Family Line:
Christopher Martin, the Hessian
and his descendants

By Nancy Neiswander Holmes of Mobile, Alabama



My mother knew her maternal great-grandfather, George Martin, came to Kansas from Platte County, Missouri. She knew he was born in Virginia where he married his first wife, Rebecca Drais, and by whom he had three children. She knew he married Lucy Pumphrey in Missouri. She thought the family originally came from England, as did a cousin, whose unpublished manuscript she never saw. This supposition sent the search down many unproductive by-ways.

Since Platte County, Missouri, was the first place George Martin could be positively identified, a query was sent to the Platte County Historical and Genealogical Society. Gwen Grow Seefeld of Wichita, Kansas, responded. She is my 4th half cousin. She is descended from George and his first wife. Without the partnership we formed and encouragement we gave each other, I doubt that our search for our immigrant Martin ancestor would have been so successfully concluded. It certainly would not have been as much fun. Thank you, Gwen.


It is believed that the name Martin is derived from the Latin, Martius, i.e., warlike, from Mars the God of War. In Galeic Mor is Great; duin: a man = Morduin, a chief, a warrior. Wherever the Roman troops went in Europe, they found warriors among the natives. There are numerous variations in spelling and the name is found in all of the European nations.


Since George Martin and his first wife Rebecca Drais were married in Hardy County, Virginia (now West Virginia), it was there that we began our search for the parents of George. At last we located Edna Mott, a third cousin one removed, still living in Grant County, West Virginia which was formed from Hardy County. Imagine our surprise when we learned that George's father, Christopher, was a Hessian soldier who settled in Virginia at the conclusion of the American Revolution.

Next, we set about to verify in printed sources the statements of the West Virginia descendants.

We believe it is our Christopher who is carried on an Index of Hessian Troops in America as Christian Martin, who was born 1757/58. His place of origin is given as Sand, Hesse-Kassel, but as yet parish records of his birth and parents have not been located. He was a private in the Courier Corps. He was wounded in September 1777 and deserted May 1783.

“The Jägers Corps, organized in 1777 under Col. Ludwig Johann Adolph von Wurmb, was composed mainly of men from Hesse-Kessel. They were mostly recruited from huntsmen and game-keepers. They were equipped with rifles and performed as light troops. They engaged in scouting and patrolling duties and ... held their own against Daniel Morgan's famous rifle corps, essentially their counterpart in the Continental Army.”

The British General William Howe praised Lt. Col. Wurmb and rewarded his men for their gallantry at Crutchley's Mill just before the Battle of Brandywine in September 1777.

The Jäger Chr. Martin was badly wounded on 3 September 1777 in the battle near Cutches Bridge.

Our ancestor, Christopher Martin, was badly wounded “during the Battle of Brandywine,” September 1777, according to Miss Mott.

The war was over and peace negotiations had begun by May 1783 when “on the 16th the Jäger Christ. Martin deserted with 5 other hunters in uniform and obtained arms from Huntington.”

This could be Lt. Col. Ebenezer Huntington of Connecticut who was with Lafayette's Light Division at this time. “Being given arms by Huntington” may be the source for the West Virginia descendants’ statement that Christopher served in the American Revolution although no service record has been located in the National Archives.

The five hunters who deserted with Christ. Martin were:

  • Chr. Eschert of Leipzig
  • Adam Pelz of Weirsburg
  • Carl Bernhard of Kirchhain
  • Adam Petrie of Mansfeld
  • Jacob Schneider of Unterhome

All were of the Company Von Pruschenk in Jäger Battalion “an.”

A Jacob Schneider who could be the same man as the hunter from Unterhome is in the 1790 Pennsylvania Census, in Paradise Township, York County, along with John and Conrad Doll. In 1792 a Jacob Doll held 50 acres on Knobly Mountain in Hampshire County, Virginia. There is a later reference to Jacob having been in York County in 1798. Sons John and Jacob Doll are mentioned along with “other children.” Later, in 1836, his son Jacob, in his will, lays claim to “an undivided ninth part of certain in the possession of heirs of Christopher Martin.”


