Portrait: Senate photo, East Pennsboro Historical Society
Franklin Martin was born in Cumberland County Nov. 3, 1844; attended public and private schools and the White Hall Academy in Camp Hill for two years before entering military service. Martin’s is a unique military experience. Originally a member of Col. Henry McCormick’s (Cumberland County) 1862 Emergency Militia during the Antietam Campaign, he subsequently enlisted in Co. C, 152d Regt., PVI, 3rd Heavy Artillery on Oct. 20, 1862, private, three-year service. He was promoted to Cpl. Nov. 10, 1862; Sgt., Feb. 13, 1864; 2d Lt., July 25, 1864; and 1st Lt., June 20, 1865, Hampton Roads Harbor, Virginia. Martin participated in the Peninsula Campaign and numerous naval engagements from Fortress Monroe, Va. to Fort Fisher, N.C. His most memorable experience occurred at Fort Monroe near the end of the war. After the threat of Confederate naval bombardment on the fort subsided, an artillery site on the harbor side of the fort-wall was replaced with new quarters, the “Casemate,” for officers of the guard – 2d Lt. Martin and a fellow junior officer. On May 19, 1865, the accommodation was divided into two cells; one, a locked room to house two guards; and the second, to secure recently captured prisoner-of-war Jefferson Davis, former President of the Confederacy. Davis was visually monitored through the former gun portal, now serving as a window between the two rooms. Lt. Frank Martin was assigned Davis’s personal officer of the guard. For the time that the prisoner remained, he became somewhat of a casual conversationalist with Franklin. Although forbidden to speak of the war, Martin found the defrocked executive a “charming conversationalist and well informed on all subjects.” Davis’s co-inmate, Confederate Sec. of War Clement C. Clay, found Martin equally amiable, giving Lt. Martin a one-dollar Confederate note with the inscription: “Martins, those harbingers of spring, doth comfort ever to me bring.” Senator Martin mustered out with his battery on Nov. 9, 1865; returned to Cumberland County to finish his education; taught school; pursued the lumber business as superintendent at Cumberland and Perry County millworks; was a bank cashier; realtor; member of the state Senate, 1912-1916; auditing clerk for the State Treasury, 1917-1922; charter member of the Goodwill Fire Co.; and introduced the first trolley line from Harrisburg to West Fairview. He died at West Fairview, Cumberland County, March 21, 1932, the oldest surviving Senate, Civil War Veteran.