Mildred Armstrong Passes

Mildred, 20, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Armstrong, was buried here Friday following funeral services at Burt. Mildred had been an invalid for many years, and died after an unusually severe attack of flu. The Armstrongs were former Irvingtonians.

Source:  Kossuth County Advance, March 17, 1932.

John Armstrong

John Armstrong, 36, a former resident of this city, died Monday at St. Vincent’s hospital in Toledo following a lingering illness, according to word received by relatives in this city. Mr. Armstrong was born and reared at Roseville and for a time was employed in potteries there. He later moved to Zanesville and for 14 years was employed with the Weller Auto Parts company. About two years ago he moved to Winchester, Ind., transferring to Toledo six months ago. Surviving are two brothers, Joe Armstrong of Seborn avenue, this city, and A.B. Armstrong of Columbus; two sisters, Mrs. Julia Hartley and Mrs. Clara Lacy, both of Roseville; his wife, Lucille; and two sons, Jack and James. Funeral services and burial will take place at Winchester, Ind., Thursday.

Source: Zanesville Times-Recorder, May 27, 1936.

Young Matron Dies Tuesday

Mrs. Edith Elliott, wife of Arthur Elliott of 1220 Maysville avenue, died in Bethesda hospital at 2 a.m. Tuesday, following a brief illness from childbirth. The child died and was buried Monday at Duncan Falls. The body was taken to the Peoples Undertaking parlors and late Tuesday afternoon was removed to the home. The funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday at the home. Burial in Duncan Falls cemetery. Surviving Mrs. Elliott are her husband, of the home; her father, Joseph Armstrong of Roseville, and the following brothers and sisters: Joseph Armstrong, Jr. of Huntington, W.Va.; John Armstrong, city; A.B. Armstrong of Columbus and Mrs. Carl Hartle [sic] and Mrs. Charles Lacey [sic] of Roseville. She was a member of the Roseville M.E. church and the Order of Eastern Star.

Source: Zanesville Times-Recorder, December 2, 1925.

Joseph Armstrong

Joseph Armstrong, 65, well known potter of Roseville, died in Bethesda hospital at 4:10 p.m. Wednesday after an illness from a complication of diseases. He had been receiving treatment at the hospital for the past eight weeks. Armstrong was a valued employee of the Ramsbottom Pottery. He was a member of the Masonic lodge and is survived by five children: Ralph Armstrong, Columbus, former clerk in the recorder’s office at New Lexington; John of Zanesville; Joseph, Jr. of the west; Mrs. Paul Hartley of the home; and Mrs. Charles Lacey [sic] of Roseville. The body was taken to the Cannon & Cannon Undertaking parlors at Roseville and will be returned to the home this afternoon. The funeral will be held Friday afternoon, the hours not being announced. Burial in the Roseville cemetery. The Masonic lodge may have charge of the funeral.

Source: Zanesville Times-Recorder, February 11, 1926.

Alfred B. Armstrong

Alfred B. Armstrong, 75, of Columbus, former resident of Roseville, died unexpectedly Tuesday at his home following a heart attack. Mr. Armstrong was a retired federal employee and had resided in Columbus for 40 years. He was born at Roseville, a son of Joseph and Leota Search Armstrong. Mr. Armstrong was a veteran of World War II and a member of Broad Street Christian Church at Columbus, Crooksville Masonic Lodge, Scottish Rite Aladdin Temple and Grotto of Columbus and Knights Templar at New Lexington. He was active in work of Aladdin Shrine and was a member of the Shrine Band. Surviving are his widow, Nellie; a daughter, Mrs. Romanna Bertram of Indianapolis; a son Thomas, of Columbus; a brother, Joseph of Huntington, W.Va.; a sister, Mrs. Julia Hartley; one grandchild and four great-grandchildren. The body is at Evans Funeral Home at Columbus where services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday with Rev. Floyd Faust officiating. Burial will be in Crooksville Cemetery.

Source:  Zanesville Times-Recorder, October 17, 1963.

Zebina C. Andruss

Zebina C. Andruss was born Feb. 7, 1843, in Ontario Co., N. Y. In the spring of 1864, he moved to Michigan, where he lived until the summer of 1867, when he returned to New York. In the fall of 1868 he came to Iowa, arriving at Irvington in September of that year. In the fall of 1869, he settled on the southwest quarter of section 20, township 95, range 28, Irvington township, where he owns 180 acres of well improved land and is engaged in dairying and stock raising. He was married March 24, 1863, to Amanda S. Armstrong, born June 27, 1837, in Steuben Co., N. Y. They have one child—S. Luella. Mr. Andruss and his wife are members of the Baptist Church at Algona. He has been township clerk eight years, and was re-elected to fill the term for 1884. He has also been secretary of the district township of Irvington twelve years.

