Biography of D. F. Martin

D. F. MARTIN, circuit clerk of Howell County, Missouri, is closely identified with the welfare of West Plains, widely known as a politician, popular as a citizen and who hasbeena resident of south Missouri since 1851. Born in Lincoln County, Tennessee, December 9, 1833. He is a son of St. George and Emaline (Gaither) Martin, natives of Virginia, the former born in 1806, and the latter in 1807.

The grandfather, George Martin, was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, and a friend of George Washington. He was born in the Old Dominion, but moved from there to Georgia, and thence to Tennessee, and was an early pioneer of that State. Settling in Lincoln County, he practiced medicine there the remainder of his days, and in connection carried on farming. He reared a family of four sons and two daughters, and all the sons became physicians. The Martin family is of English origin. St. George Martin was reared in Georgia and Tennessee, secured a medical education, and practiced this profession all his life. In 1851 he emigrated to Oregon County, Missouri, and resided there until the breaking out of the war, when he moved to the Lone Star State. In the year 1868 he started to move back, but died in Arkansas while on the way. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, and was a man universally esteemed and respected. In politics Dr. Martin was a Whig, but he subsequently became a stanch Democrat. He was married in Lincoln County, Tennessee, to Miss Gaither, daughter of Col. Thomas Gaither, of Tennessee, who was probably a soldier in the War of 1812. His brother, Col. Beal Gaither, of Boone County, Arkansas, named the Gaither Mountains in that county. Mrs. Martin died in Iron County, Missouri, in 1869. To her marriage were born seven children: Charles T., who died in Texas in 1870; Robert J., died in this county in 1892; D. F., subject; Henry B., died in Iron County, Missouri, in 1872; and three died in infancy.

D. F. Martin obtained a good business education in the Academy at Fayette, Tennessee, and after coming to Missouri, became a teacher. In 1852 he was elected commissioner of schools in Oregon County, and while engaged in teaching studied law and in 1853 was admitted to the bar. After that he began practicing in Ripley County, but later located on the Osage River in Miller County, where he remained about four years. In 1860 he came to Shannon County and located in south Missouri, where he practiced in all the courts of the district. In 1861 he enlisted in the Confederate Army, Second Regiment of McBride’s division and was promoted to the rank of major. Before enlisting in the army he was recruiting officer. Mr. Martin participated in the battles of Wilson Creek, Lexington and Dry Wood and after that he was on detached service up to 1863, when he resigned on account of ill health. He was never wounded and was only a prisoner for a short time.

Following the war he located at Pilot Knob, Iron County, and was employed as book-keeper, cashier and merchant for the Pilot Knob Iron Company of that place, as he could not practice on account of the iron-clad oath. He remained at Pilot Knob until 1872, and was then elected sheriff and collector of Iron County, and reelected to the same position in 1874. Two years later he was elected county treasurer, held that position nearly two years and then resigned. In 1878 he moved to Howell County and located at Siloam Springs on account of his wife’s health. There he made his home until 1886, when he was elected to the office of president of the County Court and probate judge for four years. From there he moved to West Plains and in 1890 was elected to the office of circuit clerk, a position he holds at the present time. He owned the medical springs and was successful in the cure of many chronic cases. In 1891 he sold the springs. In 1893 he was elected a delegate to the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, of which he and his wife are members, and in which he is a trustee. Mr. Martin has ever been a Democrat in politics and is an active supporter of his party. He is a Master Mason, a member of the Chapter and Royal Arch, and has not only held all the offices in the lodge, but has represented the lodge in the Grand Lodge.

He was married in Iron County to Miss Emma Franks, a native of Missouri and daughter of Robert and Eliza (Hardin) Franks, who are natives of Kentucky and Georgia, respectively. Mr. and Mrs. Martin have had six children, five of whom are living: George R., married, is a merchant of Piedmont, Wayne County; Charles W., resides at Thayer and is a railroad man; May, the wife of George, Williams of Elkhart, Indiana; Jean and Jessie, daughters, are at home, and one died in infancy. Mr. Martin and family are living on Missouri Avenue, West Plains. Our subject is president of the Farmers’ and Merchants’ Bank and is a stockholder in the same. He owns property in West Plains, also some in Siloam Springs, and is a representative man of the county. He has ever been interested in school work and has been on the school board in West Plains.


A Reminiscent History of the Ozark Region: comprising a condensed general history, a brief descriptive history of each county, and numerous biographical sketches of prominent citizens of such counties. Chicago: Goodspeed Brothers Publishers. 1894.

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