WILLIAM BENTON MARTIN

Along With the Families of
DURKEE  &  LADD

BIOGRAPHY

AS RECORDED IN:

COMMEMORATIVE BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD OF 
TOLLAND AND WINDHAM COUNTIES CONNECTICUT.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES OF PROMINENT AND REPRESENTATIVE  CITIZENS AND OF MANY OF THE EARLY SETTLED FAMILIES
PUBLISHER: J.H.BEERS & CO., CHICAGO; 1903     P.  724

WILLIAM BENTON MARTIN.  The Martin family is an old and prominent one in New England, and being allied by marriage with other honorable families, many of its descendants, direct and indirect, have been distinguished persons through many States of the Union, one of the number being no less a personage than Martin Van Buren, who became President of the United States.

From the early records of the Martin family we find that they settled in Massachusetts, but later removed to Connecticut.  Another branch were the earliest settlers in Great Barrington, Mass.  The Connecticut Martins located near Hampton, in which vicinity this branch of the family lived until 1815, when Elisha Martin, grandfather of William B., moved to the town of Tolland. 

His great-grandfather, Ebenezer Martin, born in 1696, died July 13, 1775.  On Oct. 4, 1721, he married (first) Mary Millband, by whom he had two children:  John, born May 24, 1725; and Mary, born July 11, 1726.  After the mother’s death the father married, on April 1, 1729, Jerusha Durkee.  The children of this union were:  Joseph, born March 29, 1730, is mentioned below.  Ebenezer, born March 31, 1732, was a clergyman.  Jerusha, born Jan. 9, 1734, married Joseph Utley.  William, born March 11, 1736, married Naomi Upham, and died April 19, 1811.  Elizabeth, born Aug. 1, 1738, married Ebenezer Griffin.  Amasa was born Oct. 7, 1740.  George, born March 14, 1742, married Dorothy Brown, and died July 6, 1806; he was a cooper, and removed to Vermont.  Benjamin, born July 28, 1745, married Lucy Clark;  Lucy, born May 3, 1747, married Nathaniel Flint.

The Durkee family, to which Mrs. Jerusha (Durkee) Martin belonged, were among the first settlers of Windham (now Hampton), Conn., locating there in 1708-09.  The branch under consideration are descended from William, John and Jemima Durkee, who were among the seventeen corporators of the Church in that town June 5, 1723.  William Durkee and his wife, Rebecca (Gould), came from Ipswich, Mass., where they were married Jan. 13, 1704.  Their family comprised ten children:  Martha, Jerusha (wife of Ebenezer Martin), William, Huldah, Sarah, Henry, Hannah, Jonathan, Rebecca and Lucy.  Rebecca (Gould) Durkee came from England to America when but twelve years old.

Joseph Martin, born March 29, 1730, died July 18, 1808.  On Oct. 17, 1751, he married Elizabeth Ford, and they had the following children:  Joseph, born July 24, 1752, died Dec. 22, 1752;  Joseph (2) is mentioned below;  Eunice, born Dec. 26, 1756, married Ebenezer Clark, and died May 20, 1833;  Nathaniel F., born Oct. 27, 1759, married Jerusha Lincoln;  Elizabeth, born Dec. 25, 1761, married Daniel Flint;  Amasa, born July 31, 1764, married Ursula Utley;  Joshua married Betsey Loomis; and Ebenezer married Susan Scott.  The second marriage of Joseph Martin was to Zerviah Daily, a widow, who bore him four children:  John, who married Sally Davis;  Sybil, married to Elijah Randall;  Cynthia; and Orson.