Source: History of Kossuth and Humboldt Counties, Iowa. 1884. Springfield, IL: Union Publishing Company.

Zelora E. Brown

Zelora E. Brown was born in Brookfield, Madison county, New York, February 9th, 1834. When four years of age, his parents moved to Genessee, New York, where his father received a severe injury, by a falling tree, which resulted in his back being broken. What is quite remarkable, he is still in good health, having lived the last forty years with his lower limbs paralyzed. At the age of twenty-one, Mr. Brown came west but soon returned to New York, where he married Miss Mary R. Armstrong, December 30th, 1856. They came to Dakota, Wisconsin, in 1859, where he engaged in farming until 1861, when he was drafted, but accepted the alternative of paying three hundred dollars, and remained with his family. In the fall of same year he engaged with N.F. Griswold, of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, as traveling agent for agricultural implements, with whom he remained four years, three years of the time being spent in Rochester, Minnesota, where he was superintendent of Mr. Griswold’s business in that section. Here a son, Walter R., was born to him. He then moved to Irvington, Iowa, and became a partner with J.R. Armstrong, in a general merchandise store, remaining five years. Another child was born there, Clarence Z. In 1871, Mr. Brown came to Minneapolis, where he again engaged as solicitor and collector for Mr. Griswold, traveling seventy-five thousand miles by team. He formed a partnership, in 1877, with H.O. Hamlin, which still exists, dealing in real estate.

Source: Williams, J. Fletcher and Edward D. Neill. 1881. History of Hennepin County and the City of Minneapolis. Minneapolis: North Star Publishing Company.

James A. Armstrong

J. A. Armstrong is the owner of a fine farm of one hundred and seventy acres located in Irvington township, where he engages in general agricultural pursuits. He is a native of Kossuth county, his birth having occurred in the vicinity of Irvington on the 3d of May, 1862. His father, Dr. J. R. Armstrong, was born in New Jersey, whence he later removed to New York. He subsequently continued his journey westward to Iowa, locating in Waterloo, where he remained until the early ‘50s when he came to Kossuth county. Here he filed on a homestead in the vicinity of Irvington, and with the exception of a year spent in the city of Des Moines soon afterward, made his home in Kossuth county until his death on November 27, 1911. He was a member of the North Border brigade and is buried in the cemetery at Irvington, as also is the mother, whose maiden name was Jane Fife. She passed away November 27, 1904. Dr. and Mrs. Armstrong were married in Webster City, this state, and to them were born seven children, as follows: Lavina, deceased; James A., our subject; David, deceased; Lucy, who lives in California; Mary, who is also a resident of California; Sarah, deceased; and Charles S., who is living in California.

Reared in the country, at the usual age J. A. Armstrong became a student in the district schools, completing his education in Des Moines. In common with the majority of farm lads he early became familiar with the duties and labors of the agriculturist, and remained at home until he was twenty-one years of age assisting his father with the cultivation of the homestead. Soon after attaining his majority he started out to make his own way in the world, and for a time thereafter followed railroading. Soon after his marriage, however, he located on a farm and again took up agricultural pursuits, and has ever since been identified with this activity. He is diligent and enterprising in his methods and ultimately acquired his present farm, on which he has made all of the improvements. During the period of his ownership he has brought his fields to a high state of productivity and annually reaps abundant harvests which amply reward him for his early labors. He keeps a good grade of stock and has an equipment that is fully adequate to the demands of the modern, progressive agriculturist. The fences and buildings on his farm are substantial and are kept in good repair, everything about the place manifesting the capable supervision and well defined methods of directing operations characteristic of a man of enterprise and foresight. Mr. Armstrong also owns and operates a threshing outfit and this has likewise proven to be a lucrative undertaking.

On December 14, 1890, Mr. Armstrong was married to Miss Dora Sharp and to them have been born five children: Merle R., Charles Lee, Zelora E., James Rorick and Mildred Perreta, all of whom are at home.

Mr. Armstrong is a member of the Masonic fraternity, the Yeomen of Algona, and the Red Men of Irvington, while his political support he accords to the republican party. He takes an active and helpful interest in all local affairs and has held the office of assessor for the past sixteen years. As an agriculturist Mr. Armstrong is diligent and capable, while in the direction of his business dealings he manifests the same qualities united with a fine sense of integrity and absolute reliability.

