Remaining Versatile for Survival
The 1908 Wisconsin Dept. Encampment was held June 16-18 in Racine. A 23-year old Racine clerk, Benjamin Franklin Armstrong, was elected commander. He was past camp commander of Racine’s Charles Filer Camp 31 and was more recently, the Department Inspector.
The principal business of the encampment was the support of the Sons of Veterans Memorial University at Mason City, Iowa, and its endowment.
Department membership had reached a plateau. As of June 30, 1908, there were 541 brothers in 19 camps.
Camps were mustered at: Amherst (A.J. Smith Camp #3) on December 3rd with 29 members; Platteville (James A. Garfield Camp #9) on January 11, 1910, with 21 members; Plainfield (R.H. Ruscom Camp #4) on March 25th with 36 members; and Clinton (Lincoln Camp #6) on April 29th with 19 members.
Br. Armstrong was born August 24, 1884, in Racine. He was the grandson of John and Susan R. McNellis Armstrong, both Irish immigrants who had come to the U.S. in 1853. Benjamin's father, Samuel R., was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1854. Two years later, the family came to Racine. During the Civil War, he served in Co. K. 33rd Wis. Inf. (19 Aug 1862 – 9 Aug 1865). After the war, John worked as a tinsmith, associating with the J.I. Case Threshing Company for 25 years. He was a member of Racine's Governor Harvey GAR Post 17.
Benjamin's father, Samuel R. (1854-1935), was a painter. On June 29, 1876, he married Jennie (Fannie Jane) Hanson (1859 – 8 Aug 1895). Her father was a Racine alderman for four terms. Together, they had six children, three who lived past infancy. Benjamin was the youngest surviving child.
After his term, PDC Armstrong continued to serve in Racine's Charles Filer Camp #31. In 1915, he was listed as the Camp Patriotic Instructor, while working as a cashier at automobile manufacturer Mitchell Motor Company, one of the city's largest employers. Early that year (16 Feb 1915), he married the former Cora Emily Dusenberry (13 Sep 1883 – 4 Jul 1963) in Provo Utah. Her father was the mayor and her uncle was a senator. Her parents moved to Salt Lake City in 1920. Meanwhile, Benjamin and Cora moved to Promontory, Box Elder County, Utah, where Ben tried his hand as an electrical engineer at a potash plant.
Benjamin Junior was born in Provo (22 Jun 1919 – 13 June 2006).
Uncertain economic times along with difficulties in the potash business, necessitated Benjamin Sr. moving back to Racine, where he took a job as an accountant at a manufacturing company and then became a private broker. Cora remained in Salt Lake City with her family and both mother and grandmother raised Ben Junior.
PDC Benjamin F. Armstrong died in Racine on May 12, 1971 at the age of 86 and was buried at Racine's Mound Cemetery.
Biography researched and compiled by PCinC Steve Michaels.
Deseret News Obits
History of Racine & Kenosha Counties; Chicago 1879, pgs 565-618
Find A Grave Memorial #140152870