Horatio Woodman Martin

Horatio Woodman Martin was the fifth of the fourteen children of Nathaniel Martin and Hannah Strader. He was born 6 August 1852 in Martintown, Green County, WI, a place he would call home for his entire life, his only change of residence being when he moved into a dwelling on the same parcel (a structure he may have built in the 1880s specifically for the purpose of housing himself and his growing family). Later in life his nieces and nephews would affectionately refer to him as Uncle Rashe (or Rache). His full, formal name came from Horatio Woodman, the younger brother of Cyrus Woodman, the land speculator who initiated the building of the sawmill along the Pecatonica River that Nathaniel Martin would finish constructing and then operate for decades afterward. Cyrus’s brother was a Boston lawyer (as well as an editor of some of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s work) who had welcomed Nathaniel into his home in the summer of 1850 and introduced him to the Eastern investors whose capital was needed to make the mill a reality. Horatio Woodman may even himself have become one of those financiers -- clearly both visitor and host ended up with very positive impressions of one another.

Horatio was a second son, but he became the “heir of the kingdom” when his older brother Elias chose independence rather than apprenticeship. Ultimately Horatio was the only son of Nathaniel to pursue such a course, because all his younger brothers died before reaching full manhood -- Abraham at eighteen, and the others as infants or toddlers. Horatio seemed well satisfied with Martintown as his venue. His favorite pastime was fishing from the river near the mills.

It is quite likely Horatio began contributing in a significant way to the operation of the mills as a teenager. Horatio would grow into the responsibility and have command-level involvement from the 1870s onward, a tenure lasting about thirty years. During the early phase of this career, his father would have been the main miller, but the patriarch was in his mid-fifties by the time Horatio came of age, and was no doubt ready to hand off the active operation to an heir. While other partners usually handled the sawmill, Horatio was boss of the grist mill, the steadier of the two businesses. While single he continued to reside with his parents -- the 1880 census shows him still in the household, along with his younger sisters Tinty and Juliette.

In the early 1870s, Horatio’s heritage responsibilities had not yet fully settled on his shoulders, and for a few years he tried a side venture, partnering with his brother-in-law Jacob Hodge, husband of Jennie Edith Martin, to operate the Martintown general merchandise store, which had been opened by J.W. Mitchell in 1869 and then had briefly been run by William Hodges, the original Martintown postmaster. Jacob and Jennie departed in the 1873-75 time frame for Delavan, MN; Horatio is not known to have been involved in storekeeping at any point thereafter. It is likely that the Panic of 1873 and the failure of a plan to bring a railroad line to Martintown were the factors that ended any hope Horatio and Jacob had of making the general store a basis for prosperity.

By the late 1870s a girl came to live in the household of near neighbors Q.C. and Cassa Ward. Her name was Laura Hart. She had been born about a mile north of Martintown on the nineteenth of November, 1867, meaning that she was fifteen years younger than Horatio. As the years passed, though, she soon was no longer a child but an attractive young lady -- the proverbial “girl next door.” Horatio and Laura were wed 27 July 1883, she at fifteen, he at not quite thirty-one. Horatio had therefore followed the pattern set by all the Martin men of the previous generation, who had all been over thirty when they gave up the bachelor life, usually for young brides.

The origin of Laura (shown at right in middle age) was tightly held information for quite some time and when this genealogy project began, it constituted a small mystery. Inter-family notes and the recollection of her grandson Lyle Horatio Smith made clear that even though her birth name was indeed Laura Hart, she was also known as Laura Fuller. Yet she does not appear in the household of a Hart family nor a Fuller family in the 1870 and 1880 censuses. A thorough look at public sources and genealogies assembled by distant family members has revealed the tale:

Laura was the love child of Wilson Hart and Martha Ann Ostrander. Martha in turn was a daughter of William Ostrander and Sarah Ann Brown, who like Horatio’s Starr and Strader forebears were part of the migrations from Ohio to Green County in the late 1830s and early 1840s. The generation prior to that -- Sarah Ann Brown’s parents were Booker Brown and Cassandra Clearwater -- originated in Guilford County, coming into Ohio as it was homesteaded. Again, this is the pattern followed by the Starrs and Straders. Booker Brown and Cassandra had many children. The ones that must be mentioned here are three daughters born in the mid-1810s, Mary W. Brown, Sarah Ann Brown, and Nancy W. Brown. Sarah married William Ostrander 9 May 1844. This wedding took place in Cadiz Township, possibly on the very farm where they went on to live and to raise a substantial number of children. The eldest of those children was Eliza E. Ostrander, born about 1845. Martha Ann was next, born about 1846. Eliza followed the pattern typical of the era and married while in her late teens. The wedding date was 11 March 1863, and her husband was Wilson Hart, son of John Hart and Ruth Marsh. Yes, this is the same Wilson Hart mentioned above as the father of Laura.

