[ Return to Index ] [ Read Prev Msg ] [ Read Next Msg ]

Thomas Samuel Martin


Posted By: Connie Swearingen- Volunteer (email)
Date: 4/30/2016 at 21:52:42

Northwestern Iowa
1804 – 1926

Thomas Samuel Martin

Thomas Samuel Martin, deceased, long figured prominently in business circles of Sioux City as president of the T.S. Martin Company, conducting one of the largest department stores here. He was sixty-three years of age when called to his final rest on the 11th of August, 1915, his birth having occurred in Galena, Illinois, June 27, 1852. His parents, James and Margaret (Leary) Martin, came to Iowa in 1868, settling in Sioux City. The father, who was a native of the north of Ireland, died in 1884, after having followed agricultural pursuits throughout his entire business career. The mother, who was born in Illinois, passed away in 1880.

In his early boyhood Thomas S. Martin attended the public schools of Galena, but never had the opportunity of resuming his education after he reached the age of fourteen. The following most interesting review of his career is copied from the Sioux City Journal of March 18, 1919. “The opening of the new T.S. Martin store yesterday marked the accomplishment of the aim set for that business by its late founder, T.S. Martin, when as a youthful grocery clerk he conceived the plan of going into business for himself. The development of the new store is the outgrowth of a great dream had by the late Mr. Martin when as a clerk he began saving his earnings to enter business for himself. In 1868, when the founder of the business was fifteen years old, he came to Sioux City from his home in Galena, Illinois and obtained employment in the grocery store operated by George W. Felt near Pearl and Fourth Street. In those days clerks worked from 6:30 A.M. until 10:00 P.M. For five years Mr. Martin worked there, being practically in charge of the place, despite his youth, during the last two years in that establishment. During all of the time the idea of going into business for himself was growing. He visualized a greater city and an enormously enriched trade territory, and from the basis of the dreams of a boy worked at the consistent program of accomplishment that in later years was attained. Eventually, as a clerk, the opening opportunity came to him. He had saved up four hundred and fifty dollars and with Harry Dorsey he formed a business partnership, going to Akron, Iowa, where the store of Kennedy & Reed was purchased. Mr. Kennedy was the father of Judge J.L. Kennedy, of Sioux City.

“At the time he started into business, Mr. Martin said he wanted his father to loan him one thousand dollars to help in the project. His father felt that the son was to young and inexperienced to make a success in the business venture, and the loan was not forthcoming. The young man, however, made up his mind that he would “Show father”. The business was a success and the partnership enjoyed prosperity until the grasshoppers came. Things became discouraging. Farmers were departing from the territory; the legislature was compiled to make appropriations for seed in order to start new crops and business fell off. It was then that Mr. Martin sold his interest in the Akron store and came to Sioux City, where for four years he was in the employ of H.D. Booge & Company, wholesale grocers, first as shipping clerk and then as traveling salesman.

“The year after the gold strike in the Black Hills, Mr. Martin went to Deadwood, where he entered the grocery business. There the T.S. Martin Company, as such, was born, and when the business was a year and a half old the founder came back to Sioux City to open the dry goods store which later developed into the present business. Mr. Martin came back to Sioux City in 1879 and six months after his arrival he engaged in a free lance commission business, buying and selling produce. Then, learning that D.T. Gilman has a storeroom for rent on Fourth Street, between Pearl and Douglas, a lease was obtained, later a partnership was formed with Mr. Bullock, and the lesson in the dry goods business was learned. Later J.P. Martin became a partner in the firm and remained in the business until a few years ago, when he sold out his interest to the founder. The store early moved from its location between Pearl and Douglas to Fourth and Douglas; later to Fourth, between Pierce and Nebraska Streets: and its final location at Fourth at Fourth and Nebraska Street was accomplished yesterday, March 17.

“From this early history of the founding of the business it will be seen that its development started with the early thrift of the founder, growing from a clerk’s savings of four hundred and fifty dollars to the new store’s present magnitude. The T.S. Martin Company under the management of the sons of the founder on August 11, 1915 when the pioneer merchant passed away with pneumonia. In preparation for their business responsibilities, which were early thrust on them, the three sons- J. Earle Martin, Jules T. Martin and Howard V. Martin, had been schooled not only in their father’s store but also under severe taskmasters in business in which the father was in no way associated. On the theory that boys can best learn business by being “thrown on their own, “Mr. Martin early placed his sons in position to acquire this unbiased training. It will be of interest in connection with the opening of the new store to recite some facts concerning the early training of the T.S. Martin Company’s present management. All three of the owners served at various times down in the ranks of the Martin store, as messenger boys, stock boys, assistants to department heads and later as department managers. Having received this fundamental training in the ways of merchandising, all three later had opportunity to develop their talents in divers ways.

