The Martin Family - The First Five Generations

The Martin family first appeared in this country during the Palatine emigration to New York. This first large emigration in modern history took place in 1709 when several thousand people arrived in London, England from Germany. A small group of fifty had ppreceded them the year before. A contemporary pamphlet lists their home districts as: the Palatinate, the districts of Darmstadt and Hanau, Franconia, the Archbishopric of Mayence, and the Archbishopric of Treves. The areas of Spires, Worms, Hesse-Darmstadt, Zweibrucken, Nassau, Alsace, Wurtemberg and Baden are also mentioned. This area extends along both sides of the Rhine River and its tributaries, the Main and Neckar Rivers, south as far as Basle, Switzerland.

The causes of this emigration are numerous, but the most frequently mentioned is the devastation that the Thirty Years War had left on the people of the Palatinate. Louis XIV's armies had fought repeatedly in these lands, and local feuds between the various small rulers had left the people prostrate.

To the trials of living in a war zone had been added the unmerciful taxation exacted by various local Princes who had jurisdiction over the changing regions.

Added to these miseries was the unprecedented weather of the winter of 1708. "as early as the beginning of October the cold was intense, and by November 1st, it was said, firewood would not burn in the open air! In January of 1709 wine and spirits froze into solid blocks of ice; birds on the wing fell dead; and, it is said, saliva congealed in its fall from the mouth to the ground"

Religious persecution however didn't seem to be a major cause of the emigration. The Palatines seem to have been fairly flexible in their religious lives, attending whatever church was convenient to them. The Catholic, Reformed and Lutheran Church all seem to have co-existed in the areas from which the 1709ers were emigrating.

English agents of large landowning companies had made trips to the Palatinate to promote emigration to the New World. A book was published in 1706, extolling the virtues of what were referred to as the Island of Carolina and the Island of Pennsylvania. This book was called "The Golden Book" because its title page was printed in letters of gold. It was given further credence by having the Queen's picture printed on the front. This led many of the emigrants to believe that Queen Anne would be sending them on to their new homes.

Queen Anne's consort, Prince George of Denmark, had died on October 28, 1708 to her great grief. George had been a German of the Lutheran faith and had brought many of his countrymen to London "It probably softened the Queen's grief to act as the gracious benefactress of the oppressed co-religionists of her departed husband."

English economic policies were based on the theory of mercantilism which attached a high value on a dense population. The preamble of an English law of 1709 observed that "the increase of people is a means of advancing the wealth and strength of a nation." To pursue these aims the English Parliament was bombarded with proposals urging the naturalization of foreign Protestants. On March 23, 1709, the first general naturalization law was passed, providing only that the naturalized had to swear an oath of allegiance and partake of the sacrament according to the Anglican ritual before witnesses. Though Palatine or German immigrants are not mentioned in this law, large groups of them were already heading to England. The British authorities were not prepared for the size of the immigration, but the government under Anne was committed to a policy of colonial development, which was intent on increasing the population both at home and in the colonies through foreign immigration.

Of the estimated 13,000 Germans who came to London, approximately a quarter continued on to New York, as the suggestion of the Governor-elect, Robert Hunter, who believed that they would serve a useful purpose to the colony by manufacturing naval stores (pitch and tar) from the pine forests that dotted the Hudson River Valley. It was estimated that they would work until they could repay the government for the costs of their transportation and maintenance. When they had paid back this sum, they would be granted forty acres of land, free from taxes and quitrents.

The eleven boats that left England in April 1710 were small and ill equipped. The Palatines suffered greatly from the crowded conditions, the vermin, poor sanitation, and unhealthy food. Many became ill from what was then called ship fever and is now known as typhus. Arriving in New York they were greeted by protests from the New York City Council, who insisted that they be housed in tents offshore on Nutten (Governor's) Island. Diseases continued to ravage the immigrants with 470 Palatines dying on the voyage and during the first month in the New World. The Governor's record of his payments for these 846 families is found today in the so-called Hunter Subsistence Lists.

In September 1710, Governor Hunter entered into an agreement with Robert Livingstone, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, to purchase six thousand acres of land on the east side of the Hudson River. In October the settlers began going up the Hudson to clear the ground and build shelters for themselves on the Livingstone Tract, which gradually developed into several distinct communities.

There were several years of trouble ahead for the Palatines. They were given inferior food; the naval stores program was ill-conceived and poorly run; the government couldn't agree on what they were obliged to give the emigrants, and quickly lost interest in them.

Robert Livingstone and his wife, Alida, had had little success in attracting settlers to their land in the early years of their marriage. They were thus very pleased with the arrangements made with the governor to install the Palatines on their land. They began the construction of a bakery, brewery, gristmill and sawmill to service and victual the settlers. However, when the government failed to send the necessary money to pay for these supplies the Livingstones were forced to feed the Palatines out of their own pockets. Needless to say the Palatines were not well fed, and their discontent broke into open rebellion in the spring of 1711. The ringleaders were caught and punished; by midsummer, naval stores were being produced under the eyes of an armed detachment of British troops.

By the autumn of 1712, Governor Hunter was forced to concede that the subsidization of the Palatines was terminated. the refugees were on their own.

