Obituary of John G. Martens

July 21, 1864 – May 3, 1923

(Age 88)






John G. Martens, one of Riley’s oldest pioneers, died at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Will Silm last Thursday afternoon, aged 88 years, 9 months, and 12 days.  Mr. Martens was a native of Germany and grew to manhood there coming to this country in 1868 with his wife and family and settling in Buffalo, N. Y.  Eighteen months later they came to Riley and purchased 100 acres of land, most of it unimproved, and lived there continuously until recently,


Mr. Martens was born in Pomern, Germany, July 21, 1834.  He grew to manhood in the “old country” and was married to Johanna Beau October 26, 1862.  He cleared his farm in Riley, fenced and drained it, built the buildings, paid for it, raised a large family, gave them all financial aid to start out for themselves and above all gave them an honorable name and an unimpeachable character.  What greater inheritance could he have given them?   What greater benefactor to a community that the fact that he raised a large family of honorable men and women, who are honored and respected, loyal and true American citizens on this farm they raised their children to manhood and womanhood and gave each a farm in this community.


Age compelled Mr. and Mrs. Martens to retire from the active duties of farm work.  They sold the farm and went to living with their children.  The past winter they spent with their daughter, Mrs. Will Silm.  A short time ago Mr. Martens was affected with heart trouble and later with pneumonia.  He gradually failed until the peaceful and Thursday afternoon, May 3.  He was tenderly cared for by his daughter, Mrs. Will Silm, but the Reaper of time had cut great swaths into his life until He garnered his spirit into His sheaf and took him home there to hear the welcome lauded “well done good and faithful servant, enter into the reward of thy labor.” 


The funeral was held Sunday morning at the Lutheran church with the Rev. George Moering, pastor of the church officiating.  Interment in the Lutheran Cemetery.


He is survived by his widow, who has stood by him and gave him her moral support as well as her ardent favor, and encouraged him in his trials and hardships for over 60 years.  This makes them some of the very few who travel life’s pathway in harmony and prosperity and share each others burdens as well as happiness for that many years.  Thirteen children were born.  One died in infancy. One son, August, preceded his father a few years ago into the great beyond.  Eleven children are still living: Chas. F. of Lansing: Fred, and Martha Rossow of Bengal Township: Emma Witt, Will, Theodore, John, Lewis, Henry, Christ and Louise Silm of Riley Township: 33 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.  Also one brother, Christ, of Riley Township.


And thus has past from our community one of its oldest citizens, with an untarnished name as well as highly respected and Christian character.  May his exemplary life be incentive to the younger people.


G. G. Ottmar



Obituary of Mrs. ( Johanna John Martens

January 24,1844  – January 17, 1926

(Age 81)


Mrs. John Martens, 81, Mother of 13 Children, Passes


Johanna Martens, nee Beu, was born January 24, 1844 in Pommern, Germany, on October 26, 1861, she was married to John Martens who passed away May 3, 1923


This union was blessed with 13 children, 1 dying in infancy and a son dying 18 years ago.  Of this number, 8 sons and 3 daughters are still living: Chas. Of Lansing, William, Theodore, John, Mrs. William Witt, Mrs. L. Silm Lewis, Henry and Christ of Riley, Mrs. Robert Rossow and Fred ob Bengal.


Besides these children who mourn the mother’s death, she is survived by 34 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren.  She passed away Sunday January 17th at 2 p.m., having reached the age of 81 years, 11 months and 24 days.  Internment was made in the Lutheran cemetery in Riley, Wednesday.




Obituary of Mrs. Emma Witt

(Daughter of John and Johanna Martens)

March 5,1876 – December 20, 1945

(Age 69)


Emma Witt, 69, daughter of John and Johanna Martens was born in Riley Township on March 5, 1876, and died at her home in Riley December 20, 1945.


She is survived by three sons, Lewis, John and Elmer; one daughter, Miss Hulda Witt; Two sisters, Mrs. William Silm, Mrs. Robert Rossow; seven brothers, Charles, Theodore, John, Lewis, Fred, Henry, and Cris Martins.  Her husband, William C. Witt, and two brothers preceded her in death.


Services were held from the Riley Lutheran Church Sunday at 2:00 p.m., Rev. Coellner officiating.  Burial was in the Lutheran cemetery.