About Joseph S. Martin
"Joseph S. Martin lived in Providence with his wife Abby B. Martin. He descended from the Martin family that settled in Rehoboth and Swansea in Plymouth Colony during the 17th century. He was the son of Providence merchant Joseph Martin and his spouse Mary Martin, whose marriage in January 1797 is recorded in the records of the Beneficent Congregational Church and the First Baptist Church in Providence. They are buried in Grace Church Cemetery, Providence RI.
They were parents to 13 children, one of whom was Albert Martin who was killed at the Alamo March 6, 1836.
Martin is representative of the limited capital middle class merchant families who, unlike the very large merchant houses, had to form partnerships with other investors to make their living from the sea by voyages from Providence along the East Coast and to New Orleans, to Europe, South America, the Caribbean and Canton, China. Martin ships did carry cargoes produced by slaves of southern plantations but there is no evidence that Joseph S. Martin participated in the American slave trade. Martin was active in the Providence Firefighting services from 1803 until 1830 primarily as a Fire Warden for Engine Company No. 2.
Joseph S. Martin was an industrial revolution business investor owning stock in the Lyman Cotton Manufacturing Company and the Plainfield Union Manufacturing Company in Connecticut. He was a principal investor in the Providence Woolen Manufacturing Company, along with partners Samuel G. Arnold, Sullivan Dorr, Rufus Waterman and E.R. Randolph, the first large scale woolen textile company in Rhode Island, that was formed at the outset of the War of 1812. Martin also was an early stockholder and company officer in the Providence Insurance Company, later to merge with the Washington Insurance Company, a Providence company that closed its doors in 2004.
When the War ended in June 1812 Providence Woolen went out of business. Martin financially struggled, a victim of the collapse of a post war real estate speculation âbubbleâ and its excessive borrowing practices culminating in the Panic of 1819. He continued as a merchant in Providence, but by 1825 was in serious financial trouble even as he tried to remain part of the Providence merchant and manufacturing elite when he petitioned the Rhode Island General Assembly to charter the Blackstone Canal Corporation.
Joseph S. Martin left Providence by 1833 following his sons Albert and Joseph to New Orleans, where they established Martin, Coffin and Company, engaged in commerce in Matamoros, Mexico and then in Gonzales, Texas, within the Mexican Republic, where they opened a General Store. While his son Albert Martin became militarily involved in the Texas War of Independence, Joseph S. Martin sold material to the various Texan military units. After Albertâs death at the Alamo, and after Texas independence was secured following the Battle of San Jacinto in April 1836, Joseph S. Martin moved to Washington on the Brazos where he died June 26, 1836. The Martin obelisk in the North Burial Ground memorializes him."
Peter J Coleman, The Transformation of Rhode Island, 1790-1860. Providence: Brown University Press, 1963.
James Donovan, The Blood of Heroes, The 13 Day Struggle for the Alamo. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2012.
Joseph S. Gilkeson, Middle Class Providence: 1820-1940. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1986.
Alexander Boyd Hawes, Off-Soundings: Aspects of the Maritime History of Rhode Island Chevy Chase: Posterity Press, 1999
Francis J. Leazes, Jr. âA Not Unapt Illustration of New England Heroismâ: Albert Martinâs Journey from Rhode Island to The Alamo.â Journal Rhode Island History (Winter/Spring 2012)"
Joseph S. Martin's Timeline
January 6, 1808
Providence, Providence, Rhode Island, United States