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Elizabeth 'Libby' (Minor)
Wilson Armstrong

(1825-1893)

 

Libby Armstrong

Elizabeth A. "Libby" (Minor) Wilson Armstrong was born on July 30, 1825 near Sego, Perry County, OH, the daughter of Daniel and Peggy (Fluckey) Minor Sr.

As a 10-year-old, in 1835, Libby moved with her parents to Cardington, Morrow County, OH.

On Nov. 18, 1845, when she was 20, Libby was united in the bonds of matrimony with 23-year-old Sanford H. Wilson (1822- ? ).

The couple bore one daughter, Emily "Alice" Williams

Their marriage was troubled and only lasted for seven years. In the summer of 1852, Libby sued for divorce. In her petition, on file today at the Morrow County courthouse, her lawyer wrote out her side of the story:

...soon after their marriage ... they commenced keeping house and living together in Westfield township now in Morrow County, where they resided together about 19 months when they removed to Middletown now in said Marion County, where they resided about 5 months, when they returned to said Westfield township, where they resided, kept house and lived together until in the month of November A.D. 1847 (about 3 months), making in all about two years, during which time and ever since [she] has discharged the duties of a wife to [her husband], and [conducted] herself in a kind and affectionate manner toward him.

 

Libby's signature

Libby's complaint went on to say that in November 1847, Sanford "wrongfully, willfully, without cause and against [her] consent" moved out, and went to Kentucky. After that time, he continued to "refuse to live with, or provide for, and take care of" Libby and their daughter, and she was "compelled to support [herself] by her own labor and industry."

The divorce was finally granted, one of the earliest in the known family annals.

On June 8, 1857, now age 32, Libby married a second time to 38-year-old widower William "Forster" Armstrong (1819-1881), son of Joshua and Phoebe (Stearns) Armstrong. He was a native of Pittsford, Monroe County, NY and worked as a clerk in Cardington.

He had been married twice before. His first wife was Mary Denmon ( ? - ? ), and they were wed on Oct. 26, 1837. During their brief married lives, they bore two children . Mary's precise fate is not known. His second bride was Clarissa Orilla (Conklin) White (1820-1856), with their wedding taking place on Dec. 7, 1847.

Thus Elizabeth became stepmother to a total of five -- Clarinda Mariah Wells and Joshua V. Armstrong (from the first marriage) and Philander Armstrong, Philemon D. Armstrong and Matthew Leroy Armstrong (from the second).

Libby and Forster went on to produce one son of their own, William Henry Armstrong.

The federal census enumeration of 1860 shows the blended family in Cardington, with Forster employed as a shingle maker.

 

Piqua's bustling Market Square, early 1900s

 

The Armstrongs first lived at Cardington, where Forster was City Treasurer in 1860. In July 1861, he and Morgan Payne jointly obtained a U.S. Patent for an improved churn.

When the Civil War broke out, they worried as all similar parents did when Forster's sons Joshua and Philemon served in the Army. Grief cascaded over the family when they learned that son Joshua had lost his life in battle at Antietam.

During the 1860s, the family migrated to Indiana, settling in South Bend, St. Joseph County. The 1870 federal census shows Forster as a hoop skirt manufacturer, Libby as a dressmaker and daughter Alice as a milliner, a maker of women's hatwear.

In 1871, Libby and Forster relocated again, this time to Piqua, Miami County, OH, where they raised their son William. The family is enumerated in Piqua in the 1880 United States Census. That year, the census-taker recorded that Forster's occupation was commercial agent and Libby's as dressmaker, but that he suffered from "nervous prostration."

 

Above: Cardington's railroad depot. Below: the Armstrongs' grave markers.

 

Forster passed away in Piqua on March 24, 1881, "of paralysis, after a long and painful illness." His remains were transported back to Cardington for burial, with the funeral sermon preached by Rev. Canfield. In its printed obituary, the Cardington Independent added that he:

...died, as he had lived, a strong believer in Universalism. He said he was ready and willing to go, the sooner it was over the sooner he would be at home.... He will be greatly missed by all of us, but we feel that it is the Lord's will and we must submit. It is only a short me till we will meet beyond the river.

