From a sheep farm among the rolling hills of Greene County to the governorship and then the U.S. Senate is a long way for a Greene County boy to go. That is exactly what Edward Martin did, said H. Terry Grimes, speaking at the March meeting of the Cornerstone Genealogical Society.
Martin was born along Dividing Ridge Hill in Washington Township to Joseph and Hannah Bristor Martin. He was raised as a sheep farmer’s son and spent many a day walking to the local general store in Time, Washington County, and listening to the Civil War veterans and their war stories.
Martin attended Hazel Greene, a one-room school house in Washington Township. He then started at Monongalia College in Jefferson, studying to become a lawyer. But he wanted to play football so he transferred to Waynesburg College which had a football team. There, he met fellow student Charity Scott, eventfully marrying the love of his life in 1908.
Martin was raised in a Christian home and was a very devoted Christian. Later, he always made sure his men had access to a chaplain. Martin believed that one’s spiritual side needed to be cared for as well as one’s physical side.
With the onset of the Spanish American War, Martin and 25 of his fellow students at Waynesburg College joined Company K, the local National Guard unit that was being activated in April 1898. That summer, they were sent to the Philippines, where they spent a very hectic year. Before being shipped home, Martin was promoted to sergeant. When he returned home, he was again promoted to lieutenant.
Martin graduated from Waynesburg College in 1901 and began reading law. There were no law schools in those days. In 1905, he was admitted to the Greene County Bar Association.
In 1906, Martin was elected as a Republican burgess of the borough of East Waynesburg. At that time, the borough of East Waynesburg was separate from the borough of Waynesburg.
Throughout its history, Greene County has almost always had a Democratic majority on its board of commissioners, and it was these commissioners who appointed Martin, a Republican, to be county solicitor. Martin said this was one his greatest honors.
In 1910, Martin was captain and commanding officer of Company K. That same year he was promoted to major. As major, he could no longer serve in Company K. Captain was the highest rank the company had, so he joined the 10th Regimental Division.
In 1916, the United States and Mexico had a border conflict. The 10th Infantry Regiment was activated, and Martin was sent to the U.S. border.
In 1917, the United States declared war on Germany. The 10th Regimental Headquarters, which Martin commanded, was blown up and four men were killed. Martin was at headquarters but was not injured.
Martin grabbed a helmet and put it on in the middle of the melee, said Grimes, relating a story about the event. He then turned and saw a soldier with a rifle aimed at him. Martin did not know it, but the helmet he had on his head was a German helmet. He immediately threw it.
Martin later was promoted to a full colonel, after being a lieutenant colonel for only a year.
Martin returned to Greene County after the war, but he didn’t stay here for long. In 1921, he moved to Washington to become a trust officer for the Citizens National Bank. He and Harry Dunn formed the Dunn Mar Oil and Gas Co. around this time.
In 1922, Martin was promoted to brigadier general; in 1924, he was elected state auditor general for Pennsylvania; in 1928, he was elected state treasurer.
In 1934, Martin was promoted to commanding general for the National Guard of Pennsylvania and in 1939, he was appointed adjutant general of Pennsylvania, which is not a military office but a civilian one.
In times of natural disaster, the adjutant general coordinates duties with the military. Martin, commanding general of the National Guard for the state of Pennsylvania and the adjutant general for the state, had to coordinate with himself. At this time, he also was promoted to major general, which is a two-star general.
War was on the horizon, and Martin was intent on making the 10th Division one of the best in the army. The training was intense and made the division one of the best trained. Because of his age, 62, Martin could not be a commanding general during war, so he was sent to an administrative post in Ohio.
Martin resigned from the military in 1942 and ran for governor of Pennsylvania. He was elected and served one term. At the time, one could not run for consecutive terms as governor. He then ran for and was elected U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania. He served two terms. While in office, he saw three presidents, Hoover, Truman and Eisenhower.
Martin founded the first Boy Scout troop in Greene County, was a founding member of the Greene County Historical Society, was active in the Presbyterian Church, and was a founding member of the VFW of Greene County.
The next meeting for Cornerstone Genealogical Society will be April 9. Kent Fonner, former president of the society, will speak about his book “All Quiet on the Border.” This book is about the Civil War and people who served from Greene County.