Biography of Christopher C. Armstrong

Christopher C. Armstrong is classed among the business men of Girard who have been most active in advancing its material interests, as for many years he has successfully conducted a general store here, and he has also aided in 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 was named Maurice Armstrong, and he was a native of Kentucky, a son of one of its early pioneers, Joshua Armstrong, who was a Pennsylvanian by birth. He was also a pioneer of this State in territorial days, migrating from Kentucky with teams in 1810, and 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 held possession of their ancient hunting grounds. The few whites who had boldly ventured within their domain to avail themselves of the advantages afforded by its rich virgin soil, built block houses 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 a tract of land in that county, 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 way 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 from which she clothed her children, and she cooked their meals before the fire in the rude, open fireplace of the olden days.

In 1854 Mr. Armstrong sold his place in Jersey County, and going to Montgomery County, settled on land that he had entered from the Government. He built upon it and resided thereon one year. At the expiration of that time he rented it, and coming to Girard bought a home in the village, 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 in Girard. She was the mother of twelve children: Aholla, James, Eveline, Mary Adeline, William, Thomas, Andrew, Jane, Christopher C., Benjamin F., Maurice, 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 schoolhouses with slab benches, that were without backs, and had 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 old home with its familiar scenes, and in 1855, came to Girard, then a small but flourishing village, and he soon became one of its most enterprising merchants, opening a general store here, and he has been engaged in business here continuously since. In 1870 he established himself in the drug trade, and is still carrying it on very prosperously, having a neat and well-equipped store, fully stocked with everything usually found in such an establishment.

Mr. Armstrong was married in 1862 to Miss Fanny D. Weed, and they have made their home the centre of a charming hospitality, as all find who cross its threshold and are welcomed by the kindly host and pleasant hostess. These four children have been born to them: Herbert, Paul, Byron and Irene.

Mr. Armstrong is justly held to be one of our best citizens, both as regards to his private life, and which is irreproachable, and in every public position that he has held, in which he always acted for the best interests of city and county. His fellow citizens, appreciating his worth, his sound business talent, and his genuine integrity of character have often called 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, and also on the School Board. He belongs to Girard Lodge, No. 171, A.F. & A.M., to Girard Chapter, No. 132, R.A.M.; is a member of Macoupin Council, R. & S.M.; and of St. Omar Commandery, No. 30, K.T. 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 this city as Treasurer of the Girard Building and Loan Association, and as President of the Girard Coal Company, and he has contributed greatly to their success and importance.

Source: Chapman bros. Portrait and biographical record of Macoupin county, Illinois. Chicago: Biographical publishing company, 1891.

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