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Searching for a John W. Martin, the farthest back Martin ancestor in my grandmother's book was a real challenge. She had written his birth and death dates in pen as an addition to her mimeographed book. No place of birth was given.

Now a name like John Martin is almost as hard to research as John Smith, often considered the most common name here in the United States. Even after the search line-by-line of the several microfilms with census records told me that John Martin was born in Pennyslvania, he still remained elusive . The early census records only name heads of household, and he wasn't a head of household when he lived in Pennsylvania.

I will never forget standing in the Morrill Library in Hiawatha, Kansas, hometown of my youth, reading the History of the State of Kansas by William G. Cutler, 1883. This book, which is now online, gave his full name as John Wesley Martin, said that he was born in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, and had two wives, both named Mary. The Bedford County reference lead to the Bedford County Historical Society website which listed a Terry Martin as a researcher interested in John Wesley Martin. Later, setting at Terry's kitchen table, near Kansas City, he took our Martin line back three more generations to James Martin, who was a Captain in the Second Battalion of the Bedford County Militia in the Revolutionary War. And the biggest surprise is that the Martins were apparently Welsh!

Proof that John W. Martin was known by Wesley: According to Terry Martin and his uncle Allan Griffith, John Wesley Martin went by the name of Wesley Martin in childhood. Wesley was the name in Family Register Commenced by William T. Martin mentioned below. Morrow County, Ohio, 1880, History of Franklin Township, states that a Samuel James bought a farm from a Wesley Martin. Both Samuel and Wesley lived in Franklin Township at one time. Both were carpenters. The record of the land sale listed Samuel James' friend Wesley Martin as John W. Martin.

A Brick Wall Broken Through, the Welsh connection: A few years ago, I found Welsh Founders of Pennsylvania, by Thomas Allen Green, which listed a Mathias Martin, his wife Ellien Bowen, two sons Llewelyn and Lewis and an unnamed daughter who married a man named Benjamin Harvey. The given name of Llewelyn's wife was Elizabeth, and a list of their children followed. But I could not connect these people to my James Martin.

Welsh Founders of Pennsylvania also commented that "The family of Martin of So. Wales had long used that surname, being of Norman origin, and Descendants of the Martins, lords of Cemais, whose ancestor was Martin de Tours." Brian Picton Swann, who had researched all the Welsh Picton lines including that of my mother, had sent me The Lords of Cemais by Dillwyn Miles, a well-known Pembrokeshire, Wales, researcher. This book said that the Martin line had died out in the 1300s. So the connection to the Lord of Cemais Martins did not ring true.

Then William Shufflebarger, Pennsylvania Senate historian, found my website. We began emailing as he researched the history of Judge James Martin who was a member of the Constitutional Convention supporting the Bill of Rights. He made the big connections to James Martin's ancestors. Wills, land records, tax lists, and maps have shown James Martin to be the son of Lewis Martin. Lewis and Llewelyn were indeed both sons of Mathias Martin. He also found that immigrant Mathias Martin was the son of Martin Rees and Anne Morgan, of St. Dogmaels, Pembrokeshire, Wales.

Before surnames were used in Wales, descendants were named for their father by patronymics. For example, John, the son of Rees, was called John ap Rees. John, the son of Owen, was called John ab Owen. Ap meant "son of" before a name starting with a consonant. Ab meant "son of" before a name beginning with a vowel. Surnames developed slowly, and people used both patronymics and surnames in the same village at the same time. The "ap Rees" might be shortened to the surname Pryce or Price. The "ab Owen" became Bowen.

Sometimes the word meaning "son of" was simply left out during the lifetime of an individual. This is apparently what happened in the case of our Martin Rees. In his will he named his children with the surname Martin, his wife in her later will went by the surname Martin. Thus our surname Martin developed in the 1600's in Wales. Some early Welsh records spelled the name Martyn.

Looking at films of the few existing old parish records for St. Dogmaels, Moylgrove, and Llantood in Pembrokeshire, Wales, was a thrill. I still remember entering the Livermore Family History Center to read the film and thinking "I hope the films are not in Welsh. I can't read Welsh.". The films were in Latin, which I could figure out. Even the names were in Latin, like Guilelmus Martyn, for the person known as William Martin in Pennsylvania. Finding old histories and maps online and learning to search old Welsh wills has been exciting as well. Early Welsh wills can be found online. See below.


