Independence Day 1861


My mother, Gail Lee Martin, wrote this story in 2006 for the Our Echo website. We are so lucky that she instilled in us an appreciation of our family’s heritage and that she worked so diligently to research and preserve it. I’ve added some vintage graphics and a newspaper clipping to her written account.

1861 – Our Family’s Patriotic Heritage

Have you ever wondered how the early settlers celebrated the 4th of July in Kansas for the first time after becoming a state? I traced my Mother’s family from Connecticut to Iowa, through Missouri to the Kansas territory in 1859. I always wondered how my great-grandparents, James and Almira Vining, celebrated that special occasion.

The Vining family settled on a small homestead near the Verdigris river three miles east of the tiny community of Madison Centre in April 1857. At that time the family consisted of James and his wife, Almira; their children: Henry, my grandfather, 21; Erastus, 19; Isreal, 15; Charles, 13; James Jr. 11; Franklin, 6 and their only daughter, three-year-old Jane. When Kansas became a state the four older boys had already enlisted to serve in the United States Calvary and were away fighting in the Civil War. With four sons in the service of their country, I’m sure the Vining family attended the patriotic ceremony that was held in their neighborhood that July.

In July 1861 Madison Centre was in Madison County twenty miles south of Emporia. The Emporia News, the only newspaper in that area at that time, reported the following:

Madison Centre, Madison County
Mr. Editor: Early in the day, a number of citizens of this township assembled for the purpose of raising a Union flag, which was accomplished to the satisfaction of all present. The Declaration was then read by John J. Greenhalgh, in a loud, clear distinct tone. He did justice and honor to the memories of the great and good men who made it.” Then the news report went on to tell about the bountiful dinner everyone enjoyed. “The meal was furnished by the ladies of the community including roast mutton, roast and boiled chickens, chicken pies, cakes, tarts and other ’knicknacks’ too numerous to mention.”

How proud I am that my ancestors were there to observe the raising of the first Union flag in Madison Centre, Kansas.

Our family still celebrates July 4th with lots of good home cooked food and a few fireworks, mostly sparklers. For many years we had family picnics at Peter Pan Park in Emporia on the 4th of July. We still remember the lovely rose garden and who could forget the funny antics of the monkeys on Monkey Island?
1948 reunion clipping

In 1948, the Martin family reunion was delayed until July 18th.

My husband’s grandmother, Marie Joy, always made a big heavy crock full of “thick fruit salad” because invariably the weather was hot and we didn’t have ice available on almost every corner as we do now. Grandma Joy would use twice the amount of Jell-O that the recipe called for then added lots of fruit with bananas and marshmallows until it was almost solid. But we loved it! Since we raised our own chickens, we always had big containers of fried chicken with all the pieces including the neck, liver, heart, gizzard, and the coveted wishbone. As a special treat, we sometimes had store-bought “pork & beans.”

High flying flags always arouse my patriotism and I see them flying in so many different places. For instance, postage stamps through the years have been one way of showing patriotism for our country. I delight in sending my mail with stamps showing flags or eagles. Every year the postal department issues new designs. I recall one I especially liked. It had the flag flying briskly over the words, “I pledge allegiance …” I guess I thought flags could only fly briskly in Kansas.

Hugh Martin and George Washington


Our family had a legend that was passed down that a Martin ancestor was in some way involved with George Washington. In my childhood years, I pictured this ancestor in the boat as the general crossed the river to attack the British.


In retirement, I started following my mother and grandmother’s trail of bread crumbs back through our family history. I found a mention of Hugh Martin in Kentucky and my sister Karen has been researching him the last couple of years. Since Hugh Martin lived in Kentucky and fought in the militia there during the Revolutionary War, it is unlikely that he was crossing the Delaware River with George Washington. 

karen in ks 2

Sister Karen, retired librarian and avid genealogist.


