We esteem it a privilege to recount the items in this worthy pioneer’s interesting career, since he has been intimately connected with this country for many years, is well posted in reference to the early history, has labored here for many years to build up and develop, is a man above reproach, and withal is a prominent and worthy citizen.
Joel D. Martin was born in Yates County, New York, on May 9, 1823, being the son of Garrett and Laura (Clark) Martin. The father, born in New Jersey in 1802, is now dead. The mother was a native of Yates County, New York, and she too is deceased. Our subject remained in New York until 1847. He was educated in Penn Yan Academy. When the gold excitement broke out in California, the stirring spirit of Joel D. was ready for action and he at once bought a ticket from New York to San Francisco, via Panama. Aside from a little foray on Panama with the natives the trip was accomplished with no special incident and on June 20. 1850, he passed within the Golden Gate. At once he made his way to the mines on south Feather River and as they were poor, he did not do well, and joined a party who bought a whaling vessel and journeyed up the coast, giving their attention to hunting.
In the following year he returned to mining on the middle Feather River and there success crowned his industry. At the end of 1852, he engaged for some years in other business and later returned to the Timbuktu and worked for a time. In 1857, at an expense of three thousand dollars, he had made the trip to New York and had bought his family west. Strange are the vicissitudes of life, for in 1862, on July 5, Mr. Martin landed in Lewiston, “flat broke” to use his laconic phrase. He removed to Elk City and went to clerking for Lloyd Magruder for a remuneration of six dollars per day.
He invested in mining property and with a partner, David A. Butler, took out as high as eighteen hundred dollars per week. Those same mines are said to be among the very best in Elk City district now. At the end of four years he returned to Lewiston and took up the fruit business in which he did well. Two years later he went to farming and this has occupied him continuously since.
He took a ranch in 1877, and now owns four hundred and forty acres nine miles southeast from Lewiston. During the Indian trouble of 1878, Mr. Martin attended to the construction of defenses but after every precaution was taken, the Indians did not show themselves nor attack the town, doubtless deeming themselves safer away from these doughty pioneers prepared to fight.
It is of note that in 1863-64, when the awful Magruder murder was committed, Mr. Martin was in Elk City and was one of the party that found the remains, the next spring, of that unfortunate man, for whose death five men were hung later.
In New York, in 1846 Mr. Martin married Miss Caroline, daughter of Isaac and Sarah Stiles, natives of New York and Pennsylvania, respectively. Mrs. Martin was born and reared in New York, and died in 1885, in Nez Perces County. To this happy union, there were born three children: Mortimer S., living on Camas Prairie; Olive C, wife of W. P. Hunt in Lewiston; Helen A., wife of C. F. Leland and she died in 1901. Mr. Martin had six sisters and two brothers and all are dead but two named below, George W., on the old homestead in Yates County, New York; Melville M. in Wisconsin. Mr. Martin is a staunch Republican, was assessor for years in California and deputy for two years. He has been elected justice of the peace twice and appointed twice but would not qualify. Mrs. Martin had seven sisters and four brothers.
Mr. Martin is a director in the Pioneer Association and is a man of good capabilities and stands exceptionally well in the County, being esteemed both for his good labors and his own worth.
Source: An Illustrated History of Northern Idaho, Embracing Nez Perce, Idaho, Latah, Kootenai and Shoshone Counties, Western Historical Publishing Company, 1903