Sarah and William lived not just in Cadiz Township as a whole, but at a spot very near the tiny hamlet of Cadiz itself. This community, though platted in 1846, never did grow into a true village and it faded to invisibility after a couple of decades. Even in its heyday it appears that the only “town” businesses it ever had were its post office and a store operated by early settler David Cline, Sr. out of a room in his home. While Cadiz existed, the entire population was insular and tight-knit. Eliza and Wilson established their lives in close proximity to their parents, and it seems this led to enough “togetherness” between Wilson and his sister-in-law that Laura was conceived. The fall-out could only have involved a great deal of uproar in the extended family. Not surprisingly, Wilson Hart soon vanished from the scene. Inasmuch as he does not seem to appear in the 1870 census nor any thereafter, either he ran far away and changed his name, or he died -- and one has to wonder if his death might have been at the hands of an irate father-in-law! If there was such violence, however, it has left no trace in surviving documents. Wilson was still in Cadiz in the spring of 1867, because he fathered his third child with Eliza at that point, Frank E. Hart, born in January, 1868. It is safe to say he was out of both sisters’ lives by no later than the following year, whether by death or flight. Eliza married David Stine 18 November 1868. They established a household near Lena in Stephenson County, IL (though they spent a sojourn in the 1870s in Iowa -- perhaps Eliza wished to get away from the gossip). In addition to completing the upbringing of Eliza’s children Lena, Bell, and Frank Hart, the couple had two children together. The same wedding day, 18 November 1868, Martha Ann Ostrander married Martin Fuller. They, too, moved to Stephenson County and had several children together, the first being Hattie E. Fuller, born in 1870. By the end of the decade they went on to Nora, Jo Daviess County, where they would remain long-term.

Laura must have been part of Martha’s household during much of her childhood, and this is how she became known as Laura Fuller. Strangely, Laura does not appear as an occupant of Martha and Martin Fuller’s home in the 1870 census. It could be her presence was viewed with a certain amount of embarrassment and so Laura was handed off from time to time to various relatives, none of whom happened to feel it appropriate to claim to the census enumerator that she was a member of their household. By the end of the 1870s, as described above, Laura had become the foster child of Cassa and Quintillius C. Ward. Cassa was Martha and Eliza’s first cousin, a daughter of John Springer and Nancy W. Brown, the sister of Sarah Ann Brown. At the time of Laura’s birth, the two sisters -- Nancy Brown Springer and Sarah Brown Ostrander-- and their respective families were living right next door to each other in Cadiz. Cassa (named for her grandmother, Cassandra Clearwater) no doubt spent time caring for her cousin’s baby and developed a bond with her at that time. Later, after Cassa married Q.C. Ward (an event that occurred 8 November 1868, just ten days before her cousins’ weddings) and their union proved to be childless, Laura would have become a way for Cassa and Q.C. to experience the satisfaction of raising a child, while at the same time allowing Martha to distance herself from the living evidence of her indiscretion.

Laura was therefore raised in a variety of places. Her infancy was spent in Cadiz, then some of her childhood in Stephenson County and Jo Daviess County, and then she came to Martintown. Cassa and Q.C. Ward had been Martintown residents from the beginning of their marriage. Cassa had spent time in Martintown as a small child, and probably returned at about the same time that her first cousin David Cline, son of David Cline, Sr. and Mary W. Brown, had come to live there. Just as the older Clines had been close neighbors of the Ostranders and Harts in Cadiz in the middle of the century, David and Mary Cline would continue to be neighbors of Horatio and Laura Martin throughout the whole of their marriage. The couple named a son Nathaniel Cline, which was surely in honor of Nathaniel Martin. (Neither David Cline, Sr. nor David, Jr. are to be confused with David Stine, the husband of Eliza Ostrander.)

