Biography - George Armstrong

To those who know Mayor George W. Armstrong it is useless for us to say that he is well known and popular. It is only for the benefit of those who are unacquainted with him that we say it. He is popular with all classes, both in Roodhouse and surrounding country. There are those who differ with him on public questions, but they do not fail to recognize his ability as a clever, honest and strait forward business man, who has gained his popularity and won success by treating everybody the best he knew how. To his friends no man is ever more true – to his enemies – well, he has none; but if he had, they would be treated in a most charitable manner. He is one of those men upon whom the clouds of gloom seem never to cast a shadow. With a genial welcome and a clever story he spreads bright sunshine on all about him. This and any number of other good qualities is why everybody likes George W. Armstrong, the four times Mayor, successful merchant and pioneer banker of Roodhouse.
Mr. Armstrong was born near Ellsworth, Maine, on a farm, March 29, 1843. He remained at home with his father until he was 21 years of age, leading the quiet and uneventful life of the average farmer boy, going to school between corn husking time in the fall and plowing time in the spring and having nothing to do the whole year round but work. In 1864 he concluded to try the West and located in Illinois. After coming to this State he worked three years with his brothers in saw mills located in Brown, Menard and Greene Counties. After this they made railroad ties and did contract work, making fence for the Chicago and Alton Railroad. In the five years thus employed they built over 700 miles of fence for the "Alton". They owned a saw mill at Schutz Mills and got out all the lumber used in the Louisiana railway bridge on the "Alton," for which they had the contract.
In 1873 Mr. Armstrong bought an interest in a general merchandise store here with James Armstrong and P. J. Sharp. A year later, in 1874, he established the Roodhouse Bank and for two years the business was conducted in the store. In 1876 a company was organized, composed of G. W. Armstrong, E. M. Husted, W. H. Barrow and W. P. Gilmore, each contributing an equal share. This organization assumed charge of the banking business, which was then transferred to another building. Mr. Armstrong continued in the merchandising business until 1884, when he sold his interest to John Murray. For five years thereafter he was engaged in the insurance business, most of his time being taken up with the Great Western Workingmen’s Association, which had its origin in this city. June, 1889, he went into the Roodhouse Bank as acting cashier, and held the position until August, 1897, in the meantime carrying on his fire insurance business.
In 1873 he was married to Miss Mary L. Sharp, of Peosta, Iowa. They have four children – Katherine, wife of E. E. Anderson, Georgia, Albert and Herbert.
Mr. Armstrong is a Republican in politics and until the past few years took quite an active part in the affairs of his party. For several years he was Chairman of the County Republican Central Committee. He was elected Mayor of Roodhouse in 1883, was elected again in 1893, re-elected in 1895 and again in 1897. If he wants the office again in 1899 he will be very apt to get it. He usually gets what he goes after. He even got W. J. Bryan to speak here September 18, 1897, making a trip to Bryan’s home in Lincoln, Nebraska, for that purpose.
In Mr. Armstrong’s capacity as banker, there are few business men in Roodhouse or farmers in the surrounding country who have not at some time or times been the recipient of his favors and kindness. In this way he has done as much or more than any other individual to aid struggling or overcrowded merchants and others over the rough places in the highway of business activity. Industrious, enthusiastic and enterprising, he is always in favor of any undertaking that will benefit the city or its people. Would there were more of his kind in Roodhouse.

Transcribed 25 Oct 2006 by Linda Jones Craig from Souvenir of Roodhouse, 1897.

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