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Free Genealogy Biography of E.K. & John Martin,
Pennsylvania Volunteers of the Civil War

E. K. & John Martin

Barton B. Martin was born in the township of East Earl, near the eastern confines of Lancaster County, and is a descendant of the old and hardy Swiss Mennonite stock who peopled that section early in the last century. His father, John Martin, was one of the most progressive men of his day, prompt to identify himself with every movement which promised to open up to his locality increased facilities for education or to secure local improvements.

Barton was the eldest of a family of nine children, all of whom to-day are well and widely known and respected as men and women of integrity and worth in the communities in which they live. He was equipped for the battle of life only by such ordinary common school education as the outlying country districts of his day afforded, but he carried into the struggle what no amount of academic training could supply the want of,--indomitable pluck, tireless energy, and a determination to succeed. These qualities he evinced early in life, and the circumscribed conditions of his farm-home being unsuited to their development, he, at the age of fourteen, started into life on his own responsibility as a clerk in the store of a relative at Rohrerstown, in Lancaster County. His keen business insight led him to look for greater opportunity in a wider field, and before he became of age he had embarked in his career as a country merchant at Millersville, in the same county. Here he did for many years a lucrative and extensive business, and became known far and wide for his principles of fair dealing and strict integrity. It was here that he married his estimable wife, Catharine Rohrer, and after his marriage became a devoted and earnest laborer in the Lutheran Church.

A numerous family springing up around him, and noting anxiously the meagre array of educational privileges the locality afforded, he, together with Rev. L. M. Hobbs, D. S. Bare, and several others of the more liberal and energetic citizens of that vicinity, in the summer of 1854 embarked in an enterprise for erecting at Millersville an institution for academic training. It was regarded as a bold and hazardous enterprise, public sentiment was unfriendly, and at the inception of the enterprise in not a few instances hostile; but with Mr. Martin to conclude was to carry out, and then and there were laid the foundations of what afterwards developed into the celebrated Millersville State Normal School, which from that day to the present (1883) has in one way and another, during its distinguished career, sent forth from its walls over twenty thousand students to bless the disinterested sacrifices of its founders.

In laying the foundations deep and wide for the noble edifice which afterwards was to crown their labors, no one contributed more liberally both of time and means than the subject of our sketch; and on one occasion, when the infant institution was threatened with destruction by creditors who were no longer willing to await the tardy subscriptions upon which its credit had depended, Mr. Martin promptly came forward, and with his personal indorsement of the obligations which had been contracted in its erection, secured it a new lease of life. He long remained a trustee and faithful friend of the institution, and after seeing its success firmly established by being taken under the patronage of the Commonwealth, he withdrew from its direction, which has been so ably and successfully continued by others to the present time. In 1859, Mr. Martin closed out his business at Millersville, and erected an extensive dry-goods store at the corner of West King and Prince Streets, in Lancaster City. After a few years, his health becoming impaired by the too great confinement incident to mercantile life, he entered upon the lumber and coal trade, in which he has been continuously engaged for the past thirty years. During that period he has been interested in the manufacture of lumber in the counties of Clinton, Centre, and Cambria, where he owns extensive tracts of white-pine lands. He also had wholesale yards at Lock Haven and Columbia, and a retail yard at Lancaster. His career as a lumberman has been a busy one; handling many millions of feet of lumber annually, he has become well and widely known as one of the ablest men in his line in Eastern Pennsylvania.

He is at present the principal member of the extensive coal-mining firm of Martin & Co., whose properties cover several thousands of acres of the best bituminous coal-field of Cambria County, and who have offices at Philadelphia and Lancaster, and shipping wharves at Greenwich Point, South Amboy, and Baltimore. He is likewise interested in some thousands of acres of timber-and coal-lands on the line of the new Vanderbilt railroad, which penetrates the Clearfield region.

During the war he was an earnest supporter of the government, taking an open and active part in every movement to further the cause of the Union, and contributing liberally of his efforts and means to that end. His beautiful home, "West Lawn," at Lancaster, is notably one of the handsomest pieces of architecture in the county, and one of the best specimens of a villa residence in the State. Mr. Martin is the father of nine children, two sons and seven daughters. The eldest son, E. K. Martin, Esq., an attorney at the Lancaster bar, with an extensive practice, is a graduate of Amherst College, in the class of 1871. He entered the army at the outbreak of the war, when only sixteen years of age, as a member of the Seventy-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, 79th Regiment, served through the entire war, participated in the great engagements and campaigns in the Southwest under Sherman, Thomas, Buell, and Rosecrans. After the war he completed his college course, subsequently attended Columbia College Law-School, in New York City, and in 1876, as a student of Hon. Thomas E. Franklin, was admitted to practice at the Lancaster bar.

John C. Martin, the second son, is a member of the firm of Martin & Co.; has for years been associated with his father in the manufacture of lumber and the mining of coal. He, too, entered the army at a very early age, as a lieutenant of Company D, One Hundred and Fifty-seventh Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, 157th Regiment, and was for a long time a member of the staff of Gen. Tyler, of the Army of the Potomac. He was an efficient officer and is a successful business man.

Source: History of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, with Biographical Sketches of Many of its Pioneers and Prominent Men; Philadelphia; Everts and Peck, 1883.

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