Source: Reed, Benjamin F. 1913. History of Kossuth County, Iowa. Volume II. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing County.

Story of Dr. Armstrong

A Real Character of Early Kossuth Co.

Some Pioneers Had Fun Just Plain Living

A history of Irving (both old and present) would not be complete without a chapter on Dr. J.R. Armstrong. All the old settlers, I’m sure, would agree. Some may possibly think that he is getting more than his share of publicity, but the fact is there is no phase of Irvington history which he did not help create. His activities, and the interesting incidents connected with them as they are found throughout early community life, remind one of a startling and extremely different weave and pattern, appearing often and unexpectedly in an otherwise plain and somber garment. Although his methods sometimes caused the chills to run up and down the spines of his neighbors, he continued to hold their respect, nevertheless.

Having come to this vicinity in 1857 he lived through the rise and fall of one village [and] had an active part in the early life of the other. He was a doctor, dentist, merchant, school teacher, postmaster, Sunday school teacher, and farmer. He served also as county superintendent of schools for a season and held many other public offices. He was a man who apparently had the ability to do anything that was required of him.

When Dr. Armstrong first arrived here the hardy pioneers did not require too much in the way of professional services, and he became a clerk in the Ransom Parmetter store. He bought the L.L. Treat store in 1863 and later bought the James Green building and continued the store there. (This is the same building that still stands at the top of the Irvington hill.) He discontinued his mercantile business in 1878, having been the last storekeeper and postmaster in the old village.

Shortly after coming to the community, Dr. Armstrong married Jane Fife and the couple were the original settlers on the land just east of the present village, now owned by Gerald Frank. Records show that the Armstrongs received a patent covering the land in 1860 from the President of the United States. The old house, now occupied by the Herman Lester family, is much the same as when the Armstrongs lived there except that at one time there was an addition adjoining the house on the south. This was later taken off and moved farther south where for many years it served as another dwelling. Within the last number of years it was sold to Carl Seip who tore the building down and hauled the lumber to his farm.

After Mrs. Armstrong’s death the doctor and two daughters, Lucy and Mary, moved from the old home to the house now owned and occupied by Mrs. Marie Frankl.

The other daughter Lavina and sons James and Charles had married. The doctor died there in 1911, having been in ill health for a few years, and is buried in the Irvington cemetery.

He was the only resident physician the town ever had. He was strict, harsh, and unrelenting as a school teacher — but women who were his patients in his later years say he was always kind and considerate. The Doctor could evidently be whatever the current situation demanded on him. On one occasion he amputated the right index finger of J.R. Robison, after it had been mangled in a can mill. The amputation was performed with the Robison meat saw, without benefit of anesthetic. The saw is still in use at the home of Mrs. M.L. Roney, daughter of Mr. Robison.

Armstrong Stories

There are many stories of Dr. Armstrong and to older residents who knew the Doctor personally they are practically a tradition.

One of the Doctor’s peculiarities was that he was immune to jokes, especially those involving himself. He emphasized this very thoroughly one April Fool’s day. The story goes that a few young men who were “batching” in the Kendall Young house had made some soft soap pies for the occasion. The pies were beautiful to behold — the soap having been “doctored up” until it looked like pumpkin.

During the day most of the village men dropped in at the “batch hall” and were offered a piece of pie. Each one would accept with alacrity, unsuspectingly take a big bite and then react in a violent manner. Each victim would keep his experience a secret, wanting all his neighbors to get some of the same.

Above all else the boys wanted Dr. Armstrong to get some of the pie but as usually happens in such cases the Doctor didn’t call. After waiting almost all day they sent for Kendall Young to help them out. Young, who was a friend of Dr. Armstrong, sent word for the Doctor to come up to “batches hall” as he wanted to see him on business. The Doctor arrived and, as had been previously arranged, everyone was sitting around the table pretending to eat supper.

Armstrong sat down and started to talk with Young and it wasn’t long before the pie was passed. Young passed the pie to Armstrong who put it back on the table and continued his conversation. Not to be so easily thwarted, however, the boys saw to it that the pie was soon passed again. This time Young took a piece, pretended to take a bite, then urged the Doctor to try it. Armstrong took a piece saying, “Kendall, I never eat pie of any kind but as a special favor to you I’ll indulge just this once.” He then proceeded to bite off just about a fourth of the piece. The men, unable to retain their mirth any longer, burst into hilarious laughter, anticipating the Doctor’s reaction. They were doomed to disappointment for Armstrong, without altering his expression in the slightest, continued to eat the bite, remarking in between bites as to its deliciousness.

