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In a record of those who have been prominently identified with the development and progress of Latah county it is imperative that definite consideration be granted to the subject of this review, for not only is he a prominent representative of the agricultural interests of this favored section, but has the distinction of being one of the pioneers of the golden west, with whose fortunes he has been identified for fully forty years, concerned with varied industrial pursuits and so ordering his life as to gain and retain the confidence and esteem of his fellow men.
Charles Dexter Armstrong is a native of the old Buckeye state, having been born in Knox County, Ohio, on the 22d of January 1834, and being a representative of sterling old southern families. His father, John Armstrong, was born in Owen County, Kentucky, and did valiant service as a soldier in the war of 1812, being a member of an Ohio regiment. As a young man he married Miss Melinda Hinton, a native of the state of Maryland, and soon after their marriage they removed to Ohio, where they established their home and reared a family of eleven children. They were members of the Methodist church and were conscientious and upright in all the relations of life. The mother departed this life in the fifty-fourth year of her age, and the father lived to attain the venerable age of ninety years. Of the immediate family only four are living at the present time, so far as known to the subject of this sketch. Charles D. was the youngest of the children, and his educational training was secured in the primitive log school-house in the vicinity of his home, in Knox county, and this rudimentary institution he was enabled to attend only during the winter months, as the boys in the pioneer settlements had to assist in the development and cultivation of the farms, in which line our subject recalls the fact that he contributed his due quota of hard work. He assumed the individual responsibilities of life at the age of eighteen years, and in 1859, when he had attained the age of twenty-five years, he determined to try his fortunes in the far west. He accordingly made the long, weary and dangerous journey across the plains and over the mountains to the golden state of California. The party of which he was a member comprised eleven families, and the little band of emigrants plodded its way across the continent with ox teams. After reaching his destination Mr. Armstrong was for some time engaged in mining in Eldorado and Nevada counties, California, in which operations he met with only modest success.
In the year 1882 Mr. Armstrong started for the Camas prairie of Idaho, but became impressed with the attractions and prospects of the northern section of the state and determined to locate in what is now Latah County. Accordingly, in 1883, he established himself upon his present fine farm, a hundred and sixty acres, which he secured from the government, and here, by industry and discriminating effort, he has developed one of the most valuable farming properties in this section of the Gem state.
At Virginia City, Nevada, in the year 1867, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Armstrong and Miss Mary E. Johnson, who was born in Polk County, Oregon, the daughter of Nelson Johnson, an Oregon pioneer of 1847. Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong had nine children at the time of their removal to Idaho, and since that time seven more have been added to the family circle. It is a fact worthy of note that of this large family all are living with the exception of one, the youngest child being four years of age and the oldest thirty-one. Of the children we offer the following brief record: John Nelson; Melinda, who died in her seventeenth year; Maud Alice, now Mrs. Chas. A. Edwards; Ida May, the wife of Newton Lile; Charles Hinton, who was a bright student in the University of Idaho, enlisted in the ranks at the time of the inauguration of the Spanish-American war and is now serving his country as first sergeant of his company, in the Philippine islands; Walter Benton; Rosalind; Joshua William; Edwin Forrest; Elmer James; Mabel Florence; George Wallace; Albert Dexter; Percy Newton: Clyde D.; and Sallie Hazel. The parents have every reason to be proud of their children, all of whom are bright, intelligent and good-looking, representing the best type of American youth. Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong are both in excellent health, are of genial nature, and, blessed with the goodly gifts of temporal fortune and with the filial devotion of their children, they may well feel that their lines have fallen in pleasant places.
Mr. Armstrong is a man of strong mentality and has taken a very lively interest in the cause of education and in all other objects which tend to further the advancement and well-being of his county and state. He has served as a school trustee for many years, and has been indefatigable in his efforts to afford the best possible educational advantages to his own and his neighbors’ children. In his political adherency he has been a lifelong Democrat, and he is known as a man of unbending integrity and sterling worth. The family enjoy a marked popularity in the community where they have lived since coming to Idaho, and this tribute is well merited.