Wilson Hiram Martin, the 20th child of John Martin, Jr., and the eighth born to John’s second wife, Lavina (Plowman) Martin, was born 8 March 1877 at Camargo, Douglas County, Illinois. His mother died when he was 2 months old. His father remarried a year later, and his stepmother died when Wilson was 5. On 22 May 1898, he married Ella (or Ellen) C. Mitchell in Douglas County. She had been born 12 May 1880 in Camargo, the daughter of Joseph and Sarah E. (Taylor) Mitchell, and she was the younger sister of Minnie May Mitchell, who had married Wilson’s brother James nine months earlier.
The 1900 census shows Wilson and Ella living in a rented home in Camargo, along with their first son Glen, and Ella’s 12-year-old sister Florence. Wilson’s occupation is listed as “day laborer.” By 1910, they had moved to a home on the George Myers farm near Newman (about 10 miles east of Camargo), and the census shows them there with their four oldest children. Wilson’s occupation then was “farm laborer.”
In May 1914, the Decatur Herald reported that the family had packed up and headed for a new home at Northwood, in Worth County, Iowa (probably because that is where Wilson’s brother James and Ella’s sister Minnie were living at the time). By the time of the 1920 census, however, Wilson and Ella were back in Newman with all six of their children:
The 1930 census shows only the two youngest sons, Roy and Max, in the household, but it also includes a 5-year-old grandson, Kenneth W. Martin. He was the son of Wilson’s son Donavon. Kenneth’s mother, Donavon’s first wife, had died when Kenneth was 5 months old. Donavon married his second wife about 1926 and apparently decided to leave Kenneth with Wilson and Ella, for them to raise. The census shows Donavon and his second wife living with her father, James Meese, in Young America, Edgar County, Illinois, and they have a 2-year-old daughter, Ella Martin, Kenneth’s half-sister.
Wilson passed away at Newman 7 July 1938 and is buried in Fairfield Cemetery. The 1940 census shows Ella, then widowed, still living in Newman along with her son Max (a truck driver) and her then 15-year-old grandson Kenneth. In 1943, however, Ella married Oscar Cheshier, the widower of Wilson’s sister Hester (who died in 1942). Oscar died 8 years later, 1951, and was buried next to Hester.
Ella eventually died on 6 February 1967 and was buried next to Wilson at Fairfield Cemetery. Her tombstone shows only the name Ella Martin, not Cheshier.
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