Joseph Martin Jr.

Joseph Lynch Martin Jr. (1740 - 1808)

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Gen. Joseph Lynch "Longknife" Martin Jr.
Born in Albemarle Parish, Surry, Virginia, British Colonial Americamap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
Husband of — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
Husband of — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
Husband of — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
Husband of — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
Husband of — married in Orange Co., Virginiamap
Husband of — married [location unknown]
Descendants descendants
Died in Martinsville, Henry County, Virginiamap
Profile last modified | Created 4 Apr 2011 | Last significant change: 7 Nov 2018
13:41: Nicolas LaPointe edited the Biography for Joseph Martin Jr.. [Thank Nicolas for this | 1 thank-you received]
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Categories: Namesakes US Counties | US Southern Colonist | Virginia Notables.

US Southern Colonies.
Joseph Martin Jr. settled in the Southern Colonies in North America prior to incorporation into the USA.
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Joseph Martin Jr. is Notable.

Joseph Martin was born on September 18, 1740, near Charlottesville in Albemarle County, Virginia. He was one of eleven children of Joseph Martin, Sr., and his first wife Susannah Chiles Martin.

His father, Joseph Martin Sr who was born in England, a son of William Martin. Joseph Sr. came to Virginia and settled in Caroline County, where he met and married Susanna Chiles. Joseph and Susanna moved to Albermarle County, VA. Joseph Sr and Susanna had 4 children:

  1. Brigadier General Joseph Martin 1740-1808
  2. Captain William Martin 1742-1809
  3. Colonel John Martin of "Rock House" in Rockingham County, N.C.
  4. Captain Brice Martin

He later lived on his plantation "Scuffle Hill" near the Smith River in Henry County, Virginia, not far from the 10,000-acre Leatherwood plantation of his friend, Governor Patrick Henry, who appointed him Virginia's Agent to the Cherokee Nation in 1777.

Martin served in the legislatures of several Southern states, and was a longhunter, pioneer, Indian trader and real estate speculator who attempted one of the earliest settlements of what became the state of Tennessee.



Joseph Martin (1740–1808) was a brigadier general in the Virginia militia during the American Revolutionary War, in which Martin's frontier diplomacy with the Cherokee people is credited with not only averting Indian attacks on the Scotch-Irish American and English American settlers who helped win the battles of Kings Mountain and Cowpens, but with also helping to keep the Indians' position neutral and from siding with the British troops during those crucial battles. Historians agree that the settlers' success at these two battles signaled the turning of the tide of the Revolutionary War—in favor of the Americans.

It has been said that Joseph was reared in a violent area, during violent times, he grew up "overgrown, rude, and ungovernable". His roving disposition caused him to run away from the carpenter to whom he had been apprenticed by his father to learn a trade. He and his friend Thomas Sumter, sometime in 1756-1757 (Joseph was 16-17 years old) and toward the close of the French and Indian War, made their way through the wilderness to Fort Pitt, where Pittsburg now stands, and there enlisted in the Colonial English Army. At the end of the war he spent several years in trapping and the trading of furs and poultry, in what is now south western Virginia and Tennessee. On the outbreak of the Shawnee War in 1774, Lord Dunmore commissioned Joseph Martin a Captain in the Pittsylvania militia, and he saw service as a commander of scouts in Culbertson's Bottom on New River.

On November 3, 1777 he was commissioned agent of Virginia among the Cherokees and took up his residence on the Long Island of Holston, North Carolina. The now Colonel Martin was a member of the first convention of the so-called State of Franklin but was opposed to secession from North Carolina, and in December, 1887 he was made Brigadier General of the North Carolina Militia in the western district. General Joseph Martin was appointed Indian Agent for the United States in June, 1788.


General Martin held many positions during his public life.

Farming: As a very young man he first tried his hand at farming,
Plantation Overseer: Next he worked for three years as an overseer on the huge plantation of his local Virginia kin,
Longhunter and Explorere: Next he was a longhunter, and an explorer on the frontier for friend Patrick Henry,
Pioneer and Builder: An early pioneer and builder of Martin's Station in the "wild west,"
a surveyor of the KY/NC and TN/VA borders,
an Indian agent/Indian fighter for Patrick Henry, a member at peace treaties with the Indians, and along with Dr. Thomas Walker, Joseph Martin named the Cumberland region and the Cumberland River,
he served as a member of the legislatures of Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina, he was lifelong friends with Gen. Thomas Sumter, he was also friends and brothers-in-law with Col. Benjamin Cleveland (both married Graves sisters),
Nominated by Patrick Henry to the position of the first governor of the Southwest Territory, was the holder of some 80,000 acres across the Southeastern U.S. at one point.

Another of his sons, Patrick Henry Martin, Joseph Martin named after his friend and sometime neighbor, Governor Henry.

