The Works Progress Administration

Biography of William C. Martin of El Monte California

William C. Martin was born in what is now Red River County, Texas, January 29, 1824.  His father, Gabriel N. Martin was a native of North Carolina, who went to Texas in 1812.  His mother was formerly Henrietta Wright.  She was born in Alabama.  Mr. Martin’s father was a wealthy farmer and a prominent man in his section.  He was for some years a judge and a leader in political circles.  He also engaged largely as a contractor, furnishing supplies for the Indian agencies of the United States Government.  He was killed by the Indians in 1834.  The subject of this sketch was reared as a farmer, receiving limited educational advantages until the age of eighteen years, when he educated himself.  December 31, 1843, he married Miss Rebecca C. Miller who resided in Lamar County, Texas.  She was the daughter of Richard G. and Rebecca (Bayless) Miller.  Mr. Martin was engaged in farming and cotton planting in the county of his birth until 1853. In April of that year he started overland for California, making the journey by ox teams.  After a short stay at Warner’s Ranch, in San Diego county, he came to Los Angeles County, and located near El Monte, taking up what he supposed to be Government land, about a mile southwest of what was then Savannah.  There he engaged in general farming and stock raising until 1865.  In that year, he abandoned his farm (the land having been decided as a grant land) and located in El Monte, where he opened a hotel, which he conducted until 1872.  he then purchased a squatter’s right to 160 acres of land located just north of the San Dimas Canyon.  There he took up his residence and engaged in general farming and the bee business, until 1887, when he sold out and moved to Pomona, and took up his residence on the corner of Seventh Street and Town Avenue.  Mr. Martin also owned other property in Pomona, among which was a ten-acre tract in Block 197, twenty acres in Block 212, and two houses and lots on Third Street in Block 52.  he was a resident of Los Angeles County for more than fifty-seven years, and was well known throughout the San Gabriel and San Jose Valleys.  Politically, he was a Democrat; in 1854, was elected Justice of the Peace, serving as such for several years; and for more than twenty years, he served as a School Trustee.  He was a consistent member and a steward of the Methodist Church, south and a charter member of Pomona Lodge No. 246, F & A. M.  Two children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Martin:  William T. (a sketch of whom is given in this volume), and Henrietta jane, who died in 1853, aged seven years.  Mr. Martin died in 1911, while Mrs. Martin’s death occurred in 1906.

Source: C. D. Mayon, F. Brow, L. Stoddard, and C. Mudd; El Monte from the Pioneer Days. WPA Project No. N-5740, 1936. In record 19-187072. (California Historical Landmark No. 765: El Monte). On file at the SCCIC, CSU Fullerton.

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