Reading of Henry R. Martin’s life in northern Georgia, I can’t help but think about how sterile it is when words like “remove,” “removal,” and “relocated” are used to describe the herding of the Cherokee from land that was suddenly way too valuable to be owned by Indians, even those who (like my mom’s people) had accumulated quite a lot of wealth by the standards of the day.
Apparently Henry R. Martin, who finished out his life in Comanche, Texas, first helped “remove” my mom’s people from north Georgia so that he and the others like him could occupy that land. And yet, it is so easy to read the words and feel none of the emotion of those people who were forced to leave behind all that they had known. Their homes…and in many cases like with my mom’s “people,” their plantations and the lives they had built for themselves. (Did you know that Chief John Ross’s blood was only had 1/8 Indian?)
I don’t know if the ironies of life strike you as they do me, but as I type tonight, I think of my close friend, Vickie Gore Harvick, whose great-great grandfather married Martin’s daughter in Comanche County…and here we are in the 21st century, two friends, one who ties in at least by marriage to the “remover” and one who ties into the “removee.” It’s a strange world!
The following obituary was printed in the Comanche Chief. Like all of these old obits, it must be taken with a grain of salt, parts completely accurate and parts maybe a bit of supposition. For instance, I have found nothing that leads me to believe that Martin had a home built in Comanche County by 1854.
In the portion of the obit, which I cannot read, I assume it mentions that in 1865 Martin did marry a second time. In fact, I believe that I remember that he married the widowed Stacy (Murray) McKinzie, his daughter’s first mother-in-law…I think!
When the average man once casts his lot upon the frontier, it is often the case that he continues to move to the borders of civilization until old age disqualifies him for further enterprise. This fact is illustrated by the career of Henry MARTIN, sr., who died last week, at his last earthly home, six miles north of Comanche.
THE LIFE OF HENRY MARTIN, SR.
Henry MARTIN, sr., (familiarly and affectionately known in Comanche county under the name of Grandpa MARTIN) was born in Edgefield district, South Carolina, on the 16th day of April, 1800, and was, therefore, at the date of his death, which occurred as above on the 10th of September, 1882, aged 82 years, 4 months, and 25 days.
At the age of nineteen, he immigrated to Georgia, where in Habersham county, he was married to Elinder DOOLEY, whose parents were emigrants from North Carolina. He remained in Habersham county nine years. This was during the period when the wild hunt for gold was agitating that region of Georgia, and before the Indians had left that state. At the expiration of that time he removed to Lee county, where he remained only nineteen months, and returned to Harbersham county.
Resting there for a short time, he removed into what was then known as the Cherokee purchase, in that section of it now known as Walker county. He settled in Dogwood Valley on Chickamauga creek. The country around was then occupied by Cherokee Indians. There were but three white families in the county at that time.
He next moved to Arkansas and stopped six miles south of Little Rock. In the spring of 1836 he planted a crop there, but some of his family having sickened, he became dissatisfied, sold out and moved back to Georgia, settling this time on East Chickamagua creek, in the year 1837.
He helped remove the Cherokees from Georgia to Chatanooga, Tennessee, preparatory to their removal west of the Mississippi river. He then settled a place in Murray county, Georgia, near Catoosa Springs and remained there until the fall of 1852.
In the fall of 1852 he started for Texas. While on the way he was delayed by high water in St. Francis county, Arkansas. While there, his wife, Elinder, sickened and died.
Mrs. MARTIN was in every respect a dutiful, good, Christian woman. The date of her death was December the 5th, 1852. She was long a member of the Methodist church, and her dying words were an exhortation to her family to lead Christian lives, in preparation for the great change she was then experiencing.
Grandpa MARTIN embraced religion in Georgia and joined the Methodist church there, remaining a member thereof until his removal to Texas, where he united with the Baptist church. He was baptized by immersion, by Elder J.R. NORTHCUT on the first Sunday in April, 1874.
From the period of his conversion in Georgia to his death, he was a devoted Christian, the hospitalities of his home always welcoming the preachers, and offering rest and food to the tired and the hungry. When he was buried, the largest assembly of people ever seen in Comanche county, on a similar occasion, in tearful sympathy, stood around his grave in the burying ground of Zion Hill church.
Mrs. Elinder MARTIN gave birth to thirteen children. Five of these were married at the time of her death.
Grandpa MARTIN arrived in Bell county, Texas, on the 5th of March, 1853, and settled a place on the Salado. In the fall of 1854, and in company with his son-in-law, J.A. McGUIRE, who now lives on Rush creek, in Comanche county, he started for the wilds of Comanche county with a load of corn, farming tools and house furniture, and stopped one mile east of where the town of Comanche now stands, and there built a house, believed to be the first in the county), in which he deposited his goods on the 15th of December 1854.
He returned to Bell county for his family, with whom he arrived at his ranch on the 12th of February, 1855. He remained at this place for 16 months and then settled the place on Indian creek where A.J. STEWART now lives. He remained there until January, 1861. At this time all his children were married excepting one son. This son was killed during the late civil war, fighting on the confederate side.
While he lived on Indian creek, there were a great many Indians in the country, but they were peaceable and well disposed until about the winter of 1857 and 1858, when they became hostile and troublesome, stealing horses and occasionally killing settles. During the period of hostilities they stole from Grandpa MARTIN about thirty horses.The rest I cannot read.