What she did find was still pretty exciting. There’s a letter in the National Archives from Hugh Martin to George Washington. Apparently, they were corresponding about a treatment for cancer he learned from the Indians. Washington’s mother and sister had cancer. This link has details about Hugh Martin’s discovery.
“Dr. Hugh Martin had allegedly learned the formula for his famous “cancer cure” from the Indians while stationed as a military surgeon at Fort Pitt during the Revolutionary War.”
Here’s part of the letter from Hugh Martin to George Washington:
Acknowledge I was in suspence whether you remembered me or not, as I have grown Considerably Since 79 when I had the honor of being introduced to you, at the time we lay at Middle Brook when your Head Quarters was at Mr Wallaces, But I hope my youth and a want of more Experience will Appologize for my freedom….”

So it was in New Jersey in the Revolutionary War that Hugh Martin and Washington met. Here’s some historical background on this.

After looking at these sources, I’m thinking somehow, it isn’t adding up. I don’t think our Hugh Martin was a doctor. Hugh Martin built a number of handsome houses in Muhlenburg County, Kentucky and was quite a successful man according to histories of that area. But none of those name him as a doctor.

We have evidence that he served in a Kentucky militia, so he’s unlikely to have also been in the 8th Pennsylvania. The DAR database lists Hugh Martin’s service in the Revolutionary War as part of George Rogers Clark’s Illinois expedition in 1778.  This is apparently the picture that I’ll have in my mind now.

March_to_Vincennes clark expedition hugh martin

March to Vincennes – Clark Expedition (public domain picture from Wikipedia)

Named After Lorenzo Dow


I’d wondered why my grandfather’s middle name was Lorenzo (Charles Lorenzo Martin).  We weren’t Italian and to my mind, Lorenzo was an Italian name. It didn’t intrigue me enough to search further. Later, as I started working on the family tree, I found his namesake must have been his grandfather, Lorenzo Dow Stone. If you are trying to follow along, that’s my great-great-grandfather who was born in 1833 in Elk Creek, Grayson County, Virginia. 

That name seemed unique enough that Google might find some information on him. Instead, I found hundreds, maybe thousands, of parents had named their child “Lorenzo Dow.” Who was this man that so many people in the early 1800s respected enough to perpetuate his name? I found three people on my family tree who were named after him.

ancestors named Lorenzo Dow

I have a Blair, a Babcock, and a Stone named after Lorenzo Dow. I found so many Lorenzo Dow Babcocks that I must revamp entirely my research on that fellow. Apparently, I mashed a bunch of them together in my zeal as a beginner.

You will notice that all these were born in the early 1800s. Here’s more about this rather odd but dedicated and charismatic man who drew large crowds as he traveled around the country. He preached in churches, schools and out in the open air, converting thousands to the Methodist Church.

lorenzo dow life story

Clipped from the Alexandria Gazette Alexandria, Virginia 28 Jun 1867, Fri • Page 1

There’s a Youtube video that’s quite entertaining and it tells about his style of preaching that drew such crowds. Take a look at your own family tree. Are there any named after Lorenzo Dow on it? Now you know where that originated.

Lorenzo_Dow_by_Lossing-Barrett from Wikipedia

Lorenzo Dow preaching, engraving by Lossing-Barrett, 1856 (Creative Commons – Wikipedia)

Y is for YIKES!


Sometimes the news that I find about an ancestor makes me say, “yikes!” Accidents happen and I wish I could find follow-up stories to reassure me that the victim recovered. Here are some accidents that injured my Babcock, Vining, and Martin ancestors between 1880 and 1910 in Kansas.

This toddler, the child of Robert Babcock, received scalding burns from tipping over a teacup of hot tallow onto its face. It sounds so painful. At first, the doctor thought the child might die. I have a lot of Babcocks on my family tree and some of them lived in Thayer. Scanning down the list, I looked for someone born around 1885. So far, I haven’t been able to identify the child.

