It is signally consonant that in this work be incorporated at least a
brief resume of the life and labors of Mr. Martin, who has long been one of
the influential citizens of Marion county, and through whose loyal efforts
the city of Salem and surrounding locality have reaped lasting benefits, for
his exceptional administrative capacity has been directed along lines
calculated to be for the general good. A man of forceful individuality and
marked initiative power, he has been well equipped for leadership, while his
probity of character and his genial personality have gained for him uniform
esteem and friendship in the city where he has so long made his home, and of
which he is regarded by all classes as one of its most distinguished
citizens in connection with the business world.
Robert Martin was born in Estilville, now known as Gate City, Scott county, Virginia, April 11, 1839, the son of John S. Martin, also a native of Virginia, and a man of recognized ability, being the representative of a fine old Southern family, noted for its high ideals and unqualified hospitality, his ancestry being Scotch-Irish. John S. Martin was County Clerk for a period of twenty years or more, and he held many other county offices, including a judgeship, and he won universal praise for the able manner in which he discharged his every duty to the public. He was called from his earthly labors in 1865 while living at Alma, this county. The mother of the subject was a Stewart before her marriage, a woman of rare mental equipoise and culture; she passed to her rest soon after the family came to Illinois in 1846.
Our subject spent his early boyhood on his parental farm at Alma, having been only five years old when the family came here. He attended school at Alma and Salem. He also attended the Southern Illinois Female College at Salem, which institution ceased to exist soon after the war. He gained a liberal education which has stood him in such good hand during his long and eminently active and successful business career. Our subject was one of those loyal sons of the North, who, when the tocsin of war sounded calling loyal sons to defend the old flag, offered his services, enlisting in Company A, One Hundred and Eleventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, one of the famous regiments of the state, which was organized at Salem. Mr. Martin was then twenty-one years old. The company left Salem and went to Columbus, Kentucky, and from there to Paducah, that state, later to Pulaski, Tennessee, and from there marched to Chattanooga, where it united with Sherman's army and remained with the same through its historic march to the sea, and also its strenuous campaigns, having participated in the battles at Atlanta and many other notable engagements. After remaining with him until the close of the war, he took part in the grand review at Washington City, after a very commendable service of three years. He was mustered out at Springfield, Illinois, where he came soon after the review in Washington.
After his career in the army, Mr. Martin launched in the grocery business at Salem, in which he remained for one year, when he sold out and went into the more lucrative grain and lumber business, in which he has been engaged for a period of forty-one years during which time an enormous volume of business has passed through his hands, and he has become widely known as one of the leading men in these lines in Southern Illinois, being recognized by the leading dealers throughout this and adjoining states as well as remote parts of the country as a man of the highest business integrity and acumen. He is still conducting a large lumber yard, and carries on a very extensive and thriving business, numbering his customers by the thousands, not only from Salem and vicinity, but throughout the county and to remote parts of the country. He owns a beautiful, modern and well-furnished residence in one of the most desirable portions of Salem.
Our subject was happily married in 1867 to Alice Scott, a native of Vincennes, Indiana, a woman of affable personality and rare refinement, the daughter of a highly respected and influential family. Three children have been born to this union, one of whom has passed away. They are: Mabel Dora, the wife of W. H. Farsons, of Salem; C. C. Martin, of Salem, and John Lewis Martin, formerly of Salem, now deceased.
These children received every possible attention from their parents, being given good educations and careful home training.
Mr. Martin assisted in the organization and became one of the first directors and stockholders in the Salem State Bank. He is also a director of the Salem Building and Loan Association, and his sound judgment and able advice is always carefully weighed by the other members of these organizations in their deliberations, for Mr. Martin has a reputation among local business men for remarkable foresight into all business propositions. Having always been interested in educational affairs, he served as a member and also as president of the School Board of Salem for several years, but he is not at present connected with the board, but during the time that he was the schools of Salem were greatly strengthened.
In his fraternal relations Mr. Martin is a member of the Knights of Pythias and the Woodmen. He has been a faithful and consistent member of the Methodist church since he was thirteen years old.
Extracted 10 Jul 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 126-128.