Joseph Martin (2), born May 6, 1754, in 1775 married Abigail Butler, who was born Nov. 12, 1755.  Their family of eight children were as follows:  Elisha is mentioned below.  Elizabeth, born March 28, 1779, lived a life filled with good deeds and died in Chaplin, unmarried.  Daniel, born April 20, 1781, married Elizabeth Adams, and lived and died in Chaplin, where his sons were shoe manufacturers for a time, later moving to Massachusetts, on Mill river.  Asaph, born April 10, 1783, was a farmer, and died in Chaplin, unmarried, his sister “Betsey” keeping house for him.  Thomas, born July 15, 1785, married Hannah Moulton; he lived and died in Chaplin, where he at one time ran a mill, though his principal work was farming; he held many offices and served in the Legislature several times; his son became a Superior Court judge.  Nabby, born Oct. 23, 1789, first married N. Butts, later Craft Smith, and died in Chaplin.  Arabella, born April 30, 1795, married Harry Neff, and died in Norwich, where she had long resided.  Joseph, born Nov. 30, 1800, married Sarah Smith, and died in Chaplin; he was a builder, and at one time lived in New York City.  Joseph Martin (2) died Aug. 29, 1828, and his wife died Aug. 21, 1833.  He was buried in Chaplin.  He was an influential man, a most worthy citizen and a prominent member of the Congregational Church.  He served in the Revolutionary army, his son Elisha being born during his absence.

Elisha Martin was born Sept. 17, 1776, and in 1806 married, in Chaplin, Almira Robbins, a native of Hampton, born in September, 1786, a daughter of John Robbins, who came to Tolland in his later years.  His first wife was Elizabeth Hutchinson, his second Alice Williams.  The Hutchinson family came from Scotland and settled in the Wyoming Valley, in Pennsylvania.  At the time of the famous Indian massacre, the mother of Elizabeth Hutchinson fled with her children at the approach of the savages.  One brother was lame, and an older brother undertook to carry him, but the load was too heavy, and the unfortunate child, being left behind, was tomahawked.  The others escaped by crossing the Susquehanna river.  This family never returned to the desolated Wyoming Valley, but came East and endeavored to forget the fertile farms from which they had been driven by settling in the peaceful meadows of northeastern Connecticut, where Elizabeth was married to John Robbins, and removed to Lebanon, later to Hampton.  Others of the Hutchinson family removed to New Hampshire, and the celebrated musical family of that State came from that branch.  One brother of Mrs. Martin graduated from Yale, was a minister, and settled in Vermont.

After marriage Elisha Martin lived in Chaplin until 1815, when he came to Tolland and settled on a farm, a mile west of “the street,” bought from “Squire” Fuller.  Subsequently he removed to the western part of the town, where he died July, 1860, his wife surviving until Nov. 20, 1882, and reaching the age of ninety-six.  She was a very well-preserved old lady, and well known in the community.  Elisha Martin was a man of fine presence, one of the sturdy type of farmers who so well represent the best class of an agricultural section.  He was originally a Whig in politics, and later a staunch supporter of the Republican principles, and he was long a member of the Congregational Church.  The family reared by this worthy man was as follows:  Elisha H. is mentioned below.  Betsey Almira, born Dec. 31, 1808, married Charles Chapman, of Tolland, and died in Rockville, May 16, 1889.  Lucien W., born April 13, 1811, married Mary E. Champlin, of Lebanon, daughter of John Champlin (whose wife was a sister of Dr. Charles Sweet, the noted bone-setter, of Lebanon), and died in 1901, in Tolland.  John Harman, born Dec. 23, 1812, was a wagon-maker; he married Louissa Porter, and he died in Rockville, Dec. 15, 1848, leaving one daughter, Louissa, who married Frederick Smith, and lives in Elyria, Ohio.  Daniel, born Feb. 19, 1815, married Harriet Jane Bidwell, of East Hartford, who died Jan. 11, 1900, in Rockville, where he died June 30, 1902.  Nancy Robbins married Jesse Willis, and died in Tolland.  A twin of Nancy R. died in infancy.  Abigail Butler, born Sept. 23, 1820, resides in Rockville.  Emily Maria, born April 10, 1827, died unmarried Jan. 27, 1856.

