ROBERT ARMSTRONG An Autobiography
I, Robert Armstrong, was born on the 12th of April, 1853 in Legananny, County Down, Ireland. I was the fourth child, and second son of William and Mary Martin Armstrong. My father was born in the year 1822 in Legananny, County Down, Ireland. My grandfather's name was John Armstrong, born in Legananny, County Down, Ireland. My great grandfather's name was Robert Armstrong. My grandmother's name was Esther McDowell, and my great grandmother's name was Nancy Scott. My mother, Mary Martin, was born in the year 1827, in Legananny, County Down, Ireland. My grandfather's name was Robert Martin, and my great grandfather's name was Robert Martin. My great great grandfather's name was also Robert Martin. My grandmother's name was Jane Nicholsen. I had five sisters and seven brothers, all born in Legananny, County Down, Ireland. Their names are: Esther, born on Dec. 8, 1947; Jane, born Aug. 17, 1849; John, born June 25, 1851; Hugh and James, (twins) born Apr. 12, 1855; Annie, born Apr. 12, 1857; Mary, born Jan 28, 1859; William James, born Jan. 28, 1861; Samuel, born Feb. 22, 1864; Joseph, born Nov. 8, 1866; David, born Sep. 4, 1867; Sarah, born on May 24, 1870. I had brown eyes, and dark hair. I was raised on a farm, and my parents belonged to the Church of England. I received a good education. I was educated for a school teacher, but I never followed it up. My father bound me to work in a baker's shop. Then I took up book-keeping in the bakery business. When I was twenty-one years of age I left there and a chum of mine, Harry Guthrie, and I immigrated to New Zealand on a sailing vessel. We were twenty-six days on the ocean. We landed in Nelson, on the South Island of New Zealand in the month of July, 1874. From there I went to Blenheim, stayed there for two or three weeks, then I crossed Cook Straight to the North Island, and landed in Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. My first job was on a dairy farm for a man by the name of Richard Thacker. I fell in love with his daughter, Anna, and we were married on the fourth of April, 1877, in the Church of England at Karori. The Thacker dairy was at Karori, five miles North East of Wellington. Here also a little baby girl was born to us on Dec. 19, 1877. We gave her the name of Annie. We had her christened in the Church of England. She had blue eyes and dark hair. Mr. Thacker gave up the dairy farm, and I and George Halford, and Daniel Charker, two of my wife's brothers-in-law, carried it on and went into the dairy business; but we could not agree, and broke up. This venture left me penniless. I then took my wife and baby and moved to Paukaritai, and while there, another baby girl was born to us on April 20, 1879. We gave her the name of Emma Elizabeth. She was christened by the Wesleyan minister there. We were in very bad circumstances. I could not get work, and had a hard struggle to get a living. I moved with my family back to Karori. I got work on the roads, and made a good living. A third daughter was born to us on Sep. 9, 1881. We named her Esther Mary. She was christened by the Wesleyan minister too. In the year 1882 there was trouble with the Maoris, and I, with a number of others volunteered to go and fight for the government. We were sent to Pariaka, but we did not have to fire a shot. It was settled without fighting. On Dec. 8, 1883, our fourth baby girl was born to us. We named her Sarah Kate. In the year 1883 I went to a meeting of the Salvation Army. The Captain in charge invited anyone who cared to speak to come forward and an elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints arose. His name was Henry Allington. This was the first time I had heard some of the things he said. I was so impressed with his remarks that I walked home with him and discussed his beliefs. He loaned me some of his books to read. I read them and was more convinced that he taught the truth. On Jan. 13, 1884 I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and confirmed, or given the Holy Ghost, the same day by Henry Allington in Karori. In September, 1885 I, with my family, moved to Palmerston North, Manawatu. Previous to this time, my wife's father and mother had moved to Palmerston North. We lived in a cottage that belonged to Mr. Thacker on Foxton Line. I had saved a little money, and I loaned it to Mr. Thacker. I never got it back. I let it all go for rent. I got a job away up in the back-blocks, forming roads through the bush. This job barely paid expenses and my fare back home. Again I was penniless, but I obtained work on the roads in Palmerston North. Our fifth child was born there. At last we had a son born to us. We gave him the name of William Thomas. He was born on April 7, 1886. Another baby girl was born to us on Dec. 22, 1888. We gave her the name of Hilda Jane. I do not remember the date I was ordained a priest, but I was ordained an elder by Elder William Paxman, who was the president of the New Zealand Mission, on the 2nd of June 1889. On Apr. 9, 1891 we had another baby girl born to us. We named her Lydia Rose. On Dec. 11, 1892 I was appointed President of the Palmerston North Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. On Jan. 23, 1894 our second son was born to us. We gave him the name of Henry John. I had leased two and a half acres of orchard, but it was sold before the lease was up, and I got compensation because the people wanted to move into it right away. I bought a half acre of land on Church St. West, and I had the Building Society build me a house on it in the year 1901. I finished it off myself, and built another room onto it, and built a veranda half way around it. I had a beautiful flower garden both in the front and at the back. While we were living there, my oldest son was stricken down with blood poisoning and one Sunday morning he went into Convulsions. He had seven of them. We called the doctor and sent for the elders. The doctor said he was in critical condition, and he told one of the neighbors that there was no hope for him. We had him administered to by the elders. President Bartlett was there, and he stayed with him all night. The next day when the doctor came he was surprised; he said Willie must have had some wonderful nurses. The doctor said the only thing now is that his eyesight is affected. President Bartlett said his