An Autobiography

1853    -    J.P. Martin    -    1930

(Part 3)

Locating Ourselves In Ohio Again:

My brother, as soon as we arrived in Ohio, went to live with an old uncle of father's and remained in his home for seven years, he had a good home and was well cared for. After a migrating sojourn of twelve years in Indiana and Illinois mother and the remainder of her family find themselves domiciled in a large, cheerful room in an old fashioned brick farm house owned by a family named Miller. This large old house is located in Perry township near New Lebanon which latter place continued to be our Post Office town for eight years. And in all that time with all our moving we never lived farther than a little more than two miles.

Resuming School In Perry Township:

In and during the winter of 1866 I attended school near the place where we lived in what was known as the Eight Cornered School House, being octagon in form. While in a general way all school families are much alike, and this one differed not greatly from the one I had been accustomed to, yet my life had been struck with such counter currents, that school life was no longer the carefree experience it once had been, and the responsibilities of living began to press down on my young and inexperienced shoulders. However the impression deepened that the school family is but the world at large in a miniature, and that not a little of the patch work of life's quilt is started therein. Of course this school, too, was infested with Cupid and all kinds of girls and boys.

Migrating to Jefferson Township. Then Later To Madison Township

The next spring we left the Miller home and moved over into a little two roomed log house on the Eaton pike in Jefferson township and there I went to school at what was known as the Shively School House all of the winter of 1867. I had about a mile and one-half to go to school here.

The following spring we moved over into Madison township into an old frame house with four rooms. I went to school two winters in this township at a School house known as the Keener School House. The second winter my sister, Ethe Linda, commenced going to school here and she learned quite rapidly.

In the spring of 1869 mother [moved] from the old frame house into a little log house in the same school district. Somehow I fitted in a log house better than in any other kind, although I had lived in stone, brick, frame and log, both hewn and round, houses. Up to this time I put in the summer months working here and there as a farm hand, sometimes by the day, and other times by the month. In this manner I earned my clothes and my board also part of the year, beside adding a mite to the family exchequer. I have sons who are making three times as much in one week as I made in a month working from long before sunup until after sunset. The common use of gas, gasoline, electricity, cement and the air and the manifold machinery therewith connected was practically then unknown. Horse, steam and water power was the limit, and the farm was limited to man, woman, horse, mule and ox power and their crude machinery.

Migrated Into Jackson Township and Our Own Home:

In the spring of 1870 mother bought four acres of land in Jackson township three quarters of a mile south of New Lebanon, and a quarter of a mile north of the school house which occupies the place where the old log school house once stood where she went to school as a child. If one moves enough eventually they will cross their own path. On this four acre lot mother built a new log house out of the logs of an old log barn. They were nicely hewn logs and well preserved and therefore afforded her material for a substantial and rather snug little home. We moved into it in May, 1870 and lived in it for four years. The second year we lived here my youngest sister, Laura Alice, began going to school, she too learned fast. During these four years life moved happily along in its usual groove with just enough ups and downs to keep the monotony well broken. While living here, in 1872, I spent seven months in Crawford county, Illinois, in the vicinity of our farm; all that this trip accomplished was in the way of giving mother and the girls a rest from my home antics.

Emigrating Back To Our Illinois Home, Mother's Earthly Goal:

In the autumn of 1874 mother sold her little Dumb Hundred home and moved back to Crawford county, Illinois and onto her old eighty-acre farm after an absence therefrom of eight long regretful years. It was like coming back home after a long exile to dear mother, and it was with considerable relief that she relinquished her energies to the welcome trend of the dear old farm -- her earthly home. And here for eighteen years mother resided in comparative comfort and contentment until her death in 1892. All her children came with her on this move and shared her home with her. I remained with her over winter and until the following July when I returned to Ohio and married Miss Mollie Bright of which and whom I will have more to say later on in this story. The other children all stayed with her until in time they too left her to marry and start homes of their own. Surely mother's patch work quilt of life was rapidly reaching completion as piece shaped and joined to piece in rapid activity.

The Children Grow Up And Scatter:

The design in mother's quilt was quietly and definitely working out. in the course of a few years Ethe Linda married James Perry Hendrickson a farmer and carpenter. They had six children, Fleda, Bertha, Ray, Lee, Guy and Paul, these children all grew up and married.