Margaret May (Robertson) Martin for her hand written entry for J.W. Martin and names, dates, and places for his descendants in her Book for my Grandchildren, Donald William Martin and Frances Luella Picton Martin for their conversations about ancestors and creating the most treasured Picture Book of Martin Ancestors with exact dates and approximate places, Donald William Martin for his Tombstones of Ancestors Buried in Brown County and taking me to the cemeteries, Terry Martin and his uncle Allan Griffith who did the careful and amazing research that took the ancestors of John Wesley Martin back three generations to James Martin, and to Terry for a copy of the Family Register Commenced by William T. Martin of Columbus, Ohio, January 1837, written by a grandson of James Martin, and a huge thanks to William Shufflebarger, who shared information about the early Pennsylvania Martins, their relatives the Thomases, and the Rowlands, and broke down the Welsh Wall to our Martin ancestors, to Brian Picton Swann who sent me The Lords of Cemais when he found out that my maiden name was Martin and recently introduced me to Bettye Kirkwood, and to Bettye Kirkwood, Australian Pembrokshire expert, who has researched her many, many Pembrokshire families in addition to her own for a couple of decades, sent files that confirmed most of the data and conclusions I had in my files, and introduced me to her Martin network through Dyfed Rootsweb; and thanks to all of them for a variety of Martin information "from both sides of the pond": James Lloyd, who shares our Martin ancestry through Llewelyn Martin, son of Mathias Martin; Bill G and Jane Muehsam and John Rhys.



John Wesley Martin biography in History of the State of Kansas

Samuel James bought land from "Wesley Martin" in Morrow County, Ohio / currently available by subscription, nott directly online from Morrow County as it was when I found it. Also available through Ancestry.com

Maps Showing the History of Ohio Counties

Benjamin E. Martin grave in Union Christian Cemetery, Crystal Spring, Fulton County, Pennsylvania, USA and Elizabeth Martin's grave in Union Christian Cemetery, Crystal Spring, Fulton County, Pennsylvania, USA (part of original Bedford County, Pennsylvania, is now Fulton County)

Captain James Martin and Sarah Thomas married in home of Benjamin Franklin, in biography of David Elliot, descendant of James Martin's daughter Anna and Peter Barndollar, transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company

James Martin's Garrison on the Juniata River noted

James MARTIN to Elisha PRICE, 1780, 1784, Providence Township, Bedford County, PA and we have early Price ancestors who are apparently Welsh

Pennsylvania was the second state to ratify the Constitution by a vote of 46 to 23. James Martin was among the 1/3 dissenting who submitted a minority report The Address and Reasons of Dissent Of the Minority of the Convention Of the State of Pennsylvania, to their Constituents.". The need for, and a description, of a Bill a of Rights and other interesting concerns are listed. Details on the 1787 Ratification Convention end with the 23 in the minority required to print their minority report themselves in a newspaper because the majority of 46 would not include their report. See the pages now in the Library of Congress.

James Martin was a member of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, the Executive Branch, from 12 November 1789 to 21 December 1790. The members were called Counsellors and were accorded the title of Esquire. The Counsellors elected a President, equivalent to Governor, and a Vice President, equivalent to Vice Governor. The single house legislative branch was the General Assembly.

James MARTIN to Elisha PRICE, 1780, 1784, Providence Township, Bedford County, PA and we have early Price ancestors who are apparently Welsh

Captain James Martin Memorial in Union Christian Cemetery, Crystal Spring, Fulton County, Pennsylvania, USA, actual grave unknown

Discription of the Welsh Tract in Pennsylvania on Wikipedia

Lewis Martin, founder of Charleston Presbyterian Church after split with Great Valley Presbyterian, the church that his father helped found

Maps Showing the History of Pennsylvania Counties

Martin Land in Chester County, Pennsylvania

Pre-1858 Welsh Wills Online

Map of Cemais hundred in Pembrokeshire, Wales showing St. Dogmaels (BI) where the Martins lived and Eglwyswrw (D) where my mother's Pictons originated St. Dogmaels Homepage St. Dogmaels on Wikipedia

1670 Pembrokeshire Hearth Records, St. Dogmaels mentions Martin Rees, and also Nicholas and William Rowland, and Rees ap John, who are related to the family

Please contact me by email: Jeanette@Martin-Froeschner.net

updated March 2011