|ELIJAH H. MARTEENY
It is with no intention of understanding the enterprise and success of the many representative farmers of Jefferson county or of memorizing their influence in the noble vocation to which their energies are devoted when we say that by universal consent the subject of this sketch is pre-eminently the leading agriculturist of this part of Illinois and among the most progressive men of his calling in the state. Believing in the dignity of his chosen work and the nobility of true knight of the soil he has labored long and earnestly to realize his high ideals of husbandry and the reward which usually follows wisely directed industry and patient endeavor, has come to him in lavish measure, as is indicated by his palatial country seat on one of the model farms of the state and a fortune which places him among the financially independent men of the county which he honors by his citizenship.
Elijah H. Marteeny was born near Bloomington, Illinois, in the year 1856, and is the son of William and Sallie (King) Marteeny. From the most reliable data obtainable his paternal antecedents came originally from Germany and settled many years ago in Pennsylvania in various parts of which state the family has been well known for several generations. Mr. Marteeny's grandfather was born and reared in Pennsylvania and like his ancestors from time immemorial, followed tilling the soil for a livelihood. He was a man of sterling worth. succeeded well in his chosen calling and after a long and useful life died of infirmities incident to old age on the family seat near the place of his birth. His good wife, who also lived to be quite old, bore him seven children, the majority of whom grew to maturity and became well settled in life and highly esteemed in their respective places of residence.
Mr. Marteeny's maternal ancestors, the Kings, were of English extraction and among the substantial yeomanry of New York, where his grandparents lived and died and where descendants of the family are still to be found.
William Marteeny, father of the subject, was born in Pennsylvania, but after his marriage with Sallie King, moved in 1839 to Illinois and settled near Bloomington, having been among the pio neers of that part of the state. The journey to the new home was in what was then the western wilderness, was a slow and tedious experience, having been made in a wagon which held all the couple's earthly possessions. They were many days on the way and ere reaching their destination were obliged to traverse the long distance through wild and uninhabited country and encountered numerous difficulties and hardships, including the absence of roads, inclement weather and at times the lack of the simplest necessities of life. On arriving at his objective point Mr. Marteeny purchased land on which he at once proceeded to erect a small cabin of the most primitive type, which he equipped with rude furniture made by hand, and for several years he and his good wife experienced their full share of the hardships and vicissitudes of pioneer life.
The conditions of William Marteeny's childhood were such as to interfere very materially with his education and at his marriage he could barely read and perhaps laboriously write his own name. His wife, however, had enjoyed superior advantages in her younger days and at the time referred to was not only well educated but a woman of wide general information and refined tastes. No sooner had the couple become well settled in their new home than the wife began in their hours of leisure to instruct her husband, he being an apt and ambitious pupil made rapid advancement and in due time acquired a thorough knowledge of the ordinary school branches, which served as a foundation for his subsequent wide range of reading and the intelligent observation which made him one of the best informed men of the community. He also became one of the most enterprising agriculturists of his neighborhood, reducing the quarter section of land which he entered to a high state of cultivation and by the addition of a number of substantial improvements made a farm which for many years was considered a model by the people of the neighborhood.
William and Sallie Marteeny had a family of eleven children, eight of whom grew to maturity. James Monroe, one of the sons, who reached the years of manhood, entered the three months' ser vice at the beginning of the Civil war in the Sixtieth Illinois Infantry, and re-enlisted at the expiration of that time for three years, and was killed at the battle of Atlanta. William Delos, another son, also entered the three months' service, later re-enlisted for three years or until the close of the war, but by reason of disability was afterwards discharged, later dying from the effects of disease thus incurred. Tillman was also a soldier in an Illinois regiment at the beginning of the rebellion, but some time after re-entering the service procured his discharge in order to look after his mothers interests, who in the meanwhile had become a widow, her husband dying in the year 1863, and one of the sons was killed by a stroke of lightning at a Fourth of July celebration near Centralia. a daughter died in 1863, at the age of seventeen, and another daughter, who married and moved to Colorado, departed, this life in that state.
