JASPER NEWTON ARMSTRONG, SR.
JASPER NEWTON ARMSTRONG, SR.--At Honcut, Butte County, Cal., Jasper Newton Armstrong, Sr., with his good wife, is spending the closing years of a long, useful and eventful life. Of Southern lineage, born in Jackson County, Ind., August 6, 1845, he was the seventh child in a family of eleven children. His father, John Little Armstrong, and his mother, Emily May (Rodman) Armstrong, were natives of the Blue Grass State, where the father was reared and had the distinction of being a neighbor of, and well acquainted with, Abraham Lincoln. The father was a tanner by trade, while living in Indiana; but upon his removal with his family to Texas, he followed the occupation of farming and stock-raising in Wise County, on a large scale. Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman was a first cousin of Jasper Newton Armstrong. A second cousin, Gen. Thomas Rodman, was in charge of the construction of the United States arsenal at Rock Island, and during the Civil War was in charge of the arsenal at Philadelphia. He was the inventor of the Rodman gun.
Jasper Newton Armstrong had only limited schooling, but became a skilful horseman and thrower of the lariat on his father’s large ranch, where he followed the occupation of the cowboy and acquired great skill in roping and handling cattle. In the twenty years of his life in Texas (from 1857 to 1875) he was privileged to see a great deal of frontier life, a phase of our civilization that will soon be a matter of history, or a memory in the minds of some of the older inhabitants. In those days the Comanche Indians gave a great deal of trouble to the settlers, and Mr. Armstrong has many reminiscences to relate concerning those times. For the greater part of the time he lived in Lost Valley, twenty-seven miles northwest of Fort Worth, and in his younger years attended the “Old Sway Back Brick School House,” where the seats were of rough puncheon. In 1862 he enlisted in the Confederate army in Company I, of Colonel Martin’s Regulars of the Fifth Texas Rangers. At eighteen years of age, in 1863, he married Sarah M. Howard, a daughter of Richard Howard, a son of the Old Dominion who came out to Missouri, where his daughter Sarah was born, and from that state removed to Texas and engaged in stock-raising. The Howards come from an early American family of Scotch origin, who came from England and settled in Virginia in colonial days. Mrs. Armstrong’s maternal grandmother was Eliza Petitt, and had a sister who married a brother of James Madison, Ex-President of the United States. Mrs. Armstrong’s father was an overseer at “Monticello,” Thomas Jefferson’s plantation in Virginia.
Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong. Louise became the wife of W. W. Burgan, and died leaving two children, Clara and George, who now reside in Honcut. Margaret married W. W. Burgan, after his first wife died, and is living in Honcut. She is the mother of four children: Elmer, Lulu, William and Howard. The third child, James Leiter, is engaged in auto trucking in Grass Valley. He married Miss Louise Shell, of Honcut, and they have two children, Helen and Dorothy. John W., who resides at Sacramento, is in the employ of the Sacramento Union. He married Eva Locey, of Camptonville, Yuba County, and is the father of one child, Vera. Jasper Newton, Jr., married Miss Mary L. Haling, of Honcut, and has five children: Mildred, Irene, Lucile, Stanley and Margaret. He is a rancher, and is in partnership with his brother Harvey Howard Armstrong in the stock business. Harvey Howard resides in Honcut, and is the owner of the large eleven-hundred-acre grain ranch in Butte and Yuba Counties. He married Margaret Gould, a native of Yuba County and daughter of the late Elmore H. Gould. They have five children: Jean, Gould, Boyd, Norman and Donald.
Jasper Newton Armstrong came to Butte County in 1876 from Winnemucca, Nev., where he was in the dairy business for one year. He settled in Honcut on three hundred acres of land. He had purchased a large tract of land in Texas, and planned its sale in subdivisions; but the panic of 1873 caught him, like many others, and he lost his property. Hence he was obliged to start anew when he came to Honcut. For some years he was baggage master on the Northern California Railway, owned by Binney and Rideout, and at times ran the train, acting as baggage man and conductor. He afterward engaged in the merchandise business, and was at one time the owner of three stores, in the management of which his sons assisted him. These stores were located at Honcut, where he had a drug store in connection with his grocery store; at Allegheny, Sierra County; and at Forest City. Mr. Armstrong’s brother, Sam Rodman Armstrong, lived in Butte County for twenty years, and there died and was buried. His sister, Emily May Armstrong, married Dr. Horton, who practiced in Honcut for twenty years.
Mr. Armstrong is still very strong, active and well preserved. He is a true patriot, and at the present time staunchly supports the Wilson administration and has no use for slackers and pacifists. He is strong for the right, and stands for it, first, last and always. He is a member of the Butte County Council of Defense. In 1904, he was the Democratic candidate for assemblyman; but he was in a strong Republican district, and so he was not elected, though he ran ahead of his ticket.
Mr. Armstrong and his wife have eighteen grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. He has a wide acquaintance throughout the Sacramento Valley, and the whole state. He warmly cherishes the friendships he has made, and finds in them a source of great personal pleasure.
Transcribed by Vicky Walker, 3/5/08.
Source: "History of Butte County, Cal.," by George C. Mansfield, Pages 761-762, Historic Record Co, Los Angeles, CA, 1918.
© 2008 Vicky Walker.