Ralph Martin – Airman from Kansas

Ralph Edward Martin in WWII

Ralph Edward Martin – U.S. Air Force

A second cousin 1x removed in California sent me 4 photos of my uncle, Ralph Edward Martin. Ralph originally sent these to his cousin during the war.

I’ve been cleaning and purging and I was going through some old photos from my grandmother. I came across 4 photos that Ralph sent to her while in the Air Force. He signed one: “With all my love.” She wrote on the back: “Cousin Ralph Martin.” I wanted to know if you would like them

How thoughtful of her to pass these along to those more closely related to the person in the photograph. Now, I’d like to forward them on to even more direct relatives of Ralph, his two sons. Over the years, I’ve lost touch with David and Michael. Unfortunately, finding them online is quite difficult with the names David Martin and Michael Martin being all too common.


Martha (Clopton), Ralph Martin and their children David and Michael.

So, to take on this challenge, I’m posting some cousin bait here. The bait that I hope will attract my cousins, David and Michael, is information about their dad’s life.

Ralph Edward Martin

When Ralph Edward MARTIN was born on May 18, 1922, in Madison, Kansas, his father, Charles, was 30 and his mother, Cora, was 25. He married Martha Alice Clopton on November 23, 1946, when he was 24 years old. They had two children during their marriage.

Some of the places that Ralph lived over his 85 years of life:

  • Eureka, Kansas, in 1925
  •  Madison, Kansas, in 1930, 1935, 1940 (according to the census)
  • At age 20, he was working at Boeing Aircraft in Wichita Kansas. It was 1942.
  • He went into the Air Force and rose to the level of Lt. Col.
  • I’m sure that being in the Air Force, he was stationed in many places between the Kansas and Nevada parts of his life. I know there was China, Tokyo, but not sure about where else.
  • Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1993 where he lived during his retirement from the military. He died on September 29, 2007, in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the age of 85.

His father Charles Lorenzo “Ren” Martin passed away on March 28, 1968, in Emporia, Kansas, at the age of 76 and his mother Cora Myrle Joy passed away on November 16, 1969, in Madison, Kansas, at the age of 72.

Ralph Martin was featured in an article in the Kanhistique magazine by his sister-in-law, Gail Lee Martin. You can read that online WWII Kansan and his P-38 the Jayhawk.

2008-08-17 gail and ks photos 108

There’s a book about Ralph’s brother. It contains memories about Clyde Owen Martin and stories about his parents, Lorenzo and Cora (Joy) Martin, his siblings, Dorothy (Martin) Jones and Ralph Martin. It also has family history stories about his uncle Ivan Halligan, and his grandparents, Alfred and Marie (Kennedy) Joy. There are photos and essays about John T. Martin, David Greacen Kennedy, Elizabeth Rosebaugh, Moses O’Neil. Gail Lee Martin and her daughters gathered and wrote much of the history. The book is available from Amazon or the print-on-demand site blurb.com or from the historical museums in Eureka and El Dorado KS.

This is week 2 of the 52 Ancestor in 52 Weeks. The topic for the week was #Challenge.

The Martin Family at Prairie Belle School


Written by Gail Martin in the fall of 1985 for the Flinthills’ Folk Life Class at Madison High School taught by Anne Wilson.

One hundred years of memories takes us to the beginning, when Prairie Belle School District of Greenwood County, Kansas was formed as District #102 in the fall of 1885. The new district received state funds of six hundred dollars. Then Isaac Cox, L.T. Grooms, and W.A. Barnes were elected to the school board. They spent every penny of the starting fund to acquire the school site, the school house, furniture, supplies and a teacher to be ready for the spring term of 1886.

The school site was acquired from Isaac Cox and consisted of a one-acre plot in the southwest one-fourth of Section 9; Township 23; Range 12 and eighty rods north of the southwest corner on the west line. This site was chosen by a county-appointed committee.

The school board hired Daniel Focht of Madison, Kansas to build a one-room school house for four hundred and fifty dollars. Focht built the house according to the basic plans put out by the state of Kansas. The building with the door, facing the county road on the west, opened onto a landing and a rough flight of steps. A series of three windows were placed on the north and south sides of the school.


Prairie Belle School, # 102, in Kansas. Photo taken in April 1943.

School furniture was ordered from Burlington Furniture Company in Burlington, Kansas. It was shipped by railroad to Madison, where it was picked up and delivered by wagon to the school. C.L. Allen agreed to teach but resigned after two and half months and H.G. Porter finished two more months. Both teachers received thirty dollars a month. Thus the new district struggled through their first year.

C.L. Thompson was hired to teach eight months beginning in the fall of 1986. That year the school board clerk, C.T. Grooms, recorded a school census of nineteen school-age children from five to twenty-one years of age. The students, that first full year of school, were all from farming families in the district.

