Willis Allen Martin, the popular merchant of Harding, is a son of Richard
Martin, the carpenter and builder. He was born in Freedom, January 21, 1862,
on a farm one mile east of the village of Harding, on what is known as the
Sampson place. He was sparingly educated in the village school and learned
the carpenter's trade of his father, beginning at the age of thirteen years,
following it about six years. If the brand of Dick Martin & Son was on all
the buildings for which they are partly responsible, being connected with
their construction, the improvement of the township could be more nearly
judged. Having an opportunity to engage in a business not physically as
hard, he accepted a position in the employ of S. U. Lawry, then the leading
merchant of Harding, from whom he took his first lessons in commercial
transactions. Although Mr. Martin was only a boy in his experience, his
employer said of him, ''He was never a boy but always a man." Again he
remarked, "He was as straight as a string and I would trust him with
anything I possessed." About seven years after he entered this store as a
clerk, his employer proposed a partnership to him, which was accepted and
entered into, the same existing until some time in 1893, when he purchased
his senior's interest in the concern and thus became the sole proprietor of
the only store in the village of Harding. He was appointed the postmaster of
the Freedom office, and has held the position through all the
administrations since. He is a "gold Democrat," but that has been no legal
or other barrier to his holding the office during a Republican
administration of the nation. The best recommendation one can have for an
appointment to the public service is honesty, capacity and adaptability for
doing the work, and all these Mr. Martin possessed. The popularity of
Harding, as a trading point, is due to the manner in which business is
conducted in Martin's store, and to the further fact that it carries about
everything that a well-regulated country home ever needs. Everybody is
"Will" Martin's friend and all rejoice in his prosperity and aid him toward
Our subject's father, Richard Martin, came to LaSalle county in 1856. He was born in Vermont, in 1830, and is still active at his trade. He married Minerva Allen, the daughter of Ethan Z. Allen, of New York state. The Aliens claim to be descended from the Aldens, who were passengers on the historic Mayflower; but the name was afterward changed to "Allen." The genealogy of the family reveals this fact, and it was compiled some years ago, after many years of patient labor.
Richard Martin's children were: Ethan Allen, a railway mail clerk: Irwin L., a printer, of Grand Ridge; and Willis A., the last named being the first born. He was married in November, 1891, to Frankie, a daughter of James R. Walters, of Freedom. They have no children.
Mr. Martin is that type of manhood, of whom the world has none too many. He is a good business man; a good citizen ever seeking to do the right for the right's sake. His general rule of life is to practice the golden rule.
Extracted 13 May 2019 by Norma Hass from Biographical and Genealogical Record of LaSalle County, Illinois, published in 1900, volume 2, pages 614-615.