Libby lived for another 12 years and appears to have moved again, to Terre Haute, Vigo County, IN

She died of heart failure on Oct. 26, 1893 at the home of her son William in Dana, Vermillion County, IN. An obituary in the Indianapolis (IN) Indiana State Sentinel said that the town of Dana:

...was greatly shocked and pained this morning when it was passed from lip to lip that Mrs. Armstrong was dead. [She] died last night of paralysis of the heart. She was a noble woman in every sense of the word, a worthy Christian, a life long methodist and an ideal mother. Her life was devoted to her family, who will keenly feel the sad vacancy that death has made. A beautiful life full worthy of imitation has closed here to unfold in eternity. Her family has the true and sincere sympathy of every heart in this community.

Her remains were returned to her hometown. The funeral was held at the home of her sister Margaret Maxwell. She was buried beside her second husband at Bethel Cemetery. 

In looking through an old family photo album in the early 1970s, Libby's grand-niece, Jeanette "Blanche" (Clark) Tarter, commented on a memory: "Aunt Lib the fussy one."

Libby is mentioned in a 2011 book about one of her cousins who served in the Civil War -- Well At This Time: the Civil War Diaries and Army Convalescence Saga of Farmboy Ephraim Miner. [More]

 

~ Stepson Matthew Leroy Armstrong ~

Stepson Matthew Leroy Armstrong (1851-1923) was born on Aug. 25, 1851 in Cardington, Morrow County, OH. 

He was about age six when his father married our Elizabeth (Miner) Wilson.

Three days after Christmas 1873, in nuptials held in Marion, Armstrong County, OH, he married Anna Priscilla "Annie" Baughman (Dec. 7, 1851-1908). She was a resident of Prospect, OH at the time, and as she legally was too young to marry, received the consent of her guardian Thomas Smith. Officiating the nuptials was Rev. Bates.

The pair bore two daughters -- Elsie Chronister and Mamie Blackburn.

When the federal census enumeration was made in1880, the Armstrongs lived in Attica, Fountain County, IN, where Matthew earned a living as a plasterer. 

Unfortunately, the couple separated, and in 1884 Matthew is believed to have borne a son out of wedlock, Harry Leroy Armstrong. Matthew and Anna divorced in 1886 in Marion County, with her charging "gross neglect of duty and wilful absence from her for more than three years." The case was published in the Marion Daily Star.

Census records for 1900 suggest that Matthew wed a second time to Ervenia (April 1861- ? ) and lived in Cedar Rapids, Linn County, IA. He earned a living that year as a mason. A nine-year-old daughter Eureka B. Armstrong was in their household that year. 

As with his brother Philemon, Matthew too relocated to Washington State and lived in Yamika, Yakima County.

On July 5, 1907, in Seattle, Matthew married again to Jean "Jennie" (McKay) Jefferies (1857-1931), an immigrant from Scotland. It was a third marriage for both. She was the mother of six, of whom five were alive in 1910, including Florence Jeffries.

The 1910 U.S. Census shows the Armstrongs in North Yakima, with Matthew continuing his labors as a house plasterer. 

He succumbed to death in Prosser, Benton County, WA at age 73 on Dec. 6 or 7, 1923.

Jennie lived for another eight years. Death carried her away in 1931.      

Ex-wife Annie remarried to John Blackburn. She died in July 1908.

Daughter Elsie May Armstrong (1873- ? ) was born in about 1873 in Ohio. On April 14, 1891, when she was 18 years of age, she wed 22-year-old William Chronister ( ? - ? ). The wedding was held in Marion County, by the hand of Rev. J.L. Hensley. She died in 1964.

Daughter Mary Ann "Mamie" Armstrong (1877-1956) was born in about 1877 in Ohio. She married (?) Blackburn. She passed away in 1956.

Son Harry Leroy Armstrong (1884-1965) 

 

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