Margaret married Jonathan’s longtime neighbor, Willis Barton, in the mid-1820’s, and after raising a large family they and other members of the Barton clan moved to Winston County, Alabama, in the years leading up to the Civil War. By 1860, other Martins joined them in Winston, including brother Solomon, at least two of Peter’s daughters, and cousins and their families, and numerous Hall and Jackson County families once considered friends and neighbors. The reason for the exodus seems clear – Winston County, in the northern hills of Alabama, remained Unionist. The Martins truly were families torn apart by the American Civil War.
It is hard to understand why so little is remembered about the families who stayed in Hall County and concentrated on farming. John married Matilda Goode (pronounced GUDE) in 1833, and became a pastor at Timber Ridge Baptist Church. He moved to Habersham County in his later years, but his family was already established in Hall. Jonathan Jr. married Nancy Cook that same year, and also preached at Timber Ridge.
In 1840, David married Teresa Kendrick, and raised his family near Lula in Hall County. Solomon married Elizabeth Hix in 1845, and while he moved to Winston County in 1860, after the civil war he and his family returned to Hall. He died in 1869 of inflammation of the liver. In 1847, Joseph Marion married Elizabeth Cagle, and seems to have stayed in Hall to farm and raise his family, except for a brief period in Cherokee County. Jonathan and Nancy spent their last years living in Hall with the family of their youngest daughter, Harriet, the wife of Andrew Grier.
Fortunately, Jonathan and Nancy did not live to see the devastation and poverty caused by the South’s attempt at rebellion. Nancy died in 1851, at 72, and Jonathan died shortly after at the age of 85. Some say both are buried in unmarked graves in the cemetery at Timber Ridge Baptist Church. For many years some descendants claimed Jonathan’s wife was really Ann Webb, based on an entry in filed copies of the family Bible of John Martin, Jonathan’s son. Absolutely no real evidence supports it, and appears to based on misinformation.
Through eleven children raised in Georgia, Jonathan and Nancy can claim 99 grandchildren and 321 known, recorded great grandchildren. By 1900, all of their children except Joseph, the youngest son, had passed away. He continued to live until 1916. By then most of the families had dispersed to the city and some just moved on, but some continued to farm and work in the Glades near Lula.
The early Martins were not professionals. There were no doctors or lawyers or engineers to build expectations in the new world, and no politicians or adventurers or career officers to leave a footnote in history books. They were farmers, mostly, and farmer’s wives. They raised crops and families. They were hill people with strong beliefs. They fought for them when they had to and preached them when they could. They were individuals with flaws. A few Martins owned slaves, but most did not. A few Martins rushed to take stolen Cherokee land, but most did not. A few Martins accumulated a little wealth, but most did not. A few Martins still have stories told about them, but most do not. No matter how well or poorly they are remembered, through all of this, they were quintessential Americans. And they were my ancestors.
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