James P. Martin, O'Brien county's only Civil War veteran, came to Iowa in the year 1886 and bought his farm six miles east of Sutherland. He is a native of Scotland, having been born there Aberdeen, Scotland, November 10, 1847. The family came to America in 1852, locating in Walworth county, Wisconsin. They later moved to Mineral Point, which is the oldest town in the state.
In September, 1864, before he was 17 years old in November of that year, James Martin enlisted in the First Wisconsin Heavy Artillery. He had four brothers who had also served during the Civil War, all if them deceased now. On the night of April 14, 1865, the night that President Lincoln was assassinated, the guard around the capital city was doubled. One of those special guards was James P. Martin.
After the war was over he went to Kansas for adventure. He found adventure of various sorts.
n 1879 he married Mary Brady at Neosha Falls, Kansas, and in 1874 they went to Wisconsin to live for 12 years before they came to Sutherland, Iowa. There were 8 children in the family, all of them living except one daughter, Mrs. Harve Dowling. Mrs. Martin died in 1916.
Mr. Martin was a member of the E.O.C. post of the G.AR. for many years.
It was through his untiring effort that the O'Brien County Farmers Mutual Insurance Company came into existence. Mr. Martin, S.L. Austin, H.P. Scott, Wm. F. Scott, W.S. Castledine, T.S. Griggs, L.T. Gates, George H. Davis and J.H. McNeil organized the Farmers Mutual. State law demanded that a mutual insurance company have $100,000 insurance in effect before a charter would be granted. Mr. Martin was so throughly sold on the company himself that he rode from farm to farm talking to others and sold a great deal of that amount himself. They had nearly reached the goal and when Adolph Pingel switched his insurance from an old line company to the mutual, the $100,000 was reached, Mr, Martin was the first president of the company. That was fifty-three years ago. From that start the O;Brien County Mutual has grown to a $20,000,000 concern which owns nine fire trucks throughout the county to protect property against fire loss.
Mr. Martin lived on his farm and was active in the work on it until six years ago when he and his daughter, Mrs. Mary Theissen, moved into their present home on Pine Street, He celebrated his ninety-fifth birthday in November with a family dinner in his honor at the Legion Hall.
From Sutherland Courier December 3rd, 1942.