Obituary of Christian Martens

(March 30, 1839 – April 1, 1933)


Christian Martens Came To This Country 63 Years Ago:

Endured Many Hardships


By G. F. Ottmar


The traditional “three score years and ten” was again broken by our late Christian Martens, when he passed his 94th milestone, last week Wednesday.  We naturally think of a person, reaching that ripe age, as one who never suffered much or never met much difficulty, just a smooth course along life’s pathway.


This was not the appointed lot of our old neighbor, who closed his eyes in the last long sleep Saturday, April 1.  He endured hardships and severe accidents that ordinary persons could not endure and lived through it all. He had the stamina and spirit of the true pioneer.  He was rather above the average.  He had the “iron constitution” of the early settler.


In 1873 he met with an accident, while yet a young man, living in Westphalia, when a large limb fell from a tree and hit him on the head, nearly killing him.  It impaired his eyesight.  Forty-eight years ago a team of horses ran away with him.  The loaded wagon passed over him, breaking both legs and injuring his back so that he hovered between life and death for many weeks.  He was confined to his bed for six months, and unable to work for over a year.  Everybody expected to hear of his death at any time, uet he lived through it.  He was badly crippled but was able to work again.  Everybody said, “here is a man with an iron constitution, an extraordinary person.”


Christian Martens was born in Prussia, Germany, March 30, 1839.  He came to America in 1869, and stopped a few months in Buffalo, N.Y.  From there he came to Westphalia, Michigan, where he worked on the farm for a few years.  In 1876, he married to Wilhelmina Schrader Frank, a widow with three small girls.  He settled on a farm on section 5, Riley Township.  In 1894, he purchased the David P. Wilcox farm just south of Forest Hill, where he has lived ever since and where he was tenderly cared for in his declining years by his son Charles [see photo of wedding reception page 18] and wife Mary, and grandson, Francis.  His wife preceded him into the life beyond in 1904.  His daughter, Rika, kept house for him until her marriage and his son Charles always lived at home with him.


He spent his declining years of life leisurely. Working only as he was so inclined.  Even though not compelled to labor, he was generally seen about the farm doing odd jobs.  He loved to be out of doors.  He was a great shepherd and could train a dog to do things with the flock or herd that were surprising.  A dog was his constant companion when around the farm, and the animal would do anything that his master asked.


He was a conscientious Christian and an extraordinarily good neighbor.  He had no enemy and was admired by all who knew him.  He is survived by his two children, Rike Easton of DeWitt, and Charles A. Martens, of Riley; two grandchildren, one great grandchild, and his three step-daughters.  Mrs. Minnie Hopp of Riley, Mrs. Mary Richmond of DeWitt and Mrs. Anna Hahn of Lansing.


Funeral services were held Tuesday with the Rev. Coelner, his pastor, officiating.  Burial was made in the Riley Lutheran cemetery.  The large gathering at the church bore testimony to the great admiration and esteem which the neighbors had for their old friend of ours.