A few years prior to his death William Marteeny sold his farm near Bloomington and purchased a farm in Jefferson county to which he removed and on which he spent the remainder of his days, being forty-six years old when called to the other world. His widow survived him until 1874, when she too passed away, being fifty-four years of age at the time of her demise. Both belonged to the Methodist church and were noted for their religious zeal and good works, having always been interested in the cause of Christianity and their influence was ever on the side of right living and correct conduct. Mr. Marteeny was an uncompromising Republican and a zealous friend of the Union, having been a leading member of the Union League, during the early part of the war. Through his efforts a number of young men were induced to enter the service and do battle for the national banner.
Elijah H. Marteeny spent his early life on the family homestead in Jefferson county and enjoyed the privileges usually accorded country lads, after which he became familiar with the duties of the farm and grew up with the conviction that honest toil is the only true passport to success and honorable manhood. Reared to agricultural pursuits he early evinced a decided liking for the vocation and after remaining with his father until he passed into the great beyond he took charge of the homestead in Jefferson county to which the family had moved in the meantime, and after his marriage purchased at intervals the interests of the other heirs until he became sole owner of the place.
Mr. Marteeny's farm consists of one hundred and seventythree acres of as fine land as Jefferson county can boast, every foot of which is under high state of cultivation. while the improvements of all kinds from the splendid modern dwelling to the fences and smallest out buildings are of the latest and most approved type and compare favorably with the best improvements of the kind in the state. Mr. Marteeny has made a careful and critical study of soils and their adaptability to the various crops grown in this latitude and in the most liberal sense of the term is a modem farmer who believes in progressive methods and in the dignity of the calling. In some respects he has departed from long accepted theories of tillage, one of which is the rotation of crops as far as the cultivation of timothy is concerned, contending, with good reasons, that the longer ground is devoted to this crop the richer the soil becomes. As proof of the correctness of this theory he presents the fact that for thirteen consecutive years the part of his farm devoted to timothy not only kept up an average yield of from one and a half to three tons of excellent hay per acre, but when put in corn produced a larger and finer crop than any other field on the place, the average per acre also being greater than that of any other farm in the neighborhood. In view of this fact he pays a great deal of attention to timothy which yields him from seventeen to thirty-two dollars per acre, and as there is always a great demand for first class hay of this kind, he realizes bountiful returns on his meadows. His success in the raising of grain and other crops has likewise been most gratifying and in all that pertains to general agriculture he is fully abreast of the times and far in advance of the majority of farmers, cultivating the soil according to scientific principles and making use of the latest modem implements and machinery in prosecuting his labors. By judicious fertilizing he has not only attained but enhanced the productiveness of his land, every acre of which is cultivated to its utmost capacity with results that have fully justified his many innovations and earned for him the reputation of one of the most intelligent and successful men of his vocation in the southern part of the state.
Mr. Marteeny, as already indicated, believes in improvement and has not been sparing in the matter of adding to the beauty and attractiveness of his home which is now conceded to be the finest residence in Jefferson county outside of the county seat.
The splendid modem dwelling, but recently completed, is little less than palatial in size, comfort and adomment, the walls being of concrete with cement finish, the thirteen rooms and several halls amply commodious and admirably adapted to their respective purposes, the entire edifice from basement to the lookout tower being a model of architectural skill and a home calculated to gratify the tastes of the most critical and exacting observer. Water is supplied to every part of the house from a large tank in the cellar, from which it is forced by air pressure to the different rooms, and in case of fire streams of great force can be thrown into every nook and comer of the building thus obviating any danger from this source. The artificial light plant by which the building is illuminated is a triumph of scientific achievement, every room being supplied with lamps of sufficient power to convert night into day, as is also the basement which extends the entire length of the building, and is finished with reference to various uses to which adapted. No pains were spared in the decorating and furnishing of this superb dwelling, all parts of which display exceedingly fine taste. At the same time the matter of comfort was by no means overlooked. and it is doubtful if in any other county in the state another building answering all the purposes and meeting all the requirements of a model rural home can be found surpassing this.