To add to the strange family dynamic described above, Martha Ostrander Fuller’s daughter Hattie married her first cousin Frank E. Hart in 1887, when they were both teenagers, and they went on to have a large family together.

Finally, there is the matter of Laura’s middle name. Or names. Laura is referred to in a number of documents with the middle initial “A,” and on her daughter Vivian’s death certificate her name is rendered Laura Ann Hart. However, the middle initial is “M” in other sources, including the marriage record that Laura filled out herself. The answer seems to be that she had two middle names. She must have been Laura Martha Ann Hart, after her mother, Martha Ann Ostrander.

Horatio and Laura became the parents of four children. The births were widely separated -- about every five years. Perhaps this means that other infants were born during the intervals who died. If so, no record of them remains. The four we do know of all thrived. They were Nathaniel -- obviously named for his grandfather -- Fay, Vivian, and Clark. The years spanning these births represented the boom times for Martintown. The various cottage industries mentioned in Nathaniel's biography and on the Martintown page came into their own, boosted greatly by the arrival of the rail line and its depot in 1888. If Nathaniel and Hannah could be said to be the king and queen of this demense, then Horatio and Laura were the favored prince and his princess. For all we know at this late date, Horatio may simply have been too timid to ever step out from under his father’s shadow, but even if this was what happened, he had a great deal of security and status as a result of his life choice, and all indications are he was content with it.

Horatio and Laura with children Natie and Fay in 1890

With Horatio so well entrenched, his siblings may have regarded themselves as free to yield to the urge to look for new opportunities elsewhere. First went Jennie and husband Jacob Hodge in the mid-1870s for Minnesota (and after Jennie’s early death, Jacob would go on to Pasadena, CA). Emma and husband Cullen Penny Brown moved to Missouri in the mid-1880s and a few years later to Arkansas. Elias left in the early 1890s to mine gold in Cripple Creek, CO (without wife Lavina Watson). Juliette and husband E.E. Savage moved in the late 1890s to the Pacific Northwest. Finally Nellie, who had remained in Martintown nearly continuously for half a century, moved with husband John Warner about ten miles away to Scioto Mills, Stephenson County, IL, and then in early 1906 made a much bigger leap and settled permanently in Fresno County, CA. Given that Tinty Martin Bucher had passed away in 1902 and the others had died before reaching adulthood, Hannah Strader was left now with only one child -- Horatio -- to care for her. Ironically, just at that point, he died. Horatio had developed tuberculosis in late 1905, and his case of the disease proceeded rapidly. His date of death was 4 April 1906.

After his passing, Laura lingered in Martintown. Her three youngest children were still at home. She no doubt helped care for Hannah, though the main responsibility fell upon her late husband’s sisters and nieces. Just under a year after Horatio’s death, she married Elwood Byron Bucher, who had been married to Tinty. The wedding took place 21 March 1907 in Chicago, Cook County, IL. So two former siblings-in-law became spouses, and the various children were no longer just first cousins, but were step-siblings, too. Elwood took over the managing of the grist mill -- becoming, in a way, the new Horatio. He had no doubt picked up training as a miller from his father, Jacob, who had had that career.

Laura’s marriage to Elwood would endure almost precisely the same length of time -- about twenty-three years -- as her marriage to Horatio. In some ways Elwood may have been a better match for her, being only six years older rather than fifteen. (He had been born 14 February 1861 in Amboy, Lee County, IL.) As a team they saw their younger progeny come of age and establish themselves, and they endured the sadness of losing two of Elwood and Tinty’s brood, Claude and Blanche, in 1915 and 1918, each meeting their demise in their early thirties. The couple remained in the vicinity of Martintown through these decades, though in the late 1910s they moved out of the village itself in favor of a home a mile or two across the state line in Winslow, Stephenson County, IL. By that point, Elwood’s son-in-law Charles Lewis Buss, husband of Rose Bucher, was assuming charge of the day-to-day operation of the mill, having trained under Elwood for years.

