WILLIAM JASPER ARMSTRONG.— The north half of the town of Middletown was laid out on a tract of forty acres which originally formed part of the Armstrong ranch now occupied by the widow of William Jasper Armstrong. She is one of the oldest living settlers of that vicinity, and has been a resident of Lake county since the year 1867. Her parents had settled in the county a couple of years previously. Mrs. Armstrong has a vivid recollection of the surrounding country as it appeared at the time of her arrival.
There were Indians, but they were not hostile, and elk, bear, deer, coons and other game abounded, while the choicest of mountain trout and other fish were plentiful in the streams.
Worm fences were the first to be built, the stakes being placed so as to form a fork on which' was placed the rider rail. The stakes were invariably of marasantha (manzanita?) wood, very crooked, all of which added to the rustic appearance of the landscape. Mrs. Armstrong's activity in various interests of value to the community, her ability as a nurse, and her helpfulness in all her relations with her neighbors and other friends, has made her generally beloved, not only in her large family circle but wherever she is known.
William Jasper Armstrong was born in Missouri, and was a youth of eighteen when he came to California with his parents in 1857. He was the son of William C. and Elizabeth (Smith) Armstrong, who settled in Yolo county, in the Cache Creek canyon. The father died in Middletown in 1884, and the mother in Cache Creek canyon in 1863.
On November 10, 1864, William J. Armstrong was married in Napa City to Anastasia Gordon, and on April 12 of the following year they located in Petaluma, this state. In the fall of the same year they returned to Napa City where Mr. Armstrong rented a ranch and engaged in agricultural work. Shortly afterward they removed to Yolo county and for about two years were engaged in ranching, in 1867 coming thence to Lake County and first locating at Guenoc.
In 1870 they settled at Middletown, buying one hundred and forty acres in the Loconoma valley, eighty-four acres of which is still owned by Mrs. Armstrong, who continues to make her home there. Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong sold the forty acres now constituting the northern part of Middletown to John Berry and Oscar Armstrong, who platted and subdivided it. C. M. Young subsequently bought Mr. Berry's interest, the real estate business being thereafter conducted by the firm of Young & Armstrong, much of the townsite being sold by them.
It was surveyed in 1874 by Major Wardlow, who also surveyed Sacramento. Besides the forty acres mentioned, a small part of the Armstrong property was sold to George Fickess, an old settler of Middletown and one of the well-to-do residents of the place.
Mr. Armstrong spent all his active years clearing and improving his place, which is one of the best located ranches in the vicinity; it adjoins Middletown on the northeast. He built a comfortable frame house with a commodious fireplace, a substantial barn, set out a family orchard, and installed various conveniences from time to time, establishing a very desirable home.
He was successfully engaged in the growing of grain and alfalfa, and the place is advantageously situated for dairying. Except for the office of roadmaster, he never took public position, devoting all his time to looking after his private affairs, which prospered under his thrifty management. His death occurred January 11, 1909, when he was aged sixty-nine years, seven months, four days. His religious connection was with the Presbyterian Church.
Twelve children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong, and ten of this family still survive :
Lewis O. of Middletown, who now rents his mother's land, has been twice married : by his first union he had two children, Francis M. and Clara May, both of whom are married, and each has one child. His second marriage was to Valeria Fuller, of Tonopah, NV.
William Ross, the second child of Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong, died when ten and a half years old.
George, a contractor and builder, residing at Camp Meeker, Sonoma county, married Hattie Meadow, of Lake county, and has one child, Eleanor. Martha E. married Henry M. Morris (now deceased) by whom she has one daughter, Velma, and for her second husband married Dr. Robert L. Cleveland, proprietor of the
Cleveland Sanitarium near Ukiah, CA.
Thomas Henry died when four and a half years old.
Sarah H. first married Henry Waterberry, by whom she had one child, Fannie Lovina, now wife of A. Mort Stanley, editor of the Middletown Independent, and they have one child, Melmouth. Mrs. Waterberry later became the wife of Sherman Cooley, a cement layer and ranchman.
David P., a teamster living at Ukiah, CA married Ruby Christie, and they have three daughters, Viola May, Pearl, and Elva.
Emily Phoebe is married to I. W. Mussfield, a gold miner, living at Pike City, NV; they have three children, Scorreta, Irma and Harriet.
Stasia is the wife of Bert Wells, a blacksmith and rancher of Middletown, and has two children, Melba and Louis.
John Price, engaged as overseer on the Hale ranch, a tract of four thousand acres 2 miles north of Middletown, married Mabel Caps and has one child, Elinor.
Alfred E., a carpenter and storekeeper, of Camp Meeker, is married to Martha From.
Flick Ervin, a ranchman, lives at home.
Mrs. Armstrong has made her home on the ranch at Middletown continuously since 1870, and now surrounded by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, is enjoying the evening of life with the love of many relatives and friends. She has been prominent in the work of the Methodist Episcopal Church South at Middletown, having been instrumental in organizing the congregation, and she also helped to organize the Ladies' Aid
Society of that church; she has been one of the most useful members of the society, which she has served as president. Having joined the Rebekahs before the formation of the lodge at Middletown, she became a charter member of that body and is now its oldest member.
