Biography of William R. Martin

William R. Martin is a native of Doniphan County, for many years was connected with a packing house at St. Joseph, and more recently had applied his efforts successfully to fruit growing and farming, which he still earries on in connection with his duties as postmaster at Wathena.

His birth occurred near Wathena April 12, 1861. His full given name was William Redman Martin. Mr. Martin is descended originally from Scotch-Irish stock. There were two brothers of the name who immigrated to America during the early Colonial period, one of them settling in the North and the other going South and joined the Huguenot Colonies of the Western Carolinas. Mr. Martin’s grandfather, William Martin, who was born in Tennessee in 1774, two years before the Declaration of Independence, was one of the pioneers of Missouri, having gone to that state in 1819 about the time it was admitted to the Union. He first lived in what was then called Chariton County, but subsequently went to Northern or Northwestern Missouri, and was one of the very early pioneers in Livingston County, where he located in 1835. He was the fifth county judge in Livingston County. He died in that county in 1851, long before the pioneer epoch had closed. The early Methodist conferences in Missouri were held at William Martin’s home and he also had a camp ground on his farm that was known as the Martin Camp Meeting Ground. In those early days the family relied chiefly on corn pone and venison for sustenance. William Martin married Anna Duncan on September 5, 1797.

The founder of the family in Kansas was Joseph P. Martin, who was born in Nashville, Tennessee, January 27, 1819, was taken when an infant to Missouri, and was a boy of about sixteen when his parents located in Livingston County. There he grew to manhood, married, and for a number of years followed farming. When Kansas was still a torritory he crossed the Missouri River into Doniphan County, arriving July 3, 1859, and settled at the place originally known as Whitehcad or Old Bellemont Landing on the Missouri River. He bought property in that town, followed his trade as carpenter, and subsequently moved to a farm three-quarters of a mile northwest of Whitehead. He was engaged in agricultural efforts his remaining years and died on the farm near Wathena January 26, 1873. During the war he had been a member of the Kansas Militia and was called into active service when Price came to invade Kansas. Politically he was a democrat, and for a number of years was steward and trustee of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Joseph P. Martin married on May 14, 1846, Lucretis Waddell, who was born in Giles County, Virginia, in 1825, and died at the home of her son William R. in 1915. She was the mother of five children: J. E. Martin, who was a Doniphan County farmer and died in 1912; Annie E. is the wife of R. W. Masson, a farmer three miles northwest of Wathena; Maria married J. W. Rhodes, a farmer at Elwood, Kansas; William R.; and Dors, wife of A. N. McDaniel, a salesman living at St. Joseph.

William Redman Martin spent his early life on his father’s farm and there acquired his initial experiences in work and in schools. He was only eleveu years of age when his father died, and after that he lived at home and helped his mother in the management of the place until he was twenty-seven. During the next five years he was engaged in the botcher business at Wathena, and then became connected with the Cudahy Packing Company at St. Joseph. At first he was a salesman and afterwards was manager of the company in charge of sales branches at St. Joseph, Topeka, Leavenworth and Lawrence. In 1902 Mr. Martin, resigning from the packing company, moved to his farm 1 1/2 miles north of Wathena. In the meantime he had become interested in an organization of the Wathena Fruit Growers’ Association, and took the active management of that business, which he carried on in connection with his own farm. He brought this association to a high degree of efficiency, and its affairs ran smoothly and with excellent, results and profit to all the membership. Mr. Martin resigned his position as manager when he accepted the appointment as postmaster at Wathena on June 16, 1914. He now resided in Wathena, his home being within three blocks of the postoffice, and he still owned and gives some of his time to the management of his fruit farm of fifty acres near the town.

Mr. Martin is a democrat and had served as a member of the school board in Wathena. Township. He belongs to the Methodist Episcopal Church, and is active in both the Lodge and Encampment of Odd Fellowship, being past noble grand of Wathena Lodge No. 141, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and had held all the offices in the encampment as well. He is also a member of the Fraternal Aid Union and was formerly identified with the United Commercial Travelers.

Mr. Martin was married in Doniphan County March 10, 1889, to Miss Eliza Leichti, daughter of Jacob and Anna (Cooper) Leichti. Mrs. Martin was born in Switzerland, and her parents, now deceased, came from that country in 1867 and located on a farm in Kansas. Three children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Martin: Clara, who was educated in the Wathena High School and the St. Joseph Commercial College, is now the wife of A. F. Hanke, who manages the farm of Mr. Martin; W. R., Jr., is a graduate of the State Agricultural College at Manhattan with the class of 1917; Martina is a student in the public schools of Wathena.



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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