Elisha Hutchinson Martin, father of our subject, was born March 11, 1807, in Chaplin, Conn., and came thence to Tolland when but a boy of eight years, his parents locating on a farm west of Tolland street; later the family removed to a place near the sand hill, in the vicinity of Rockville, and there Elisha H. Martin grew to maturity.  On Jan. 15, 1832, in Tolland, he was married to Lydia Minerva Ladd, of Tolland, who was born March 14, 1809, near the head of Snipsic, in the northwestern part of the town of Tolland, a daughter of Jonathan Ladd.

The Ladd family is one of oldest in Tolland.  Jonathan Ladd, the first one to locate there, came from Norwich to Tolland, and on April 6, 1720, he was admitted as an inhabitant.  He settled on what is known as Grant’s Hill, and later removed to the northwestern part of the town, where he continued to live ever afterward.  On Dec. 23, 1713, in Norwich, he married Susannah Kingsbury, and they reared a family of ten children – five sons and five daughters.  The third child and second son, Jonathan, was born in 1718, and married Anna Tyler, who died Aug. 19, 1803, aged seventy-seven years.  She was a daughter of John Tyler, who came from Boxford, Mass., to Tolland, and on Jan. 27, 1719, was admitted as a citizen there; he settled near the Willimantic river in Tolland.  Jonathan Ladd died Aug. 27, 1810, in his ninety-third year.  His family numbered eight children, five sons and three daughters, and the second child and youngest son, Jonathan, born in 1764, was the grandfather of Lydia Minerva Ladd.

To Elisha H. and Lydia M. (Ladd) Martin came children as follows:  Amanda Almira, born July 30, 1834, died Oct. 25, 1875, in East Long Meadow, Mass., unmarried.  Sarah Ladd, born Dec. 7, 1839, died Aug. 18, 1841.  Maria Celia, born April 20, 1843, was married Dec. 19, 1870, to Henry A. Eaton, now deceased, and she makes her home in Rockville.  Elisha Johnson, mentioned elsewhere, was born Oct. 12, 1845.  Sarah Jane, born Aug. 7, 1847, was married Aug. 24, 1872, to Rufus A. Russell, of Springfield, where she lives.  William Benton, born Aug. 25, 1853, is mentioned below.  Elisha H. Martin went to housekeeping on what was later known as the Lovett farm, in Tolland, owning it at one time, and later selling it to his father.  He then built a home on the shore of Snipsic lake in Tolland, where he lived until 1870, with the exception of three years from 1858 to 1861, when he did teaming (oxen being used almost exclusively for such labor) in Rockville, and made his home there.  During the period mentioned he carried on the farm in addition to his other business.  In the spring of 1870 he sold the farm and removed to his father’s homestead, near Sand Hill, where he died Oct. 3, 1870, and he is buried in Grove Hill cemetery, Rockville.  His wife survived until Aug. 2, 1885, when her death occurred in Tolland, on an adjoining farm, and she was buried by her husband.  Both were consistent members of the second Congregational church of Rockville.  During the slavery troubles Mr. Martin was an Abolitionist, and later became a staunch Republican.

William Benton Martin was born Aug. 25, 1853.  He commenced attending school at the “White school house” in Tolland, his first teacher being Miss Abi Brown.  During the three years the family resided in Rockville, he went to school in that place and also after their return to Tolland.  In the fall of 1870 he entered the New Britain Normal school, but his father’s death in that year caused his withdrawal, as family duties pressed upon him.  During that winter he worked as a farm hand, and in the spring of 1871 having decided to learn the carpenter’s trade, came to Rockville.  After a short term, however, he gave it up, and engaged with R.S. Lewis in the business of laying concrete sidewalks, later doing the same work in Manchester, Conn., and Syracuse, N.Y.  In the fall of 1871 he returned to Rockville, and again worked for Mr. Lewis in East Hartford, Wethersfield and other places.  During the following winter he was employed in the freight house at Rockville, and in 1872 went to New Jersey with his brother Elisha J., laying concrete walks.  Fever and ague attacked him and compelled his return to Connecticut, and when he recovered he engaged in work on a farm at Long Meadow, Mass., in company with R.A. Russell.  On first going there he received but $12 per month, but by the time he left his wages had been increased to $26 – extraordinary at that time.  Nelson Lombard then employed our subject as a teamster, and in time Mr. Martin became the owner of a team of horses and wagon, and worked on his own account, this being his first real business venture.

