Born 27 Oct 1895 in Bedford City, Virginia, Lewis Marshall Robinson Martin may have been fathered by Louis Marshall of Bedford County. It is also possible that his actual father was Stephen Martin and married his mother sometime after he and she were deemed old enough to assume home-maker responsibilities. This practice was common among patrilineal minded Virginia families confronted with the issue of "puppy love" that generated offspring by underage parents. In fact, it was very common that a child would be given the family surname of the mother until she married, and then changed it. Such was the case with Adeline Frog Kyle Atkins, born abt 1910.
Lewis is believed to have spent his early years among family members in Bedford and lived in Virginia and West Virginia with his mother and step-father Stephen Martin after and possibly before they married. We think he probably lived with his Uncle Isaac Robinson or father Stephen Martin giving him access to cousins in his age group. Evidence of the close ties between Lewis Marshall Martin and the family Stephen Martin is evidenced by fact that Lewis would later name his son Lewis Emmett Martin in honor of his cousin Emmett Martin, born abt 1879 that he obviously felt close to.
Our considerations are that Lewis Marshall Martin who was born in Bedford County may have been fathered by Louis Marshall of Bedford County or Stephen Martin also born in the same county and time-frame as Louis Marshall. A likely possibility is that Louis Marshall and Sarah were sweethearts and possibly married though not likely since she was 15 years and he about 17 years of age. Our search of the 1900 census data does not show him listed via the surnames of Marshall, Martin or Robinson.
Whatever the circumstances may have been, the care of the infant Lewis included his mother Sarah's surname of Robinson and possible rearing by a Robinson uncle or great uncle.
Our reasoning is that parents of Sarah at age 15-16 years were still residing in Iowa and her relatives in Bedford County, and in accordance with custom would likely have cared for both her and the child until she was able to do so. We know that his mother Sarah according to U.S. Census for 1900 was living with her grandmother in Philadelphia and Lewis was not listed as a household member.
Assumptions are that he assumed the surname of Martin when his mother married Stephen Martin sometime before World War I, and was taken into the coal mines as an apprentice to him.
Note: There is a discrepancy with birth-date listed but we are relatively certain it is the same Lewis Martin born 27 October 1895 in Bedford, Virginia.
Virginia; United States of America
21 Oct 1896
FHL Roll Number:
about Lewis M Martin
Lewis M Martin
PVT US ARMY WORLD WAR I
22 Oct 1895
7 Jul 1973
Service Start Date:
29 Oct 1917
10 Jul 1973
Long Island National Cemetery
2040 Wellwood Avenue Farmingdale, NY 11735-1211
Section 2m Site 1388
10453 Bronx, Bronx, New York, United States of America
22 Oct 1895
State (Year) SSN issued:
Pennsylvania (Before 1951)
Lewis (Robinson) Marshall Martin, his life and times were not easy to be useful for self and family in a world that viewed him and them as little more than "hewers of wood and bearers of water" for others. Descendents should have no illusions about their own generation's debts to men exactly like Lewis Martin. He and they were tried and challenged to labor almost to the brink of exhaustion in helping to make the world safe for democracy in Europe and racism in America that within a decade spread to Europe and beginnings of World War II.
If your grand-children should ever ask you about him, "tell them he fought the good fight, and lived a useful life." Tell them he was one of hundreds of thousands of Black men born and labored for little or nothing in the rich coal veins of the Allegheny Mountain chain stretching from Alabama through North Carolina, western Virginia, West Virginia, western Pennsylvania and western New York.
And, be sure to tell them that his father and father's fathers were often leased to mine owners by greedy slave owners down in Virginia Counties like Giles, Bedford, King and Queen and other counties where they were held in bondage.
A coal field opened around 1900 to mine a rich, thick section of the Pittsburgh seam that, after proper preparation, produced a good quality of coke, hence the many beehive coke yards in the Klondike Field. Developement continued into the 1920s, but in that decade the coke plants began to close as more and more coal from the Klondike Field was shipped to by-product plants. Much coal was shipped by barge on the Monongahela River, which gave this field an advantage over rail-dependent fields such as Connellsville. At the beginning of the 21st Century most large mines have closed, CONSOL's Dillworth being the most recent.