Friday, April 15, 2016

Elmer Martin's Photo Gallery

Elmer Matthew Martin
A Short Biography

Elmer Matthew Martin is my paternal grandfather.  He was born on 16 March 1887 in Bowling Township, Rock Island, Illinois, the son of John Stephen Martin and Elizabeth Dorothea Weiss.  Both the Martin and Weiss families had emigrated from Germany and settled in Rock Island County, Illinois.   Elmer grew up on his family's farm in Bowling Township.  The Martin farm was located about six miles south of Milan, Illinois (which is four miles south of Rock Island, Illinois.)

Martin Farm, Milan, Illinois
As a youth, Elmer attended school a the Woods School.  After graduating, Elmer attended Business College in Rock Island until he got typhoid fever and had to stay home.
Elmer Martin, abt 1910
I love these snapshots of Elmer, especially the one on the far right where he is goofing off with a big smile on his face.  I only knew Grandpa Elmer as an old man (he was 64 years old when I was born) and never saw him smile very much.:(   I wish I could have known him when he was younger.
Elmer Martin, 1910
On March 8, 1903, Elmer's mother and oldest sister both died of measles.  Nearly all of the family had come down with the measles and were recovering but Elizabeth and Mae developed complications and died.  The family felt that the Doctor did not know how to properly care for them.  Elmer lost his beloved mother and sister, as as the oldest child, was left to help his widowed father.  Four years later his other sister, Emma, died of tuberculosis.  It is hard to tell what the deaths of his mother and sisters had on Elmer because he never talked about it.  Elmer's "old maid aunt" Christine Wiess eventually moved in the the Martin family to help.
Elmer Martin, abt 1915, Milan, Rock Island, Illinois
Elmer married Elizabeth "Lizzie" Coyne in 1915 when he was 28 years old.  She was the only daughter of a successful farmer in Rock Island County, Illinois.  Elmer and Elizabeth were living in Bowling township, Rock Island County when Elmer registered for the WWI Draft on June 5, 1917.

Elmer in sleigh, Milan, Illinois
Elmer and Elizabeth traveled around the west for the next several years.  At one time, Elmer worked as an ambulance driver for the copper mines in Miami and Globe, Arizona.
Ambulance Elmer drove for the copper mines in Arizona.
Elmer Martin touring the West 1920
Not sure who is standing next to Elmer in the below photo.  It's possible that it's his first wife, Lizzie.  But, I've never seen a picture of her so I am not sure.  I imagine Maymie destroyed any photos of Elizabeth.:)  Or maybe Elmer did after the divorce.  

Elmer swimming in Pacific Ocean.
Elmer and Elizabeth eventually settled in Dove Creek, Colorado.  They divorced in 1922.  Elizabeth is said to have ran off with Elmer's good friend.  The reason for the divorce was desertion.  There is no record of Elmer and Elizabeth ever having children.  Nothing is known of Elizabeth after the divorce.  After the divorce, Elmer stayed in southwestern Colorado.
Elmer swimming in Great Salt Lake 1924
Elmer became acquainted with the Charles B Wilson family, who had homesteaded near Monticello.  He started dating Charles' daughter, Maymie.  In 1927, Elmer married our grandmother, Maymie Pearl Wilson.  Elmer was 40 years old and Maymie was 22 years old.
Maymie and Elmer just before they married.
Elmer Martin


Elmer and Maymie lived on his farm north of Dove Creek.  Elmer farmed for a while - mostly potatoes.  He invented an attachment for his Case Tractor to help with the planting and harvesting of the potatoes.  His potatoes won first and second place at the Dolores County Fair.  Elmer even started a general store in Dove Creek but it burned down about the time he opened it.  He always felt it was arson.

Some time in the mid 1930's, the family moved to Cortez and purchased a small adobe house at 30 N Maple Street.  The original adobe structure was a small one bedroom home.  Elmer enlarged the home by building a small bedroom and porch on the side of the house with a cellar underneath the bedroom.  This home remained their main home through-out their lifetime, even though they moved away at different times.  Their two sons, Wilbur and Leroy, attended school at the old Calkins School in Cortez.
Leroy, Maymie, Elmer, Wilbur
During WWII, the family moved to Las Vegas and Elmer worked on a military base for a while.  Elmer also drove a stagecoach for the Las Frontier Hotel.


Sometime in the late 1940's, Elmer and Maymie moved to Yuma, Arizona.  Several of Maymie's brothers had also moved to Yuma to find work.  Elmer owned one one of the first Trailer Courts in Yuma.
Martin's Court in Yuma, Arizona
One of the reasons Elmer moved to Yuma was to be able to fish year round.  Elmer loved to fish and would go fishing on the Colorado River or down into Mexico.  He also like to race horses and watch "cock fights".  As a small girl, I can remember going to watch "cock fights" with Elmer.  Almost every weekend was spent at the horse racing track.  Elmer would buy horses and Wilbur would be the trainer.
Elmer loved to fish - Maymie usually went with him.
Maymie and Elmer
Eventually Elmer and Maymie purchased a house on First Avenue.  It had a large screened in back-porch where Elmer would sit to drink his beer and eat Limburger cheese and sardines.  Elmer liked to cook and he would make his own sauerkraut in big crocks that sat out by the garage in back of the house.  Eating his sauerkraut was mandatory when visiting his home.
Yuma home on First Avenue
In the mid 1950's, Elmer bought a yellow and grey Dodge car and I remember that it had push button transmission.  I thought the car was really cool - Elmer would let me on his lap and push the buttons and pretend to drive the car down a quite lane in Yuma.

In the mid 1960's Elmer and Maymie moved back to Cortez and lived in the house at 30 North Maple.   I remember Elmer always wearing a fedora hat.  
Elmer & Maymie, Cortez, dog named George.
Elmer fishing

Elmer Martin blog posts;

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