Sunday, February 27, 2011

Josephus Perry Martin autobiography

     "My Wife and I have on our bed an old fashioned patch-work spread, she calls it a quilt. It is made up of hundreds of different sized, shaped and kinds of pieces of calicoes, ginghams and muslins pieced and joined together in artistic fashion and conforming to some major design or pattern. This quilt is a picture of life, and reminds me of its variegated patch work of time, circumstance and deed."

Josephus Perry Martin was "well past my seventy-sixth mile stone" when he wrote those words, comparing the many and varied events in his life to a patchwork quilt.

He was born September 29, 1853 in Montgomery County, Ohio, the son of John Henry Martin and Sarah Cassandria Bright. He lived in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois before his marriage to Mary B. (Molly) Bright on August 1, 1875. He died June 6, 1932 in Montgomery County, Ohio.

Two years before his death, he completed an autobiography.  A copy was found in Paul B Hendrickson's home after Paul passed away. Josephus was Paul's uncle (his mother's brother) and my wife's great uncle. It is handwritten on lined notepaper measuring 4.25 by 7.25 inches and consists of 33 sheets written on both sides, a total of 66 pages. The pages were found in a black, three-ring binder marked on the inside cover as being sold by Everybody's Book Shop, Dayton, Ohio. Josephus lived in West Carrollton, south of Dayton, in 1930.

In addition to personal history and genealogical information about his parents' family and his own family, Josephus writes about his religious odyssey. He was first a minister in the Progressive branch of the Dunkard church. In June 1887,  "because of radical changes in my religious views of which I will later write, I was asked to resign as a Dunkard minister, I did so and also severed my membership. This act branded me as an arch heretic and dangerous." Josephus found new belief through The Watch Tower, the publication of the Jehovah's Witnesses. He apparently continued as a minister in that faith.

I have added an introduction to the autobiography and a brief epilogue. More information and pictures will be added as time permits. Two Martin cousins have offered to help and I hope direct descendants of Josephus will be located and agree to assist. My website is at and a direct link to the Josephus Perry Martin autobiography would be

One of the mysteries I hope to unravel about this autobiography is the relationship between Josephus and his wife, Mary Bright. Josephus says "Mollie's father and my mother were first cousins." If I understand it correctly, that means they had a common grandparent. My guess is that the common grandparent might have been in the Bowman family. Time and future research may tell.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Website redesigned

My poor old website had been in need of a redesign for a long time.

It was created in the days when monitors rarely went beyond 800x600 pixels and some were only 640x480. So web pages were created narrow so users did not have to scroll left and right to view the whole page.

Thankfully, those days are long gone. A website I saw recently reported that as of January 2010 (more than a year ago), 96 percent of web users had screen resolutions of 1024x768 or higher. Many of the popular websites are running web pages in the mid 900s. My new website has pages 910 pixels wide.

How did I arrive at that number?

My primary concern was readability. Looking at text at different widths, I decided to go with a width of 515 pixels. Unfortunately, my RootsMagic creates web pages with a left navigation bar of 15 percent of screen width and text of 85 percent. That means text of about 979 pixels on my monitor. In my opinion, that's way too wide to be readable. It took some creative global search and replace to size the text portion of the pages down to 515.

I use a lot of tables to create my pages and in the table for the main page, the left navigation bar is 175 pixels, column 2 (space) is 10, column 3 (text) is 515, column 4 (space) is 10 and column 5 (another navigation bar) is 200. I started building web pages before the days of wysiwyg web tools like Microsoft Front Page, so I still code my pages by hand using a program I bought years ago called HomeSite (no longer available).

In addition to having to relearn a lot of HTML, I had to learn to deal with multiple browsers. First time around it was Internet Explorer and a little Netscape. Now Firefox is the major player (43 percent of web users) with Chrome and IE in the mid 20s. Unfortunately, these browsers can display pages differently. For example, Chrome and Firefox put a blank line after paragraphs, IE does not. On two of my pages I had lists of items that would have made the pages too long with spaces between them. I had to find some coding that would look the same in all browsers. Well, I didn't have to . . . just had to.

My second goal was to coordinate my web site with my new blog. Therefore, they are both now called "Searchin' for Kin" and the colors are approximately the same. I'm listing my blog posts on my website and I intend to mention new additions to my website in my blog.

If you surf over to you'll see a blank spot where the descendants of Samuel Martin should be. A cousin has just shared several important sources with me and I need to get those entered into my RM before I create the web pages.

Comments, criticisms and suggestions are always invited and welcomed. If you see any errors or broken links, please email me.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Peanut Butter and Syrup

Blog subject for this week is favorite food from childhood. I can remember that vividly.

First you take a big thick slice of my grandmother's home-baked bread and slather it with butter. Then you mix up a bowl of peanut butter and maple syrup. Dip the buttered bread in the syrup. Ambrosia!

Of course I don't allow myself to eat that now.

My grandmother also fried brains. Can you imagine a child eating fried brains . . . willingly? But I did.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hutsonville School Card

This school card from Hutsonville, Crawford County, Illinois, was in my father-in-law's papers. The connection to his family was with the teacher, A. L. Martin -- probably Alvin Leslie Martin, my father-in-law's uncle.

Alvin Leslie Martin was born 17 October 1855 in Hamilton County, Indiana, the son of John Henry Martin and Sarah Cassandria Bright. He arrived in Crawford County before the 1880 census in which his occupation was given as "at school."

When or how long A. L. Martin taught school in Hutsonville is not known. He married Dora B. Braden on 14 Jun 1890 in Hutsonville and by 1900 was living in Chicago. Ultimately the couple moved to Los Angeles, where they both died. They had no children.

We might get some clue of the date of this card from the student who received "the highest mark of approbation" for good deportment -- Hattie Martin. There was no favoritism in this award. As far as I know, Hattie was not related to A. L. The 1880 census of Hutsonville shows a Hattie Martin as the 11-year-old daughter of Warren Martin. According to the Holmes Family Tree on Ancestry, she was one of six children of Warren Martin and Lucy Maria Willard. If this is an elementary school card and if Hattie entered school at age six and completed the eighth grade at 14, that would date this card as 1875 to 1883.

Here is the pretty picture from the back of the card.