Now, the story of Thomas Jefferson Martin (my first attempt at writing some family history; a real "cold case"):
Thomas Jefferson Martin (ca. 1843-1924)
Preliminary Biographical Sketch, by
Brent Bradberry, 31 May 2003 (updated 18 Apr 05)
Thomas Jefferson Martin, my great-grandfather, has been a mysterious figure to me most of my life. I remember that, so far as my family knew, he disappeared from his home in Texas about 1886 and was presumed to have died not long thereafter. Over the past few months I have been able to obtain quite a bit of information about his life, including his thick pension file from the National Archives. The following is a brief summary of those facts of which I am confident, based on records. I include an occasional item of which I am less confident, indicated by .
Tom Martin was born about 1843 at Mattoon, Coles Co., IL to Joel Feagley Martin and Elizabeth Clemons. Tom was the seventh child and fifth son and was listed as 7 years old according to the 1850 census. [Probably some of the family, at least the two older brothers, moved to Texas about 1858. One source has these brothers, Samuel and John D., drafted into the Confederate Army, although they were Union supporters.]
Tom enlisted as a Private in Co. A, 7th Regiment, Illinois Infantry (he later was transferred to Co. B) along with his cousin Daniel Parker Martin on 3 February 1864, and was honorably discharged 9 July 1865. Dan Martin was the son of Joel Feagley Martin’s older brother John Martin, and was born 2 November 1845. Tom was taken prisoner by Confederates 7 May 1864 but escaped and returned to Union lines 20 June 1864. His service included “Marching Through Georgia” with Wm. T. Sherman. [One source has Tom’s next older brother Levi also enlisting about the same time and being captured and taken to the Confederate POW camp in Tyler, Texas where his brother Sam was a guard].
After the war, Tom moved to Texas [presumably to be near his brothers]. About 1871 he married my great-grandmother Anne Marie Attebury. They had seven children and farmed at Lancaster, TX until about 1880 and later at Lipan, Hood Co., TX. Their youngest child Estes Jefferson Martin was born 26 December 1885 and within a year Tom had left the family and never returned. The circumstances of his departure are unknown, and I can find no record of dissolution of the marriage. However, both Tom and Anne Marie married again and had other children. In one of his pension documents Tom claims that they were divorced in 1890 in Granbury, Hood Co. TX (but by 1890 he was living in Chelan, WA).
Tom spent one or two years in Idaho and by 1888 settled in Chelan, Okanogan Co. WA. He evidently lived a simple life as a farmer and/or horse breeder. He was a member of the Harrison Post 104, GAR and according to affidavits from neighbors, was sober, well-liked, and had no “vicious habits”. These affidavits are part of his pension file, which is voluminous due to numerous applications, rejections, and re-applications for a disability pension. One of the reasons for rejection is that Tom never used the same birth date twice. The birth dates in his file range from 1842 – 1845. He usually gave October or November as his birth month, with various dates within the month. Based on the 1850 census, 1843 is most likely.
Tom married Maggie Minnie Culbertson in Douglas Co., WA, 27 February 1895. The marriage was recorded at Waterville, Douglas Co. WA. They had two children, William b. 12 April 1896 and Yola (or Eola) b. 12 December 1897. Maggie died 18 March 1900 and by August 1900 Tom was living with T. H. Culbertson in Twisp, WA. T. H. Culbertson was a farmer, age 42, and was Maggie’s father and hence Tom’s father-in law, although he was more than ten years younger than Tom. Tom had given his age as 39 when he married Maggie; he was actually about 51. Maggie is now buried in the Chelan Fraternal Cemetery, Row N37. I have found no record of Yola other than her birth, but I have found William in the 1910 census.
About 1902, Tom showed up in Humboldt Co., CA. Tom lived at Burnt Ranch, China Flat, and Yreka (Trinity Co.), all of which are within the same area. By this time he was receiving a small pension ($16.00/ month) for his disabilities, which were “rheumatism, weak eyes, and piles”. It appears from his physical exam records that he suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, chronic conjunctivitis and hemmorhoids. There is no indication of his employment, if any, in California. In the 1910 census, William Martin was listed as a farm hand, boarding with an unrelated family near Burnt Ranch. I have not found Tom or Yola in that census.
About 1915 Tom was accepted as a resident at the Soldiers’ Home, Sawtelle, Los Angeles Co., CA. He married Barbara C. Palmer at Sawtelle on 27 March 1916. According to the marriage license, he was 71 (although he may have been 73) and she was 63, the widow of another “old soldier” at Sawtelle. On their marriage license she listed two prior marriages, both ending with the death of her husband. Tom mentioned only his marriage to Maggie and their two children (not a word about his marriage to Anne Marie and their seven children).
About 1920 Tom and Barbara moved to St. Cloud, Osceola Co., Florida. They lived there until his death on 3 June, 1924, of “Tuberculosis of Glandular System”. He was buried 4 June, 1924 in Mt Peace Cemetery by Eiselstein Bros., Undertakers. From his physical exam records, we know that (in his prime) he was about 5 ft 6 inches tall, weighed 150-160 lbs, and had a light complexion, light hair and blue eyes.
1)“Neely and Martin Descendants”, ed. Louise Y. Neely, privately published in Dallas, TX, 1982
2)“Fragments of Martin Family History”, compiled by Robert Eden Martin, printed privately in Chicago, IL, 1990.
3)Federal Pension File nr. 1011066, Thomas Jefferson Martin, National Archives
4)Email from Fred Pflugrath
5)Email from Ann Bergelt