Biographical Sketches of

Moses K. Armstrong

Mower County Surveyor & History writer

Item #1 of 2

Moses K. Armstrong, author and politician, was born in Milan, Ohio, on 19 September 1832. He was educated at Huron institute and Western Reserve College, Ohio, went to Minnesota in 1856, was elected surveyor of Mower County, and in 1858 was appointed surveyor of United States lands.

On the admission of Minnesota as a state he removed to Yankton, then an Indian village on Missouri river; and, on the organization of Dakota in 1861, he was elected to the legislature of the territory, being reelected in 1861 and 1862, and acting the last year as speaker.

He became editor of the "Dakota Union" in 1864, was elected territorial treasurer, appointed clerk of the Supreme Court in 1865, elected to the territorial senate in 1866, and in 1867 was chosen its president, publishing the same year his history of Dakota.

He acted as secretary of the peace commission to the Sioux; was employed from 1866 to 1869 in establishing the great meridian and standard lines for United States surveys in southern Dakota and the northern Red River valley, detecting the errors of locating the international boundary-line near Pembina since 1823; in 1869 was elected again to the territorial senate.

In 1872 he was chosen president of the first national bank of the territory, and he was elected to the 42d and 43d congresses, as a democrat. He established the first democratic newspaper in the territory.


Item #2 of 2

Moses K. Armstrong, was born Sept. 20, 1832, in Milan, Ohio, and emigrated to Minnesota territory in 1855. He was the first surveyor of Mower County, Minn., and wrote its early history. In 1857 he was appointed a United States land surveyor in southwestern Minnesota, and in 1858 was a delegate to the first state convention, which nominated Henry Sibley for governor. He is a well known pioneer writer, and is author of the 'Early History of Dakota Territory in 1866," and of the recent illustrated work entitled, "Early Empire Builders of the Great West."

The American Biographer speaks of him as follows:

"The historical and descriptive writings of Moses K. Armstrong are a credit to American literature. His admirable pioneer sketches cover a long period of frontier life, dating back to the time when he left his native college at the age of eighteen, and turned his youthful eye to the Great West, with no fortune to guide him but the prayers and tears of a kind mother and her parting words of hope for the future.' He arrived on the banks of the Mississippi as a pioneer land surveyor, with his compass on his back, alone and friendless, before the day of western railroads. He crossed that great river and traveled on foot through northern Iowa and southern Minnesota, surveying land claims for early settlers.

"From here he afterwards pushed westward, with ox team, crossing Dakota to the Missouri river, where he passed several years in the Indian country, staking out land claims for the venturesome pioneers.

"He has passed through the periods of pioneer surveyor, historian, legislator, and congressman, and has stored his mind with useful knowledge. He is a pioneer who is an honor to himself and a credit to mankind."

SOURCE: Proceedings and Report of the Annual Meetings of the Minnesota Territorial Pioneers - May 11, 1899 and 1900. Volume II., St. Paul, Minn. The Pioneer Press Company. 1901.