Concord Honors Martin Descendants: Calico Dress “Exchanged” for College’s First Parcel of Land
Athens, W.Va. - On Monday, July 16, 2001, Concord College officials honored descendants of William Harvey Martin and Martha Ann White Martin, the couple who donated a six-acre plot that launched Concord College.
The Martins gave the original six acres of land on which Concord Normal School was built in 1874. When asked how much he wanted for the land, Mr. Martin replied that he just wanted enough to buy Martha Ann a calico dress.
Descendants who were honored included: Dean Nichols, Virginia Martin Nichols, Gladys Martin Fletcher, Raymond H. Martin, Nellie Maxie Harvey, Allen Martin, Anne Martin, Ted Kessinger, Blanche Martin Church, Helen Martin and Chelsea Giberson. Others who attended included: Douglas Wayne Harvey, Margaret Ann Scott, member of the Mercer County Historical Society and Dr. Jerry L. Beasley, Dr. J. Douglas Machesney, Dr. Stephen Rowe, Dr. David Bard, and Ms. Anita Lewis from Concord College.
College officials hosted a luncheon, giving the descendants an opportunity to talk about their relationship to William and Martha Martin. College President Jerry Beasley said, “This is a day for remembering as well as a day for us to get to know one another. My mother’s people were Martins from Pipestem and I have never had the time to figure out how the Martins out there were related to the Martins here in Athens, but perhaps we’ll find out someday! Clearly, we appreciate what your great-great-grandfather did and today is a day to pause and be grateful.”
Guests talked about their relationship to William Harvey and Martha Ann White Martin. Several descendants attended Concord or worked at the College. The guests spoke with fondness about the generosity of their ancestor.
“The Martins were from Pennsylvania and were probably English and came in 1829,” stated Margaret Ann Scott. “I found out I was related to the Martins through the first postmaster of ‘Concord Church’ (first name for the town of Athens). William Harvey Martin was a surveyor and many of the family members were members of the Methodist Church. The Martins in this area are also related to the Martins in Giles County, Virginia. Originally, Concord Normal School was located on the site now occupied by Athens Middle School.”
Scott distributed copies of the 1885 deed between the Martins and the State of West Virginia.
William Harvey Martin passed away in 1909 and is buried in a family cemetery in Athens.
Photo #1: Members of the Martin family at the family cemetery in Athens: back row, left to right, Helen Martin, Chelsea Giberson, Gladys Fletcher, Blanche Church, Douglas Harvey, Raymond Martin, Nellie Harvey; front row, Dean Nichols, Virginia Nichols
Photo #2: Concord President Jerry Beasley holds Chelsea Giberson, the youngest Martin family member.