Arthur Wellington Martin

Grave marker of Arthur "Uncle" Wellington Martin


Wheeling Sunday Register., November 29, 1896, page 2

Everyone regrets to hear of the death of Wellington Martin. He was a eighty-one years old; formerly a resident of Barbour County, and has made his home in this city for some years.


Wheeling Register., November 30, 1896, page 2

Special to the Register.

Clarksburg, W. Va., November 29.– The funeral of Wellington Martin took place this afternoon from his residence in this city. He was eighty-one years old, and for many years a citizen of Barbour County, but for the past four years lived in Clarksburg. The community, by his death, loses an enterprising citizen and a Christian man. His remains were interred at the Odd Fellows’ Cemetery.

Life Sketch.

Of Arthur Wellington Martin, Deceased.

The State of Virginia Before WV Split off

The Clarksburg Telegram., December 04, 1896, Page 1

Arthur Wellington Martin is no more of earth. He departed this life at his home in this city at 12:15 o’clock on Friday afternoon, November 27th, in the eighty first year of his age, after a confinement to his bed of twelve days, from the effects of what Doctor Sibley, the attending physician, said was a combination of causes, pneumonia, paralysis and Bright’s disease. The end came without a struggle from a gradual cessation of breath.

Mr. Martin – Uncle Wellington as he was generally called, was a native of this county, and born December 19th, 1815, and was the son of Colonel William Martin, a native of New Jersey, a patriot and soldier of the Revolutionary War, who immigrated and settled in this county 1785 or 1786.

His superior and commanding abilities being readily recognized he soon became and long continued one of the prominent men in the conduct of public affairs and in repelling Indian invasions.

Soon after Uncle Wellington attained his majority he started upon a Western – Southern trip of inspection, looking out for a wider field of operations than was afforded in his home county at that early day.

He spent some time with his oldest half brother, Dr. John Martin, at New Madrid, Mo., from whom he derived much valuable information.

Business Endeavors

Map of area Uncle Wellington conducted his cattle business

Thence he went on down to Louisiana beginning in a small way as a general dealer in cotton, & this last venture took him to Western Louisiana and to Texas, where he purchased large herds of cattle and drove them to market, passing through Indian tribes. Although profitable, the employment was hazardous. Having realized handsomely upon his various schemes he returned to his home in 1848.

But having acquired a taste for pioneer life and being attracted by the gold discovery in California, soon went to St. Louis to study the situation and after remaining there some months undertook the organization of a caravan to be composed of picked men to go in search of gold. At his solicitation his younger brother Granville, joined him, taking with him a few reliable old neighbors and friends.

In 1849

In 1849 the caravan was organized with forty-four men, and ample supplies of arms, ammunition, mining tools and other necessary supplies were purchased, Uncle Wellington furnishing most of the money.

Title: Pictorial map of the United States, 1849
Creator: Atwood, John M., b. ca. 1818
Name on Item: drawn & engraved by J. M. Atwood.
Date: 1849
Format: Maps/Atlases
Location: Boston Public Library
Norman B. Leventhal Map Center

It required fourteen ox teams and some pack mules to transport the supplies. Thus supplied, armed and equipped, the force set out, with two guides, on their journey across the Rocky Mountains in search of wealth, with Uncle Wellington as the commanding spirit among them. Being a quiet, brave, sagacious man he enforced a strict discipline that enabled the party to avoid the dangers that lurked along their path through various Indian tribes, some friendly, some savage, but all treacherous. He kept well in hand his full armed force of courageous, brave men who were always on the alert and ready for any emergency. Thus armed and thus equipped they reached in safety the El Dorado of their hopes after five weary months of adventurous, dangerous travel. Mining claims were located and pre-empted and work was begun with good success.

The Organization

The organization at St. Louis was not for the purpose of conducting the mining business jointly, but for the mutual safety and protection of the party on the trip over the mountains. This having been accomplished, the organization disbanded into squads. Uncle Wellington, with his brother Granville and others from this section remaining together.

 Fortune seekers traveling to the California goldfields to find new diggings during the California Gold Rush era, 1849. Stock Montage/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Unhappily two of the latter fell the victims of uncontrollable dissipation, from the effects of which one died and the other deserted and after 40 years was heard from in California. He had reformed and was prosperous. 

The mining business was conducted by the “Martin Boys,” as they were called, and the ox teams utilized in establishing a supply train between the mining camps and western stations. It may be of interest to note the fabulous prices of commodities at the mines as stated by Uncle Wellington. To illustrate, a common cucumber pickle and a hen’s egg would sell for 25 cents each, and flour $1 per pound. Considering the almost impassible condition of the roads, especially in winter, the long distance from the market, the number of men to guard the trains and the danger from incursions by Indians and other bandits, the supply train did not develop the expected profit, so the ox teams and wagons were sold.

