Henry Armbruster, a well-known and time-honored citizen of Galena, has been a resident of this city for nearly forty years. He is one of the leading undertakers in this part of Jo Daviess County, and is one of the oldest members of that calling in Illinois. He is of German birth and ancestry. His paternal grandfather, a farmer by occupation, was a native and life-long resident of Germany. Alois Armbruster, father of our subject, was born in Wurtemburg, Germany, and was reared on his father's farm. When he was sixteen years old Napoleon's invasion of Germany and Russia occurred, and, he being the only son at home, his elder brothers all being in the service, he went with his father's team to transport army supplies. On one occasion, while crossing a stream the soldiers took his team from him that they might ride, and he was obliged to wade the stream and then to sleep on the ground in his wet clothes, which soon froze, as did his limbs, and he never fully recovered from that terrible exposure, although he lived to be forty-eight years old. When a young man he went to Baden, and was there married to Maria N. Blathman, a native of Baden. He found employment at an iron-furnace, and by faithful attention to his work and to the interest of his employers, was subsequently promoted to be the manager of the furnace. He died in 1847; thus closing a useful and honorable life when scarcely passed its prime. There were three children born to himself and wife, all of whom grew up. John settled in St. Louis, and died there; Amelia married Thomas Walker, and died in LaFayette County, Wis.; and Henry, our subject.
The subject of this sketch was born in the village of Hausach, Baden. He received a substantial education in the excellent schools of his native land, which he attended steadily from the age of six until he was fifteen years old. He then commenced to learn the trade of cabinet-maker, serving an apprenticeship of a year and a half. But the ambitious youth was not content with his future prospects in the Fatherland, so determining to emigrate to American, he set sail from Havre in the ship "Columbia" in February, 1848, he being the second person to leave his native village, or that vicinity, to venture across the ocean to this strange country. After a lengthy voyage of forty-five days he landed in New Orleans, and a week later made his way from that city to Cincinnati, and thence to Wheeling W. Va. He worked at his trade there fifteen months, and then returning to Cincinnati, spent a little more than a year there. We next hear of him in Keokuk, and a short time after he proceeded up the river to Galena, arriving here in May, 1850. He commenced life in this city as a journeyman in a cabinet-maker's shop, and continued thus engaged until 1866. He was industrious and prudent, and wisely saving his earnings, at that time had money enough to establish himself in his present business, which he has carried on ever since. In February, 1888 he formed a partnership with John S. Ross, his present partner. Our subject is considered one of the best undertakers in the city or county. He is thoroughly equipped for his business, having a good, practical knowledge of it in all its branches. He is a graduate of Prof. Clarke's School for Embalming, at Springfield, Ohio, and of the Illinois School for embalming, at Springfield, Ill., and he has also attended several lectures at the Chicago Medical College, and is thoroughly conversant with the subject. He is numbered among our self-made men, and through a life of sterling integrity, is justly entitled to the high respect that is accorded to him. He is a good citizen, and takes a hearty interest in his adopted city, doing all that in him lies to promote its welfare. He and his family are respected and influential members of the Episcopal Church.
Our subject has received the encouragement and counsel of a most estimable wife, to whom he was united in marriage in 1855. Her maiden name was Mary Elizabeth Cawton, and she was a native of England, and a daughter of George and Elizabeth (Bailey) Cawton. Of this happy union two children have been born - Nellie Louise and Henry C. The latter is a student at the Chicago Medical College; Nellie married Henry P. Estey, a native of Vermont, and now a resident of Waterloo, Iowa.
Source: Portrait and Biographical Album of Jo Daviess Co., IL (1889)