Pueblo County, Colorado

Contributed by Joan M. Alyea

John Martin
John Andrew Martin was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on April 10, 1868 to Hugh Morton and Anna Bowen Martin, both of whom were immigrants from Ireland. John was the eldest of five sons and one daughter. The only sibling of whom we have the name was Thomas, who was born o in May, 1875, also in Cincinnati. Thomas later married Cleo Fossett.

John moved with his parents and siblings to Fulton, Missouri, in 1872, where he attended public school, having earlier attended school in Mexico.. He later moved with his parents to Kansas in 1884 and worked on a farm.

In 1887 John moved to Colorado. He was employed in railroad construction work and was a locomotive fireman from 1887 to 1894. On September 6, 1892 John Andrew Martin and Rose May Chitwood were married and settled in Pueblo. A daughter, Estella Mae , was born to them on June 13, 1892, and a son, John Andrew Martin, Junior, on September 5, 1895, after John and Rose moved to La Junta, Colorado. Little John, Jr. died the same day and is buried at Fairview Cemetery in La Junta, Colorado.

John was a member of the La Junta City Council in 1895 and 1896 and published The La Junta Times in those years, during which he also studied law.

John was admitted to the Colorado bar in 1896 and moved back to Pueblo, where he set up his law practice. In 1910, according to the 1910 Colorado Census, John, Rose and Estella lived at 1438 East 8th Street in Pueblo. Rose's father, John Chitwood, also made his home with them, having moved to Pueblo from Kansas after his wife Mildred died in 1907. He continued to live with the couple until his death in 1921. By 1920, the family had moved to 1421 West 14th Street, and by 1930, they had moved to 144 Dunsmere in Pueblo.

William Gordon Spencer and Estella Martin Spencer

Around 1912, Estella married William Gordon Spencer in Pueblo. Estella became a music teacher, and Gordon (as he was known in the family) was a bookkeeper for a local packing company. Before 1930 the couple moved to La Junta, Colorado, where Gordon ran an automobile dealership, and Estella became a “clerk in a garage”, according to the 1930 census; in other words, she was working for the same auto dealership. Estella and Gordon had a daughter, Sallie, which made John Martin a doting grandfather.

Sallie Spencer

John Martin became a member of the Colorado State House of Representatives in 1901 and 1902. He was city attorney for the City of Pueblo in 1905 and 1906. In 1909 he was elected as a Democrat to the Sixty-first and Sixty-second United States Congresses (March 4, 1909 to March 3, 1913. In 1912, he declined to be a candidate fpor re-election, and resumed the practice of law in Pueblo. Again he became city attorney in 1916 and 1917.

When World War I broke out, John Martin he recruited a volunteer battalion , in which he enlisted as a private. He was commissioned as a major on the mustering in of the battalion, serving as commanding officer of the One Hundred and Fifteenth Supply Train, Fortieth Division. After this service, he resumed the practice of law in Pueblo.

Again, John Martin entered the halls of Congress, being elected to the Seventy-third and to the three succeeding Congresses as Democrat from the Third Congressional District, covering southeastern Colorado. He served from March 4, 1933, until his death in Washing D.C. on December 23, 1939. He is buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Pueblo, Colorado.

John Martin was instrumental in passing legislation for the Social Security Act as well as consistently fighting for humane legislation and the welfare of the State of Colorado

John Martin's efforts in Congress led to legislation that assigned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers the task of providing flood control legislation for the public safety along the Arkansas River. This was originally known as the “Caddoa Dam Project”. The 1939 Roosevelt approval meant that the government would spend millions of dollars on buying more than 20,000 acres of land and 21 miles of Santa Fe Railroad tracks would have to be moved. Due to World War II, the projected didn't get back on track until 1946, and was finally completed in 1948. The length of the dam is 2.\6 miles with a height of 118 feet. Its discharge capacity is 639,200 feet with a drainage area of 18,913 square miles. In June 1940 , the Caddoa Project was renamed John Martin Dam and Reservoir in honor of the Congressman.


Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1949. Page 1507

Web page of the Santa Fe Trails Scenic Byway

U.S. Census for Colorado for 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930.

Family records of Joan M. Alyea.

to the Pueblo County Index Page.

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