Martin and Peter Armstrong, Kankakee County
Martin Armstrong (1867 - 1929) appeared in the 1880 census with the Thomas McLane family in Essex, Kankakee County. He was listed as "adopted" in the census and was eleven years old. It appears that his brother, Peter, was sent to Illinois the same year and it was noted in the 1880 census as a "bond boy" with the Barnetts in Otto, Kankakee County. In 1885 he was living with the Barnetts in Beatrice, Nebraska where he was sheepherding.
Martin next appears in the records in 1896 when he marries Tempie Meyers (Myers) in Kankakee, Illinois. One indication that this is the same person as the OTR Martin Armstrong is that he cannot state the name of his mother. He gave his father's name as Thomas. Martin and Tempie continued to live in Kankakee County until his death in 1929, and as early as 1900 they owned their farm free of any mortgage. They had seven sons, five of whom appear in the photo below. No obituary could be located to determine any other facts about Martin.
Was the Peter Armstrong in Doniphan, Kansas (where one of the Barnett sisters married and settled) the same Peter Armstrong? He appeared in the 1900 census with his wife Martha and a daughter, as well as a younger brother, William. Here is one important confirming clue: In 1870 the family of Louis and Margaret Armstrong in New York City included three sons: Martin, Peter and William. Did Peter reunite with his younger brother as he wished in his letter of 1887? If these are the same men, Peter died in a farming accident in Iowa in 1916 and was buried in Doniphan with his brother and a child there. Living after him were his wife, his son James Leslie and daughters Lena and Beulah.
Perhaps the brothers stayed in touch over the years, but they were separated by many miles when Peter moved to Nebraska with his guardian family.