Saturday, June 27, 2020

2020 Prompt - Middle - Edward Jacob Martin

Edward Jacob Martin (1895-1966) 
my maternal grandfather

Nancy Simmons to Josephine Martin to Edward Jacob Martin

Edward Jacob MARTIN  1895-1966

 The middle child! According to child psychologist, Dr. Kevin Lehman, the middle child tends to be the family peacekeeper often developing the trait of agreeableness and compassion and because middle children are stuck in the middle, they tend to be great negotiators and compromisers.[1] My grandfather, Edward Jacob Martin was the middle child and seemed to understand and empathize with children that were middle children. 
Edward Jacob MARTIN about 1898
Victorian Era - Little boys in long curls & ruffles

Edward was born in Jan 7, 1895[2] in Detroit on Southern Avenue to Francis and Nina (Wilcox) Martin. He was the second child of Frank and Nina, their first child, Hubbard Walter, born September 7, 1893[3] was 16 months old when Edward was born. Nina certainly had her hands full with two baby boys 16 months apart. Edward was the baby for five years when his youngest brother, Orville Ellis, was born on February 10, 1900[4] in their home on Welch Street in Detroit and firmly established Edward as the middle child of three boys. 

MARTIN Brothers
Edward on the left, Orville in center and Hubbard on the right
Picture taken about 1903

 I do not know much about my grandfather's childhood other than the family moved several times within the same area of Detroit. His father, Frank, was an engineer for the Michigan Central Railroad and they always lived close enough for him to walk to work every day. 

Edward J MARTIN about 1908 when he would have finished 8th grade

As I studied the 1940 federal census it stated the highest grade of school completed for Edward was 8th grade as well as his father and mother.[5] 

1940 Federal Census
The column that is titled Grade is highest grade level attended
H4 is 4 years of high school and C1 is one year of college

 He married Mary Catherine Cronin June 28, 1917 by Rev Andrew Browne, a Catholic priest at the Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church[6] on Junction and Vernor Avenue. 

1917 Wedding picture
Seated Mary Cronin & Edward J. MARTIN
Standing - Mary Ellen (O'Rourke) and Hubbard MARTIN

The witnesses for the marriage were his older brother Hubbard and his wife Mary Ellen, best friend of Mary Catherine.

Edward J Martin & Mary Cronin Marriage Certificate
June 28, 1917 in Detroit, Michigan
Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church

Edward and Mary lived with his parents after their marriage and were listed in the 1920 federal census living at 312 Vinewood Avenue with their first child, Edward William who was born September 16, 1918 probably in that home.[7] They are living with Edward's parents, Frank and Nina, and his youngest brother Orville who is 19. Edward is listed in the census as a laborer working for the auto industry.[8] According to my family he worked for Ford.

1920 US Federal Census Detroit, Michigan
Frank Martin Family in downstairs flat and George Miller in upstairs flat

What is amazing at this time is how many family members lived in the house on Vinewood.  Edward and Mary with their young son, Frank and Nina and Ellis and a 28-year-old boarder lived on the first floor with only two bedrooms. Living in the upstairs flat with only two bedrooms were Nina's sister, Blanche, her husband George, their ten-year-old son, Osborne, Nina's sister Thressa and a boarder. Multigenerational living has been a practice for centuries.

Edward and Mary eventually moved into their own home on 6767 Bostwick street where my aunt Nina and my mother were born. My mother being the third child or middle child of three girls. My mother and her siblings attended All Saints Catholic Church Parochial School. My grandmother, Mary Catherine, came from a strong Irish Catholic family and raised her four children Catholic while my grandfather was a proud Irish protestant.  So, when my mother married a Methodist boy in 1946 my grandfather and according to my mother even her Irish Catholic mother were very compassionate and accepting of my mother's marriage. This was not common in the mid-1940s. And for a side note Mary Catherine was also a middle child.

