Benjamin Franklin Martin (1828-1895)

Source: Prominent Men of West Virginia
Published by W. L. Callin, Wheeling, W.Va. 1890
Author: George Wesley Atkinson LL.D., and Alvaro Franklin Gibbens, A.M.
Pages 461-462

Photograph - Benjamin Franklin MartinHON. B. F. MARTIN was born near Farmington, Marion county, Virginia, October 2, 1828. His father, Jesse B. Martin, was among the early settlers of Buffalo Creek, then in Harrison county, where he devoted himself to the business of farming. The subject of this sketch was brought up as a tiller of the soil, devoting the first twenty-one years of his life to that honest vocation. He had but limited school advantages in his early life, but soon after he reached his majority, he matriculated as a student of Allegheny College, Meadville, Pennsylvania, from which he graduated, with first honors, as a Bachelor of Arts, in June, 1854. After graduation at college he returned to Marion county, and taught school eighteen months in Fairmont, during which time he studied law. He was admitted to the Bar and commenced practice in March, 1850, locating the following November at Pruntytown, then the seat of justice of Taylor county, where he remained until a few years ago. When Grafton was made the county seat, he moved his office to Grafton, where he now resides.

For many years Mr. Martin devoted his undivided energies to the practice of his profession, and as a reward for his toil, became a distinguished lawyer. For a quarter of a century he has been the leading member of the Bar in his adopted county. He is still in active practice, and displays the same energy and faithfulness in his work as he did when many years younger than he now is.

Often solicited to become a candidate for office, Mr. Martin wisely refused until he had established himself as an attorney of prominence and with a reputation fully made. When the Democratic party came into power in West Virginia in 1871, it was decided by them that a new State Constitution should be framed. A convention was accordingly called for that purpose in 1872, and Mr. Martin was chosen a delegate from Taylor county. Being a good lawyer, and a superior debater, he took a high rank in the Convention, and was one of its most active and useful members. The same year (1872) he was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention that met in Baltimore. Mr. Martin opposed the nomination of Horace Greeley, but in the campaign that followed, he gave him active and earnest support.

In the fall of 1872, he was a candidate for Congress for the Second District, on the Democratic ticket. The new Constitution was adopted at a special election, August 22, of that year. Hon. J. M. Hagans was voted for as a member of Congress that day, receiving 3,441 votes. Mr. Martin did not allow himself to be voted for at that time, but appeared as the regular candidate of his party at the October election, receiving 5,998 votes, On the same day, J. Nelson Wisner, Republican, received 1,698 votes, and D. D. T. Farnsworth, 1,321 votes. Governor Jacob certified to Congress the result of both elections, and a contest followed. Congress admitted Mr. Hagans as the duly elected member, notwithstanding the Committee of Elections reported in favor of Mr. Martin. In 1876 Mr. Martin was again his party's candidate for Congress, and was elected by a majority of 3,843. In 1878 he was re-elected by nearly 8,000 majority. While in Congress, Mr. Martin was attentive to his duties, and was an efficient Representative. He is a conscientious man, and adheres only to that which he believes strictly to be right. No West Virginia Congressman left behind him a more faithful or more honorable record.

Mr. Martin, from early manhood to the present, has been a devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He was a lay-delegate to the General Conference of 1876; was President of the Lay-Electoral Conference of that church held at Parkersburg, October, 1887, and is one of the trustees of the Conference Seminary at Buckhannon, and is Treasurer of the Board of Trustees. He has been active in charitable works for more than a generation, and bears the good will of all who know him. In political campaigns he was always fair and upright, scorning everything dishonorable. As a lawyer no one can truthfully say a word against his integrity, for he enjoys the reputation of being scrupulously honest in the practice of his profession.

Additional Information

DEATH REGISTER, Taylor County WV, Page 71, Line 58
Martin, Benj. F. died 1/3/1895 at age 67 of Consumption
son-of: J. B. & Elizabeth B.
husband-of: Nellie E. C.
Occupation: Lawyer

1860 Census, Taylor County WV
PO: Pruntytown; Stamped Page 509, hw-page 9
Lines 8-10; Enum-Dwelling #59; Enum-Family #58
MARTIN, B. F. (age 31), Attorney-at-Law, $800/$2000, Va
", N. E. C. (age 22), Pa
MARTIN, John V. (age 22), Law Student, $0/$100, Va

1870 Census, Taylor County WV
PO: Pruntytown; Courthouse Township; Stamped page 125, hw-pg 7
Lines 16-19; Enum-Dwelling #45; Enum-Family 341
MARTIN, B. F. (age 41) Lawyer, $3500/$6500, Va
", N. E. C. (age 32) Keeping House, Penna
LAZELL, Alcinda (age 25) Domestic Servant, Va
", Charles (age 2), WV


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