Hardy County was formed in 1785 from the Hampshire County. It is not proven that the Christopher Martin who, 14 October 1788, purchased four acres of land for 5 shillings from Benjamin Norman was our Christopher. This lot was on the north side of Mill Creek, a branch of the south branch of the Potomac River. The deed states that Martin may already have possession of the land. There is record of a Christopher Martin obtaining 412 acres on Mill Creek in 1789. Sims Index, W. Va.

In 1795 a Christopher Martin sells 412 acres on mill Creek to Benjamin Norman of Hampshire County. This Christopher Martin of Hardy County has a wife, Elizabeth, and is most likely the same Christopher who, with wife, Elizabeth, sold for Five Hundred Dollars tracts of land in the Alleghany Mountains to Abraham Van Meter. These tracts consisted of 404 acres and adjoined tracts of 143 acres and 167 acres that Martin had received by patent in 1800 from the Commonwealth of Virginia. The 167 acre tract was surveyed for Christopher 25 October 1796.

It is my belief that all the aforementioned Christophers are most likely the same, our Christopher, and that he had a first wife, Elizabeth, alive in 1804 and whose maiden name may have been Doll.

It was about 1799 when, according to Miss Mott, Christopher sold land "in the mountains" near Laurel Dale in what is now Mineral County. He moved to the area now known as Martin in what is Grant County.

At this time he built his home. The two story frame structure appears to be one room deep with large chimneys at both ends over the gable roof. The second story is four bays. A shed roof over a front porch prevents one from seeing the first floor entrance. This 18th century home has been demolished and, in 1985, there was a bungalow on the site.

By 1818 Christopher had married Mary. Miss Mott identifies his wife as "Martha" James but in land transactions, his will, census records, his wife is identified as Mary. The list of Christopher's children as provided by Miss Mott corresponds with his will, land transactions following his death and census records. These records include our George, positively identifying him as the son of Christopher, but leaving the question of his mother undetermined since it is not known if there was a first wife, Elizabeth and, if so, when she died and when he married Mary. The names of George's first three children by Rebecca may provide a clue as in most instances in this era babies were named for relatives. Mary W. was born in Virginia in 1835; Huldah Agnes in Missouri in 1841, and Christopher Columbus in Missouri in 1843.

The parents of Mary (or Martha) James have not been determined. Because of the name, Huldah, given George's second daughter, attention focuses on Rodham and Huldah James. He can be identified from 1795 in Hampshire County near Patterson Creek. However his will, written in 1802, does not include a daughter, Mary, or Martha. (The name of Agnes comes from the mother of Rebecca Drais whose mother was Agnes Maxwell who married Jacob Drais).

Christopher's brief will, written 19 March, 1820, recorded 11 April, 1820, in Hardy County, is signed in German script. He mentions his sound mind but makes no reference to the state of his health. He names his wife, Mary, and three older sons John, James and Henry. He states that should either of Mary's under age children die before coming of age their share would then be divided among the three older brothers. Additional children are positively identified through subsequent land records and the list of his children as supplied by Miss Mott.


John born 1796, married Keziah Marquis in 1818. In 1826 he married "Patsy" Martha Walker.
James born c. 1800. It is likely he that married Margaret Marquis in 1820.
Henry born 1604 married Elizabeth Likens in 1626.
George, born 1808, married first Rebecca Drais, 15 February, 1835, and second Lucy Jane Pumphrey, 9 October, 1846, in Platte County, Missouri.
Christopher born 1813, married Nancy Athey in 1833. He died in 1882 in Grant County, West Virginia and it was, in part, his will which led us to Miss Mott.
Elizabeth born 1814, married David Roberts.
Martha “Patsy” born 1819, married William Harris
Savilla A., born 1820, married Joseph Athey in 1843.