The 1886 census included John Thomas Martin, twenty years old; John’s brother, eighteen-year-old Frank Marian and their ten-year-old sister, Cora Gazena. The Martin children’s father, Charles Coleman Martin died that fall on August 16th and their mother, Sarah Ann (Ellison) Martin died the following year, December 27, 1887. Both were buried at No 8 Cemetery.

Those three children were the first of the four generation of Martins to attend Prairie Belle. All five of John Thomas Martin’s children, Archie Lloyd, Charles Lorenzo, Robert Cecil, Roy, and Anna Faye attended through the late 1890’s and early 1900’s. John’s sister Cora’s children, Forrest Edgar, William Vernon and Glen Thomas attended around 1909-1913, making up the second generation.

Dorothy Mae, the oldest of ‘Ren’ Martin’s family, started to school in the 1921-1922 school year. Followed by Helen Elizabeth, Vivian Ruth, Zella Irene, Ralph Edward, Clyde Owen, and Howard Raymond, who attended last in 1943.

Lloyd’s three children, Mildred Maxine, Laverna Elnor, and Leonard John were attending during the same time as Ren’s family, completing the third generation.

Prairie Belle School ks

Some of the last students at Prairie Belle School.

Some of the fourth generation attended until the school district closed in 1951 and sent them by to Madison Grade School. They were Dorothy’s two children, Kenneth Orville and Donna Carolyn Stafford and Zella’s four children, Barbara June, Thomas Eugene, Sharon Marie, and Marilyn Grace.

Some of the other farming families attending during those years were the Barne, Groom, Long, Overholt, Wolford, Cox and McClinic families.

(This essay was retrieved with the Wayback Machine from the My History Is America’s History website which no longer exists.)


Throwback Thursday – Martins Gather at the Reading House


Martin reunion in Reading_editedThis was discussed in the Martin Joy Kennedy Stone Family History group on Facebook. If you haven’t joined yet, you are missing some great photos and family memories.

Here are the details on this one:

Virginia Allain – Martin family gathered in Reading, KS. I think Marge just pinched Mom (Gail).

Karen Kolavalli – Dad is grinning from ear to ear, so I think he’s in on it, too! Dorothy must be the photographer–her 1st husband Orville is in the photo, but not her. Well, Howard’s not in the photo either!

Christine Griffith Crawford – Can you list who’s who?

Karen Kolavalli – Front row, l to r: Marge Martin, Gail Martin, Vivian Stafford, Orville Stafford, Zella Baysinger.

Back row, l to r: Ren Martin, Clyde Martin, Cora Martin, Ed Stafford, Tom Baysinger.


Odd Names on the Martin Family Tree


My great-great grandparents, Charles Coleman Martin and Sarah Ann Ellison Martin, selected some unusual names for their children. I’ll research these a bit to see if there is some famous person that inspired the names.

►Milton Martenis MARTIN 1857 – 1879, Google wasn’t much help with this one. It felt I misspelled Milton Martinez and gave me thousands of results for that hispanic name.
►Upha Penina MARTIN 1858 – 1935, called Effie (that’s even on her gravestone). Apparently Penina is a variation on the Greek name Penelope.
►My great grandfather, John Thomas Martin was the middle child. Somehow he ended up with a fairly ordinary name.
►Francis Marion MARTIN 1868 – 1950, This one is likely named after Francis Marion of Revolutionary War fame, otherwise known as the Swamp Fox. The family called him Frank.
►Cora Gozena Martin 1875 – 1968, called Grace. Gozena doesn’t show up in the baby name directories at all. It sounds vaguely Italian though my family is not of Italian origin.

When the census taker came around in 1870, he was given the names Frank (age 1), Effie, John, and Milton, so even at a young age, the family did not use their fancy names for the children. Cora wasn’t born yet. The family lived in Lyon County, Kansas at that time.

Martin Siblings

Martin Siblings

The photo is from our family album. It shows John Thomas and Frank (L to R), Cora and Effie (L to R).

1950s – Reading, Kansas


The cowboy in front is Owen Martin when he was still called “Butch”; next to him is his sister, Susan.

Gail Martin added this clarification: This was taken in Reading, KS at the Ren Martin home. In the back row starting on the left is Jerry Stafford, Tommy Baysinger, Charles Martin & Eugene Stafford. Jerry & Eugene are Vivian & Ed’s boys. Charles is Clyde’s youngest brother and Tommy is Zella’s boy.)

Place Taken: Ren & Cora Martin’s home, Reading, Kansas

Martin, Stafford and Baysinger children in the 1950s in Reading, KS

Martin, Stafford and Baysinger children in the 1950s in Reading, KS

To clarify further, these are all grandchildren of Lorenzo and Cora Martin, except for Charles who is their youngest son. Charles is the uncle to the others in the photo.

