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Monday, February 26, 2024

Pioneer, Village Trustee, Farmer, and Businessman

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George Martin IV was born November 29, 1826, in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of George Martin III and Elizabeth Christie.

George III was engaged in the grain business and ran vessels between the Baltic and Black Sea ports to England and Scotland. In 1833 the family emigrated to America and George III purchased a claim of Captain Joseph Naper’s south of the DuPage River. The family lived in a log house until the following spring at which time they moved into a frame home.

This home later became known as the “Century House” and was considered the first frame home built in DuPage County. John Stevens built the house with the floors and walls constructed of Black Walnut from the property and hewn at Naper’s mill. The home was continuously occupied until it was destroyed by fire in 1958.

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The home was located at the top of what is now called “Rotary Hill,” on Aurora Avenue, directly opposite Naperville Central High School.

George Martin IV

George’s father donated the land for the Naperville Cemetery when it was moved from its original location at the Northeast corner of Benton and Washington to its present location on South Washington Street.

Martin Avenue, which runs along the south side of the cemetery, was named for the family.

George IV received his education in the local schools in the district and other select schools in the vicinity. He married Sibelia Hume Riddler on January 11, 1854, in Naperville, officiated by the Rev. Hope Brown. They were the parents of Elizabeth, Kittie, George V, and Caroline.

George IV was first involved in farming interests of the family farm started by his father and then the mercantile business. In 1849 he opened a stone quarry on his property along the DuPage River and in 1853 opened a brickwork business.

The foundations of most of the early buildings in Naperville were built with stone from his quarry. George IV went into partnership with James Gregson Wright in the establishment of the Producers Bank of Martin & Wright Co. in 1857. He was elected in 1857 to serve as a Village Trustee in the first election held in Naperville when the village was incorporated. George was elected a Trustee again in 1863.

George IV became a partner with William King in 1861 in the drain tile and brick business, Naperville Tile and Brick Works, and later with Ernest Von Oven in the Martin & Von Oven Tile and Brick Works.

Their business was instrumental in providing materials to help in the rebuilding of the City of Chicago after the fire of 1871.

In 1883 he built the beautiful brick home on his property, named “Pine Craig,” which his daughter donated to the City of Naperville upon her death that became the Caroline Martin-Mitchell Museum.

Caroline Martin married Edward Grant Mitchell. Caroline was the only child to marry, and she and Edward had no children. She was the last of the Martin pioneer family in Naperville.

For many years George IV was a member of the Congregational Church and then St. John’s Episcopal Church. He contributed liberally to both. He donated all the brick used in the construction of the Parsonage of the Congregational Church.

George IV was raised a Master Mason January 24, 1849, in Euclid Lodge No. 65, A.F.&A.M., and was the third person to be raised in the new Lodge. George was also a member of Euclid Chapter No. 13, R.A.M.

George Martin IV died July 15, 1889, in Naperville, DuPage County, Illinois, and was buried in the Naperville Cemetery.

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Tim Ory
Tim Ory
Tim Ory is a fifth-generation Naperville native, descended from Francois Sebastien Ory, who immigrated to America from Alsace Lorraine, France, in 1844. Signing off as "Tim Ory, Historian, Euclid Lodge No. 65 Ancient Free & Accepted Masons," Tim adds that he continues to research the History of the Masonic Lodge and Naperville every day. Contact him at tjory@sbcglobal.net.

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