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Levi Jordan

Ken Brown Interview

On Robert Furniss Martin and his relationship with the Jordan's and McNeill's

If family members have a picture of R.F. Martin, please let us know. In the meantime, here is a picture of his sons, Calvin, Furniss, McWillie and Charles.

Questions or Comments?
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CAROL: Here are two letters that are interesting that I wanted to show you. I thought they were interesting sort of things in terms of Robert Furniss Martin and his relationships with the McNeill's. One of them is from February 6, 1878 and the other is from October 9, 1877. Both of them are letters from Robert Martin to Arch [Archibald Campbell McNeill]. One of them says "Dear Arch" and one of them says "Dear W.A.C." – it’s more formal, and is signed by, apparently, Robert's secretary or store manager, with a postscript by Robert Martin on the bottom. And he says, on the one that has the postscript (and this is 1877) "Furniss continues well and I will send a lot of clothes made up for my little ones in a few days. Love to all."

And then in this other one, "Dear Arch", in 1878, he talks about an invoice and says, "Furniss has been sick through all day Monday and Monday night" and he talks about that. Then, "Give love to Grandma, Mamma, my dear children and I will see you in the summer if I live. Devotedly, R.S. Martin."

Which says to me, in terms of the lawsuits and such that started happening between the families, that, at least on the parts of Archie and Robert, that feelings were pretty cordial. There seems to have be a great deal of warmth between the two sides of the family at that point, despite Levi’s feelings about Robert, which are indicated in his will [as shown in the excerpt below].

KEN: But Levi died in 1873. Grandma and Mom [Emily] probably wanted to see the kids. No, I don’t think that the relationship existed that is implied by that will. Except possibly for Levi.

CAROL: Although he does say in the will that they can’t come on the property unless Sarah [his wife] says so, which is interesting.

KEN: There is also a mistake in his will or something has been cut out of it. Have you noticed that?

CAROL: Well, I have a copy of one of the formal copies.

KEN: Well, just look down to article six, I think – that is the one where he disinherits them (or seven). There isn’t a number right in front of that. In other words, it might be seven – but there is no six. Or if it is five, there is no four. Whatever it is right in front. It almost looks like something got cut out. There’s no space but the numbering is messed up.

CAROL: Yeah, I see. All we have are handwritten copies, of course, but there is no Article six.

KEN: So I don’t know whether there was something else and it might have been taken out, or if it's just a mistake – but it’s interesting that it occurs in the will just before they were effectively disinherited – except for the $5,000.00 that Levi left to educate them. I mean – okay, maybe Levi's upset about something where Robert Furniss Martin and Anne are concerned, but the strength of the statement that they could never come on the property gets diluted when he leaves $5,000.00 in gold for their education.

CAROL: Yeah, and that’s a lot of money.

KEN: That IS a lot of money, so I don’t think it [the attitude toward Robert Martin] was as hard and fast as we originally thought. But I do think it increased over time. I think it began with their actually having to go to court in 1879 in Brazoria County, pitting their grandmother against her kids – the only two surviving ones at that time. This suggests that there was increasing friction…

CAROL: And apparently, though, all of that is after the late ‘70’s, but before the major court case happened – at which point he apparently has a warm relationship with, at least, Archie McNeill, who was a young man at that point.

KEN: Well, they’re probably not a whole lot different in age between Archie and Robert. I mean he was the husband of Archie’s sister so – there may be ten years difference in age.

CAROL: And his store was continuing to supply the McNeills with goods. The account book indicates that they were doing business with him, and that they only stopped later on, when they started doing business with McBride.

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