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Stephen A. Armstrong

STEPHEN A. ARMSTRONG, senior member of the well-known law firm of Armstrong & Johnson, of Celina, was born in Montezuma, Mercer county, December 18, 1848. He is a son of William and Martha (Livingston) Armstrong, the former of whom was a native of Ireland, born of Scotch-Irish parentage, and the latter a native of Dublin, Ireland, but of English extraction, born in 1812. They were married in Liverpool, England, and came to the United States in 1832. They at first located in the city of Philadelphia, Pa., where they had relatives. They thence removed to Drummond county, near Montreal, Canada, and in 1847 they came to Mercer county, Ohio, locating at Montezuma, in Franklin township. The father was a machinist by trade, and had learned his trade at Enniskillen, Ireland, a city beautifully situated on the river Erne. For some time he worked at his trade in London, England, and after arriving in this country he continued to follow it. He died in March, 1850, his family consisting at that time of his wife, two daughters and one son. Four sons had died in Montezuma in December, 1849, all within the same month, of scarlet fever. Within four months' time four sons and the father of the family died, and the widow, left with her three children to care for, was in but moderate circumstances. In 1851 or 1852 she removed to Celina, but some time later returned to Montezuma. She was a woman of fine intellect and good education, which she brought into requisition as a school teacher, teaching both at Celina and Montezuma, thus earning the money on which to support her little family, without drawing on her capital, which she kept intact for a considerable time. Her two daughters, also, as soon as old enough, taught school, continuing for several years both in Montezuma and Celina. She died in Montezuma December 13, 1857. The eldest daughter, Anna, is the wife of K. Albery, of Celina, and the other, Eliza, is now deceased.

Stephen A. Armstrong received his preliminary education in the public schools of Montezuma and Celina. About 1862 he began an apprenticeship to the printer's trade, at which he continued for about three years in Celina, after which he returned to the public schools and completed a high school course. Afterward he taught four terms of school in the country. Then he was employed as superintendent of the public schools of Celina, holding this position one year, after which he entered the university of Michigan, where he took both the literary and the law course of study, and graduated from the law department of the university with the degree of L. B. in 1873. For five years previous to entering the university of Michigan he had read law while teaching school, so that his course in the university was much more easy and valuable to him than it otherwise would have been.

April 19, 1873, he was admitted to the bar to practice before the supreme court of the state of Michigan, then sitting in Detroit, and immediately thereafter he was admitted to practice in the courts of Ohio and the federal courts. On the 7th of July, 1873, he began the practice of law in Celina, and he has since been constantly engaged in practice. In the fall of 1875 he was elected prosecuting attorney of Mercer county by a very large majority, running five hundred votes ahead of both state and county tickets. He was re-elected in 1879, again leading the ticket. At one of the elections he received every vote polled in his native (Franklin) township. Mr. Armstrong has always taken an active interest in school affairs, and has served as president of the school board several years. The law firm of Armstrong & Johnson was formed at Celina January 1, 1887.

Mr. Armstrong was married December 28, 1870, to Alice Shipley, who was born in Dayton, Ohio, April 25, 1854, and is a daughter of Samuel B. Shipley, of Rockford, Ohio. To this marriage the following children have been born: William B., who graduated from the Celina high school in 1889, and is now engaged in the oil business in Mercer county; Russell L., who graduated from the Celina high school, was appointed a cadet in the United States Military academy at West Point, was prepared at Highland Falls, N. Y., passed his examination, and was admitted to the academy June 15, 1895, being a member of the fourth year class of that institution; Samuel F.; Stephen C., Alice May, and John, the last four attending the public schools in Celina.

In speaking of Mr. Armstrong, Robert L. Mattingly, of the well-known firm of Mattingly & Kenney, of Celina, compliments him as follows: “An acquaintance and association with him for the last ten years or more enables me to say of him that as a lawyer he is thoroughly grounded in the elementary principles of the law—abreast with the decisions of the present time--justly in the front rank of the Ohio bar. In practice active, resourceful, logical, scholarly; not in any sense affecting oratory or excelling as an advocate, but strong in trials, and by reason of his legal acumen very successful in his practice before the courts."

Pages 175-176

Source: A Portrait and Biographical Record of Mercer and Van Wert Counties Ohio, Chicago, A. W. Bowen & Company, 1896

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