After helping adjudicate the western boundary line between North Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia as far as the Cumberland Mountains, General Martin retired to his Belle Mont plantation at Leatherwood, which he purchased in 1796 from Benjamin Harrison V of Berkeley Plantation.

Initially known as Henry Courthouse, the town of Martinsville, Virginia was later renamed in honor of this early soldier, planter, pioneer and real estate speculator.

For many years afterwards, General Martin remained an obscure figure, until Lyman Draper began collecting reminiscences about him, including those of Major John Redd, a prominent Henry County planter who served under Martin, and who also wrote about his early recollections of General Nathaniel Greene, George Rogers Clark, Daniel Boone, Col. Benjamin Cleveland, Dr. John Walker, and other early prominent Virginia figures.

Story of Nancy Ward

Nancy Ward (mother of Elizabeth Ward, Josephs' 3rd wife)was born in the Cherokee town of Chota and was a member of the Wolf Clan. Her mother, whose actual name is not known, is often called Tame Doe and was a sister of Attakullakulla.[1] Her father was probably part Delaware, also known as the Lenape. Her first husband was the Cherokee man Kingfisher. Nanyehi and Kingfisher fought side by side at the Battle of Taliwa against the Creeks in 1755. When he was killed, she took up his rifle and led the Cherokee to victory. This was the action which, at the age of 18, gave her the title of Ghigau. Nancy Ward and her husband Kingfisher had two children, Catherine and Fivekiller. Nancy then married Bryant Ward, a South Carolina colonist and Indian trader, and their child was Elizabeth Ward, the Cherokee wife of General Joseph Martin.

In the Revolutionary War, Ward warned the whites of an impending attack by Dragging Canoe, an act that has made her a Patriot for the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. Nancy had the power to spare captives. In 1776, following a Cherokee attack on the Fort Watauga settlement on the Watauga River (at present day Elizabethton, Tennessee), she used that power to spare a Mrs. William (Lydia Russell) Bean, whom she took into her house and nursed back to health from injuries suffered in the battle.

Mrs. Bean taught Nanyehi her new loom weave technique, revolutionizing the Cherokee garments, which at the time were a combination of hides, handwoven vegetable fiber cloth, bought from traders. But this weaving revolution also changed the roles of women in the Cherokee society, as they took on the weaving and left men to do the planting, which had traditionally been a womans' job.

Mrs. Bean also rescued two of her dairy cows from the settlement, and brought them to Nanyehi. Nanyehi learned to raise the cattle and to eat dairy products, which would sustain the Cherokee when hunting was bad. The combination of loom weaving and dairy farming helped transform Cherokee society from a communal agricultural society into a society very similar to that of their European-American neighbors, with family plots and the need for ever-more labor. Thus some Cherokee adopted the practice of chattel slavery. Nanyehi was among the first Cherokee to own African-American slaves.

As the story goes, General Joseph Martin, from Virginia, was appointed Indian Agent to the Cherokees. Having much in common with Bryant Ward, they became close friends. On one of his trips into Upper South Carolina he met Nancy Ward and her daughter Elizabeth Ward. He was entranced by the beauty of this daughter of his friend, Bryant Ward, and asked for and was granted her hand in marriage.

He and his bride bought land adjacent to Bryant when they settled on the west branch of the Toogaloo River in an area that later became old Franlkin County in northeast Georgia.

Not much is known about the history but I was able to find the following reference to hard times during 1782 From an excerpt of Draper's Manuscript:

"Things were so bad in the Overhill settlement that in the fall of 1782 Joseph Martin took Nancy Ward and Oconostota back to Long Island [of Holston] to spend the winter. Scarcity of food and respect for Nancy, as well as friendhip for the Old Chief who was now almost blind, were sufficient reasons. Draper's Manuscript records this quote from William Martin, son of Joseph: 'I am of the opinion that Oconostota was one of the noblest and best of humankind. He had a powerful frame, and in his prime must have weighed more than two hundred pounds, with a head of enormous size. He was, when I saw him, very lean, stooped, and emaciated.'"
"These two Cherokee greats, Nancy Ward and Oconostota, spent the winter of 1782-1783 in Joseph Martin's Long Island [of Holston] home, where Nancy's daughter, Betsy, was able to care for their needs. With the coming of spring, Oconostota asked Martin to take him home. The Old Chief must have felt that his end was near, and he wanted to spend his last days at Chota. Martin realized that the ailing Chief would be unable to make the trip on horseback, so he arranged to take the party down river by boat. Sometime later, when the veteran Chief breathed his last breath, Martin buried the Old Chief with Christian rites, using a dugout canoe for a coffin."


