Biography of Ralph E. Martin

Ralph E. Martin. For several successive terms the people of Cherokee County have laid the responsibilities of the office of sheriff upon Ralph E. Martin, who is a native son of that county, and belongs to an old and respected family that has been identified with Kansas since pioneer days. Mr. Martin grew up in Cherokee County, came to know the people and the people have known him since early boyhood, and he has well earned the confidence they have shown him in his repeated elections to this executive office.

Sheriff Martin belongs to old American stock, and the family has exemplified many worthy qualities. It is interesting to note that one occupation has been quite persistently followed by the various generations, and that is the harness-making trade. Sheriff Martin himself learned that occupation and followed it before his election as sheriff.

Ralph E. Martin was born in Cherokee County, Kansas, June 4, 1873. His original ancestors were Irish people who emigrated to Pennsylvania about the time of the Revolution. His great-grandfather John Martin, a native of Kentucky, was a tailor by trade, lived in Ontario, Canada, a number of years and from there pioneered into the State of Michigan. He died in Michigan before Sheriff Martin’s father was born. He married Miss Bowles.

Jonathan Martin, the grandfather of the Cherokee County sheriff, was born in Ontario, Canada, in 1808, but was reared in Michigan. He married in Zanesville, Ohio, lived there two years and then went to Carroll County, Indiana, where he followed his trade of a saddler and harness-maker up to the date of his death, in March, 1855. In politics he was a democrat, and that allegiance has characterized nearly all the members of the family in their various generations. Religiously he was a member of the United Presbyterian Church and very active, and was also affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Jonathan Martin married Elizabeth Martin, of the same name but not related. She was born near Zanesville, Ohio, in 1806, of Scotch ancestry. Her father, William Martin, was born in Pennsylvania in 1770, and died in Carroll County, Indiana, in 1856. One of his last acts was to vote for Franklin Pierce for President of the United States. He was a pioneer farmer in Carroll County, Indiana. The father of this William Martin was a soldier of the American Revolution, and was one of the troops that made the stormy crossing of the Delaware River under Washington on Christmas eve. William Martin married Phoebe Laramore. Mrs. Jonathan Martin, who died in Carroll County, Indiana, in 1870, was the mother of the following children: David, who was a harness-maker and saddler and died at Placerville, California; Pininah, who married Sam Gordon, a farmer, and she died in Kansas City, Missouri; William, who likewise followed the family occupation of harness-maker and saddler and died in Cassville, Missouri; Albert, who died in infancy; B. W. Martin, father of Sheriff Martin, fifth in this family; Henry H., who was a photographer by profession, but for many years was a guard in the United States treasurer’s office at Washington, D. C., where he died; Phoebe Ann, who first married George Waggle, a shoemaker, and after his death married Moses Plew, a farmer, also deceased, and she died in Colorado.

Thus it will be seen that a number of this family have been workers in leather, and that was the occupation during his active years of Mr. B. W. Martin, who is an honored resident of Columbus, Kansas. He was born in Carroll County, Indiana, March 26, 1837, was reared there, and was one of the pioneers of Kansas Territory, having come out in 1858, and having homesteaded 160 acres in Miami County. He did not occupy this land long, and returned to Carroll County, Indiana. He settled on a claim in Cherokee County in 1871, and was identified with its management and improvement for a number of years. He finally sold his farm and in 1882 took up his trade of harness-maker in Columbus, and in 1884 engaged in that line of business for himself. After a half century or more of active work he retired in 1915, and is now enjoying the comforts of a well spent career. He is, like other members of the family, a democrat, belongs to the Baptist Church and is affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Mr. B. W. Martin married Sophia Rosenberry, of South Bend, Indiana. She was born in Ohio in 1834, and died in Seneca, Missouri, in 1879. Mr. B. W. Martin and wife became the parents of eight children, briefly mentioned as follows: Roger, who was in the harness business with his father and died in Columbus in 1903; Clara, who married Reuben Evans, a retired property owner living near Los Angeles, California; A. G. Martin, a harness-maker at Miami, Oklahoma; Grace, wife of Samuel Gonzwar, who is an inspector in the city health department of Spokane, Washington; Edward, a bookkeeper at Columbus; Mary, who died at Columbus in 1901, the wife of Kit Beers, who is now engaged in the transfer business at Joplin, Missouri; Ralph E., who is the seventh in order of age; and David, a harness-maker at Columbus.

Mr. Ralph E. Martin has lived in Columbus since he was about nine years of age, and received his education partly in the country schools and partly in the city schools. When eighteen he left his books and studies, spent a couple of years at work on a farm, and then served an apprenticeship at the harness-maker’s trade. He was a skillful and able worker in that line at Columbus until he was first elected sheriff in 1909. He was inducted into office January 1, 1910, and served six months. In 1912 he was again the successful candidate for sheriff, and received the largest majority of any man on the democratic ticket in that year. He was re-elected in 1914, and both terms have been characterized by the utmost efficiency and by a conscientious and courageous performance of every duty assigned him.

Mr. Martin is well known in fraternal circles, being affiliated with the Knights of Pythias, the Modern Woodmen of America, the Anti-Horse Thief Association, the Loyal Order of the Moose and the Knights and Ladies of Security at Columbus. He owns one of the comfortable homes of that city.

In 1901, at Columbus, he married Miss Pearl Jameson, a daughter of A. J. and Palina (Strong) Jameson. Her mother is now deceased, and her father, who followed the business of carpenter and contractor, is now living at Columbus. Mr. and Mrs. Martin have four young children: Dale, born in November, 1903; Emery, born in October, 1905; Edith, born September 19, 1908; and Sherry, born August 28, 1911.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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