Camp Fever

The mining business was then conducted with vigor and handsome profits realized, until Granville, not so robust as his brother, contracted “camp fever” from working in the water to get out the gold. His condition became so alarmingly dangerous that Uncle Wellington gave up all else and devoted his whole time to nursing his sick brother. There were no home comforts in that far off wild, region then.

Image of pan handler used to illustrate how Uncle Wellington's brother caught camp fever

Medicines were very expensive and scarce. There were but few physicians in the mining regions and they were regarded as adventurers, without skill and competency. Nurses could not be had for less than five dollars a day at a time. Under these sad and trying circumstances, Uncle Wellington nursed and watched his fond brother during a long, suffering illness, until death came in 1851. Uncle Wellington, heart broken and in despair, turned away from the newly made grave of that brother to look up the fragments of their frugality.

From long neglect the walls of the mine had caved in, the mining tools were missing and more than half their earnings had been expended or destroyed. What to do was a problem with him. In his loneliness and despair he could not tolerate confinement in the mining pit working with pick and shovel. He wanted a wider range and more varied employment, and considering the large demand in the mining regions for beef cattle and horses for domestic uses, determined him to go upon the outlying plains and purchase cattle and horses to supply this demand, which he did, notwithstanding the attendant danger and personal discomfort.

Homeward Bound

Map of the Panama Route 1849

Having by this enterprise replenished his losses and accumulated a sum sufficient for his life support, and remembering that his parents were advancing in the frailties of old age, and desiring to see them, he returned by the Isthmus of Panama and New York City in 1853 to his parental home, reaching there the year after his lamented and venerable father had died.

He soon engaged in the pursuits of farming and grazing which he successfully continued for over a quarter century. In 1864 he married Miss Caroline Hart, an estimable Christian woman, daughter of Elmore Hart deceased, who is well remembered as on of Clarksburg’s most worthy citizens. Of this union two children were born, but both died in infancy. Mrs. Martin died in 1887, so that Uncle Wellington was again left alone in grief and sorrow, this time, to mourn the loss of a fond and devoted wife who made his home bright and happy. During his married life he united with the Presbyterian church of which he continued to be a faithful, consistent member during his life.

It will be a great comfort to his many friends to know that during his sickness he had an interview with his pastor, Doctor White, who is in charge of the First Presbyterian church of this city, in which interview he said, in substance, that he was aware of his critical condition and was prepared for the end whenever it might come.


The Grave Marker of Uncle Wellington's favorite niece Ms. Carrie Shuttleworth Smith

One of Uncle Wellington’s favorite nieces, Miss Carrie Shuttleworth, now Mrs. Edward Smith, having aided in nursing her aunt Mrs. Martin, in her last sickness, Uncle Wellington retained her as his house keeper in which capacity she took charge of his domestic affairs, contributed to his comfort, waited upon him in life and nursed him in his last sickness till death ended his earthly career.

Six or eight years ago he retired from active business, sold his farm, purchased a comfortable home in Clarksburg where he has since resided, his niece Carrie, continuing to be his house keeper before and after her marriage.


Of Uncle Wellington, it may be truthfully said that he was a kind hearted, amiable, generous man and a good citizen. In his politics, in early life, he was a Whig, then a staunch Union man subsequently a Republican. Always being conservative he opposed radical and extreme measures by any party. He frequently voted for Democrats whom he regarded best qualified to fill local offices. He followed the moral teachings of his early life, and clung tenaciously to his Christian faith.

With that faith he uncomplainingly suffered “with patience, and resignation to the will of his eternal Father” in the hope that 

Death Comes
“Beyond the parting and the meeting I shall be soon;
Beyond the farewell and the greeting,
Beyond the pulse’s fever beating I shall be soon,
Beyond the frost chain and the fever I shall be soon;
Beyond the rock waste and the river,
Beyond the ever and the never, I shall be soon.
Love, rest, and home!
Sweet home!
Lord, tarry not, but come,”


The Clarksburg Telegram., December 04, 1896, page 7

The venerable Wellington Martin died on last Friday, after a brief illness at the advanced age of 81 years. Elsewhere in this issue will be found an extended notice of his life and experiences, written by a life long and devoted friend.


Image of Hon. Ben Wilson who wrote the Life Sketch about Wellington Martin

The Clarksburg Telegram., December 11, 1896 page 5

For many readers the well written “Life Sketch” of the late lamented Wellington Martin, which appeared last week in these columns, has a peculiar interest. This brief biographical review was written by Hon. Ben Wilson, whose retentive memory recalls many incidents of the “days of long ago,” and whose facile pen is only excelled by his wit and fluency as a public speaker.

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