Iowa, and worked there in a drug store and practiced dentistry. He came to Irvington, Kossuth county, in the fall of 1857. He was engaged to work in the store of Ransom & Parmenter, who were conducting the only store of the place, and he also practiced his profession. In 1862 he enlisted in Capt. Ingham’s company which was stationed at Estherville to protect the settlement from the Indians. In 1863 he bought out L.L. Treat who had bought out Ransom & Parmenter, and continued the business until 1878. He was also postmaster during this time. For a few years his brother-in-law, Z.E. Brown, was associated with him with him in the store. On Jan. 26, 1859, he was united in marriage to Jan Fife, a native of Vermont. The ceremony was performed by O.A. Holmes, a Baptist minister who was located at Webster City. To them were born seven children, two of whom died in infancy. Lovina A., the oldest child, died at the age of twenty. The four surviving children live in or near Irvington. James A., the oldest son, is living on a farm three miles east of Irvington. Charles S., the youngest, lives on a farm north-west of Irvington, and the two daughters, Lucy A. and Mary J., live in the home with their father.
The frequent calls for him to minister to the sick and the injured in the early years caused him to study medicine and surgery, and he became the family physician for the entire community. He also taught school in those years, for 1859 to 1863 he taught seven terms of school in that vicinity and was a very able teacher. He was elected county supervisor in 1859 and served one term. He was elected to represent Irvington township on the first board of supervisors in 1860, and was again elected in 1861, serving three years in all. He never sought an office that paid anything financially, nor would he allow his name to be used for any office after he retired from the board.
Mr. Armstrong was a Baptist and was the first to join the Baptist church when it was organized at Algona. His wife died Nov. 27, 1904, and since then he has lived with his daughters, Lucy and Mary. For two years he had been a great sufferer from dropsy. It was just seven years to the day since his wife died that he passed away to meet that faithful wife who preceded him. The funeral services were held in the church in Irvington Wednesday at 2 o’clock, and were conducted by Rev. Frank Day of the Baptist church of Algona, assisted by Rev. Smiley of the Presbyterian church. The remains were laid to rest in the Irvington cemetery.
Source: Algona Courier, December 1, 1911.