William R. Armstrong was born on July 4, 1842 to unknown parents in Rochester, Monroe, New York. At the age of five his parents died and he came to Michigan with the Kendricks family, which settled in Dryden. He helped on the farm until he reached the age of eighteen. What he did for the next two years is not known.
On November 2, 1861, he enlisted as a private in the Tenth Michigan Infantry and served in the Army of the Cumberland. On July 17, 1862 he was discharged with a disability and returned to Almont.
He farmed and worked for the United States Treasury Department for a period of five years.
While farming, he began breeding horses and buying and selling them. He also began a pool business, which eventually controlled most of the business in the United States.
He owned a number of winning race horses including: Ned Tester,” whose best time was 2:50 as a three-year-old; “Fred Hooper,” whose best time was 2:23, and who won thirty of thirty-four races trotted in 1873 and 1874, winning $32,000 money; “Mollie Morris;” best time of 2:22; “Dan Donaldson,” best time of 2:25; “Hardwood,” best time of 2:24.5; “Sorrel Dan,” a pacer, with a best time of 2:14, and “Judge Abbott,” with a best time of 2:50. Mr. Armstrong took, two well known thoroughbreds, Joe Daniels” and “Hubbard,” to California and ran the horses who won the four mile repeat running races. His horses raced in every State and Territory of the United States except Oregon.
William Armstrong expertise in breeding horses contributed to improving the horse stock in the area around Almont. In the late 1800s, Almont farmers were well-known for the quality of their horse-flesh.
On October 17, 1873 he married Emily Strobridge the daughter of Dr. Oliver Parmalee Strobridge (1818-1880) and Jane Haze Strobridge (1826-1891). Emily was born May 8, 12846 in Almont, Lapeer, Michigan. They had two children, daughters Bessie (1874- ) and Irene (1878- )
Dr. Strobridge built his home at 210 West St. Clair in 1859. After his death in 1880, Emily and William moved in the house to take care of Emily’s mother, Jane. Shortly after moving in, William drastically enlarged the home – constructing everything except the stone porch.
William died in Almont on May 4, 1902 and was buried in the Hough Cemetery. Emily died on February 14, 1911 in Portland, Oregon and was brought back to Almont and was laid to rest next to William.