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Joseph S. Martin

Descended from the Martin family that settled in Rehoboth and Swansea in Plymouth Colony during the 17th century, Joseph S. Martin was a middle class Providence merchant who partnered with others like himself to engage in world-wide commerce, principally in the Asian and European trade and in coastal trading voyages. He was not a slave merchant but the southern cash crops cotton and tobacco were regular cargoes. He was an early investor in the Providence Insurance Company, formed in 1799, and he was one of five investors in the Providence Woolen Manufacturing Company, one of the first large scale woolen manufacturing companies in the United States. Martin 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. Active in the early Providence Firefighting service as a Fire Warden, he was father to 13 children, one of whom, Albert, died at the Alamo in 1836. After moving to Texas, Joseph Martin supplied the Texas rebels during the struggle for independence from Mexico. After independence was secured following the Battle of San Jacinto in April 1836, Joseph S. Martin moved to Washington on the Brazos where he died soon after on June 26, 1836. The Martin obelisk in the North Burial Ground memorializes him.


Francis J Leazes Jr. PhD. Rhode Island College