Christopher's grave site near Martin is unmarked.

The June 1820 appraisal of his estate establishes various parcels of land, that he owned considerable stock and household goods, and also that he was in a position to lend money to many of his neighbors. The men whose notes he held are, for the most part, identifiable in the census records of Hardy County.

However, an estate account submitted 12 September 1825 by the executor, his son James, lists many charges against the estate. These include the material for his coffin, the doctor's fee and bills presented by various neighbors for all manner of services.

Property included the home plate where Mary lived with her under age children; James was to inherit the Martin portion of property bought jointly with John Rotruck from Peter Putman (who had acquired 25 a. on Knobly 1793). Date of purchase is not known to me but in 1818 the Martin-Rotruck purchase was divided; Rotruck's portion containing 139 acres. Presumbly Martin's was the same. It ran east to west on Knobly Mountain on the waters of Patterson's Creek. Sons John and Henry were left “land on the mountain where John now lives.” The next year, 12 Septembe, 1821, John and wife Kesiah (nee' Marquis) sold for $300 what is presumed to be this tract to Abraham Rotruck. John signed, Kesiah made her mark.

Henry sold what appears to be his share of the land on the mountain 4 January 1826. Joseph McNemar and Abraham Rotruck paid him $350 for undisclosed acreage. He signed with his mark. On 2 February 1826 he was married to Elizabeth Likens.

On 28 September, 1835, George Martin and wife Rebecca nee’ Drais whom he had married 15 February, 1835, sold for $80 half of their right to property on or near Knobly Mountain. This transaction clearly establishes George as the son of the deceased Christopher. Both he and Rebecca signed with their mark. James, presumably his brother, witnessed, Elizabeth Martin was the purchaser. George had a sister Elizabeth who was 21 years old that year. In the 1840 census there is one female 20/30 in the household of Davis Roberts. Also the 1840 census lists a Batsy Martin b 1780-90 as head of a household. Her relationship to George is not known. It is possible she could be an aunt-- she is too young to be the wife of 1795.

In a sale of what appears to be 374 acres for $470 on 29 February, 1840, further heirs of Christopher are identified. The widow, Mary, her son Christopher and his wife, Nancy (nee’ Athey), Elizabeth and her husband David Roberts, Patsy (Martha), and her husband, William Harris, are the sellers and Abraham Rotrick, Joseph McNemar Sr., and James Roberts purchasers. All the sellers signed with their mark except David Roberts. One of the tracts appears to have been bought of “Beezly and Singer (sic).”

On 2 June 1846 George who by then lived in Platte County, Missouri and was married to Lucy Pumphrey sold to Joseph Tucker for $50 approximately 35 acres “1/2 of his undivided part.”

On 5 April of 1847 Mary conveyed her 3rd in dowery to her youngest son Christopher for considerations which include a yearly rent, use of a horse and cow and 10 head of sheep, grain, firewood, fruit and excluding her house and garden. The following year on 17 May 1849 for $5 Mary conveyed to son Christopher her rights to land not conveyed to him in the division of his father's estate but being conveyed to her by Joseph and Ruth McNemar, Abraham and Catherine Rotruck and James Roberts.

On 15 July 1849 George and Lucy, for $65, sold approximately 30 acres “under Knobly Mountain” to his brother-in-law William Harris. This “undivided 1/2 of land left to him by his father” would appear to be George's last interest in his father's estate.

Recall that John's wife was Kesiah in 1821. (They were married 11 May 1818). The 1850 census, in which John is listed with Patsy Martin, and the 6 August 1852 sale of Patsy's 1/5 of her father Joseph Walker's land, indicates that this John is the same who married Martha Walker, daughter of Joseph, on 17 June 1828. Any children he may have had by either wife are not in his household in 1850. The John in this census was born 1796, making him the oldest son of Christopher. If, indeed, the Christopher who died in 1829 is the same man who, with wife Elizabeth, was located in Hardy County in 1795, then this John would be the son of the first wife.