Edward J. Martin and his wife, Mary Catherine (Cronin)

Back to the 1930s when my mother and her siblings were attending All Saints her grandparents, Frank and Nina started having serious health issues. So, my grandfather packed up his wife and four children, sold the house on Bostwick, and moved into the upper flat above his parents on 1118 Vinewood. Avenue. By this time Detroit had adjusted the house numbers of homes to a new numbering system, 312 Vinewood was the same home as 1118 Vinewood. About the same time Edward’s parents were failing in health my grandmother Mary was starting to have health issues. As a child she had rheumatic fever and as she aged her heart started to weaken. My compassionate grandfather was taking care of his parents and helping his wife, Mary as much as he could. Edward was a US postal carrier and only worked 40 hours a week which was quite unusual for men at that time. This allowed him time to care for his family.  

A recent picture of the 1116 & 1118  Vinewood Avenue house
Captured from Google Earth

In 1940 Edward and his family suffered their first family crisis. His younger brother, Orville Ellis, died at age 40 leaving a young wife and three children. Four years later, his mother Nina who had been suffering from dementia died leaving Edward to taking care of his father. On March 7, 1947 his father Frank suffered a stroke and died[9] and the very next year June 1, 1948 Edward's oldest brother, Hubbard died.[10]  Four deaths in seven years and my grandfather had lost his entire immediate family. I cannot imagine his grief. Then if that was not enough, four years later my grandmother died on October 13, 1952.[11]  At the age of 57 my grandfather had lost both of his parents and his two brothers. 

Edward's Family 1945
Back Row - Josephine, Mary, Edward, Beatrice & Nina
Front- son Edward, his son, Edward Timothy & Julie

As a child I never saw my grandfather melancholy or sad. He was so compassionate and endearing as I believe all the men in our family with Martin blood seem to be. My grandfather loved to square dance and met a divorcee while square dancing and remarried Leda Shaw Fast in 1953. I have a cousin who told me my grandfather planted a garden out behind her house in the 1950s and would call square dances at their home on the weekends.

Leda (Shaw) Martin & Edward about 1957

My grandfather kept busy visiting his children and his grandchildren. He traveled to New York City to visit his youngest daughter Beatrice whose husband was doing his medical residence practice there. She lived on the ninth floor of an apartment building with two young children and another one on the way. In Detroit, my grandfather would come to visit us and always slipped a dime into our hand as we hugged him and then we would take off for Frankie's Sweet Shop to buy a bag of penny candy. I think it was a tactic to get us out of the house so he could visit with my mother.
Edward walking with his grandson William pushing Mary Ellen in the stroller
AUnt Nina & Ted also traveled with Edward to New York City summer 1958
After our family moved 40 miles south of Detroit in 1960, he would drive out to visit and as we played in the yard my mother and grandfather would play cribbage. One of my favorite memories of my grandfather’s visits was the August of 1960 when my grandfather came to Monroe to take us to the county fair. It was my first ever trip to a county fair and we were so thrilled to see all the animals and exhibits. But my best memory of the fair was he paid for all of us to ride the bumper cars and we had a blast as he stood there and watch us.

Edward J. MARTIN about 1955

I recall my mother talking about the trials of being the middle sibling and that her father also showed concerned about his grandchildren who were middle children. I guess he could relate since he was a middle child. But what a wonderful gracious man he was and maybe what the world needs is many more middle children with the trait of agreeableness and compassion. Since middle children are stuck in the middle, they tend to be great negotiators and compromisers, just what we need to make this world a better place.

My grandfather died unexpectedly on September 21, 1966[12] at the age of 71 from a heart attack.

Edward J. MARTIN - Death Certificate
Died September 21, 1966

[1] Gregoire, Carolyn, "How Being an Oldest, Middle or Youngest Child Shapes Your Personality", HuffPost blog,; Lehman, Dr Kevin, The Birth Order Book.
[8] Ibid 1920 US Federal Census
[9] Find A Grave, Memorial # 23372470,
[10] Find A Grave, Memorial # 20742562,
[11] Find A Grave, Memorial # 17037877,
[12] Death Certificate, State of Michigan, Dept of Health, Lansing, MI Certificate #13500

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