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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Albert P. Martin

The honored title of California pioneer has been earned by Mr. Martin through his long identification with the state and particularly with the county of Sonoma, of which he has been a resident since the year 1852. Born in Mahaska county, Iowa, November 2, 1848, he was not yet four years of age when the family started for the west with a large party of emigrants, leaving the old Iowa home April 26, 1852, and traveling in a wagon drawn by oxen. The train comprised fifty teams and presented a formidable appearance as the caravan wended its slow way across the plains. Not a few hardships fell to their lot and the trials encountered were not soon forgotten by the older members of the expedition. On one occasion, when the camp was left unguarded, Indians stole the stock and it was necessary to follow them to a distant valley, where in the afternoon of the next day the animals were recovered. While near Salt Lake City the cholera broke out in the party and several lives were lost before the disease was wiped out. Other misfortunes occurred to dampen the ardor of the Argonauts, but finally the majority of the original party arrived at their destination in safety. In the expedition there were several sons-in-law of John M. Cameron, at whose home on the Sangamon river in Menard county, Ill., some of the boyhood days of Abraham Lincoln had been happily passed.

Among Mr. Cameronís sons-in-law in the party was Silas M. Martin, who was born in Green county, Ky., January 16, 1816, and who accompanied members of the family to Illinois at the age of four years. Early in youth he learned the trade of a harness-maker, which he followed in Jefferson and Mahaska counties, Iowa, and in the latter county he also served as justice of the peace for several years. After he came to the west he was chosen as justice in his township and continued in that office for many years. During 1867 he was elected a member of the state legislature, filling the position for one term of two years, and again in 1882 he was elected to the same office. On the organization of the Grange he became a charter member and for some time was honored with the office of master. In addition he was a charter member of the local lodge of Odd Fellows and received the merited honor of being chosen its first secretary. The doctrines of the Presbyterian Church had his warm support and he served his congregation as a deacon for many years prior to his demise. Politically he was a Democrat of the Breckenridge type, warm in his support of party principles and loyal to the men who were the leaders of the political organization. After a busy and honored existence, covering seventy-eight years, he passed into eternity in 1894, mourned by the large circle of friends who had been attracted to him by his stanch devotion to the cause of justice, his warm-hearted kindness to neighbors, his loyalty to the upbuilding of the community and his self-sacrificing contributions to movements for the general welfare.

The marriage of Squire Martin united him with Nancy M. Cameron, a member of a family comprising twelve children and a native of Illinois, born January 26, 1818. They became the parents of six children, viz.; Martha A., Mary E., Davis D., Letitia Jane, Zilla E. and Albert P. The first-named daughter, Mrs. Martha A. Collins, was the mother of six children, Frank, Charles, William, S. Martin, Benjamin W. and Mary. Mary E. Martin became the wife of Thomas J. Ables and the mother of three children, Horace F., Clara J. and Zilla L. Letitia Jane Martin married William A. Wright, by whom she had five children, Silas, Roy, George, Harry, Carl and Flora. Zilla E., the youngest daughter of Squire Martin, married David H. Collins and had five children, Frederick, John, Nancy E., Gertrude and Grace.

In reviewing the record of Squire Martinís grandchildren it may be mentioned that Silas Martin Collins married Lissa Liddle and had two children, Elmer and Germain. Mary Collins, Mrs. Frederick Wood, is the mother of two children. Horace F. Albes married Violet Pedro; his sister, Clara J., is the wife of Robert Coddingham, and Zilla L. is Mrs. Leon J. Dickinson, the mother of one son, A. B. Dickinson. Silas Roy Wright married Mattie Evans, and has two children, Ernest and Ora. Flora, Mrs. James Church, has two children, Frederick Collins is married and has one child. Nancy E. Collins married Charles Weigle and has a daughter, Nellie. Gertrude Collins, Mrs. William Hewitt, has a daughter, Zilla. Grace is the wife of William Howell and has two children, Berwyl and Hazel.

For three years Albert P. Martin attended the Old Sonoma College under the supervision of President Cunningham and later, after teaching for one year, he turned his attention to ranching, which he has since followed with gratifying success. The dairy which he operates was established by his father in 1853 and is the oldest in this part of the state, its present equipment including the first successful silo built in California. Forty-five cows of a fine milk strain form a dairy herd not excelled in the entire region. In addition to the cows and calves there are nine head of horses kept on the farm and the entire family have flocks of poultry aggregating ten thousand chickens. The ranch embraces three hundred and twenty-six acres of fine land situated near Petaluma and improved with a neat set of buildings as well as a fine young orchard of eleven acres. At one time Mr. Martin was a master of the Two Rock Grange and ever since 1873 he has been actively identified with that organization, besides which he is a charter member of Little Lake Grange No. 157 of Mendocino. For several years he has served as trustee of his school district. Politically he votes with the Democrats, but never has sought official honors nor has he been prominent in partisan matters.

In Walker Valley, Mendocino county, January 1, 1873, occurred the marriage of Albert P. Martin and Elizabeth Miller, who was born in Illinois, August 1, 1855. Three children blessed the union. The older son, Harold L., married Ellen Simmons and has two children, Russell P. and Zilla Mabel. Frederick Martin is at home with his parents, and Mabel is deceased. Mrs. Martin is a daughter of Isaac and Louisa Miller, the former, a farmer, having been born in Ohio, March 10, 1831, but in early life removing to Illinois, whence in 1855 he removed to Madison county, Iowa. For a few years he cultivated land near Winterset, but in 1864 he left Iowa for California and landed in this state at the expiration of six months. For a long period he resided either in Mendocino or Lake counties, and his death occurred in 1907 in the latter county. Of his four children, John A., Elizabeth R., Mary F. and Jennie M., the only son married Sara Morrison, their children being Rodney, Maude and Emma E. Mary F. Miller married Richard Johnson and has four children, Roy, Luella, Emma and Wilhelmina. Jennie M. is the wife of Buchanan Montgomery and has two sons, Orie W. and Grover B., the former having married Ada Lesser, by whom he has a child, Ora, while the other son, Grover B., chose Miss Nellie Sullivan as his wife. Both the Martin and the Miller families have been honorably associated with the agricultural development of California since the period of pioneer history.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011