A list of Marion county's prominent families would certainly be
incomplete were there failure to make specific mention of the well known
farmer and representative citizen, and his relatives, whose name introduces
this sketch, for his life has been one of usefulness and honor, resulting in
good to everyone with whom he has had dealings whether in business or social
William J. Martin was born in Gibson county, Tennessee, January 15, 1859, the son of Caleb and Martha J. (McHaney) Martin, the latter a native of middle Tennessee and the former of South Carolina. Jacob Martin, the subject's paternal grandfather, came to Tennessee from South Carolina in an early day and farmed there until his death. The parents of the subject married in Tennessee. Martha McHaney was the daughter of William McHaney, a native of Tennessee. She first married David Young, who died and left two children, Frances, the wife of Atlas Hammond. The second child died in infancy. Caleb Martin first married Miss Susan Batie, who died leaving the following children: Jacob, George, Amos, America, Jane, Parthene, Martha and Mary Susan.
The parents of our subject married in Tennessee and in November 1862, settled in Salem township, Marion county, Illinois. Caleb Martin was a strong Union man and left the South on account of the war. His wife, a noble old lady, is still living with her son, our subject. The subject's father farmed in Marion county, Illinois, until his death, July 11, 1888. He and his wife were members of the Christian church. He was a strong Republican. Six children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Caleb Martin, as follows: William J., our subject; Monroe, Houston, Benjamin Van Buren, John A. Logan, Sarah Ida.
Our subject was about three years old when the family came to Illinois. They made the trip from Tennessee with ox teams and camped out on the way, having all ox teams with the exception of one team of horses. William J. Martin was reared on his father's farm and educated in the common district schools of this county. On his farm now stands the little old school house in which he was educated. He purchased it and moved it on this place, which he now uses for a storehouse and granary. It was built about 1850. Mr. Martin remained at home and worked on the farm until he was twenty-five years old. This was in 1884, in which year his happy and harmonious domestic life began, having then married Elizabeth Hershberger, who was born in Crawford county, Ohio, the daughter of Henry and Catherine (Snavely) Hershberger. (For a full history of this family the reader is directed to the sketch of David Hershberger in this work.)
Four children have been born to the subject and wife, namely: Minnie, born October 3, 1886, is a member of the home circle; Claude was born in April, 1888, and died in January, 1895; William Franklin was born December 26, 1890, and died January 16, 1891; Nellie Zada, born August 14, 1892, is at home attending school.
Mr. Martin's highly improved and productive farm consists of one hundred and sixty acres. He has a beautiful country home, substantial, comfortable and nicely furnished, and a good barn and other convenient out buildings, everything about the place showing thrift, good management and industry. He keeps an excellent grade of cattle and other livestock, and is regarded as a good judge of stock and one of the leading farmers of Salem township. His hogs are of good breed and he raises some fine horses. Mr. Martin also owns two hundred acres of his father's old farm in this township, which he keeps well improved and the soil in good productive condition.
Mr. and Mrs. Martin are members of the Christian church at Young's chapel. Mr. Martin is a trustee in the church and a liberal subscriber to the same. In politics he is a Republican. In the social and private walks of life no man bears a more enviable reputation for sterling worth. In short, Mr. Martin is an honorable, upright citizen, belonging to the somewhat rare class that direct and control public sentiment without pushing himself forward and without incurring the ill will of those with whom they come in contact and leave the impress of their strong personality indelibly stamped upon the community, winning the friendship of all classes.
Extracted 10 Jul 2017 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 197-199.