Indiana, on May 13, 1854, Dwight Le Roy Armstrong was born
to Augustus and Ara Armstrong. His parents died when he was
in his teenage years, forcing him to take a job in a printing
office. It was there that Armstrong was inspired to start
a career in the literary field.
He attended Indiana University in Bloomington
and studied law for a short period of time before
taking a newspaper job for the Chicago Herald. However,
soon after accepting the position, he returned to Indiana
in 1896 and became the editor for the Lafayette Morning
Journal. He continued his editorial career with the Lafayette
Democrat until 1905. Around 1906, Armstrong left Indiana
and took a job in Salt Lake City, Utah, as an editor for the
Herald Republican. He remained there until his death
on March 29, 1927.
In between his work with newspapers, he wrote
several novels and short stories. Two of his novels, An
Indiana Man and The Outlaws: The Story of the Building
of the West, were set in Indiana near his hometown of
Plymouth. Both works mention the environment several times.
Man is a simple love story that Armstrong wrote
during the time he worked for the Chicago Herald.
Although the story itself is fictitious, the landmarks mentioned
throughout the novel are real places and most still exist
today. Armstrong speaks about autumn foliage of these Indiana
"[T]he distant forests
have changed from deep green to crimson and brown. The hedge
ways are swaying slightly, and dropping leaves with every
motion. The oak trees by the roadside have painted their
foliage a rich wine color, and the hickory that stands on
the line fence now sends down shelled nuts..." (185).
In this novel, Armstrong focuses more on the
trees and roadsides than any other aspect of nature.
Armstrong delves more deeply
into environmental issues in his novel The Outlaws:
The Story of the Building of the West. In this
adventurous romance novel,
Armstrong focuses on politics and the destruction of nature,
with emphasis on topics such as urban
sprawl and agriculture.
He describes his frustration with people that value
money over priceless land:
Money was urging the farmers to hurry with their clearing,
to roll the forest farther back, and to widen the fields.
Money was building the mills, and dragging the
saws, and teaching the heavy stone burs to hum in a musical
monotone as they poured out the stream of flour and meal.
Money brought strangers in increasing numbers from out
the mysterious east to the transformation of the West (92-93).
The novel goes on to discuss deforestation:
The oak, which had answered axe strokes with dull defiance
at first, had lifted its bass notes to a piping treble
the blades on the opposite sides approached its heart;
and before the final citadel was taken, the great tree
then slowly turned, and surrendering, swept with a mighty
sound of branches rushing through the air, of timber rending,
and a sullen impact on the stubborn ground (19-20).
In this novel, Armstrong's
feeling of anguish over the destruction of the forests and
nature surrounding his hometown and throughout Indiana are
During his years in Indiana, Armstrong contributed
to the state's environment by writing about the destruction
of the land, which invokes in the reader a sense of remorse
for the damage to nature.
Armstrong, Le Roy. An Indiana
Man. Chicago: Schulte Publishing Co., 1895.
---. The Outlaws: A Story of the
Building of the West. New York: D. Appleton and Co.,
Banta, R. E., ed. "Le
Roy Armstrong." Indiana Authors and Their Books 1816-1916:
Biographical Sketches of Authors Who Published During the
First Century of Indiana Statehood, With Lists of Their Books.
Crawfordsville, IN: Wabash College, 1949.
McDonald, Daniel. History of
Marshall County. Chicago: Kingman Brothers, 1908. 27
Sept. 2002 <http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/
Vanausdall, Jeanette. Pride and
Protest: The Novel in Indiana. Indianapolis: Indiana
Historical Society, 1999.
Indiana University in 1855.
University Archives. Indiana U.--Bloomington Libraries. 7
Nov. 2002 <http://www.indiana.edu/~libarch/
To our knowledge, there are no sites
dedicated to Dwight Le Roy Armstrong. If you know of any,
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