eyesight was gone. So they administered to him for the restoration of his eyesight, and when they took their hands off his head his eyesight returned, and he could see. That was a strong testimony to me that the same gifts and blessings are in the church today that were in the church at the time of Christ. I received the sad news that on March 17, 1908, my father died in Legananny, County Down, Ireland. We lived in our home on Church St. for five years. Then I sold our home and bought a store and dwelling house on the corner of Main St. West and Botanical Road. I stocked the shop with groceries in the year 1906 and I worked up a good business and saved up quite a lot of money. We prospered more after we started paying tithing. That strengthened my faith more. I had the store for five years, then sold out to come to Zion. I sold the furniture by auction. I rented a house on Pascal St. for a few months. My daughter, Esther, and her husband came from Gisborne to go with us to Zion. I, with some of my family went to the Hui Tau (Annual Conference) which was held at Papawai, Wairarapa. After the conference we went back to Palmerston North, then left with all my family except my eldest son, William, and his wife who were living in Gisborne. We spent a few days in Auckland. Then we embarked on the R.M.S. Manuka and set sail for America on the eighth of April, 1911 about 12:30 p.m. The passage on the boat for my family and myself cost me $812.50. When we arrived at San Francisco I had to pay $28.00 for head tax. We arrived on the 27th of April, 1911, after 19 days on the ocean. We spent a few days in San Francisco, sightseeing, including a visit to Golden Gate Park. We then boarded a train headed for Salt Lake City, Utah. We arrived in Salt Lake city on May 1, 1911. I rented a house on Roosevelt Ave. just west of Seventh East, opposite my eldest daughter, Annie, who had been in Salt Lake City for eleven years. I bought a home in the Forest Dale Ward, near to the Maori's homes in the beginning of July. I paid three thousand dollars cash for it. I bought it from Sister Charles Kimball, and I bought some of their furniture. My eldest daughter, Annie, died on Aug. 22, 1911, a little over three months after we arrived here. I got a job as janitor of the Forest Dale Meeting House at $35.00 a month. On the 2nd of June 1912 I received the following patriarchal blessing from patriarch Harrison Sperry. "Robert Armstrong, as a servant of the Lord, and a patriarch in the Church of our God, I lay my hands upon your head and give you a patriarchal blessing. You are of Ephraim. This runs in the lineage of Isaac and Jacob. The Lord is pleased with you, for you are his own child, faithful and true before you left the courts on high. You were in the division of the Hosts of Heaven. In that great rebellion you stood firm and true, and you gave your vote on the side of truth and virtuousness. For this the Lord is pleased with you; and He placed you here upon this earth to receive a tabernacle, to have employment, to do all the good you can to all; to your children, to your wife, to your neighbors, and to everyone; and you have done all this and He is pleased with you. Brother, be thou comforted. The Lord will give you peace. Be humble, and you will have eternal life in the presence of the Father. There are great experiences here upon this earth, and you will have this here upon this earth, and you will be called to do some work behind the veil. Brother, the Lord will bless you with means. You shall have money, horses, lands, houses, and everything pleasant you desire in righteousness the Lord will grant unto you. Your table will be supplied with all manner of good things to eat. Thou shalt have the privilege of going through the temple of the Lord, and there perform a work for yourself, for your wife, for your kindred, and for those who have passed away without the knowledge of the Gospel, and are now waiting in the prison house to come forth, and they might be released by someone, and take an active part in the work here established on this earth. They will fall upon your neck and call you blessed, for truly you are a savior to them, and you will dwell in peace, and know happiness behind the veil, where a mansion of glory will be prepared for you with your wife, children, and all those noble ones, and also those who have washed their robes. Brother, be thou comforted. The Lord, He loves you in so much He will inspire you; will give you dreams by night, and visions by day; and if you so desire you shall converse with heaven; and your name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life; and you are entitled to eternal life and all of the blessings pertaining to the new and everlasting gospel. These are your blessings, and I seal them upon you. You shall come forth in the morning of the first resurrection, crowned with glory and eternal life. Be thou faithful and true and these blessings are all yours, and I seal them in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." I received word from Ireland that my sister, Mary, died on Jan. 12, 1913. My wife and I went to the temple and got our endowments, and were sealed on April 17, 1913. When Brother Tamihana Te Awe Awe was called on a mission to New Zealand, I got his job as janitor at the Salt Lake Tabernacle. I was ordained a High Priest by Brother William Bradford on Dec. 20, 1914. My mother died on March 14, 1917 in Legananny, County Down, Ireland. My youngest daughter, Lydia Rose Thomas died of the "flu" on Oct. 19, 1918 in Manassa, Colorado. I kept my son, Henry, on a mission in New Zealand from Oct. 1920 to Jan. 30, 1923. I sent him $956.00. Bishop Elias S. Woodruff said I had an unbroken record in tithe paying. On Sep. 28, 1924, Forest Dale Ward was divided, and we were in the new ward called Nibley Park Ward. I gave $10.00 on the new building site, on Sixth east opposite Warnock Ave. I was assessed $200.00 for the erection of the building, to be paid $10.00 a month. On the evening of May 25, 1925 I left home for a visit to my people in Ireland, whom I had not seen for fifty-one years. I hoped to be able to gather considerable genealogical information. After I arrived there I learned that nearly all Irish records had been burned by the Catholics some time before my arrival.
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