In the spring of 1876 Mr. Martin left Long Meadow, as business in the stone quarry for which he had hauled stone was very dull, and he found employment in teaming on the railroad then building between Melrose and Rockville.  In the fall of 1876 he began a general teaming business in Rockville, which was the beginning of his successful career there.  Buying a tract of timber in Tolland, he hauled wood from it when other business was dull, and sawed it by hand with a buck-saw.  Some years later from this beginning was developed a large business, and our subject bought out Harvey King.  At this time his equipment for sawing was horse power; later steam was introduced and in 1883 Mr. Martin added coal to his other lines, at first delivering direct from the cars, and later hiring the Ryan coal yard on Spring street.  In 1888, in order to combine his business, which was increasing, he bought the lot on Vernon avenue, where his present establishment is located.  It was pasture land at that time, and it took much planning and expense to carry out all his designs.  In 1890 his wood yard, which from the beginning had been located at Ellington avenue and Prospect street, was removed thither, all the business being now carried on at the one point.  In January, 1899, he bought out the coal business of W.E. Payne and combined it with his own, retaining the Payne yards for storage.  Instead of the one team of horses, which sufficed in 1876, he now requires about twenty.  For fifteen years he had added fertilizers to his other lines.  For over ten years he has handled agricultural implements.  About 1887 Mr. Martin began the business of laying and quarrying stone, which he has carried on extensively ever since, having a quarry at Ellington; he has made a specialty of building heavy stone work, commanding the greater part of the business in his line around Rockville.  Mr. Martin has the best facilities in that city for the moving of furniture and all kinds of trucking work.  He is an extensive owner of real estate.

Mr. Martin was married April 12, 1882, in Tolland, to Miss Emma N. Willis, a native of Tolland, daughter of Jesse and Nancy (Martin) Willis; she died July 22, 1883, and was buried in Grove Hill cemetery.  On Sept. 30, 1885, Mr. Martin married, in Rockville, Miss Theodora Wilcox, a native of Coventry, Conn., born July 10, 1866, daughter of Calvin G. and Phoebe (Brown) Wilcox.  The parents of Mrs. Martin came from Rhode Island, and are now residents of Merrow, Conn.  Before marriage, Mrs. Martin taught school in Andover and Tolland, Conn., a term at each place.  Her family is an old one, and by marriage is connected with many other prominent families of New England.  Phoebe Brown, her mother, was a school teacher of considerable experience, and taught in Rhode Island.  Mrs. Martin is a lady of prominence in Rockville, and is eligible to membership in the D.A.R.  She is very active in the work of the Union Congregational Church and its Ladies’ Aid Society, and belongs to the Daughters of Rebekah and the Golden Cross, of Rockville.  Three children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Martin:  Maud Ethel, July 14, 1886;  Gertrude Esther, Sept. 27, 1888; and Lester Wilcox, June 13, 1892.  Formerly Mr. Martin was a Republican, but since 1886 he has declared for the Prohibition party, in which he is conscientiously interested.  Socially he is connected with Rising Star Lodge, No. 49, I.O.O.F., of Rockville, with the Daughters of Rebekah and the Golden Cross.  Commercially he is one of the sound and substantial men of the city.  It is enough to say of his remarkable business ability that he has been the leader in every line he has taken up, and is a man of no little general information and natural intelligence.  He has been one of the progressive men of the city, and is regarded as among its best representatives.

Reproduced by:

Linda D. Pingel

 

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