A few years after Ethe's marriage, and after a variegated course of teaching school, attending College, railroading, and bookkeeping, Alvin married Miss Dora Braden of Hutsonville, a school teacher, and settled down in Chicago as an accountant. They had no children.

And at last Laura married Gilbert W. Templeton a farmer and lived four miles south of Palestine. They had five children, Hoyt, Lena and Ethel are living and married, two little girls are dead.

Mother's Life Work Ends In Death:

The course of the last eighteen years of mother's life was filled with many hard earned and well deserved family pleasures and comforts rounding out in a worthy exit from time into that bourn from whence none return. She died at the home of the Templetons, April 10, 1892. We children were all with her during the last ten days of her life and were permitted to mutually administer to her last earthly wants which was a great comfort to her and to us all.

Thus, after a long and lonely widowhood interspersed with many joys and some sorrows, covering a period of twenty-six years, we laid her in her grave beside that of her husband, our father, where she has now lain for thirty-eight years. A head-stone similar to father's marks the last resting place of Sarah Cassandria Martin, wife of John Henry Martin, aged sixty-one years. They have been sleeping there in their quiet corner in Oak Grove for thirty-eight years awaiting the resurrection.

Mother's Last Hours,
Her Hope And Faith As Then Expressed To Me:

As hereintofore stated, it was the privilege of us children to all be with mother in the home of our youngest sister during the last ten days of her life. And much of this time mother's mind went roving back to her romping girlhood, yea, childhood days, and in company with her youngest sister, basked in the scenes of their early home life with their parents on grandfather's bear creek farm.

Much of her time, however, she was with her children expressing her appreciation and comfort because we were thus permitted to be together once more. There was no attempt to hide our thoughts, we all knew that mother was slipping away from us, and our efforts were to be just as normal as possible in the face of this inevitable fact. Our attitude pleased mother much and added to the comfort of her last hours. Her throat and tongue was partially paralyzed rendering speech very difficult, which was the most serious drawback to the situation.

However, just an hour or so before she died, her mind remarkably clear, it was my privilege to have my last talk with her. In this conversation, she made it very clear to me that her faith made it possible for her to have a very definite hope respecting the future.

She believed in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man; that the Bible is God's expressed will and is for man's instruction; that God interprets his Word to man in his own time and manner. She believed that she would soon be dead and that she would remain in the unconscious sleep of death until God's appointed time to resurrect the dead; that in the resurrection she would return to earth and be permitted to enter into God's Kingdom then established on earth for restoring man to his estate lost through the sin of Adam. She fondly expected to meet her husband and all their children, and everybody, in that glorious Kingdom. Under these circumstances it was a joy to me to see mother thus go forth victorious into that mysterious realm beyond human ken.

Under The Willow Boughs of Memory Five Grave Yards:

It is said “every family has its skeletons”. This is true of ours, but they are all quietly resting in five grave yards, interspersed between Ohio and California, and are not disquieting intruders, but cherished memories.

Of these fondly remembered ones, little sister, Mary Ellen, was the first one to leave our family circle. She was a year old when she died, and with the assistance of a carpenter to make her plain, little coffin and a dear old preacher to act as undertaker and speaker and a few neighbors and relatives, we buried her in her little grave 'neath the shady boughs of a spreading beech, and left her to the quietude of her little grave, and to resume life's duties. This was in the year 1861.

The next one to go was little sister, Ida May, in 1862. She lived only a few hours, I never saw her alive, her life sun set in its dawn. With a few friends father quietly buried her beside sister Mary to share with her the seclusion of their last resing place. This is grave yard number one, near Burlington, Indiana.

The third one of our family to pass through that mysterious portal called death was father. With the aid of dear, old Bishop Hyre who acted both as undertaker and preacher and a few neighbors, relatives and friends, we buried him in Oak Grove grave yard in a quiet little corner therof by himself and for twenty-six years he rested there alone, while the world moved on. This was in 1866, on our farm near Palestine, where this took place.