When he had finished every crumb he arose to go and looking around into the unbelieving and slightly greenish faces of his friends said, “Any time you boys have another pie like that one let me know. It is the best I ever ate.”

On another occasion the son Charles placed a tack on his father’s chair then requested him to sit down and demonstrate how a certain problem should be worked. The Doctor sat down, carefully worked and explained the problem, without giving any indication that he was are that he wasn’t sitting squarely on a tack.

The Doctor would not even let a skunk get the best of him although it has always been a question as to which one came out best in an encounter. The story goes that in some way a skunk got into the Armstrong basement. Instead of being diplomatic, opening the door, and letting the animal come out in his own good time, the Doctor grabbed a club and dashed into the basement after it. They both emerged at the same time — the Doctor holding a handkerchief to his eyes.

He complained a little about the odor and admitted his eyes burned. However, never one to come second best, he reported that his vision was much sharper after that. He never did recommend the treatment for his patients with failing vision, however.

The son Charles, although standing very much in awe of his father, was not above playing tricks on him when he thought he could get by with it. He made himself some extra work one time when he couldn’t resist the urge to get a laugh on the “old man.” It seems that dogs had been annoying the Armstrong sheep at night.

The Doctor decided to do something about it, and loaded his muzzle loader with a charge of fine shot, which he intended would scare the dogs but not seriously harm them. He placed the gun behind the door and went to bed. Charles, knowing what his father had planned, removed the charge and replaced it with buckshot before he too went to bed. In the middle of the night the usual bedlam of barking dogs and bleating sheep began. Doc escaped from bed and not waiting to dress raced out into the yard, grabbing his gun on the way. He took quick aim and fired at the nearest dog. Instead of emitting a series of short staccato yelps interspersed with long howls and running for his life, the dog dropped dead.

The look of surprise on the Doctor’s face was soon replaced by one of conviction. He looked long and thoughtfully at the dead dog, looking again at his gun, and turning gazed for a long time at the window of Charles’ upstairs room. At breakfast the next morning the events of the night were not mentioned until Charles, unable to control his mirth any longer, snickered. This was Doc’s cue and he thundered, “Charles, you bury that dog.” There is not the slightest doubt that Charles stopped laughing immediately and answered, “Yes sir.”

Source: Kossuth County Advance, July 1, 1954.

Dr. Jacob R. Armstrong

The first building to be used exclusively for a school house was built by John Allison then purchased by the township in 1860. J.R. Armstrong was the first to teach at that point. For a long term of years the Armstrong store was the central meeting place for the settlers to discuss their grievances. Public meetings were held at the hall, but those of a less formal nature were down at Doc’s. There they met from time to time in groups, some times large and some times small for friendly greetings or pugilistic encounters, just as the occasion seemed to demand. Saturday afternoons were favorite times for the farmers to gather and no one knew when he went there what would happen before he got away. They simply liked that kind of a life and were willing to take their chances on any condition that might arise. The central figure in the community was Dr. J. R. Armstrong. He was the only one having a college education and the only one to whom the settlers went for advice on all matters. All kinds of differences were referred to him for adjustment. He was their dentist, their family physician, their Sunday-school teacher, their principal financial support for religious services, their early-day school teacher, their local notary public, their fountain of supply when small temporary loans were needed in case of emergency and was their model of manhood. He was the final arbiter when questions were submitted to him. His work in time became the law of the community, and he wielded an influence over a wider range of territory than did any other man since the organization of the county. He could have been elected to any official position but he refused every offer except one term as superintendent and three years as supervisor.

Dr. Armstrong came to Irvington fresh from college in 1857. He came West the year before with the intention of practicing dentistry at Iowa City, but was induced to locate in Waterloo, Iowa. Those who knew him only during the last twenty-seven years of his life knew a very different man from the Dr. Armstrong of previous. The closing years he spent almost in seclusion like a hermit, in striking contrast with his career in the early settlement period. At times he would do the unusual and cause the unexpected while entertaining freakish notions which his closest friends could neither understand nor harmonize with the general tenor of his life. He was a mystery to some of his neighbors who never were able to understand him.

Source: Reed, Benjamin F. 1913. History of Kossuth County, Iowa. Volume II. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing County.