Saturday, November 14, 2009

Surname Saturday ~ Martin

Have You Seen This Surname?
At times, it seems as if my Martin's came from, well, nowhere.  Everyone, I'm sure, who researches their family lines feels like this from time to time.  Ah, but no one comes from nowhere ~ so we must press on ~ diligently looking for our family, turning over every rock.

So, here's my "wanted" poster for my Martin family line.  Yes, I am aware that this is an extremely common name, but it doesn't hurt to try, right?  Here's what I do know:

  • Nelson Martin [my 3rd great grandfather] was born abt. 1820 in North Carolina.  [No pesky details to clutter up this story.  No sireee.]
  • Nelson Martin moved to Wayne Co, TN sometime bet. 1820 and 1841.  [Alas, no travel log left behind.  I guess they thought no one would care when they moved or who they moved with  They thought wrong...]
  • Nelson Martin married Mary Ann "Polly" Casteel in Wayne Co, TN in 1841. [I'm so glad he didn't marry someone with a common name.  I mean, why make it harder? ;) ]
  • Nelson & Mary [Casteel] Martin ~ their first 4 children were born in Wayne Co., TN: Joel Harrison b.1842 [my 2nd great-grandfather]; William Green b.1844; Genoria Ann b.1846; and Andrew Taylor b.1847.
  • Nelson, Mary, and their 4 children moved to Johnson Co, IL sometime bet. 1847 and 1850.  [Could you imagine?  Almost 400 miles with the little kiddos?  I wonder if they heard the phrase, "Are we there yet?" a few times.]
  • The Martin's are said to have known and traveled with at least 2 other families: the Kerley's and the West's.
  • The Kerley Family: Daniel and Mary "Polly" [?] Kerley and their son Osburne Kerley.  [Well, I'm glad that my Mary "Polly" had another Mary "Polly" with whom to discuss the importance of...being a Mary "Polly"?]
  • The West Family: Woodson and Martha [Casteel] West.  [This Martha Casteel is thought to be a sister of Mary...Perfect, Mary and Martha, get it?]
  • Not only is it said that these 3 families knew & traveled with each other, but it's been said that Daniel & Mary "Polly" Kerley raised both Nelson and Woodson as their own along with their son Osburne.  [Why?  Why?  Oh, why?]
  • In the 1850 census Nelson Martin and his family are living with Daniel Kerley and his family in Johnson Co., IL.  ["Polly?"  "Yes," they replied in unison.]
  • In the 1850 census in Johnson Co, IL, Woodson West and his family are living nearby the Kerley's and the Martin's, and Osburne Kerley and his family are living nearby his parents, the Martin's and the West's. [Snug as a bug in a rug.]
  • In May 1851, Nelson's and Mary "Polly's" fifth child is born: Martha Jane.
  • In July 1851, Nelson buys his first 40 acres of land in Johnson Co., IL ~ near all the "fam."
  • In May of 1852, Nelson buys his second 40 acres of land in Johnson Co, IL.
  • Nelson and Mary "Polly" Martin go on to have 5 more children in Johnson Co, IL: James Henry b.1854; Mary E. b.1855; Nelson Alexander "Nell" b.1861; Rosencious b.1863; and John Franklin b.1870.
  • Nelson Martin died 7 Jul 1887 from  "debility from malignant tumor" as per his death record.
  • It's been said that Nelson was a Republican in a decidedly Democrat county in southern Illinois, having been one of only 40 votes for Abraham Lincoln in 1860 in Johnson Co., IL back in the day when your vote was made front of everyone.  [Douglass received 1563 votes.]
  • It's been said that Nelson Martin served as Justice of the Peace and was a farmer in Johnson Co, IL.
  • It's been said that Mary "Polly" was a midwife and knew herbal medicines, and was said to have had her own horse and buggy in order to make house calls.
  • Two of Nelson and Mary "Polly's" sons ~ Joel Harrsion [my 2 great-gf] and William Green ~ both served in the Civil War for the Union side.

Please note: Anytime that I used the phrase, "It's been said..." means this information is not verified, but I included it just in case it "rings a bell" with another researcher.  [A girl can hope...]  However, I wish I knew more about Nelson's origins, and more about the relationship between him and the Kerley's and the West's.

So, have you seen this surname ~ MARTIN?


  1. YOU are super woman! Look at all those details! You are very organized. I have been trying to write a Surname Saturday post for two weeks now! You wrote a lot this week! You are inspiring :)

  2. "no pesky details" - I like that. So many of my folks were farmers out in the corners of counties that never made their way into the county histories... "no pesky details" indeed! Thanks for sharing your family stories!! ;-)

  3. Caroline,
    I awarded you with the Kreativ Blogger Award. You can pick it up at

    By the way, you've inspired me to post about my MERTENA name for Surname Saturday. They were also from southern Illinois, and I have a strange feeling that the name is a variation on MARTIN or MERTENS.


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