The one who followed father in death was mother after a lapse of twenty-six years. With the aid of a kindly minister, Jesse Stoner, and a neighbor who acted as undertaker, and many friends and neighbors, we children buried her beside father in his lonely corner in Oak Grove. The neighbor who assisted in burying father also took charge of burying mother, his name was Thomas Pfifer, his widow lived in Sawtelle, Calfa. This was in 1892, and this is grave yard number two, near Palestine, Illinois. I might here add that our present day pretentiousness, ceremony and pomp in connection with burying the dead was then wholy unknown in the common walks of life.

Thirty-one years later Ethe Linda followed mother in death. She died in her home in Danville, Illinois of a lingering, malarial complaint in 1923. Sister Laura, her husband and I, and also her entire family except Ray, were with her before she died, and assisted brother Perry and his children in burying her. Times had greatly changed and even funerals have become modernized. An up to date undertaker had charge, a quartet of male voices sang and I preached. We buried her in a beautiful little country grave yard two miles out of Danville beside a little grand son who had preceded her a year or so. She was sixty years old, and her resting place is in grave yard number three.

About three years later brother Alvin, who was then living in Sawtelle, Calfa., stepped aside from the activities of life and sought the rest found in the grave. They were not alone in California, Dora, his wife, has a brother and sister living near, and three of Alvin's cousins were also living near, beside a little bunch of old Illinois friends, these all joined with Dora in burying Alvin, he is resting in grave yard number four, near Sawtelle, California. This was in 1926 and Alvin was seventy one years old. He had suffered much.

Two years later, living in Alvin, Texas, sister Laura succumbed to the ravages of disease and became a victim of our common enemy, death. She died in the bosom of her little family in the home of her youngest daughter in Houston, Texas. They buried her back in Illinois in the Palestine grave yard. Her oldest daughter lived in Palestine, and Gilbert is now living with her. This was in 1928 and Laura was sixty-two years old, and this is grave yard number five.

A Lone Tree In The Midst of Fallen Ones:

On my father's Wild Cat farm in Indiana was a small “deadning”, a piece of new land in the midst of which stood an old snag of a tree stript of limbs and bark, charred by fire and bleached by the sun, rain and storm, and surrounded by the fallen trunks of its companions. That lonely tree was a symbol of me as I stand alone surrounded by the graves of my loved ones. When the tonsorial artist of time cries “next” it will be poor me who responds.

I Saw “Her” At A Distance And Was Afraid:

It was in 1868 while living with mother in Madison Township, Ohio, at a Dunkard “big meeting” at the Bear Creek Dunkard church, that I saw “her” at a distance and because of the way I felt I was afraid and kept my distance. I was close enough, however, to see that she was a slim, dark, little runt of a girl, not at all like the angelic creature I had pictured for mine. I did not meet her at that time, nor know who she was, nor did I learn until two years later.

I Met “Her” And Became Acquainted And Trouble Began:

In June 1870, while living with my mother in her Dumb Hundred home, I again saw this same dark, gypsie girl at a “singing bee” in New Lebanon, and became acquainted with her, and learned that she was Miss Mollie Bright, and lived with her parents in a big brick house one mile west of New Lebanon on the Eaton pike. I took her home from the “singing” that night and started a case of palpitation of the heart which still affects me even at this late date. Well she was one of those new found girls and Cupid was playing hot with our hearts.

Mollie's father and my mother were first cousins, he was rich and my mother was poor, she was a rich man's daughter and I was a poor woman's son, and that was that. Mollie cared nothing for money, and to [this] day she will keep a nickel no longer than to find a place to exchange it for necessities and comforts for her loved ones. I never learned what money is much less learn the art of earning and accumulating it.

Because of this difference in the financial standing of our respective families, and because of our too close blood relationship, and because there were being made barriers between us, Mollie and I courted under protest and in the midst of many difficulties, but we courted and the game was worth the candle. However, because of these hindrances, we would go together for a while, and when the pressure became too heavy, we would stop going together, and each go our respective ways, until it would become unbearable, then we would risk going together again. And so it went for nearly four years, until all opposition subsided, when we made up our minds that we would marry as soon as I returned from Illinois; for it was decided that I should go with mother and the rest of her family, and help them settle down in their Illinois home.