The house Christopher Martin built in 1799 at Martin, in Grant Co., W.VA.


George first appears in the known written record as a child in his mother's household, the 1820 Hardy County census and as a young man in the 1830 census.

Next, on 15 February, 1835, in Hardy County, George married Rebecca Drais (sic), the daughter of Jacob and Agnes, nee' Maxwell. The Rev. William Welch performed the ceremony. Welch also officiated at the marriage of several of George's siblings. The eldest child of this marriage, Mary W., was born the same year.

On the 28th of September, 1835, George and Rebecca sold for Eighty Dollars to Elizabeth Martin “one-half of all their right and title to the land on or near Knobly Mountain which his father Christopher Martin had died possessed of. ” They signed their marks.

George appears to be the only one of his siblings to leave Virginia. In Missouri, new land was opened for settlement by the 1836 Platte Purchase of former Iowa Sac & Fox Indian lands. With Rebecca's parents and brothers and undoubtedly other neighbors and kinfolk, George sought new opportunities in the West. Jacob Drais died in Tennessee on the way, but Agnes survived to die in Platte County, Missouri, in 1860.

Rebecca and George's first daughter, Mary, had been born in Virginia. The couple had two other children, both born in Missouri: Huldah Agnes, born Nov. 1841, and Christopher Columbus, born in 1843. Rebecca died in 1844.

In June of 1846, George, of Green Township, Platte County, Missouri, sold for fifty dollars to Jacob Tucker of Hardy County, Virginia one-half of his undivided part ... about 35 acres...of land, a portion of his father's estate.

One descendant has written that George left his two daughters with relatives, buttoned the baby, Christopher, inside his shirt and set out on horseback to find the Pumphrey family who had a marriageable daughter.

He did not have far to go. Elijah Pumphrey and Olivia nee' Wilson had emigrated from Kentucky to Platte County in 1844. George and their daughter, Lucy Jane, were married 9 October, 1846, perhaps in the Pleasant Grove Baptist Church of which Elijah Pumphrey was a founding member. The existing church building has been moved to Camden Point and renamed the Camden Point Church.

In the 1850 Platte County census, Green Township, George and family are located three households from his Pumphrey in-laws. A Farmer, his real estate was valued at $1200.

In 1854 the Delaware Indians ceded lands in Kansas Territory to the United States. George's grant of 160 acres of these lands was confirmed in 1858. President James Buchanan signed the patent.

His location became Jackson County and there George and his family appear, in Douglas Township, Grasshopper Falls (now Valley Falls) post office, in the 1860 Kansas census. George, a farmer, held real estate valued at $2000. By 1870 his real estate had increased to $5000 and the value of his personal estate doubled from $1000 to $2000.

George Martin's grandson, Otho Cope, wrote an interesting account of his families and their early days in Kansas. He describes George as a “real pioneer...with a gun and a dog he could take up where Daniel Boone left off.” Lucy “was beyond doubt the greatest of pioneers.”

Pioneers in mid-nineteenth century Kansas shared some similarities with the eighteenth century settlers of the eastern and southern sections of our country. There were no hostile Indians. Modes of transportation had improved somewhat but it was still difficult and expensive to obtain all manner of supplies.

George's home was was joined wooden pegs, as iron was expensive, hard to get, and it was time-consuming to make hand wrought nails. The typical pioneer house was usually of logs, a story and a half, the loft reached by a ladder. A gable roof often extended over two sizeable rooms separated by a ten or twelve foot “alley.”

