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Crosby County Biographies

Robert and Mary Martin

Rose Spray
Individual Photograph Not Available
Birth Date:   May 9, 1845       Birth Date:   Feb. 11, 1846
Death Date:   Jun 30, 1922       Death Date:   Feb. 26, 1914


Rank: Private       NAR 3-8-65, 4-29-65
Commanding Officer: Brig Gen'l M. Jeff Thompson, CSA
Organization: Co. I, 1 Regiment. Arkansas Cavalry Confederate States of America
Date of Enlistment: 1861
Date of Discharge; June 5, 1865
Enlisted: Batesville, Ark.


Moved with his family to Ark, and at age 16 joined Cav. CSA, Civil War. Married in Ark. to Mary Elizabeth Austin (b TN). With 4 sons moved to Denton, TX to Knox County; 1891 to Crosby County, Emma and then to Ralls 1912.

Robert Newton Martin, a pioneer of Crosby County, was born in North Carolina in 1845. He moved with his family to Arkansas and at the age of sixteen, he joined the southern forces of the Civil War. He was in the cavalry and recalled one day saying something impertinent to a Northern soldier, calling him a Yankee. The soldier chased him and cut his hat brim with a saber before Martin could get out of reach.

He was married in Arkansas to Miss Mary Elizabeth Austin, a native of Tennessee. With their four sons, Tom, Will, Jim and Bob, they moved to Denton County, TX, where Della was born, and later to Knox County, where Lena was born. In 1891 they moved to Crosby County.

Mr. Martin put in a grocery store in Emma in 1891, later general merchandise. He and son hauled freight from Amarillo, camping along the way. He was instrumental in organizing the first Methodist church soon after coming to Emma. He was Sunday School superintendent for more than twenty years. The church bell, purchased early and used on the first school building was where church was held. Mr. Martin rang the bell through all those years, as it was afterwards in the church built at Emma and later moved to the Methodist Church at Ralls, where it tolled for his death in June 1922. He and his wife had moved to Ralls in 1912.

The R. N. Martin family came to the Plains in April 1891. The oldest son, Tom, had gone ahead and filed on a section of land and built a dugout. They lived in it and a tent until the men could haul lumber from Colorado City to construct a house in Emma in July, 1891. (I think it is the house just west of the Baptist Church in Ralls, home of Lena Bonine - Mrs. C. E. S.) There was only one other completed house there, at the time, and it had been moved there from Estacado, to be enlarged and used as a store.

Graves in Emma Cemetery, Crosby County, marked by a large, double stone: Mr. Martin died 30 June 1922 (County Clerk record), but no date has been cut in the stone.

Source: "Through the Years, A History of Crosby County, Texas" by Nellie Witt Spikes and Temple Ann Ellis ©1951; The Naylor Company, San Antonio, Texas
Submitted by Ralls Historical Museum
The following story was written by Mary Lena Martin Bonine:
When the Martin family moved to Emma in 1891, my father put in a grocery store, later general merchandise. He could have gotten land for twenty-five cents per acre and lived on it three years for a title.

Stores in an early day were gathering places for all who came to town. While the early hotels, George M. Witt and others, served good meals, family style for twenty-five cents, yet men liked to get a tin place at the store, get some kraut from the barrel, pickles from another barrel, cheese from the big crates, sardines in a can, crackers from the cracker barrel, an onion, etc., and a glass of apple cider to wash it all down. For dessert they would pull the bung from the molasses barrel and have 'lasses and crackers.' My but that was 'good eatin' in those days.

My father and brothers would go to the railroad at Amarillo or Colorado City for freight and mother would bake a flour sack or two of biscuits, another of teacakes, put in a side of bacon, jug of syrup, sack of spuds and pull out for the railroad. A dutch oven and a jog of sour dough to make their own bread if they wanted to. This grub was put in a chuckbox nailed to the back of the wagon.

At night the freighters would roll out their beds and sleep on the ground in summer and in the wagons in cold weather. At night they sometimes would be awakened by something cold touching their feet, or even their face and they would have to throw out or kick out the water dogs, and go back to sleep.

In my father's store one could buy candy and bacon for ten cents a pound, calico at five cents per yard, sugar, twenty pounds to the dollar and coffee, ten cents per pound.

My father was instrumental in organizing the first Methodist Church, which was organized soon after his coming to Emma. He was Sunday School Superintendent for more than twenty years. The church bell, purchased early, was used in the first school building where church services were held. My father rang the bell through all those years, as it was afterwards in the Methodist Church built in Emma in 1905. It tolled for his death in Ralls, telling the people of the many services both Father and the bell had done.

In 1912 my father and mother and brother, Will, moved to Ralls. My father had reserved the bell when the Emma Methodist Church was sold and had it placed in the Ralls Methodist Church, where it still hangs. Father passed away in my home in Ralls, June 30, 1922; Mother at the home of my sister, Della Ezell, who at that time lived near Emma, February, 1914.

In the winter in early days my father and mother and myself would go to the breaks for wood and camp overnight. We would sleep in the wagon as panthers and bobcats were plentiful then. On one of these expeditions Father found a vein of coal several miles south of Emma, in a canyon. We brought some home and it burned well in the stove. He never did anything about it and years later, when he was an old man, some representatives from a big company came to see him about it. He went with the men but was unable to locate the coal.

My father was a great prohibitionist and probably worked harder to get the saloon out of Emma than any other man. Our home was the home of preachers of all denominations that came to Emma.

Source: "Through the Years, A History of Crosby County, Texas" by Nellie Witt Spikes and Temple Ann Ellis ©1951; The Naylor Company, San Antonio, Texas

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