William Martin was the sixth of the fourteen children of Nathaniel Martin and Hannah Strader, and was one of the six who died extremely young. Unlike the other five, who at least survived half a year or more, William died the same day that he was born. He was apparently not stillborn, however. In correspondence from 1947, surviving sister Juliette Martin Savage mentioned that William had lived a few hours. She also revealed that his name was suggested by his older sister Eleanor Amelia “Nellie” Martin. Nellie was only five years old, and her parents probably went along with the suggestion to help her cope with the distress -- Nellie was old enough to be aware her twin sister had died in infancy, and the loss of another sibling would certainly have alarmed her.
William’s birth and death took place 27 August 1854 in Martintown. His remains were interred in the Martin family cemetery. As far as can be determined now, he was the first individual buried there with the possible exception of his first cousin Anna Frame, who legend has it drowned in 1847 in the Pecatonica River after falling out of the wagon as a toddler while the family was fording the stream. The legend goes on to say that when her little body was recovered, it was buried at the top of the hill above the ford. That description corresponds to the site where the Martin family cemetery was established a few years later. Even if that legend is true, though, no marker was placed at Anna’s grave and it has been impossible to confirm that she was interred in the spot where the graveyard now sits.
Shown is a close-up of the west side of the gravemarker of Nathaniel and Hannah Martin. Photograph taken 2 November 2005 by Dave Smeds. This marker, the largest in the Martin cemetery, was used not only to commemorate the couple but for five of their children -- all ones who died as infants or toddlers. The inscription for William and Christa Belle (Christie B.) are positioned on the two sides, while the back is devoted to three children -- Charles, James Franklin, and Hannah.
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