Robert Babcock (which one??) 2-yr old child scalded, Erie KSRobert Babcock (which one??) 2-yr old child scalded, Erie KS Fri, Dec 2, 1887 – 1 · The Head-light (Thayer, Kansas) ·

The year before a son of William Henry Babcock was injured in a fall. That child I was able to identify as Samuel O. Babcock.
Samuel O. Babcock injures elbowSamuel O. Babcock injures elbow Fri, Feb 26, 1886 – 8 · The Head-light (Thayer, Kansas) ·

Here’s a photo of Samuel Oolery Babcock as a grown-up. My thanks to LDStater for sharing this picture on Ancestry.


I’ve found a number of runaway horses and buggy accidents. In this one, the mother and child were dragged more than a hundred yards after the buggy turned over. The name given is Mrs. Frank Shetler which would be Elnore (Nora) Vining. She’s the daughter of James M Vining Jr. and Jane/Jennie Lindsley.  Given the date here, I’m guessing the baby was Georgia Pearl Shetler who was born in 1909. Nora survived the accident and lived to age 88.

Elnore Shetler and child in buggy accidentElnore Shetler and child in buggy accident Thu, Aug 11, 1910 – 1 · Altoona Tribune (Altoona, Kansas) ·

Another buggy accident involved my first cousin, 3x removed. Henry Roach Martin “was quite badly hurt” when his team spooked, running away in the dark as he headed home from a religious meeting. Apparently, two young men were racing and that frightened his team. The accident was not fatal as H.R. Martin died about 40 years later at age 81.

H.R. Martin injured in buggy accidentH.R. Martin injured in buggy accident Thu, Oct 24, 1895 – 5 · The Emporia Weekly Gazette (Emporia, Kansas) ·

I’ve written earlier about the death of my great-grandfather, Sam McGhee, in an oilfield accident. My other great-grandfather, Alfred Joy, was fortunate to survive several serious accidents while farming.

U is for Uniforms


I wish I had a photo of my great-great-grandfather in his Civil War uniform, but I’ve never found one. A distant cousin thought that he had one, but upon investigation, we realized that it wasn’t Abraham Bates Tower. Sigh. You can read more about that in So Sad – The Photo Was Not My Ancestor. 

I do have photos of my grandfather Clarence McGhee and a great-uncle Albert Vining in their World War One uniforms. My mother even had Albert’s helmet from that war.

I also found a photo of my 3x great-uncle, Elias Babcock. Here’s his photo from the Civil War. It was shared on Ancestry by “Jatpainter” who must be a distant cousin of ours.

elias babcock civil war soldier from jatpainter1

Elias Babcock, Civil War soldier from jatpainter1 on Ancestry.

I researched Elias Babcock and wrote about him on my blog, Finding My Civil War Ancestor. Take a look there for more details about him.

This one isn’t an ancestor, it’s my brother, Owen Lee Martin. He trained at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri and then was stationed in Germany. This was during the time of the Vietnam War.


Owen Martin – U.S. Army (Vietnam War era)

I’m hoping over time that more of our family photos of ancestors in uniform will get shared. Their experiences must have been life-altering and we need to remember their participation in what now is history.

H Is For Hugh Martin


Finding Revolutionary War Patriots in Our Family

The DAR provided our speaker recently at the local genealogy club. She shared how to find ancestors using their database composed of all the names submitted over the years. These include ancestors who served in the Continental Army or various militia and even those who supported the cause monetarily or took the pledge to support the revolution.

revolutionary war pixabay

Revolutionary War soldiers (photo by Pixabay)

It inspired me to comb through my family tree looking for names from the latter part of the 1700s. Which ones had links to the American Revolution? I don’t know that I aspire to join the DAR (Daughters of the Revolution), but now my curiosity is aroused.

One that we already were aware of was Hugh M. Martin. My sister, Karen, recently researched this 4th great grandfather of ours. The line is through our father, Clyde Martin. It goes to Charles Lorenzo Martin, then John Thomas Martin, Charles Coleman Martin, John H. Martin (this is where it shifts back to Kentucky), and then to

BIRTH: 22 AUG 1759  Augusta, Virginia, United States
DEATH: 31 MAR 1824  Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, United States

Since Karen lived in Lexington, Kentucky, she could rummage among the genealogy and historical records at the library there. Her library training and genealogy research skills uncovered quite a bit of good information on him.

hugh m. martin grave - photo from william martin ancestry

The grave of our 4th great-grandfather, Hugh Martin


C Is For Cora and Ren’s Wedding


I pulled out a photo of my grandparent’s wedding party and wondered who all those people were. Recently, I found a list of guests to go with it. Now, I must enlist family members to help me assign the names to the faces in the photo.