On political questions she is a Democrat. After her husband's death Mrs. Armstrong did not attempt to operate the ranch herself, her eldest son renting the property. Her considerable experience as a nurse, for which work her kindness of heart and sympathetic disposition admirably fit her, made her services much in demand in the community for many years, and her considerate manner and sincerity have endeared her to many whom she has comforted in times of trouble.
George Ross Gordon, Mrs. Armstrong's father, was born in the state of Ohio. The Gordons originally came to this country from Scotland. Mr. Gordon followed farming in Ohio, and also slaughtered cattle. There he married Elizabeth Finley Beard, like himself a native of Ohio, but of French descent, her great-grandfather, William Gordon, serving in the Revolutionary
war. For a time George Ross Gordon lived in Monmouth, Warren county, IL, and thence in 1860 he came overland to California, with oxen, his wife with their six children following in 1863, by way of Nicaragua, landing at San Francisco in July of that year. Mr. Gordon for a time engaged in farming in Yolo and Napa counties, in the fall of 1865 coming to Lake county and settling at Upper Lake. He became very well-to-do, acquiring the ownership of three and a quarter sections of land on the dividing ridge between Potter and Bachelor valleys, in Lake county.
He opened up Bartlett Springs and kept the first hotel there. As a fruit grower, and sheep and cattle raiser, he was also very successful. Mr. Gordon died in this county June 1, 1880, when seventy-one years old, and Mrs. Gordon died in Colusa county July 1, 1902, when seventy-two years old. Of the eleven children born to them seven grew to maturity, three sons and two daughters now surviving. Mrs. Armstrong is the eldest living. She was born in Peoria county, IL, and was educated in public schools of that state and California. She remained with her parents until her marriage.
LOUIS O. ARMSTRONG, son of W.J Armstrong
Adjoining Middletown on the northeast is a valuable ranch which formerly included forty acres on which the northern part of that town is now situated, and the Armstrongs have been associated with the improvement and progress of that part of Lake county for nearly fifty years. William Jasper Armstrong, father of Louis O. Armstrong, lived there from 1870 until his death in 1909. and his widow continues to reside upon their home place, which Louis O. Armstrong now rents and cultivates.
He has other agricultural interests in the vicinity, and is also an experienced blacksmith, having had a varied career as a mechanic before he turned his attention principally to ranching.
Mr. Armstrong was born at Napa City, Cal., May 13, 1866, and was but five years old when his parents, William Jasper and Anastasia (Gordon) Armstrong, moved to what is now Middletown, where he was reared and educated, attending public school.
At the age of twenty years he began to learn the trade of blacksmith, serving an apprenticeship with James Parish, the pioneer blacksmith of Lake county, who had a shop at Middletown. When twenty-one he went to Shasta county, this state, where he found work at his trade with the Shasta Lumber Company, at Bellavista, for one year. He then bought a farm in that county, which he improved considerably during the several years of his residence there, cultivating that place until 1896.
Subsequently he was in the employ of the Iron Mountain Smelting Company 4 years as blacksmith; at the end of that time, in February, 1900, he moved to Nevada. For 3 years he was with the Nevada Mining Company at Berlin, as blacksmith, passing the next year at Middletown, CA, working for Kemp & Tocher Blacksmiths.
The year following he worked at Tonopah, Nev., as blacksmith, after which he became engineer for the Nevada Mining Company
at Tonopah, running a hoisting engine for three years. Returning to the Berlin mine, he remained there two years. and in 1908 he returned to Middletown and resumed work at blacksmithing with Mr. Tocher, with whom he continued for two years.
He has since given most of his time to agriculture, renting his
mother's land, which comprises eighty-four acres, all but five of which is in alfalfa.
Mr. Armstrong also rents a hill ranch of three hundred acres, where he pastures about twenty-five head of cattle. His work is looked after diligently and intelligently, and he is a well and favorably known citizen of Middletown, where he has a pleasant home, his mother occupying the house on the ranch.
He is a worthy member of a family whose name has been honor-
ably associated with Middletown from the days of its inception.
By his first marriage, which took place October 16, 1887, to Miss Leona Lilly, of Shasta county, Mr. Armstrong has two children : Francis M., who lives at Richmond, Cal., is a shingler by occupation ; he married Ethel Petit, and they have one child. Clara May is the wife of William Hanson, a railway engineer, on the Santa Fe road, and lives at Riverbank, Cal. ; they have one child.
In July, 1902, Mr. Armstrong married Miss Valeria Fuller, of Austin, Nev., a native of that state, and they have had one child, Lovita.
Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong hold membership in the Methodist Episcopal Church South at Middletown, which his mother, Mrs. Anastasia Armstrong, was instrumental in organizing. In political matters he gives his support to the Democratic party. Fraternally he is a member of Friendship Lodge No. 150, I. O. O. F., of which he is past grand, and with his wife is a member of the Rebekahs. He is also a member of the Foresters of America.