Noah Armstrong was born in January of 1823 at Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Noah, a student of chemistry, economics, and banking left his country of nativity and arrived in Minnesota where in about 1853, P. K. Johnson came from Mankato and staked a claim for Noah, on section 33 at the mouth of Swan Creek. Armstrong and Evans Goodrich moved up the next spring and built a shanty on the claim; it was a town site speculation. Others came in and an association of nine members formed under the name of Swan Creek Claim Company. The village of Eureka, covering about 500 acres was laid out and a few improvements made; a saw-mill was started, but the company failed. Hiram Caywood jumped the claim and laid out Eureka anew; this too, failed.
Noah Armstrong then moved to Blue Earth County, Minnesota, and in August of 1859 was deeded 122.95 acres of fertile farmland. He married Hannah Howd in 1855 by Rev. Thompson at Le Hillier, a small community in Blue Earth County near the confluence of the Blue Earth and Minnesota Rivers. The name Blue Earth is a translation of the Dakota Indian word “Mahkato,” meaning “greenish blue earth.” The city of Mankato would be “Mahkato” if a spelling mistake made when the name was chosen had not changed the “h” to “n”. The name has remained Mankato ever since. The town of LeHillier is in Southbend Township bordering Mankato. Noah and Hannah had three children born at Lehillier, Emma, born May 27, 1856, Charles W., February 27, 1858, and daughter, Ida, born August 5, 1860. Ida died August 13, 1864 at the age of four years. It is not known whether Noah left his family in Minnesota while he came west to the gold fields, or whether the family stayed behind, but records show that in the 1870 census, Hannah and her children were residing with her cousins, the “Peck family” who were listed as hotel operators in Lanesburg, LeSueur County, Minnesota. Records also indicate that Noah arrived in Madison County, Idaho Territory (later Montana Territory) some time around 1862 or early 1863. Noah and Hannah were married in Minnesota before moving west. Hannah Died while at Glendale in 1885, following the death of her three Grandchildren two years prior. All were laid to rest in the Glendale cemetery.
In 1873, Noah formed a partnership with Elias Atkins of Indianapolis, Indiana. This firm was established with their main objective being to scout and develop new mines in the gold fields of the west. They secured the services of B. S. Harvey and Dr. S. C. Day as prospectors. Elias Atkins was a very successful and wealthy saw manufacturer of Indianapolis, Indiana. Atkins was a man with deep pockets and a good business head. It is likely that Atkins was the financier behind the firm of Armstrong, Atkins & Co. with Noah offering his mining and assaying expertise. Together, the two men had the resources and knowledge to successfully locate and purchase mining properties and acquire ore at a reasonable price from the local miners. Many of the mines located in and around the Bryant District had ore building up on the dumps awaiting shipment which was sometimes costly and difficult given the weather conditions of the area. Hauling ore out was costly and time consuming and with a lack of capitol for the miners, made it an attractive venture for Armstrong, Atkins, and Dahler. For the miners, hauling ore to Glendale lowered their costs and provided much faster revenue returns on their hard work. Early on, ores were shipped by ox-teams to Corinne Utah where the Central Pacific Railroad would then haul to San Francisco to be loaded onto ships en route to Swansea Wales. Prior to the arrival of the Utah Northern in Montana, these factors greatly reduced the profits.
Noah Armstrong also formed a partnership with another man, Charles Dahler of Virginia City. Dahler was a wealthy banker who together with Armstrong, built the Dahler, Armstrong & Co. Sampling Works at Glendale. They filed on this site for their smelter on August 10, 1874. It was recorded on the 28th inst. at Bannack City, Montana’s Territorial Capital at the time. A community of mill workers quickly sprang up and in 1875, a 40-ton lead smelter was built to process the growing production from the district. Armstrong, Dahler & Company continued to enlarge and equip their smelter at Glendale to achieve greater efficiency and profitability. The expanded smelter equipped with a couple water jacket cupola furnaces, one reverbatory furnace and another being built, a couple of 40 ton stamp mills and a roaster oven, all purchased from the Fraser, Chambers & Co. of Chicago, Illinois. The Glendale smelter burned down in July of 1879. The mill reconstruction began immediately.
The plant was rebuilt and enlarged at a cost of about 20,000 and 400,000 feet of lumber was required for it’s rebuilding. The new Smelter was put into operation until 1881, when the Hecla Mining Company absorbed the plant and by 1885, the facility had expanded to three blast furnaces, two crushers, a large roaster, a blacksmith shop, a sack house, warehouses, an iron house, a stable, two powder houses, three coal sheds, an office, an assay office, a flume ditch, a sawmill, a tramway with cars, and five private homes. The partnership between Dahler and Armstrong lasted approximately two years before being dissolved as in 1877, Dahler was no where to be found on paper nor had invested any money into shares of stock of this newly formed Hecla Mining Company. It is possible that Dahler may have loaned the money to Armstrong and Atkins to finance the building of the smelter at Glendale and may have taken his name off when the debt was repaid, after all, Charles Dahler was indeed a banker. Noah was a man who wore many hats, having involved himself in mining, assaying, banking, merchandise, hardware, and horse racing. Noah was most notably a miner and assayer but would gain national recognition as the owner of “Spokane” the most famous Kentucky Derby winner of the day. After his mining years and horse racing, Noah would take his family to Seattle, Washington, leaving it all behind. Noah passed away in Seattle on April 21, 1907.