Photographs of Fred Martin and his family

We have recently met Dr David Martin who lives in the Adelaide suburb of Belair. He is the grandson of Fred Martin (1862 – 1949) and son of Kenneth Martin (1898 – 1988). David, born in 1940, was mentioned (but not named) on p.387 of The Complete History.

Consistent with an interest in family history, David has a good collection of photographs and documents from his branch of the Martins. Four of the photographs are reproduced here, with thanks to David for making them available.


Fred and his wife Frances Anne (Fanny) nee Hocking had a daughter, Muriel, aged two and about eleven in the photos at right. Sadly, she died in her twenties leaving her brother, Kenneth, who in the family group at right was aged about nine. The 1907 photograph requires a rethink of the people identified as Fred and Fanny in Henry and Anna Maria Martin’s Golden Wedding photograph on p. 399 of the book (see separate item).


 Fred and Fanny lived most of their married lives in Ferguson Avenue, Myrtle Bank where the three-generations photograph at the bottom was taken. Kenneth (who died on January 25, 1988), a carpenter and joiner, married Edith Leech (born December 19, 1902; died August 29, 1974). Their son, David, graduated with a science degree from the University of Adelaide in 1962 and went on to a Masters at Imperial College London, then a Ph.D. at the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus. He taught biology and ecology and held senior administrative posts at the Magill and Salisbury campuses of the University of S. A. for many years. David and his wife Susan have two sons, James and Andrew, now in their twenties. So Fred’s branch of the Martin family lives on.


Among David’s collection is a letter from Henry Martin to his son, Fred. This was written in May 1887 when Henry was 56 and a few months before he became mayor of Moonta. Henry mentions planting peas, cauliflower and cabbages, so he combined shop-keeping with growing vegetables. Fred, as yet unmarried, had recently left Moonta and was living in Beltana, near Leigh Creek in SA, undertaking mission work. Beltana, now almost deserted, then had a population of about 400 copper miners with transport and telegraph workers: it was on the route of the old Ghan and the overland telegraph and a hub for Afghan cameleers and outback camel-based transport (1). Henry’s letter mentions that Fred “must have felt it very much when staying with the man that died” – perhaps part of Fred’s mission work.

The letter notes that business in Moonta “is just as bad as ever. Many still going to Silverton and other places”. This was a time of falling copper prices and declining employment at Moonta Mines (see p.383). Discovery of silver in 1875 attracted miners to Silverton until around 1890 when the focus moved to the richer ore-body in nearby Broken Hill.


A Little More about Alf Martin

One of those attracted to Broken Hill was Alf Martin, another of Henry Martin’s sons and brother of Fred and Arthur. Henry’s letter to Fred mentions receiving a note from Alf, “the first in a long time – he is in a store in Broken Hill in charge of the drapery department”. This helps clarify when Alf went to Broken Hill and what he did there (p.388).