The first member of the Martin family to emigrate in 1710 was Johann Conrad Martin, and his wife, Anna Catherina Sommers Merten. The name was spelled Martin, Merten, or Mertens. Their fourth child, Johann Hendrick Martin, was baptized in West Camp Lutheran Church on January 30, 1715. He married Elizabeth Emmerich in 1736 and soon afterwards they moved across the Hudson River and built a home in the Rhinebeck precinct, now known as Red Hook. They had seven children: Margaretha, Henrich, Maria, Johannes, Gottlieb, David and Anna. Their stone house, known for many years as the oldest house in the area, was still standing in the forties when the Beck family visited.
Hendrick was a member of St. Peter's Lutheran Church. His will is dated April 29, 1786 and his death occurred sometime between then and February 1789. He is probably buried at the Old Stone Church cemetery, but his gravestone is not visible.

Hendrick and Elizabetha's fifith child, Gottlieb, was born in 1746. He married Anna Catharina Shoemaker and they had two sons, Henry, born in 1768 and John Gotlop born June 17, 1771. Gottlieb, known as Gotlop, was a prominent resident of Red Hook. He enlisted in 1775 as a lieutenant in Captain David Van Ness' Company, Colonel Petrus Ten Broeck's 1st Regiment, Dutchess County, New York Militia. On the same day that the Declaration of Independence was being read in Philadelphia, the carpenters were putting the rafters on their new house.

At his death the house passed to Gotlop's son, John Gotlop Martin and his wife, Isabella Fulton, the daughter of John Fulton and Elizabeth Teator Fulton. It then passed to a grandson, Edward, and remained in the Martin family until the thirties. The Cockingham family became the new owners at that time and they are still living there. the house is still in a good state of preservation and is one of the old landmarks of historical interest in the area.

John and Isabella had ten children: nine boys and one daughter. We are descended from Augustus Martin, who was born January 14, 1808.

Augustus Martin, and his wife, Lydia Maria Benner Martin lived in Barrytown, close to Red Hook. All of their ancestors, save John Fulton, the Irishman from Londonderry, came from the Palatine area, either during the 1710 period or during a later wave of immigration. Augustus Martin and his wife were third cousins through their mutual ancestor, Valentine Bender.

It is difficult to trace the families becasue of the many variations in spelling of the German names: for instance Lydia's mother, Margaret Feroe's father and grandfather spell their surname "Viere" while her great-grandfather and great-great grandfather spell it "Fuhrer."

There are three different cemeteries to visit in the Red Hook area to see the stones of the Martin, Roos and Benner families. The first and largest is St. Paul's Lutheran Church Cemetery in Red Hook, which is still being used. Here one finds the graves of Augustus Martin and his wife, Lydia Maria Martin.
In another section of the cemetery one finds the graves of the Benner family surrounded by iron railings. John Felta Benner died on July 13, 1833 at the age of ninety one years, six months and eighteen days. His son, Jacob Benner (1791-1869) and daughter-in-law, Margaret (1793-1824) are buried with him. A second daughter-in-law, Helen, is buried on the other side of Jacob's grave..

The Beck family made frequent trips to the Red Hook area to visit these gravesites, since their mother had grown up this area, and it was like a second home to them. We have pictures of Dorothy Beck Babcock with her sister Margery, and her brothers, Alec and John Beck and their Scott cousins, Malcolm Scott and Katharine Hoffman Holman, Malcolm's sister-in-law.

Dr. John Philip Burkhart Roos (1754-1814) and his wife, Ann Becker Roos (1766-1816), are also buried in this churchyard. The Beck family had kept pictures of it from earlier visits, which helped us find its location.

Dr. Roos was a physician and surgeon, a graduate of Heidelberg from the class of 1771. He was born November 28, 1754 in Flonheim, Germany, the son of Johann Burkhardt Roos and Catherina Gertraude Best Roos. He came to America with the Hessians during the Revolution. He must have been pleased to find the German community in the Hudson River area, loyal to their new country, but still speaking German and keeping up the customs of the Old Country.

John Philip Roos married Ann Becker, the daughter of Wilhemus Becker and Gertrude Bason Becker and had six daughters, Ann, Gertrude, Margaret, Charlotte, Elizabeth and Jane, and finally a namesake, John Philip Roos. His daughter Elizabeth married William Scott from Hawick, Scotland and moved to New York City, but the family kept their ties to the Red Hook area for several generations.

There is a family story about how Elizabeth Roos Scott spoke only German after the stroke which lead to her final illness, though she had not spoken it for forty years.

Two miles south of Red Hook on the Albany Post Road stands St. Peter's Church. This was originally a German Reformed Church established by the Palatine Germans in 1729.

Gotlop Martin (1746-1832) and his wife, Ann Catherine Shoemaker Martin (1744-1831) are buried in the graveyard that surrounds this church. We found Ann Catherine's grave on our visit in 1980, but were unable to find the grave of her husband.

To the north of Red Hook in the village of Upper Red Hook is located St. John's Reformed Church. We visited the graveyard there in 1980 and found the large imposing monument erected to the memory of John Fulton (1740-1832) and his wife, Elizabeth Teator Fulton (1747-1816.

Surprisingly, we were unable to find the graves of John and Elizabeth Fulton's daughter, Isabella Fulton Martin(1774-1852), and Gotlop and Ann Catherine Martin's son, John Gotlop Martin (1771-1822), since we visited the graves of both the grandparents and the children in the same area. Hopefully on another trip we will be successful.