Experience's Children

Painter Family Obituaries

Charlotte Painter Joyner Stollard

Jonesboro Sun, Jonesboro, Craighead County, Arkansas, noted 9 October 2004

STOLLARD, L.H., Mrs. [obituary] 27 Feb 1953, The Jonesboro Sun pg. 2.

Wish someone would send me this!

John Martin's Life Contract is Closed

Veteran Builder, Said To Have Erected "One-Half of Indianapolis," Expires
Once Owned State House
Bought Old Capitol for Removal and Made Chicken Coop of Dome for Farm

From the "Indianapolis Star" 17 Jan 1909, transcribed by Chas. E. Martin, noted 3 November 2004

Fifty years a building contractor in Indianapolis without one serious labor trouble was the record of John Martin, whose funeral is be held in the undertaking establishment of Kregelo & Bailey at 3 o'clock tomorrow afternoon. Mr. Martin died Thursday afternoon of heart disease affter a long illness.

Mr. Martin was often described as "the builder of one half of Indianapolis" and there is hardly a block in the downtown district that does not contain several structures erected by him. Business blocks, public institutions, churches and residences dot the city as monuments to him, and it is stated that he had forgotten many of the structures which had risen under his hand.

Mr. Martin started his career under Nicholas Longworth of Cincinnati, the father of Congressman Longworth, and a large contractor. This was in 1847, just after Mr. Martin had come to America from his birthplace at Preston, Lancashire, England. He was just a chimney topper, and when he came to Indianapolis, according to his own statement, he did not have enough credit to purchase a bag of cement. In 1848 he began his contracting business here, gradually reaching out after larger contracts until at one time he had almost 1,000 men working on his contracts.

Built Own Brickyard

One of his largest "jobs" was the Central Hospital for the Insane. A peculiar incident happened at that time. Mr. Martin became involved in a quarrel with the firm which was supplying him with brick and was boycotted. The contractor immediately purchased a tract of land west of the institution and began making his own bricks. As a result practically all the bricks used in the building were from his own yard, and when the work was finished there remained behind him the little settlement now called Mickleyville.

Mr. Martin was also known among his friends as "the only Indiana man who ever owned the Statehouse." This was true, for when the old State House was sold to make way for the new one Mr. Martin bought it. The dome he carted to his farm south of Indianapolis and used for a chicken coop. The flagstaff was cut up into canes and presented to his friends. And there is now in front of the home at 227? North Alabama street, where Mr. Martin had lived since 1875, a large stone which was formerly a part of the old State House.

A story is told which illustrates the immense number of buildings which the contractor erected in Indianapolis. Several years ago he was driving with a reporter, who had asked him to point out his buildings as they passed. In the course of the drive, the two men reached the extreme northern limit of the city.

Fools the Reporter

"Now, I have you." said the reporter as he looked over the expanse of vacant ground. "Show me something out here that you built." Mr. Martin calmly pointed to the Crown Hill Cemetery chapel, "Well there it is."

It is unusual, despite the large number of men whom Mr. Martin hired during his life, he never had any labor trouble. He was always looked on as a friend of union labor, and at a meeting of the union a night or two ago it passed a resolution in his honor. There are white men in Indianapolis who had worked for the contractor more than thirty years. Among the colored men whom he had employed there were men who had been in his employ even longer. They called him "The Big Chief." There was a time in Mr. Martin's career as a contractor when the expenses of his firm amounted to $1 a minute, according to his estimate. At this time he had an army of men working for him on various structures in the city, which made the work of management exceedingly arduous. A church in one place, a business block in another, and half a dozen residences all required personal attention and detailed consideration.

Mr. Martin erected the first "sky-scraper" in Indianapolis, the Majestic Building. He was also contractor for the old convent of the Sisters of Providence at St. Mary's of the Woods, one of the historic buildings of the state.

Among the Indianapolis buildings erected by him are the Scottish Rite Temple, the Malott Building, the Atlas Engine Works, When Building, New York Store building, Marion County Court House, the old Grand Opera House, English Hotel, Grand Hotel, the old Bates House, Marion Block, St. Vincent's Hospital, Franciscan Monastery, The Blacherne, the Pembroke Arcade, the Ardmore and the Marion County Jail.

The contractor was 81 years old. His death followed within a week that of his son, John E. Martin, who had been engaged with his father in the contracting business. Mr. Martin had been retired ten years. He was a member of the Scottish Rite and Knights Templars.

The contractor is survived by four children, Mrs. Susie E. Ellis, Mrs. Martha Henring, Mrs. George Watson and Robert Martin.


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