Benjamin Franklin Martin

Benjamin F. Martin, who has been prominently identified with the paper-making industry of New England for many years, and is widely known as one of Manchester's wealthy and influential citizens, is the son of a Vermont farmer. His parents were Truman and Mary (Noyes) Martin, whose homestead was at Peacham, where they resided with their five sons and four daughters. Their son Benjamin Franklin was born July 21, 1813, and passed his youth at home, attending the short district schools, and filling the long vacations with farm work and the few recreations that were then open to farmers' boys. He also had the advantage of some instruction at the Peacham Academy, and when he arrived at the age of eighteen was thought to be sufficiently educated in books to begin a business career, to which he was naturally inclined. He accordingly went to Meredith Bridge, now Laconia, to learn paper-making in a mill owned by an older brother. He spent one year in this mill, and then next served as a journeyman in one at Millbury, Mass., where he acquired a thorough knowledge of the business. Mr. Martin then formed a partnership with a brother-in-law, the late Thomas Rice, for the manufacture of paper at Newton Lower Falls, Mass., where he remained until 1844, when he removed to Middleton, Mass., and purchased a mill there, which he successfully operated for nine years. In 1853 he had arranged to locate in Lawrence, Mass., but the inducements offered him to go to Manchester were sufficient to change his plans, and he at once commenced the erection of a mill at Amoskeag Falls. This was soon completed, and in it Mr. Martin carried on for twelve years an extensive and profitable business. In 1865 he sold it to Hudson Keeney, but four years later repurchased it, and continued to operate it until 1874, when he sold the establishment to John Hoyt & Co., and retired to enjoy the fruits of his well directed industry and sagacity.

The demands of his business have left Mr. Martin little time for office-holding; but in 1857 and 1858 he represented ward three in the common council, and in 1860 was a member of the board of aldermen. In 1863 and 1864 he was a member of the state legislature, and also served as a colonel on the staff of Gov. Gilmore. In 1860 he was a delegate to the national convention that nominated Abraham Lincoln.

He was elected a director of the Merrimack River Bank when it was organized, in 1854, and was chosen its president in 1859, but resigned the next year. He was one of the first trustees of the Merrimack River Five Cent Savings Bank, and its vice-president in 1860. He was a director of the Manchester Bank under its state charter, and has since held a similar position in the Manchester National Bank, and is a trustee in the Manchester Savings Bank. He has long been connected with the Portsmouth and Manchester & Lawrence railroads as a director, and since 1878 has been president of the Manchester & Lawrence. He is now president of the Manchester Gas Company.

Col. Martin married, January 3, 1836, Mary Ann Rice, of Boston, a sister of Hon. Alexander H. and Willard Rice, by whom he has had three daughters, Fanny R., the wife of Hon. George B. Chandler, being the only one now living.

Mr. Martin is, in the best sense of the term, a successful business man. He is a master of the art of paper-making, which was carried in his mill to a high degree of perfection. His standing in the commercial world is such as only a long and uninterrupted course of honorable dealing and unexceptional promptness in responding to every obligation secures. He was quick to see the possibilities of his business, always ready to improve opportunities, and judicious in the execution of all his plans.

In Manchester, he is highly honored and respected as a citizen, whose prosperity contributed to that of others, and as a man whose integrity is beyond suspicion, and whose private life is above reproach. He has been a great help to the city in which he has acquired most of his wealth, not only in building one of her great factories in which hundreds of men have found steady and profitable employment, but in giving liberally to her charities and other institutions which have depended upon the generosity of the public, and in discharging all the duties of a public-spirited citizen. He has long been one of the chief supporters of the Episcopal church, where he worships, and a willing helper of the Republican party, with which he has always acted. His home is one of the most elegant in Manchester; and it is the home of good taste, comfort, happiness, and hospitality.