“J. Earle Martin, the president of the company, went to New York and after applying at several stores got a position as floor walker in one of the New York department stores. He was engaged at a salary of fifteen dollars a week and on this income lived in New York for a period of upwards of a year. During that time he advanced to the position of assistant manager in the ready-to-wear department and when that position was obtained came back to the home store to take over the management of the same department here.

“Jules T. Martin, the vice president of the company, was engaged variously over a two-year period. For a time he worked in the Sioux City packing house, leaving his home at 5:30 in the morning in order to reach the packing-house district in time to go to work. He was employed there as a packer. Later he went with the Moore-Shenberg Company, being detailed to packing and loading work, later being promoted to the “rush squad,’ the duties of which were to “mop up all delays in packing and loading outgoing freight.” After this extension experience Mr. Martin came back into his father’s business, working gradually up to the direction of the department devoted to children.

“Howard V. Martin, the secretary and treasurer of the company, was schooled in business at Wanamakers, where he started work on the munificent salary of seven dollars per week. He was engaged first in the adjustment and letter in the accounting arm of the business. After this experience he attended the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce, which is an adjunct of the University of Pennsylvania. He returned to Sioux City to take up his share of the operation of the business at the time of his father’s death and has since been associated with the company except during that period when as a private and later as a student in the school for commissioned officers he was in the service of the country.

The three sons immediately after the death of his father began the organization of the business along the lines outlined by the father in contemplation of the development of the larger store. Architects were engaged early to prepare plans and it was determined to occupy the site purchased for the new building by the founders of the business. The first bids were on the steel building, and as these bids were taken at the time the World War was well under way, they had to be rejected. Later the new plan was evolved and a second series of bids taken, all contracts being let but a few weeks before this country entered the world conflict. The excavation work and the development of the building were all practically carried on during war times. The occupancy of this structure in a business way marks the accomplishment of the aims and purposes of a youthful grocery clerk who from an accumulated savings of four hundred and fifty dollars set out to established a great business of his own. To memorialize the accomplishment and to pay due meed of honor to the founder, there was erected in the new store shortly after its opening a bronze memorial, presented by the employes and sons of the founder of the business. The participation of the employes in this memorial results from Mr. Martin’s continued fatherly interest in all of the employes he gathered about him. It is a notable business fact that scores of employes early connected with the Martin organization are now successfully engaged in business of their own, and all attribute what success has come to them to the fatherly interest of the founder of the T.S. Martin Company. To many of his younger associates he gave opportunity to enter the business in a tangible stock-owning way, financing them in the purchase of their stock and guiding them through financial shoals to success. It is a keen regret of the sons and of the early employes of the T.S. Martin Company that the sturdy founder of the store could not live to see his dreams accomplished in this great modern store structure.”

On the 11th of January, 1883, in Sioux City, was celebrated the marriage of T.S. Martin and Miss Agnes A. Murphy, of Davenport, and to them were born three sons: J. Earle, Jules T. and Howard V. The family are Catholics in religious faith. Mr. Martin held membership with various fraternal and social organizations, including the Elks, the Commercial Club, the Sioux City Boat Club, the Country Club, the Crucible Club and the Speedway Club. In addition to being president of the T.S. Martin Company of Sioux City he was a director of the Martin Dry Goods Company of Cedar Rapids. He was a man of fine personal appearance. Determination showed in his eyes and his presence indicated forcefulness and resourcefulness. Cordiality of manner was with him a matter of make-up and not an Assumed virtue.” He was ever appreciative of the good qualities of others and it was a well known fact that he held friendship inviolable. The secret of his prosperity lay in the fact that he early adopted rules of life which make for character building and with the development of a well rounded character the rest was assured.


Woodbury Biographies maintained by Greg Brown.
WebBBS 4.33 Genealogy Modification Package by WebJourneymen

[ Return to Index ] [ Read Prev Msg ] [ Read Next Msg ]