The other buildings on Mr. Marteeny's place are in keeping with the residence, the bam being the largest in the county, complete in all its parts and appointments, while the smaller out build ings are also first class, modem structures, all in good repair and well adapted to the various purposes for which designed. The entire farm is enclosed with woven wire fence, the splendid dwelling surrounded with trees that yield both fruit and shade, the lawn interspersed with beds of the choicest flowers, the excellent condition of the fields, the presence of herds of fine cattle and other high grade stock, indeed, the appearance of the entire premises and everything thereon indicate a home of an intelligent gentleman of refined tastes and progressive tendencies, as master of the vocation to which his life has been devoted and an influential factor in promoting an interest in agricultural science.
Mr. Marteeny was married December 17, 1877, to Miss Ida Laird, of Jefferson county, daughter of Samuel and Eleanor Laird. a union blessed with children as follows: Ray, born May 4, 1878; Maud Estella, born June 19, 1882, married Clifford Bartell, resides at Victor, Colorado. She was a graduate of the State Nornal School at Greeley, Colorado, and for three years a teacher in the schools of that state; Ethel Blanche, born February 4, 1884; Alice Gertrude, March 8, 1886; Morton K., December 4, 1888; Lethel V., born July 5, 1890; Hazel K., born April 25, 1892; Orville H., who was born October 22, 1894, and died July 11, 1896, and Merle, whose birth occurred on the 21 st day of January, 1897.
In public affairs Mr. Marteeny is one of the influential Republicalp of the county but has never aspired to office, the only elective with which his fellow citizens ever honored him being Highway Commissioner, in which capacity he served with great acceptance for a.period of three years. For many years he has been a warm friend of education and it was through his influence and liberality that a public school building at one time was erected on his farm, near the site now occupied by his beautiful modern residence. Two of his daughters are teachers in the public schools of Jefferson county, and at the present time three members of his family are students in the high school of Mount Vernon and will graduate in the class of '09. Fraternally Mr. Marteeny belongs to the Court of Honor and has filled all the chain in the local lodge with which identified.
In all that constitutes upright manhood and progressive citizenship Mr. Marteeny is easily the peer of any of his contemporaries in the county of Jefferson and his sterling integrity and stainless honor mark him as one who has ever tried to do his duty and to live in a manner becoming a broad and liberal minded American of noble aims and high ideals. He has acted well his part in the affairs of his fellow men and the conspicuous place he holds among the enterprising and public-spirited citizens of his adopted county has been faithfully and honorably won.
The following items of family history are deemed an appropriate close to the foregoing review: Mr. Marteeny's paternal grandfather was born April 9, 1791, and died October 14, 1845, aged fifty-four years; his grandmother was born June 19, 1791, and departed this life on June 11, 1833, aged forty-two years. William Marteeny, our subject's father, was born December 17, 1818, married Sallie King, July 4, 1839, the latter having been born on June 30th of the year 1815. Their children were Delos, born January 5, 1830, died January 18, 1876; George Tillison, born July 17, 1840, died July 30, 1841 ; Mary Elizabeth was born November 26, 1841, and at the present time lives in Colorado; James Monroe, born March 30, 1844, killed at Atlanta, Georgia, September 3, 1864; Tilman Augustus, born March 17, 1846, lives in Chicago; George W., born March 10, 1848, was killed by lightning July 4, 1865; Clarinda M., born June 9, 1849, died June 12, 1854; Jane B., born March 5, 1851, died May 22, 1902; Missouri was born October If, 1853, died September 3, 1854; Elijah H,, of this review, October 17, 1856; Ella, the youngest of the family, was born June 15, 1859, and died April 15, 1860.
The father of these children died March 29, 1864, the mother on 23rd of december, 1874.
Source: History of Jefferson County, Illinois
John Wall 1909
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