Charles I. Martin

GEN. CHARLES I. MARTIN. Kansas, in the course of its history, has produced soldiers as well as farmers, statesmen, orators and business men. As is well known, some of these soldiers have covered themselves with glory.

It is the distinction of Gen. Charles I. Martin, present adjutant general of the state, that he has succeeded in bringing the state militia, usually known as the National Guard, nearer to a basis of war perfection and preparedness than is true perhaps of the militia of any other state in the Union. In face, General Martin's name possesses a nation wide significance.

It was while teaching country school, in 1890, that he first enrolled himself as a private in the Kansas National Guard. Since then his interest in military affairs and particularly in the state organization has never relaxed for a minute. By close attention to his duties he was promoted through the grades until at the breaking out of the war with Spain he was captain of Company F of the First Kansas Regiment. With the mobilization of the troops on a war footing, his company became part of the famous Twentieth Kansas United States Volunteers. He shared prominently in the glorious record made by that regiment, accompanied it to San Francisco, thence to the Philippines, and he and his command participated in twenty-seven distinct engagements with the insurrectionists on those islands. General Martin was in the Philippines for about a year, and in July, 1899, was promoted to major of the regiment. He soon afterwards returned to San Francisco and was granted an honorable discharge.

During the next ten years, though busied with various private affairs and with public service in various capacities, he never lost interest in the Kansas Militia. In 1909 by appointment from Governor Stubbs he became adjutant general of the state, a position he has filled ever since by reappointment. From 1909 to 1914 he was secretary of the National Guard Association of the United States, and is now vice president of that organization and a member of its executive committee. He is also president of the Adjutant Generals Association of the United States. It can be affirmed without a doubt that Kansas would perform a splendid share in any war in which the United States should be engaged, and should such a calamity come upon the country in the near future, much of the credit for Kansas' preparedness would be due to the present adjutant general of the state.

Singularly enough a military career was far from General Martin's boyhood ideals, and only environment and circumstances brought him into touch with the military organization. He was born in Ogle County, Illinois, January 25, 1871, next to the youngest of six children whose parents were William H. and Mary (Nettleton) Martin, both of whom were native Canadians. When General Martin was about three months of age his parents moved to Kansas, and settled on a farm in the western part of Allen County, but later moving to Fort Scott, where William H. Martin died in 1907 and his wife in 1913.

It was on a farm that General Martin received his early training. He attended the district schools, and having an ambition to teach he qualified for the profession at the Kansas Normal College. One of his fellow students was Miss Lou Ida Ward, and she became his wife in 1894. General Martin taught school in various localities for about eight terms, and it was while thus engaged that he first became identified with the state militia. After his return from the Philippines he had a brief experience as a traveling salesman, and he also filled out an unexpired terms as a teacher in the schools of Fort Scott.

In 1900 he was elected district clerk of Bourbon County, an office he filled four years. Then in 1904 he was elected state senator, serving during the sessions of 1905-07-08. While in the Senate General Martin voted for the two cent railroad rate and to abolish the railroad pass evil. As a legislator he proved an indefatigable worker and exercised an intelligent influence in shaping the various legislative enactments of his term. His associates say that he rarely spoke except on vital matters, but when he did speak his words carried appropriate weight. It was during his term as senator that he took up the study of law in the legal department of the State University. Mrs. Martin was again his schoolmate and they pursued the study of law simultaneously. Both graduated with degrees LL. B. in 1907 and Mrs. Martin has the distinction of being the second woman in Kansas to have been granted a certificate to practice in the courts of the state. Both of them practiced law at Fort Scott until 1909, when General Martin moved to Topeka to discharge his duties as adjutant-general.

They have one daughter, Lillian Mae, who is a student in the State University at Lawrence and is a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority. General Martin is a member of the Phi Delta Phi college fraternity and also belongs to several benevolent organizations.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed October, 1997.
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Tom & Carolyn Ward
Columbus, KS

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