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.
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
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.
- Was James Martin born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, or Wales? This was the question raised in the Family Register. The answer is
"Neither". James' family was living in Chester County, Pennsylvania, when he was born. James and Sarah Thomas were living near her parents in Chester
County, Pennsylvania, when they were married.
- Where were the children of James Martin and Sarah Thomas born? Family information has indicated Bedford County, Pennsylvania. At least some of
the children were born in that county.
- Benjamin Martin Sr. was said to have died on the island of Cuba of yellow fever. Yellow fever was rampant in Cuba, and also in US sea and river
ports. At the time, it was thought that yellow fever was caused by human contact, not be carried by rats as a vector. The big question is: what was a 62
year old man doing on the island of Cuba? My cousin Ken Beasley had a theory that he may have died in Cuba, Ohio, not too far from where he was married
for the second time in Knox County, Ohio. He was involved in the building of roads, setting up a bank, and running for Senator
while he lived in Knox County, Ohio. There were Martin families in Clinton County, Ohio, the county where Cuba is located in 1820 and 1830. Benjamin died
in 1825 and could have been visiting. However, I have found no proof of his death in either the island Cuba or Cuba, Ohio.
Are there any newspaper or other records documenting that James Martin and Sarah Thomas were married at the house of Benjamin Franklin?
Yes. Benjamin was out
of the country when they were married. But his wife Deborah Read Franklin was much more than simply the stay-at- home mother of Benjamin's children.
According to Cokie Robert's book
she had a sundry shop in the front of the Franklin house, helped in the print shop, worked on their real estate transactions, ran the postal service after
Benjamin was made postmaster for the colonies and actively took on authorities to improve it. She also was the overseer for the building and decoration of a new home while Benjamin was
away. And she constantly entertained important people. Her political activity may have made her home a desirable place for similarly active early settlers to get married.
Franklin's would not have harbored a
fugitive deserter from the Royal Americans, which Judge James was in
1759, while Ben was trying to woo Military Assistance from the same
Regiment while in Europe. Ben was also trying to get Pennsylvania made in to a Royal colony rather than a Proprietary Colony owned by the Penns.
And this leads to the question about how, why, and when Ben changed his allegiance to the Revolutionary cause.
- Is there further evidence that John Wesley Martin was known as Wesley Martin in
- Did Llewelyn and Elizabeth Martin have one or two daughters whose name began with "E"?
William Shufflebarger had sent me Chester County,
Pennsylvania, wills for Mathias Martin and his son Llewelyn Martin. Mathias Martin's 1738 will copied into the
Chester County will book gave the name of his granddaughter as Ellise. Llewelyn Martin's 1741 will copied into the Chester County will book gave the
name of a daughter as "Ethliw. On the basis of these two wills, I listed two daughters for Llewelyn.
Then James Lloyd emailed me a copy of Llewelyn Martin's will from Philadelphia
which was different from the copy in the Chester County will book.
The first thing that I noticed was that the signatures looked different from each other, like real signatures. Not copies made by a single person.
Mathias Martin had signed with a capital M as his mark.
In this will which appeared to be an original loose copy, the daughter's name was spelled Elliw.
Ethliw is a rare but actual 17th century Welsh female name. Elliw is both a current Welsh female name and an earlier one. Consider these two additional facts: Mathias Martin
used a mark for his name, so he did not read. Thus he could not determine whether the name was correct. Llewelyn Martin's will was submitted and read by
his wife Elizabeth and a family friend after his death nearly 20 years after his father Mathias. After consultation by email with my network of Martin
researchers and friends, one
daughter named Ethliw is what I am using.
- What else can we find about Mathias Martin's wife and children? What we know: I found his early children baptised in St. Dogmaels, Pembrokeshire, but no mother was listed.
And remember, more than half of the early parish records in this area of Wales at this time have been lost. The name "Ellien Bowen" appears as his wife in
Welsh Founders. Mathias and his adult sons first appear in Pennsylvania in the early 1710's. Mathias Martin did not mention his wife in his 1738 will,
so she must have died by that time.
Did Mathias Martin marry the Ellien/Eleanor Bowen, who was listed in the Welsh Founders, somewhere in Wales near St. Dogmaels? Just like his
brothers had? Or perhaps nearby in her family's parish? A search of wills to hunt for one written by her father or grandfather that named her has been
Did Mathias move somewhere else in Wales, probably in Pembokeshire or perhaps Flintshire, and have more children there? His "large number of children"
is mentioned in his mother's will. Even if half of the parish records are lost, it seems likely that at least one of his later children would appear in
the records. None of the other children appear in St. Dogmaels, so other parishes must be examined.
Did Mathias Martin have more than one wife? An Elizabetha Martyn died in 1684 in St. Dogmaels, Pembrokeshire, Wales. This was the
same year two of his chidren were baptised. Could she have been a first wife for Mathias Martin and mother of the children baptised in St. Dogmaels? Or
was Elizabetha the wife or daughter of a brother or other Martyn?
Was the Elenor Bowen, daughter of Moris Bowen, born in the city of Carmarthen, Carmarthenshire, Wales, the wife mentioned in Welsh Founders? This
was the first speculation. This Elenor immigrated with cousins/brothers, so she must have been unmarried when she immigrated. She and Mathias would have
has to be married in Pennsylvania for this marriage to have have happened.
- Is there information on the Welsh side about the immigration of Mathias Martin and his family? Could the man named Mathias Morton who immigrated in
1712 be Mathias Martin? Ancestry.com has two references to this immigration. I tried some of his children's names, but was not directed to the same
source. Follow-up on the sources of the immigration shows that this Mathias Morton was somebody else.
- What can be found about the siblings and parents of Martin Rees? Is the Martin Rees listed in the IGI, born about 1575, in St. Dogmaels,
Pembroke, Wales, son of Rees William and Janett Jeven, the Martin Rees who was the
father of our Mathias Martin and others? The place seems right, and Martin Rees has a
daughter with the of the mother listed. But the birthdate is much too early. Other IGI information has Rees William, son of
William Phillip, born in about 1541, and married to Jevan in about about 1566 in St. Dogmaels. Again, the use of "about" which could mean "unknown", is
much too early. IGI sources are not given. These dates would make Mathias Martin about 100 years old when he was married and having children. So these are probably not the right people.
- In addition to Martin Rees' will 26 August 1683 in St. Dogmaels, Pembroke, Wales, the IGI lists two earlier wills. One will is listed as Martyn Rees, 23
Sept 1675, Moylgrove, Pembroke, Wales. The other is listed as Marttin Rees, 5 Feb 1678, Llantood, Pembroke, Wales. Both Moylgrove and Llantood are very
close to St. Dogmaels. I tried the misspelled names and dates
on the National Library of Wales site and did not find other wills. Note: Martin Rees's son Evan Martin's
will was written in Sep 1675. The reference to 1675 Moylgrove will was Evan Martin's will which was signed by his father as Martyn Rees.
Probably Martin Rees also signed the 1678 Llantood will. Whose will could this have been?
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
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.
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