John L. Martin

(ca 1799 NC - bet 1870-1880)

Last Updated 5 Apr 2009

John L. Martin, in age order, would be the second son of Luke Martin.  John L. Martin seemed to always show his birthplace as North Carolina.  Obviously, I show him as a son of Luke Martin (true or not) who was living in the Green Co, TN area sometime around the turn of the century.  Green County is right on the border with North Carolina.  Quite possibly, if my premise is correct, Luke was living in Greene Co, TN at this time and may have possibly been living right at the NC border.  Also, some researchers show his middle name as "Luther."  This may be true; however, I do not have the records.  I suspect it was found in a marriage or death record for one of his children.  But I suspect that his middle name was "Lewis" as will be explained below.  I'm just learning more about this particular family line.  He remains somewhat of an enigma for me (not a lot of official records that I have been able to find).

Based on the age of his first born child, Priscilla, John L. Martin would have probably married around 1827 (Priscilla was born around 1828).  Though, of course, he could have married earlier and just didn't have any children until 1828.  Most researchers show that John L. Martin married a Ruth (Rutha) Hanks, sister of Priscilla Hanks, and both daughters of a Jonathan (John) Hanks.  I believe this to be true; however, would like to mention that some researchers believe John Martin married a Rutha McCullough in 1823, Harrison County, KY.  This is appealing for two reasons.  First, this John is around the right age.  Second, of course, her name was "Rutha."  However, I believe this marriage presents several problems.  First, why was John over in Harrison County?  It would be the only reference for him in Harrison County.  Second, there was a John Martin (between 20 and 30 years old and seemingly newly married) in the 1830 Harrison County census.  Our John L. Martin showed in the 1830 Montgomery County census.  Third, and forth, he names two children Priscilla and Vancouver (or Van Couver).  This makes it more plausible that he married into the Hanks family (the daughter Priscilla named for her aunt and the son Vancouver named for his uncle).  Finally, two of his children show Hanks as their mother on their death certificates.  Regardless, a fellow researcher has graciously provided me with the marriage records for this John and Rutha McCullough Martin and I will attached them soon.  I will also attach the two death certificates (having problems uploading/downloading right now).  Thus, viewers can use these documents to make up their own minds (until we know for sure).

Anyway, I first found John L. Martin in the 1829 Montgomery County tax list.  He was listed as a white male over the age of 21 and he was taxed on 400 acres located on the Spruce watercourse.  Interestingly, in most official records, he was generally listed with his middle initial (and not just "John Martin").  What first made me think he was related to Elijah was the fact that he held land on Spruce.  Unfortunately, he seemed to only have the land for the one year.  He possibly bought the land and couldn't make the payments on the "note."  We will probably never know what happened.  Since he doesn't own land again until 1852, it has been very difficult to determine where he lived.  Usually I can tell where someone lived in the census years (by comparing them to tax lists); however, for John, this was inconclusive.  On one side of him, folks lived on tributaries of Slate Creek.  On the other side, they lived on Red River.  This happened for both the 1830 and 1840 census records.  I suspect he lived along what is modern day highway 213 somewhere between Jeffersonville, Montgomery County, and Stanton, Powell County.  (This would include Sycamore Creek and Spruce Creek in Montgomery and Morris Creek in Powell.)  We do know that by 1852 (when Powell County was formed) he lived in the new county and owned 2 acres on Red River.  In the 1854 tax list, he still owned 2 acres on the Red River.  In the 1855 tax list, he does not show land ownership anymore.  By 1856, he showed with 300 acres on Red River.  He also had 4 children between the ages of 6-18.  The next line on the tax lists shows "same" (instead of repeating his name) and 2 acres (no watercourse listed; however, this tax collector didn't always use ditto marks), supposedly on Red River (assuming he should have used ditto marks).  In 1857, John had 300 acres, this time listed on Grays Branch, and 5 children between the ages of 6-18.  He also had 2 1/2 acres on Red River (this time, Red River was actually written down).  In 1858, John had 300 acres, again on Grays Branch, with 4 or 9 (can't read) children between the ages of 6-18.  The 2 1/2 acres on Red River are listed under "Martin & Holmes."  What did this mean?  Was it a business?  For 1859, John had 300 acres; however, this time the land was listed on Cane Creek.  He also had 4 children between the ages of 6-18.  Interestingly, there was a separate listing for a J. Lewis Martin, who owned 2 1/2 acres on Red River.  For the 1860 tax list, John now has 350 acres on Grays Branch and 3 children between 3-18 years of age.  Obviously, the acreage on Red River, Grays Branch, and Cane Creek are all the same property (though Grays Branch and Cane Creek are not quite the same place).

John does shown in the 1860 Powell County census (see attached census record).  What really surprised me was where he was for the 1870 census.  He and his wife Rutha were living with their daughter and her husband (James and Melvina Willoughby) in or near McMinnville, Warren County, TN.  This was in central TN not too far from Nashville.  What were they doing there?  It appeared he was working as a stone mason.  Based on birth records, it appeared that they moved to TN around 1868.  Rutha Martin shows back in Powell County for the 1880 census.  So, did John die in TN or KY?  Will hopefully narrow that down with tax records (note: though his son, John L. Martin was also now head of household, so can't really tell which John L. Martin was being taxed).

John and Rutha Hanks Martin had at least 10 children: Priscilla, Francis Massingill, Vancouver (Van Couver), James, Luther, Roann, Melvina, John L. Robert, and Alvin. 

One of the sons appeared to have stayed in the Tennessee area.  A Luther Martin showed in the 1900 and 1910 Tullahoma, Coffee County, Tennessee census records.  His widow, Claresa J. Martin, was listed in the 1920 Coffee County census.  Coffee County is right next door to Warren County.  Not 100% sure that this is the same Luther Martin, but it appears to be.  Would love to get in touch with one of this Luther Martin's descendants to make sure I have the right connection here. 

One final note concerning whether John's middle name was Luther or Lewis.  Again, I submit that his name may have been Luther...I just don't know.  The tax records seem to indicate that his middle initial was Lewis (see above discussion concerning the 2 or 2 1/2 acres).   But, his daughter Melvina married James Willoughby in 1865.  I'll try to get a copy of that marriage bond and post it here.  Anyway, it was signed by Luther Martin.  John L. Martin seemed to always go by John L. Martin.  Thus, I suspect the bond was provided by her brother, Luther Martin, and not by her father.  It was not uncommon for brothers to be the bondsmen back in those days.  I suspect those who claim John L. Martin's middle name as Luther were using this marriage record as their proof.  Does anyone out there have a clearer picture as to whether his middle name was Luther or Lewis?

I will have more as time permits.


Links to supporting census documents:

Links to supporting death certificates (helps identify John L. Martin's wife as a Hanks):