Martin, John Alexander, governor of the State of Kansas from 1885 to 1889, the tenth man to hold that office, was born on March 10, 1839, at Brownsville, Pa., a son of James and Jane Montgomery (Crawford) Martin, the father a native of Maryland and the mother of Pennsylvania. He was of Scotch-Irish extraction, and the family was related to Gen. Richard Montgomery. His maternal grandfather, Thomas Brown, was the founder of Brownsville, Pa. Gov. Martin's education was acquired in the public schools, and at the age of fifteen years he began learning the printer's trade. In 1857, when only eighteen years of age, he came to Kansas, bought the newspaper known as the "Squatter Sovereign," published at Atchison, and changed the name to "Freedom's Champion." This paper he continued to publish until his death. He was a firm free-state man and soon became actively identified with the political affairs of the territory. In 1858 he was nominated for the territorial legislature, but declined because he was not yet of legal age. In 1859 he was a delegate to the Osawatomie convention which organized the Republican party in Kansas, and for the remainder of his life he was an unswerving supporter of the principles and policies of that organization. His intelligent activity in political affairs naturally led to his being honored by election or appointment to various positions of trust and responsibility. On July 5, 1859, he was elected secretary of the Wyandotte constitutional convention; was secretary of the railroad convention at Topeka in Oct., 1860; was a delegate to the Republican national convention of that year, and was elected to the state senate in 1861. Before the expiration of his term as senator the Civil war broke out, and in Oct., 1861, he was mustered into the United States volunteer service as lieutenant-colonel of the Eighth Kansas infantry. Early in 1862 he was appointed provost-marshal of Leavenworth and held the position until his regiment was ordered to Corinth, Miss., in March. There the Eighth Kansas became a part of Gen. Buell's army, and it remained in the Army of the Cumberland until the close of the war. On Nov. 1, 1862, Lieut.-Col. Martin was promoted colonel, and a few weeks later was assigned to duty as provost-marshal of Nashville, Tenn., which position he filled with signal ability until the following June. With his command he took part in the battles of Perryyule and Lancaster, Ky.; the various engagements of the Tullahoma campaign; the sanguinary battle of Chickamauga, where on the second day he was assigned to the command of the Third brigade, First division, Twentieth army corps; and in November was present at the siege of Chattanooga and the storming of Missionary Ridge. With Gen. Sherman's army he marched to Atlanta in the memorable campaign of 1864, the line of march being marked by engagements at Rocky Face Ridge, Dalton, Resaca, Kingston, Kenesaw Mountain and various other points. After the fall of Atlanta Col. Martin's regiment joined in the pursuit of Gen. Hood as he marched northward into Tennessee, where it closed its service. During the closing scenes of his military career Col. Martin commanded the First brigade, Third division, Fourth army corps, until he was mustered out at Pulaski, Tenn., Nov. 17, 1864, receiving at that time the rank of brevet brigadier-general "for gallant and meritorious services." Returning to Kansas he resumed the editorial management of his paper, and again he became a factor in political affairs. In 1865 he was elected mayor of Atchison, of which city he had served as the third postmaster, holding the office for twelve years. For twenty-five consecutive years he was chairman of the Atchison county Republican central committee; was a member of the Republican national committee from 1868 to 1884, and secretary of the committee during the last four years of that period; served as delegate to the national convention of his party in 1868, 1872 and 1880; was a member of one of the vice-presidents of the United States Centennial commission; was one of the incorporators of the Kansas State Historical Society, of which he was president in 1878; was president the same year of the Editors' and Publishers' Association; and from 1878 to the time of his death was one of the board of managers of the Leavenworth branch of the National Soldiers' Home. During all the years following the Civil war he manifested a keen interest in the work and welfare of the Grand Army of the Republic, and when the Department of Kansas was organized, he was honored by being elected its first commander. It is said that for years before his election to the office of governor Mr. Martin had a laudable ambition to be the chief executive of his adopted state, but that he knew how to wait and prepare himself for the duties of the office in case he should be called to fill it. The call came in 1884, when he was nominated and triumphantly elected. His first administration commended him to the people, and in 1886 he was reëlected. His years of experience as a journalist and political leader gave him a ripe judgment which enabled him to discharge his gubernatorial duties with marked ability, and it is probable that no governor of Kansas ever retired from the office with a larger number of friends. On June 7, 1871, Gov. Martin married Miss Ida Challis, and to this union were born seven children. Gov. Martin's death occurred on Oct. 2, 1889.Pages 233-235 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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