John Thomas Martin


(“John Thomas Martin” originally posted by Gail Martin to FamilyPoint on 06/13/1999)

Clyde’s grandfather, John Thomas Martin, the second son of Charles Coleman and Sarah Ann (Ellison) Martin, was born 21 June 1866, in Knox county Illinois. John was named for his two grandfathers, John H. (Hugh?) Martin and Thomas Ellison. John came to Kansas with his family the next year.

The family settled on 80 acres joining Charles’ brother, Thomas Claggett Martin’s farm on the east in the Chicago Mound community, 10 miles southeast of Emporia in Lyon County, Kansas. The Chicago Mound schoolhouse and cemetery is located on the Thomas Martin property.

J.T. always recalled seeing workmen, who boarded with his parents, quarrying rock out of Chicago Mound to be used in the construction of the MKT railroad bridge.

John’s family lived in this area until 1872, when they moved to Hilltop, in Greenwood County. It was here that John T. got his first taste of farm work. After his father cut off the timber to clear a field to farm, John would drive the lead yoke of oxen in breaking out the stumps from the land. In 1885 he drove the last yoke of oxen to appear on Madison streets when he hauled a load of hogs to market, through the deep mud of the Verdigris valley.

The Martins also broke out all their prairie land with oxen and used them for all their farm work. John claims he never used a tractor even when they became popular.

John T. married Cordelia Jane Stone on August 14, 1888. Jane was born March 1865 in St. Joseph, Mo., daughter of Lorenzo Dow and Martha Ann (Carrol) Stone. John Thomas and Cordelia Jane bought 80 acres in Sec.8; T23, R12 three miles north of Virgil Greenwood County in 1889 and raised five children. John T began his contracting and building business. He built many homes in the Madison area as well as his own family homes, one on the 80 acres southeast of Madison where Uncle Lloyd lived in later years and the other one in 1926 on the old Martindale ranch just east of Madison, where they retired. He built his three son’s homes with their help.

John was a member of the Modern Woodman Lodge, and the Grange. He was a justice of the peace, but that job didn’t bring much business so he complained and he was a member of the Prairie Belle school board for many years. John,his wife and family were members of the Madison Methodist Church, where John was a Sunday School Superintendent for a number of years. They were both Democrats and bragged of voting for Hoover.

Published in the 1986  The History of Greenwood County, Kansas

The John Thomas Martin house in recent years.

The John Thomas Martin house in recent years.

Finding the Right Thomas and Nancy Ellison


This is the father of Sarah A. Ellison who married John Coleman Martin.

Which is the right Thomas and Nancy Ellison?

Which is the right Thomas and Nancy Ellison?

In case you have trouble reading that screen shot, here’s the whole text: He may look strange to our modern eyes, but I’m delighted to get this quaint photo of my 3X great-grandfather. His name is Thomas Ellison and my cousin in California sent me the photo. Thank you, Lori!

In researching his life, I found some confusion on ancestry.com. There are two men named Thomas Ellison and they are both married to a Nancy. I’ve been sorting it out and want to document it here as part of my 52 Ancestors series.

Known facts about my ancestor:
Thomas Ellison – born on 10 Jul 1809 in Madison, Kentucky, USA
Died 31 Aug 1896 in Cedar Township, Knox County, Illinois, USA.
His wife is Nancy D. Huddleson. She was born 10 Feb 1812 in Kentucky, United States and died 22 Feb 1879 in Cedar Township,Knox, Illinois, USA.

Among their children is Sarah A Ellison who married John Coleman Martin. She lived 1839 to 1887. At this point, I’m into family history that my grandmother documented. Sarah’s siblings are:

Edmund (1835-)
Mary J. (1837-)
Melton James (1841-)
Elizabeth (1842-)
Lydia (1844-)
Eliza M. (1846-1848)
Madison (1847-1847)
Francis (1850-1851)

There’s another Thomas Ellison who is mixed up with my ancestor on some family trees online. I want to set the record straight. This is a different Thomas Ellison.

This one was born 23 Jul 1794 – Montgomery, Kentucky, USA and died 8 Jul 1858 in Campbell, Greene County, Missouri, USA.
His wife Nancy Patterson was born in 1796 and died in 1871. They were married in 1820.
Their children are:

Nancy (1821-1860)
John Thomas (1823-1857)
Alexander Dennie (1826-1861)
Hancock (1829-)
Hannah A (1829-)
James (1829-)
Jane C (1833-1866)
Zilpha (1834-)
Polly D (1835-)
Elizabeth (1838-1917)
Robert Patterson (1841-1908)

The key to sorting the 2 families out is the 1850 census for Abington, Knox County, Illinois and for Campbell County, Greene, Missouri. In that census, I can see Sarah A. and her siblings in Illinois while the other family shows up in the Missouri census.