Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Another Martin Mystery

Who is Bessie Martin?

For the past few years, I've been trying to fill in the gaps in my Martin genealogy. I've blogged before about my Martin mysteries: in "Martin Mystery" ,I wondered who my great-great grandmother was: and in "Martin Mystery II", I shared what I'd discovered about Elizabeth Webb Martin, the third wife of John Reid Martin..

Meanwhile I'd been wondering about Elizabeth's daughter—my great-grandmother, I knew Mariah Lousia Martin, born in 1854 and the second wife of Henry Silas Smith, had died in 1913 at the Snith homeplace in Union Hall. I knew, from census records that she went by her nickname, Lula. I'd visited her grave several years ago and had a photo of her broken tombstone, but I had no pictures of her. 

Did any pictures of her exist? I found her death certificate on the Internet, but no pictures. She was 58 when she died of cancer. It's interesting that her husband's name on the certificate is his nickname, "Shuge."

I'd given up hope of finding a picture when a first cousin once-removed showed me the only picture of Lula that existed. She'd gotten it from her grandmother, who was Lula's grand-daughter. 

I recognize where the picture was taken—the porch of the old Smith homestead. Some pictures of the old homestead are in this 2010 blog-post: "Smith Sleuthing,", and some of the late Ralph Porterfields's memories of the place in the 1940s are in "Going Home to the Farm," Ralph was Lula's great-grandson. 

But another Martin mystery has arisen. In the same box as Lula's picture was a photo of a Bessie Martin. The photo was taken by F. H. Brown at the Danville Art Gallery in Danville, Virginia. An ad for the business appears in the April 21, 1893, issue of the Reidsville Review in Reidsville, NC and again in May 19, 1893: "Danville Art Gallery No. 236 Main Street is the Place to get your Pictures taken Before going elsewhere. . . ." Besides Brown, there were at least two other photographers, W.E. Eutsler and a man whose last name is Blunt. (At one time, an Internet site had late 1800s-1900 photos by them and others for sale.)

Who is Bessie Martin? Did she live in Danville or just go there to have her picture taken? How is she connected to my branch of the Martin family? to Lula Martin? Is Martin her maiden name or married name? 

So many questions. . . . 

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