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Cleveland Taylor Martin

Cleve's Story 



My children have asked to have some of the facts and incidents of my life for the benefit of future generations. Realizing I had failed to get this material from my parents while they were with us I will try to supply some information as I remember or as it was told to me.

--Cleveland T. Martin

My father, Christopher Columbus Martin was born April 21, 1842 in Missouri. He was the son of George Martin, who, we are told, came from Ireland to Virginia and later on to Platte Co., Missouri.

[This information is not correct. George Washington Martin's father is now believed to have come to America from Hesse, Germany to fight for the British in the American Revolutionary War. This soldier, listed as Christian Martin, is reported to have deserted in May 1773. By 1795 a Christopher Martin, believed to be the same man, is recorded as owner of property at Knobly Mountain in Hampshire County, Virginia (now West Virginia). George's son Christopher was married to Rebecca Drais on Feb. 15, 1835 in Hardy County, Virginia. (Hardy County was formed in 1785 from Hampshire Co.)].

Three children were born to them: Mary, Hulda and Christopher. Chris who was to be my father, was small of stature, but was very energetic and independent. He had a firmness of manner, almost stern at times, but really he was very kind and understanding.

My mother was the daughter of Jeremiah and Melvina Groshong. She was born in Wisconsin July 23, 1845. Children of the family were Darius, Sylvester, Ann Eliza (who later was to be my mother), James and Monroe.

When Ann was nine years old, the family left Wisconsin going to Clay County, Missouri and later on to Kansas arriving here in 1855. Anna's home life was very secure. She was reared by very devout Christian parents.

Her maternal grandfather was a Baptist minister and spent much of his time in their home. He was also a doctor so could care for the physical, as well as the Spiritual ills of the family and of the community around. In those days the doctors would bleed the patients as a cure for many troubles. Ann was so afraid of the treatment that she wouldn't tell if she were sick. She loved her grandfather and recalled how he taught her to sing and recite little verses. She was taught to sew as well as to spin and weave. Schools were so far apart and roads so poor that younger children were unable to attend very regularly, but Ann completed her education by reading. In the home each child had his task aside from the regular chores and hers was to spin or weave a certain amount. When their chores were complete they could play or do whatever they chose, and Ann liked to read.

The George Martin family was living in Missouri. Then the wife and mother passed away leaving the three children, Chris being about three years old. With the help of relatives, the father was able to care for them.

After a time he married again and later came to Kansas, arriving in 1856. They settled on a farm near Muddy Creek. The farm is still often referred to as the "Old Martin Place," and was about one half mile from where the Groshong family lived. The children played together.

There was little amusement for children in those years, but most of them had a pony to ride and spent much time riding over the hills and prairies. A few times young Chris and Ann were allowed to go along with the older children.

As Chris grew a little older he spent most of his time in Missouri with his favorite uncle (Jack Drais), his mother's brother, and went to school as he could. We doubt that he spent much time in the classroom, but for those days he was an educated person. He could transact business, could talk intelligently, had plenty of wit and humor and--what was most important--he was honest.

Ann was growing to be a charming young lady, and her family decided she should have a dress made of factory-woven material. Before, she had always worn home-spun ones. There was a store in Ozawkie. Her father went with her and they rode their ponies. The trip took all day, but she found just what she liked--it was cream-colored with with a blue flower. She told afterward how proud and happy she felt as she carried the precious package home. She made the dress by hand, as there were no sewing machines. I am sure she kept a piece of that goods as long as she lived.

Chris came often to visit his father and stepmother, who by this time had a family of their own, and he always called at the Groshong home. He and Ann had become more than playmates and sometimes rode out alone. 

Then came the war, the terrible War Between the States--North against South. The nation had been severed. The North declared the slave trade to be "a shameful thing and it must be stopped." The South maintained their slaves were their property and they should not be compelled to give them up unless they were paid for them. They argued that they had bought them in good faith, and had paid well for them. Some of the people of the South also believed that slavery was wrong and that it should be stopped, but to take slaves without recompense would bring financial disaster not only to the big plantation owner, but the smaller farmer as well.