The wedding of Cora Myrle Joy and Lorenzo Martin


For details of the wedding, I found their announcement in my mother’s collection. They were married on the 24th of February in 1915. The wedding was in Madison, Kansas.

cora and ren wedding invite

When I look at the people in the group photo, they are aren’t wearing coats so it wasn’t a very cold day or else they stepped outside briefly for the picture and then hurried back inside. Here’s the newspaper clipping with the various guests listed.


guests at Cora and Ren Martin's wedding Newspapers com

Let’s expand on that list of names which like many old newspapers neglected to give married women’s first names. I’d added details from and from our family records collected by my mother, Gail Lee Martin.

  • Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Martin (Archie Lloyd Martin was Lorenzo’s brother, Lloyd’s wife was Anna Mabel Storrer)
  • Grace Oshel (Cora’s cousin, Arnell Gracia Oshel, called Nellie by the family)
  • Flora and Galena Rayson (first cousins of Cora. They never married.)
  • Elma Joy (another cousin of Cora. Daughter of William Gardner Joy and Susan Coate)
  • Mr. and Mrs. J.T. Martin (Ren’s parents, John Thomas Martin, and wife Cordelia Stone)
  • Mr. and Mrs. M.H. Payne (Martin Henry Payne and wife, Cora Gozina “Grace” Martin. She is Ren’s aunt, sister of J.T. Martin.)
  • Mrs. Kennedy (likely Cora’s grandmother, Elizabeth Jane Rosebaugh Kennedy. She died in 1918)
  • Forrest Payne (son of M.H. Payne and Grace)
  • Robert Martin (Ren’s younger brother. He married Sarah Clark the next year.)
  • Fay Martin (Ren’s younger sister, Anna Faye. She later married Ivan Halligan.)
  • Harry Joy (Cora’s younger brother. Three years later, he married Mildred Evelyn “Millie” Holland.)
  • Glen and Vern Payne (ages 8 and 12, sons of Martin Henry and Grace Payne. Glen is likely the boy in overalls in the group photo. Vern may be the taller boy behind him.)

The Olpe Optimist newspaper of March 3rd described the wedding PRAIRIE BELLE Martin-Joy. Miss Cora Joy and Mr. Lorenzo Martin were married Wednesday noon at the home of the bride’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Joy, by Rev. R. H. Beall. They were attended by Miss Nellie Oshel. of Gardner, Kansas, and Mr. Robert Martin. They will go to housekeeping on the Joy farm, three miles west of Prairie Belle.

A reception was given by the bride’s parents at their home Wednesday evening. About twenty-five young people were present and the bride and groom received several beautiful presents. All departed at a late hour having enjoyed a pleasant evening and wishing them a long and happy married life. Mr. and Mrs. Lorenzo Martin spent from Thursday until Sunday evening with relatives at Emporia.

The Hamilton Grit newspaper of March 4th gave additional details, Joy-Martin Married: At the home of the bride’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Joy, in the Prairie Bell neighborhood, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 1915, at high noon, their daughter, Cora Myrle to Mr. Charles Lorenzo Martin, Rev. R. H. Beall officiating. After the ceremony was performed a sumptuous wedding feast was served to the young couple and the invited guests.

The bride was dressed in a lovely gown of beaded net over white satin, and the groom wore the conventional black. Both of these young folks are highly respected in the community in which they live and their many friends wish them all the happiness of a wedded life of health and prosperity. Many beautiful and valuable presents were received by the bride. Mr. and Mrs. Martin will be at home after March 1st on the old Joy farm.”

Cora Joy and Lorenzo (Ren) Martin on their wedding day February 24, 1915.