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Below is a family biography included in History of Shawnee County, Kansas and Representative Citizens by James L. King, published by Richmond & Arnold, 1905.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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Hon. George W. Martin, of Topeka, whose portrait accompanies this sketch, is secretary of the State Historical Society and was formerly register of the United States Land Office in Kansas and also State printer; he was born in the mountains of Pennsylvania, at the town of Hollidaysburg, June 30, 1841, and is a son of David and Mary (Howell) Martin.

Mr. Martin comes of Irish ancestry on the paternal side and of Welsh on the maternal. For more than 20 years the father, David Martin, was in the employ of the State of Pennsylvania. In 1857 he removed with his family to Lecompton, Kansas, and there both he and his wife died in July, 1892, within 21 hours of each other. They were honored citizens.

George W. Martin attended the public schools at Hollidaysburg and then learned the printing trade, in the office of the Register, the leading journal of his native town. After reaching Lecompton, he became an employee of the Union, which later was succeeded by the Kansas National Democrat. In order to complete his knowledge of everything pertaining to newspaper work, Mr. Martin spent one year in the book offices of William S. and Alfred Martien, book-binders, in Philadelphia.

Upon his return to Kansas, Mr. Martin was employed for a short period on the Lawrence Republican, and then went to Junction City, where in 1861 he became editor of the Junction City Union, his control of this paper continuing until 1888, when he purchased an interest in the Daily Gazette, at Kansas City, Kansas, of which he was editor until 1899. During the four years in which the Union was the pioneer of Western Kansas journals, Mr. Martin directed every effort to build up every industry in the State and through his journalistic work he had much to do with bringing about immigration from many portions of the East and of interesting capital in the agricultural resources of the western part of the State.

Politically, Mr. Martin has always been a Republican, one of the kind whose undying loyalty and stern fidelity can never be questioned. He has suffered for his faith, but has never given up his fealty. At the same time he has his personal convictions just as strong and there have been occasions when some of the measures of the party in the State have not met with his approval. In 1882 he was elected to the State Legislature from Geary County, and in the spring of 1883 he was elected mayor of Junction City. His public life has been on a par with his private career, a persistent following of the clear line of duty. He has had great influence in shaping political affairs in his portion of the State.

Mr. Martin’s ability as a clear and convincing writer has made the newspapers, over which he has had charge, powers in the State and those measures and principles which he has advocated have always, sooner or later, become burning questions of the day. Probably one of the most talked of articles, at the time, was a disquisition of Mr. Martin’s, entitled “The Owl Club Letter,” on the subject of social drinking.

On January 1, 1865, Mr. Martin was appointed postmaster at Junction City, and in the following April he was made register of the United States Land Office. He was removed from this office by President Johnson and his reinstatement was the first appointment made in the State by President Grant. This office he held until 1871, when the district was divided and he established the offices at Concordia and Salina. In January, 1873, he was elected State printer and held the office for eight years. It is generally accepted as a fact that he was a model State printer and that the excellence of the work had never before been reached nor has it ever since been excelled. He received a diploma and medal at the Centennial Exposition for blank book and other work.

On December 20, 1862, Mr. Martin was married to Lydia Coulson, who was born at Minerva, Columbia County, Ohio, and died June 7, 1900. She was a daughter of Allen and Catherine Coulson, the former of whom was born in Pennsylvania, and the latter in Virginia. They came to Kansas in 1857. Mr. and Mrs. Martin had five children, two of whom died in infancy. On October 10, 1901, Mr. Martin married Mrs. Josephine Blakely, the widow of a friend and business partner of early days.

Mr. Martin is a member of the Presbyterian Church. He organized the first church of this faith at Junction City and was one of its ruling elders until he removed to Kansas City. He has long been prominently identified with the Odd Fellows and has served as grand master for Kansas and has been a delegate to two sovereign grand lodges. Since 1899 Mr. Martin has filled an office for which he is well equipped, that of secretary of the State Historical Society.

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This family biography is one of 206 biographies included in History of Shawnee County, Kansas and Representative Citizens by James L. King, published by Richmond & Arnold, 1905.  For the complete description, click here: Shawnee County, Kansas History, Genealogy, and Maps

View additional Shawnee County, Kansas family biographies here: Shawnee County, Kansas

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