LaSalle County

Biography - WILLIS A. MARTIN

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 success.

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.

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