James P Martin

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

Photos from the Past

James P. Martin (from his Obituary 1949)

James P. Martin was the last Civil War Veteran to died in Iowa at the age of 101 years old. He died in a little frame house in the town of Sutherland, Iowa where he had lived with his widowed daughter, Mrs. Elise Hill. In the last years, Mr. Martin health had declined steadily and his condition had been considered critical for the last few months. Since his 101st birthday party last November, Mr. Martin had been confined to his bed most of the time. His eyes and ears were so weak he could not read a newspaper or listen to the radio. However his appetite remained good until he became critically ill.

Although Mr. Martin once vividly remembered carrying the news of Lincoln's Assassination to Fort Lyon, Virginia. The fighting at Gettysburg and other Civil War experiences his memory failed near the end of his life. Only occasionally, his daughter said, did the veterans recall his early years. Often he failed to recognize old Sutherland acquaintances when they visited him. Mr. Martin one of the last 60 GRand Army of the Republic (GAR) members in the United States. He enlisted in the Union Army when he was 16. He was living in Mineral Point, Wisconsin at the time and served in First Wisconsin Heavy Artillery. The veteran was born November 10, 1847 in Scotland and came to the United States when five years old. His family settled in Wisconsin.

Mr. Martin who would have been 102 years old next November was named State Commander of the GAR Department of Iowa in 1947 to succeed John M. Gudgel who died in Sheriandooh March 22 of that year at the age of 99. Since the death last June 20 of Ebenezer G. McMurray, 103, of Iowa City, Mr. Martin had been the only Civil War Veterans in the State of Iowa.

When Iowa observed Memorial Day recently, Mr. Martin was the state's only living symbol of the war which gave birth to the holiday. Iowa honored its last Civil War Veteran on his birthday last November. Fifteen military units paraded past his home and representatives of various veterans organization spoke. It was the last public appearance by the aged boy in Blue. But until 1946, Mr. Martin marched in every Memorial Day. When he was 94, he still drove a car and didn't quit working in his garden until he was 97. Through his life Mr. Martin was extremely active. He participated in Masonic Lodge for more than 50 years. He was an insurance pioneer and helped organize the O'Brien County Mutual Insurance Association. He also helped develop Waterman Township Rural Telephone System. For many years Mr. Martin attended the Annual State of Iowa Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic and its Allied organizations including the Woman's Relief Corps, Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic, Daughters of Union Veterans, and Sons of Union Veterans. His health again prevented his attending the Last Encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic in Indianapolis, Indiana in August 1949.

Mr. Martin was one of five brothers who enlisted and served in the Union Army during the War of the Rebellion. None of the brothers were not killed during the war, but all four are dead now. After the war Mr. Martin returned to his farm in Wisconsin. A few years later he went to Kansas, filed a land claim and farmed a homestead. While he was in Kansas, Mr. Martin married Mary Elizabeth Brady of Le Roy, Kansas. She died in 1916. Mr. Martin and his wife returned to Wisconsin a few years after marriage by covered wagon.

In 1886, Mr. Martin, his wife and seven children moved to Iowa and settled five miles east of Sutherand, Iowa. Since 1936, Mr. Martin had lived with his daughter, Mrs. Hill. For many years, they lived on an eight acres farm a miles east of Sutherland. When the work of caring for the farm and her father become to strenuous for Mrs. Hill and they moved into Sutherland in April 1948. Six of Mr. Martin children survive, besides Mrs. Hill, they are Mrs. Mary A. Thiesen of Sutherland, Clyde Martin of Calumet, Iowa, William R. Martin of Kalispell, Montana, James B. Martin of Hoquiam, Washington and Mrs. R.E. Lampman of Merced Fall, California. Also surviving are 28 grandchildren, 51 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. Mrs. Hill and the doctor were at the veteran's bedside when he died.

One of things of which he was proudest was casting a vote for Abraham Lincoln. Masonic Services and full military honors will be part of Mr. Martin funeral. Miss Amy Noll, Des Moines, Secretary of the State of Iowa Grand Army of the Republic informed friends here that Governor William S. Beardsley and Brigade General Charles H. Grah, Iowa Adjutant General,who were in the attended at Mr. Martin Funeral. The Allied Orders of the Grand Army of the Republic (Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Woman's Relief Corps, Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic, and the Auxiliary to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War) placed a monument in the Town of Sutherland, Iowa in memory of James P. Martin, who was last surviving Civil War Veteran to died in the State of Iowa.

Photograph and information submitted by James Hawk, Iowa Department, SUVCW.

Monument to James P. Martin