Santa Cruz County History - People

Old Soldiers: Santa Cruz County Civil War Veterans
by Robert L. Nelson


A Pioneer Family -- The Armstrongs of Santa Cruz, Rosalyn Riversong

Photograph of William V. Armstrong
William V. Armstrong

"William R.T. Armstrong [William V's father] died in Blackwolf [MN] in 1867, two years after his discharge from the Union Army, having fought in the Civil War with his son William [V]. Both father and son enlisted together on March 5, 1864 in Fond du Lac, and went into the same company. William R.T. said on his papers that he was 44 years old, but he was really over 50. His son William was 17 yrs. old. They referred to the father as the oldest man in the company, and the son as the youngest man in the company. They were both discharged on the same day, July 12, 1865.

William, the son, was severely wounded in the Georgia offensive and was in the hospital for forty days before being sent back to the lines."

Records Of Members of The Grand Army of The Republic, William Ward

HS Crocker, San Francisco 1886

William Armstrong was born in Winnebago County, near Oshkosh, Wis., January 13 1847, and has been a farmer; his present occupation is that of lumberman. Enlisted in Company B, 16th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, March 5, 1864, and served as a private; belonged to the 1st Brigade, 3d Division 17th Army Corps; participated in the siege and the battles before Atlanta; received a scalp wound in one of the last engagements; remained in the hospital a short time, and at the earliest practicable moment rejoined his regiment, which was with General Sherman in his march to the sea, and remained with it until mustered out in the summer of 1865 at Louisville Ky.; came to California in 1879 and engaged in the lumber business, is secretary of the Union Mill and lumber Company at San Jose, in which he is a stockholder; is a member of W.H.L. Wallace Post No. 32, GAR at Santa Cruz Cal; resides at San Jose.

Santa Cruz Surf (July 21, 1886)

Shaking Hands

William Armstrong, a son of Mrs. Armstrong of this place, and a veteran of '61, had the pleasure of meeting his old commander, Gen. Sherman, at San Jose last week. Sherman was quickly surrounded by many of his old soldiers with whom he shook hands. Besides the comrades there were numbers of the State Militia present, and the General said jocosily, "Now, those young fellows feel as if they know all about war because they wear the blue." This raised a laugh and a little mild jeering among the "vets," but the General turned the laugh against the old fellows by saying: "Keep quiet, now; you didn't know a bit more than they do in the beginning of '61." To the men of his old corps who remember Gen. Sherman's ruddy countenance and erect bearing, he is visibly aged, though they are still ready to swear that he is "the noblest Roman of them all."

Santa Cruz Sentinel (May 21 1890)

William Armstrong Injured: He Was Thrown Out of a Wagon on Soquel Avenue- His Condition Believed to be Serious

Wm. Armstrong met with an accident Tuesday afternoon, the outcome of which is still in doubt. As it is the chances for his recovery are slight, and the only thing that will save him will probably be his extraordinary constitution, as he is a man of splendid physique and powerful strength.

On Tuesday he commenced the work of filling in the roadbed for the approach to the "Balloon Bridge," the contract for which was awarded him by the City Council Monday evening. In the afternoon, as he was crossing the car track, which is slightly higher than the road, the reach of his wagon, by a sudden lurch, became broken, causing the hind wheels to become separated from the front ones, and throwing Mr. Armstrong to the ground, the boards on the wagon falling on his head. The horses ran up Soquel Avenue the forward wheels, until Ocean Street was reached, where the team ran into F. Walti's iron fence, demolishing about fifteen feet of it. The team was caught without sustaining injury.

Mr. Armstrong when picked up was unconscious. He was taken to his home on Riverside avenue, where medical assistance was summoned. It was found that there was a deep gash in the back of his head, bruises on the top of his head and his forehead. His back was also injured internally. He partly recovered consciousness a few hours after the accident but could give no account of the disaster.

[S.C. Surf addition] Mr. Armstrong is drawing a pension from the government at present, on account of a severe gunshot wound received during war, which cut through his scalp in such a way as to take out some pieces of the skull bone, and it is feared that this may add to the danger of his wounds]

Santa Cruz Sentinel (September 2, 1926)

War Veteran Passes Away

William Armstrong, aged 80 years, passed away at nine o'clock last night at his residence, 80 Riverside Avenue. He was a native of Wisconsin, a veteran of the Civil War, and participated in Sherman's historical march from Atlanta to the sea.

[Ed Note: An additional unidentified obituary indicated that after his father's death in 1865 he devoted the best part of his life caring for his mother]

Mr. Armstrong came to Santa Cruz in 1878 and engaged in the lumber business for many years. He was a part owner in the old Union mill which cleared the Lompico section, now a summer resort subdivision. He was of a kindly and generous nature and was loved and respected by all who knew him.

He is survived by two brothers and one sister, Mrs. C.A. Reed of Garfield Street. His brother Thomas lives on Garfield street, and John E. on Walnut street.

Santa Cruz Sentinel (September 4, 1926)

Services Over William Armstrong

Impressive funeral services were held yesterday for William Armstrong. They were at Wessendorf's Mortuary and attended by the relatives, friends and members of the G.A.R.

A friend of the family, Rev. S.J. Lee of St. James Episcopal Church, came from San Francisco to conduct the services.

The Wallace Reynolds Post G.A.R. read their services at the chapel, and about the casket were many beautiful floral tributes.

The hymns "Beautiful Isle of Somewhere" and "Rock of Ages" were sung by Harry Murray, with accompaniment of violin by Mrs. Kate Wheelock and piano by Mrs. John Reukema.

The Odd Fellows service was read at the I.O.O.F. cemetery and the committal service by Rev. Mr. Lee.

The pallbearers were William Barson, J.B. Livengood, Thomas Lane, Arthur S. Davies, Frank Strikeman and David Owens.

Excerpt from research conducted by Phil Reader

William Armstrong was born on January 13, 1847 at Black Wolf, Winnebago Co., Wisconsin. His father, William R. Armstrong was born in Ireland and died August 14, 1865. His mother, Catherine Greenwood, was born March 14, 1823 in New Brunswick, and died in Santa Cruz February 14, 1914.

During the Civil War, Armstrong was a member of Co. B, 16th Wisconsin Infantry. In 1865 following the war he moved to Martin Co., Minnesota, and subsequently relocated to Santa Cruz in 1877 where he purchased an interest in the Union Mill in Lompico.

In 1889 he purchased the Bryant Perez property on Branciaforte Creek and the San Lorenzo River. He subdivided the property and punched Garfield Street through to Soquel Ave. from Water St. He was also a member of the Wallace-Reynolds G.A.R. post.

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