THE W.H. (Will) And Belle Dora Martin familyIn the year of our Lord, 1888, Will Martin was married to Belle Dora Goff, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Carroll Goff, near McMinville, Tennessee. They made their home in Tennessee for about one year, then came to Texas. They moved their household goods and belongings in a wagon. When they came to the Mississippi River they crossed on a ferry. One horse had been traded to a man there and his daughter was riding it. When the other horses were ferried across, he wanted to go too. The horse jumped into the river and swam with the girl riding him one mile across the river. The Martins landed in ?Stonewall county near what is now Aspermont, Texas. They stayed in the home of a brother, J.J. (John) Martin, until they settled in a home of their own, just a short time later.
Rattlesnakes and coyotes were numerous and only tank water to use, the stock watered at this tank and it was very muddy. Mrs. Martin was very dissatisfied, she really wanted to go back to Tennessee, but as luck would have it, she never made it, although she lived 61 years after that.
On Christmas day in the year of 1902, W.H. (Will) Martin, along with his family consisting of his wife, three boys; Ed H., Brookie, and Forrest, two girls; Willie and Georgia, arrived in Dickens county and settled in what was at that time, the Tap community. Their first home in the county was a half dug-out located about 200 yards north of the Red Mud Cemetery. Mr. W.H. Martin had a brother, J.J. (John) Martin, who was already here. John Martin owned a place about eight miles south of the cemetery in the lower Red Mud Community. John Martin had quite a large family which consisted of his wife, Mollie Rosell Martin, four boys; Jo, Lee Roy, Edd Lee, and John L., and five girls; Jessie, Audrie, Jewel, Katie and Lora. Another brother came to the home of Will Martin from Oklahoma who was sick with T.B., known then as consumption of the lungs. He died and was buried in the Red Mud cemetery in the fall of 1904. He died two weeks before his wife, Malisa, and two boys, Johnnie and George arrived with their household goods and their livestock. He had come on ahead on the train due to his illness and left his family to drive through in a covered wagon and bring the stock.
Will Martin cleared the land for a farm, improved the place, and lived and farmed there four years. He then sold the place to P. Hinson in the fall of 1906 and moved to Dickens where he resided through the winter and into the spring of 1907. In 1907, he loaded his household goods and his family into covered wagons and driving his livestock, he headed west. Going along with them in the same way, was his brother´s wife and boys. They traveled slowly, prospecting the country down through Garza, Borden, Martin, Midland, and Crane counties, looking for a desirable location to file on four sections of land in Crane county, which sounds good to a fellow with a few cows. But after spending about three weeks there, the hair came off the young colts from lying down in alkali dirt and the family with the exceptions of Forrest and Georgia, all became sick from drinking the alkali water. It is impossible to use soap in the water, so the people that lived there made their sheets and pillow cases of black satin. Ladies´ underclothes and the men´s shorts were also made of this material.
This being such an undesirable place to live, never realizing it would someday be a very rich oil field, Mr. Martin decided to head back toward home and eventually ended up where he had started from. He bought 119 acres of the same land he had sold to P. Hinson and built a store and a dwelling house at Tap and put in a grocery store in the summer of 1907. He stayed here waiting for the ranch land at Watson (Kalgary) to come on the market, as he had decided that was where he wanted to make his home. He operated the small store through the fall and winter of that year, but destiny overtook him in January 1908 and he developed pneumonia and passed away, leaving his wife and five children. In March of the same year, the youngest girl, Georgia, became ill of an incurable hip joint disease known now as osteomyelitis, an incurable infection. There were very few doctors as Spur had not been founded and there was nothing to be done about her illness. This child, five years old at the time, was confined to her bed where she spent five years of agony. She was never expected to be in any better health, but to grow worse gradually until the end. Fortunately, her fate was to have a different ending.
In the spring of 1913, there was a terrible epidemic of scarlet fever in Abilene, Texas. A drummer from there stopped at the home of Mrs. Martin. He removed his overcoat and placed it on the foot of the sick child´s bed for a short time as he visited there. In a few days the child became very ill with a raging fever. By this time, Spur had come into being and several doctors had located there. Dr. J.E. Morris was called in. He, in turn, called all the other doctors in town for a consultation, never realizing the child could possibly have had a chance to contact the fever, not having left her bed in months. However, it became evident that the trouble was scarlet fever and she was treated accordingly. Finally, she became so ill that she was kept alive for days on strychnine. Her temperature ranged as high as 105 degrees for over a week. Then she gradually overcame the fever and was on the road to recovery and eventually got well, not only of the fever, but of the incurable infection too. There had been seven large places on her hips draining for the past five years before she had contacted the fever which healed them. The little girl became a very live wire and is living to this year of 1980. She was left a cripple and impelled to walk on two crutches for the past half century, but she married and raised a family. She was married to Donnie Pace in 1922. To this union one child was born in 1925, and was named Velton Winona Pace. Mrs. Belle Martin resided on the place at Tap, Texas, for the five year period of the child´s illness. Then she sold the small place and bought a quarter section of land at the head of Red Mud from the late Bill Elliott, an old timer known to some as Scotch Bill. She made her home and reared her family on this place and resided there until her death on December 22, 1950. She was laid to rest at the side of her husband in the Red Mud Cemetery, December 24, 1950.
Source: History of Dickens County; Ranches and Rolling Plains, Fred Arrington, ©1971
Mrs. Belle Dora Martin, who came to Dickens County in 1902, died December 21, 1950, at the age of 84. Funeral rites were held in Spur Church of Christ at 11 a.m., December 23. C.V. Allen was officiating minister.
Mrs. Martin was born January 22, 1866, in Tennessee. She was married to W.H. Martin in 1888 in Tennessee, and the couple came to this county in 1902, where they settled in the Red Mud Community.
Survivors are a daughter, Mrs. Donnie Pace of Spur; three sons, Ed Martin, Pep, N.M., Brookie Martin, Lovington, N.M, and Forest Martin of Spur.
Also surviving are two sisters, Mrs. Willie Garms, Bangs, and Mrs. Tempa Hillman, Brownwood; and one half brother, Johnny Goff of Wichita Falls.
Pallbearers were Harry Martin, Forrest Martin, Jr., Beecher Martin, Carrol Williams, Loyd Rinehart and Jimmy Visitor, all grandsons.
Burial was in Red Mud Cemetery, with Chandler Funeral Home directing arrangements.
©The Texas Spur, December 28, 1950Transcribed June 19, 2005 by DCHC Members
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