Nothing but war could settle these questions and preserve the union.

After a hundred years as we look back we wonder if everyone would be happier had the slaves been helped to get back to Africa, their native home and their own people. However, we must not look back for problems ahead need all of our attention. Chris was just seventeen and like most boys felt he should get in and help. Had he lived in Kansas, without a doubt he would have gone with the North, but he lived in Missouri. His relatives and friends were Southern sympathizers, and it seemed he could better understand their grievances. So he, along with his Uncle Jack, went into service with the Confederate army, He served, we believe, for the duration of the war.

The Groshong family were neutral and chose neither side, but both sides claimed them at times, making it very uncomfortable. Because of this, they moved back and forth from Kansas to Missouri.

On one occasion they were compelled to cook for one army one day and the very next day for the other. Once while living in Missouri they had to move mid-season, leaving their crop in the field.

The story is told that once when Chris was home on leave, he and several of the women went to the woods to pick berries. They heard shots and when they came out where they could see, the soldiers had met and had a skirmish right in the road between them and the house. Chris had no gun, so lost no time in getting out of sight. The women waited until the soldiers moved on, and when they crossed the road, saw the dead men lying there. Someone had placed handkerchiefs over their faces.

Little is known of Chris's war record. More research is being done, however. The record tells us that in 1861 he was assigned to special service. We know he did some freighting--hauling from a point in Missouri to Ft. Bridger, Wyoming. But we are not sure whether this was the special service or whether he did it after the war was over.

He often told of his experiences while freighting over the plains. It was a hard and dangerous duty, not only because of the war, but there was always the threat of Indians. Because there was a long caravan of the freight wagons and the men well-armed, they had little loss. But they often had to round up and be prepared.

All along the trail they saw evidence of the Indians' cruel work. One day they came upon a camp where a whole family had been murdered and robbed. The mutilated bodies were strewn along the way.

In 1865 the war ended and Chris came home, but his Uncle Jack did not come and his family could learn nothing of what had happened. They waited and searched in vain but never gave up hope, for they knew if he were alive nothing could keep him away from his family. Uncle Jack's wife, Aunt Jane, finished raising the children alone, and died with the mystery still unsolved.

During the war while Chris was away Ann had, of course, gone to parties and entertainment, such as there was in war times. In spite of all the troubles and worries she had become an attractive young woman. Her photograph tells us she was quite pretty. She was also popular among the young people. Young men sought her company, but she was not interested in any certain one.

Now it happened on a Sunday afternoon, when Chris was visiting there, a young man drove up unannounced and asked to see Ann. Her father went out and told him she had company and did not ask him in.

At this time the Groshong family lived on a farm nearer Meriden.

It was 1866. The war was over. Ann was 20; Chris was 23. And on Feb. 8, 1866 they were married and moved into their first home, a log house on what is now known as the Gerber Place. Here they planted their first crop.

Kansas at this time was in a state of great unrest. Although the North had won the war and it had long been a free state, there was much lawlessness and even killings. The young couple went their way. They wanted nothing but to have a home and a chance to make a living, but that was not to be.

Conditions grew worse. Resentment had grown out of the fact that Chris, an ex-soldier of the South, had come and married a Kansas girl. Finally it was not safe for him to go out without a gun. He even carried one while working in the field.

And then it happened--someone shot through their house, barely missing the bed in which they were sleeping--and they knew they had to move, for to stay longer only meant to kill or be killed. They would go back to Aunt Jane's in Missouri. She needed them and wanted them from the first. There were two houses on her farm and they would stay there until Kansas quieted down.

Money was their big problem those first years. But with hard work and careful spending they managed somehow. They raised most of their food and made their own clothes, Ann knitted mittens to sell, but no one had much money so they often exchanged these items for grain or other necessities. 

