Frank Hough Armstrong

National Cyclopedia of American Biography

ARMSTRONG, Frank Hough, merchant, was horn in Wayne county, 0., July 27, 1853, son of William Blackburn and Phoebe (Hough) Armstrong and grandson of Andrew and Rachel (King) Armstrong. The Armstrongs, who were descended from patriot stock, were early settlers in Ohio, having moved there from Pennsylvania at the beginning of the 19th century. When Frank H. Armstrong was an infant, his parents removed to Mt. Vernon, Linn co., Ia., where his father conducted a store. There he received his preliminary education in the district schools, assisting on the farm during vacation periods. Later, he entered Cornell College in Mount Vernon, but left at the end of his junior year to begin business life, December, 1872, as a clerk in a retail dry goods store in Chicago. Eight months afterwards he obtained a position as traveling salesman with Reid, Murdoch & Fisher, wholesale grocers, with whom he was engaged during the ensuing seven years, showing at the outset those qualities of salesmanship which became coordinated in a merchant with unusual power and resources. At the beginning of 1882 he was given a profit-sharing interest in the business and assisted in its management. The firm was incorporated under the name of Reid, Murdoch & Co. in 1892, at which time Mr. Armstrong was made secretary. In 1909, upon the death of Thomas Murdoch he became vice-president and in April, 1914, he was elected president of the company, the firm name remaining unchanged. He guided the business through the period of the European war and displayed the capacities of a leader in difficult problems. The house of Reid, Murdoch & Co., wholesale grocers, importers and jobbers of foodstuffs, has its principal offices at the Clark Street Bridge, Chicago, Ill., and conducts a large business throughout the city and

( 275) in many parts of the United States. Mr. Armstrong was a director of the Merchants' Loan & Trust Co. and of the City National Bank of Evanston, Ill. In the grocery trade, he was looked upon as one of the greatest merchants of his time. In breadth of view, sagacity in planning and forcefulness in execution he was among the leaders in Chicago business affairs. In 1900 Cornell College, Mt. Vernon, Ia., conferred upon him the honorary A.M. degree. His philanthropic activities were numerous and many charitable institutions looked upon him as their benefactor, educational and religious, as well as charitable, organizations benefiting to the extent of $115,000 in his will. Golf constituted his favorite recreation. In politics he was an independent and, in religion, a communicant of the Presbyterian church. He was a member of the board of governing managers of the Evanston Hospital Association, a director of the Presbyterian Hospital of Chicago, a trustee of Cornell College, Mount Vernon, Ia., a governing member of the Art Institute of Chicago, a member of the board of directors, and formerly president, of the Evanston Young Men's Christian Association and a member of the board of trustees of the First Presbyterian Church of Evanston. He was a member also of the Sunday Evening Club (vice-president), the Chicago Association of Commerce (member of the senior council), the Commercial, the Cornell (president) and the Chicago clubs of Chicago and the Evanston Country, Glen View Golf and University clubs of Evanston. He was twice married (1) Oct. 16, 1879, to Jennie D., daughter of Albert P. White of Postville, Ia., and (2) Sept. 8, 1903, to Blanche, daughter of William X. C. Swingley of Chicago. He had one son by the first marriage, Horace White Armstrong, secretary of Reid, Murdoch & Co., and a son by the second union, John Armstrong. He died at Daytona, Fla., Jan. 28, 1920.


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