ARMSTRONG, Thomas Kirk

ARMSTRONG, Thomas Kirk

Thomas Kirk Armstrong was born 7 September 1847 at Plenmellor (or spelled Plainmellor), Northumberland, England the 6th child and son of William Armstrong and Mary Kirk. He was christened Thomas Armstrong, in the Presbyterian Church. Later , he added the maiden name of his mother “Kirk” to his name. He was the sixth child of thirteen children. His father was a machinist and a master blacksmith who worked for Stephenson and Hartshorn Machine Shops at Newcastle-on-Tyne and who also helped construct the first locomotive built in England.

In 1857 Thomas, now age 10, traveled with his family from Penmeller to Canada and settled in Mount Hope, Glanford, Wentworth, Ontario (near Hamilton), where his father William bought property and worked at his trade of blacksmith and also owned and operated a large farm.

In 1858 just a year after the Armstrong family arrived in Canada Thomas’ older brother Francis left home with some friends on horseback to go to Australia, but he got side tracked in Missouri and eventually joined the Mormon Church and traveled to the Salt Lake Valley and worked at the Saw Mill in Big Cottonwood Canyon for a Mr. Little, but due to his hard work and saving of his money he eventually bought the saw mill.

Thomas was living with his family in the 1861 Canadian census in Glanford and was listed as age 12. But over the years from age 12 to 20 he was influenced by his brother’s letters, and in 1867 he left home and traveled with a company of saints to the Salt Lake Valley which arrived on October 1, 1867. He worked for his brother at the saw mill in Big Cottonwood Canyon running the lath mill. He was baptized 8 months later on May 7, 1868, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, called “Mormons”. He took out USA Citizenship in 1875.

While Thomas was working at the Saw Mill he met a young woman named Margaret Stevenson Hutchison who was a cook. Margaret was baptized as a child of age 8 in Scotland, as her parents were converts. She immigrated with her father William Hutchison and sister Euphemia in 1866. Thomas married her on January 19, 1869, by Daniel H. Wells in the LDS Church Endowment House. Note: SLC temple was not completed until 1894.

Ten children were born to Thomas Armstrong and Margaret Hutchison.

  • Thomas Hutchison Armstrong -born 15 Feb 1870 in Big Cottonwood Canyon, Utah Territory
  • Jane Penman Hutchison Armstrong -born 9 Dec 1871 in Big Cottonwood Canyon)Utah Territory
  • William Hutchison Armstrong- born 9 Feb 1874 in Salt Lake City) Utah Territory
  • Francis Hutchison Armstrong -born 16 Mar 1876 in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory
  • Margaret May Armstrong -born 8 May 1878 in Mount Hope)Glanford, Ontario, Canada
  • John William Armstrong – born 9 Aug 1880 in Mount Hopee Glanford, Ontario, Canada
  • Mary Alice Armstrong -born 6 Dec 1882 in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory
  • David George Armstrong- born 8 April 1886 in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory
  • Annie Emma Armstrong -born 25 Oct 1888 in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory
  • Clara Famey Armstrong -born 26 May 1892 in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory

Three of the ten, William, John and Annie Emma died when young children. The others all lived and married except, George who remained a bachelor. He had 40 grandchildren and Six were living as of April 1996.

Thomas Kirk Armstrong was instrumental in developing the Utah territory with his team and wagon, his sawmill work, and in the sheep business at a location about seven miles east of Park City, Utah. He also maintained a dipping vat that all sheepmen used to dip their sheep in. They used a solution of tobacco and sulphur.

Because of the poor economy during President Grover Cleveland’s administration, Thomas was forced to sell all of his sheep for $1.75 a head. He later became a watchman at the Salt Lake City water work reservoir located at 13th East and 1st South Streets. His brother Francis Armstrong was Mayor of Salt Lake City and Thomas obtained this job for his brother.

Many histories are written about Thomas. Interesting comments from his children in the histories include one story telling that his children urged him to shave off his beard, but he felt so uncomfortable without it and felt he looked so “funny” that he grew it back. The children never made that request again! Thomas was much admired as a very kind man of impeccable integrity. His son-in-law, Frank Bates Hall, husband of his daughter May, said “He was one of the most honest and big hearted men I have ever known”.

Thomas died at the age of 79, on March 1, 1927, just six days away from turning 80, and was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

[See Original copy in SUP Library for extensive documentation & notes] Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Articles, Pioneer Stories

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