When they left Kansas they left the crop in the fields. A neighbor would harvest it for them. Chris went back in the fall to settle up. Money being so scarce, he took a horse for his share and planned to ride it back to Missouri. While on the return trip he had to stop for the night and rest the horse. He tied it to a tree and went to bed. Next morning he found it dead. It had become entangled and broken its neck. All he had of his first crop was a halter.

All this failed to discourage Chris and Ann too much. They would get along somehow, but we believe it created in them a thrift which was to stay with them always. Although they prospered in later years, they didn't like to see anything wasted or destroyed. 

In December of that first winter my oldest sister was born. In those days a child's name was not so important, so they called her some pet name until she was four and asked to be called Willie--Willie Jane. The "Jane" was for Aunt Jane Drais.

While still in Missouri two other children arrived--James in '68 and Martha in '70. But little Jimmie was not to be with them long. When he was one year old he contracted dysentery and all the doctors could do did not save him. He was buried near Camden Point. 

In 1871 they moved back to Kansas, living one year near Silver Lake and farming with Chris' half-brother, Jim. The next year they moved to the farm of my Grandfather Groshong. There their fourth child, Robert, was born and Willie started to school. In 1872 a farm was purchased near Muddy Creek and in the spring of '73 they moved onto it. It was their very own home--and here they stayed until retirement. 

Here in this narrative Chris and Ann have a family, so we will call them Mom and Dad. The older four had addressed them as Ma and Pa, but to us younger children they were Mom and Dad.

How Kansas had changed! All was peace and harmony. Dad lived and worked side by side with men of the North. They raised their families together, built roads, school houses and churches together, served on the school board, and held other offices of trust. Often at picnics or Fourth of July Celebrations Dad wore the marshal's badge. The war was never discussed and seldom mentioned. And, as far as Dad was concerned, it was forgotten. But, when we grew older, we learned that those old post-war conflicts were not completely forgotten and there were a couple of names for which Dad had no respect.

Things went well for the family in thier Muddy Creek home except for an occasional natural event like a drought or grasshopper plague. They told of how, on a clear day in the late afternoon, the sun darkened and it looked like a great dark cloud coming up in the west. It was hoppers. The settled everywhere. How the farmers scurried to cover and try to save some of their crops! But the hoppers went through fields, gardens and orchards eating everything as they went--even the corn in shocks. Only grain in closed bins was saved. They stayed only a short time and rose and flew away as suddenly as they had come.

By 1878 they had done well. The children were growing up and crowding the one-room log house in which they lived. They could afford a better home, so that summer they built a nice frame house.

It served its purpose well, for not only were four more children born but, later, it served as a home for a little neighbor girl whose mother passed away leaving a little sick baby of six months. With only a busy father to care for her, Mom and Dad took her in, nursed her back to health and raised her. Here we younger children were born:

Mary Elenora     1879
Christopher C.    1881
Cleveland T.       1884
Lolly                 1887
I am Cleveland, and here is where I spent my childhood. I am sure it was a happy one, with so many older brothers and sisters to help me. I was named for President Cleveland.

The first thing I can remember is when I was recovering from an illness and not yet able to go out and play. I remember how Bob, my oldest brother, let me carry his real watch in my pocket. And they let me play with a photograph of us children, hoping (I suppose) I wouldn't destroy it. I almost did. I remember Mom would read to us and tell us stories. She always seemed to have time to listen to our little woes or joys. 

We learned quite young that when Dad told us anything he meant to be obeyed. He was good to his family, provided all things for our comfort and well-being, but was in every sense of the word Master of his home. Dad called me "governor" when I was small, but luckily that nickname was dropped when I started to school.

A new school house was built in 1885 only one half mile from our home. It was called South Star. The "Star:" district had been divided into two--the North and the South Stars. This made the distance to school much closer for all.

I well remember my first day at school, although I was only four. {The narrative ends here.}

--much of this early family history was told by Cleve Martin's mother, Ann Groshong Martin, and this story was written out by Mabel Stone Martin, Cleve's wife, with Cleve's help and approval. 



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