In the early decades of the 20th Century the ease of national distribution of products made it an increasing challenge for the family’s mills to compete with major flour and lumber producers elsewhere. Elwood put the waterwheels to a new and modern use. The river’s flow powered an electrical plant, the first of its kind in the Martintown/Winslow vicinity. From the autumn of 1909 onward, an increasing portion of the household income was derived from this operation, and it was enough to support not only the households of Laura and Elwood and Rose and Charles, but provide jobs to Fay Martin and, when they were old enough, Ralph Bucher and Clark Martin. (The latter would by 1922 move to the Pacific Northwest to work for his step-uncle Charles Bucher at the latter’s creamery.)

(Shown left, Laura in late middle age at her Winslow home.) In about 1920, Elwood’s health collapsed, forcing him to get around in a wheelchair. He was an invalid for a decade, cared for in part by his brother John, who moved into Elwood and Laura’s home. The cause of his ailment is not quite clear. Grandson Lyle Smith recalled that as an adolescent he was not allowed to see Grandpa Elwood because he had some sort of “bad disease.” This may have meant Elwood had a condition that was contagious or unsightly, or it could mean he had something morally repugnant, such as syphillis. It may have been tuberculosis, but one would think this would be noted on his death certificate, which it is not. Whatever it was, it was chronic. Extended forays to the South and the West, taken in hope of therapeutic benefit, did nothing to help. He resigned himself to spending his dwindling time at his home in Winslow, where he finally expired 6 March 1930 of pneumonia and heart inflammation.

Widowed again, Laura lingered in Winslow during the early 1930s. Her son Nathaniel was acquainted with a long-time Illinois Central Railroad employee, widower Henry A. Hopkins, who had recently retired and been pensioned. Henry had been born 18 September 1864 in Vernon, Marion County, IL, and had produced nine children with his first wife, Clara Doolen, who had died in the mid-1920s. Henry and Laura were married 16 November 1934. They soon settled in the village of Orangeville, Stephenson County, IL. Located some seven miles east of Winslow, Orangeville was a new place of residence for both spouses, probably chosen because Nathaniel and his family moved there not long after Laura and Henry became husband and wife, and Laura liked the idea of living close to him. Perhaps the prospect of continuing to live in Winslow or Martintown made her too wistful. However, not long after moving, she was confronted with a new loss. Henry passed away 11 September 1938 at the age of seventy-eight.

By 1938, Laura was seventy, an age when most widows remain widows. She was not the type to live without a man, though. In August, 1939 she married Samuel E. Heise (1866-1951), a lifelong resident of the Orangeville area whose parents, Daniel Heise and Mary Kohl, had come to Stephenson County in 1859 from Pennsylvania. Samuel was a retired carpenter whose first wife had died in 1938. He was a relative of Laura’s new grandaughter-in-law Lavetta M. Davidson Martin, the wife of her grandson Kenneth N. Martin, and the connection is probably how Laura and Samuel came to be introduced. Inasmuch as Samuel was so very rooted in Orangeville, the couple naturally continued to dwell there, and probably would have done so even if Laura’s eldest son and family did not live so close by.

Finally Laura had a spouse her own age. Samuel was only two months older than she. This is one reason she did not have to go through the ordeal of watching another husband die. Samuel was at Laura’s side when she passed away 24 July 1947 of a cerebral hemorrhage brought on by arteriosclerosis and high blood pressure. By then she had already been bedridden for an extended period due to injuries suffered in an automobile accident that occurred on her way home from a visit to Shannon, IL to visit her step-granddaughter Evelyn Lois Claus Stoner. She was buried in the Orangeville cemetery. She had survived Horatio by more than forty years.

Above is a full-view and close-up section of a photograph taken in 1904 or 1905 at the limestone quarry in the bank of the Pecatonica River not far from the Martintown mills. At this period in Martintown’s existence the quarry was being mined by the Kiel family and the stone shipped by rail to customers in northern Illinois. Martha Kiel is the young woman in the white blouse near the center of the picture, and Rose Kiel is one of the two little girls near the top. On the far left is Vivian Blanche Martin, then about ten years old. On the far right is Anna Lueck Warner, wife of Nathaniel Martin’s grandson John Martin Warner, with her two young children Leslie and Dorothy. In the lower center are Horatio and Laura and two of their three sons, Fay and Clark. The close-up shows these four in more detail. Fay is the older boy holding the dog.

Children of Horatio Woodman Martin with Laura Martha Ann Hart

Nathaniel Martin

Fay Horatio Martin

Vivian Blanche Martin

Clark Fuller Martin

For genealogical details, click on each of the names.

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