George, with his neighbors, went to central Kansas to kill buffalo, thus supplementing their home grown hog meat through the winter. Lucy tanned all hides and made buffalo robes. Lucy traded at Leavenworth, about 50 trail miles distant. Yearly she visited the eldest daughter, Mary, who had married and remained in Missouri. Platte County is just over the Kansas, Missouri border, perhaps two counties distant from Jackson. It took her a week to make the trip. She took furs and robes to trade for quinine, whiskey and colors to dye her wool. She raised sheep, wove jeans, cloth, and carpet. She kept bees, and in her garden grew buckwheat and soup beans.

Jackson County citizens were divided in their Civil War allegiance. Settlers from Ohio and New England were in the Rock Creek area. Southern sympathizers, including the Missouri Martins, were located near Muddy Creek. George's son Christopher had served in the Confederate Army. Even after the war there was often friction which caused trouble at the country dances. Although the Martins were members of the Muddy Creek Baptist Church they apparently took part in the neighborhood socials which included horse races and shooting matches.

These events were where the young met young people or, since they had grown up in the same neighborhood, saw each other in a new light. Courtships tended to blossom amongst family friends and neighbors. Siblings of one family frequently married siblings within another family, as the marriages of George's children so clearly illustrates.

George died 25 August 1875, a suicide with terminal cancer. He is buried in Steward Cemetery near Meriden. After Lucy's death, 27 April, 1901, their children and grandchildren erected a monument adjacent to the field stone which had marked George's grave.


Mary W. married #1 ? Chuck ?, #2 ? Mitchell
b. 1835 Va.
d. Mo.

Huldah Agnes married Darius Bainbridge Groshong, 22 Sept. 1859
b. 1841 Mo.
d. 1907 Ks.

Christopher Columbus married Ann Groshong, 8 Feb. 1866
b. 1843 Mo.
d. 1927 Ks.
(See their history in the Bainbridge Book)


Nancy Margaret married Alpheus Warren Dunn, 14 Mar. 1869
b. 1847 Mo.
d. 1901 Oregon
(See their history in Bainbridge Book)

Sarah Ann married Samuel Blackburn Cope
b. 1848 Mo.
d. 1936 Cal.

James Terrell married Mary Melvina Blevins, Jan. 1876
b. 1851 Mo.
d. 1927 Ks.

Elijah Harrison married Rachel Minerva Blevins
b. 1852 Mo.
d. 1932 Ks.

Rebecca Adams married Henry Thomas Blevins, 22 Jan. 1874
b. 1852 Mo.
d. 1932 Ks.

Olive J. married William Piper
b. 1858 Ks.
d. 1932

George Jefferson married #1 Hettie Staret
b. 1862 Ks. #2 Lillian ?


Named for his maternal grandfather, Elijah was born 28 February 1853 in Platte County, Mo.

Around 1876 he married Rachel Minerva Blevins. His brother James married her sister "Mell" and Elijah's sister, Rebecca, married Tom Blevins, brother of “Mell” and Rachel Blevins.

The 1900 Jackson County, Kansas, census locates Elijah five dwellings distant from his brother James. Three dwellings beyond is their half-brother, Christopher C. Martin. They were all farmers. By 1885 Elijah had three daughters. Rachel had succumbed to the dreaded “consumption.” (That is, tuberculosis.) Elijah took her to Pueblo, Colorado in the hope of a cure but she died there 24 April ,1885. The thirty-year-old widower never remarried. His mother and sisters assumed the care of the three little girls, the eldest eight years old. He was a farmer, a Baptist and a Democrat. I recall him as a gentle old man who was sometimes there when I visited my grandmother. Elijah and Rachel are buried in the Meriden Cemetery near Topeka, Kansas.


Bertie Agnes m Robert Floyd Garrett, 1 March 1897
b. 1877 - d. 1944 Ks. (these are Nancy's ancestors)

Bessie Angeline m Elias Cook
b. 1879 - d. 1955 Ks.

Olive Ann m Phrimmer Benton
b. 1884 Ks. - d. 1918 Cal.

Clockwise: Elijah Harrison Martin
with his sisters Olive Piper, Sarah Cope, and Rebecca Blevins


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