A monument was erected in 2008 on the old Henry Courthouse square in Martinsville, VA. It is not Gen. Joseph Martins' tombstone.... it is located at the Martin Cemetery, Leatherwood, Henry County, VA.

Personal Details

Gen. Joseph Martin was a colorful, self-willed man with a fine sense of honor. He joined the Virginia militia when he was sixteen years old; was a long hunter; gambler; Indian fighter; Colonial and Revolutionary War officer; and a great diplomat. He was the Brigadier General for both the Washington District of North Carolina and the Virginia Militia.He spent a short time in Georgia on duty for North Carolina and was elected to the Georgia legislature.He was also a Representative for Sullivian County in North Carolina legislature during the turbulent State of Franklin years and was undoubtedly the most influential person of his time to defeat the State of Franklin from becoming a permanent State.

In 1789 he sold his lands in Powell Valley (Ewing, Va.), and at Long Island (Kingsport, Tenn.) returning to his plantation located on Leatherwood Creek, near present day Martinsville, Va. (Henry County). Having spent thirteen years living in the Cherokee Wilderness lands as the peacemaker,Indian Agent and Revolutionary War General, the wilderness lost their most colorful resident, a man of remarkable abilities and great courage. In the summer of 1808 Gen. Martin made his last journey. The sixty-eight year old soldier made the long trek to the old frontier, passing through Long Island (Kingsport, Tenn.), to the Indian towns, armed with a safe-conduct pass from the Secretary of War. In the autumn of 1808, worn out and feeble, he returned to Virginia. He "took to his bed, never to rise again, and quietly died on December 18th after a life rich in every detail." He was sorely missed, not only by the white settlers but by the Indians, all whom he had so faithfully served


General Joseph Martin was married five times. His first wife was Sarah Lucas and they were married in 1762 in Orange County, Virginia. Sarah died in 1782 at "Scuffle Hill", their estate on the Smith River in Henry County, Virginia, the site of present day Martinsville, Virginia. In 1784, Joseph married Susannah Graves, the daughter of William Graves.
While serving as Indian Agent to the Cherokees, General Martin married Elizabeth "Betsy" Ward, the daughter of the famous NANYE'HI (Nancy Ward) and Brian Ward. NANYE'HI was the niece of Attakullakulla (The Little Carpenter) the Peace Chief of the Cherokee Nation. There are many books available on Nancy Ward, the Beloved Woman of the Cherokees. Most of these books give information on General Joseph Martin.
General Joseph Martin also married two Cherokee sisters, Susannah and Mary Emory.

Col. William Martin was a son of General Joseph Martin. Joseph Martin had 18 children by his two wives and his Cherokee common law wife. Martins' descendants include his eldest son Col. William Martin, Tennessee pioneer, and member of the South Carolina and Georgia legislatures.


General Joseph Martin died at his Leatherwood plantation in 1808, and was buried in the family cemetery there. Buried alongside him at the graveyard at Belmont are three other Joseph Martins: Colonel Joseph Martin, son of the general, and his son Joseph and grandson Joseph, who lived at Greenwood plantation.

Death Date: 18 Dec 1808
Death Place: Belle Mont, Henry, Virginia
Death Place: Martinsville,Henry,Virginia,USA[1]


  • The city of Martinsville, Virginia (an independent city, county equivalent) was named in General Martin's honor during his lifetime.[2]


  1. See Wikipedia Article

See also:



  • This profile was created through the import of Watkins.ged on 04 April 2011.

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DNA Connections
It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Joseph by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known yDNA test-takers in his direct paternal line. Mitochondrial DNA test-takers in the direct maternal line:
  • Ken Pittman Find Relationship : Mitochondrial DNA Test Other, haplogroup H2A1A1
It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with Joseph:

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Images: 2
Joseph Martin Portrait
Joseph Martin Portrait

Joseph Martin Image 1
Joseph Martin Image 1


On 29 Oct 2018 at 23:53 GMT Kathie (Parks) Forbes wrote:

Martin-22541 and Martin-3583 appear to represent the same person because: Clearly meant to be the same man. Wife Sally/Sarah Lucas also has dups

On 16 Nov 2016 at 13:59 GMT Vicki Norman wrote:

Why is the story of Nancy Ward in this bio? It states she is the mother of Elizabeth Ward, but that is not the person attached to Elizabeth Ward's profile???

On 6 Apr 2016 at 15:38 GMT M (McQueen) M wrote:

Martin-4752 and Martin-3583 appear to represent the same person because: same person

On 21 Jun 2014 at 07:12 GMT Raymond Nichols R-CTS1751 wrote:

On 17 Jun 2014 at 23:41 GMT M (McQueen) M wrote:

Martin-17643 and Martin-3583 appear to represent the same person because: realized there was already one after I started making the profile. Please merge.

Joseph is 17 degrees from Claude Monet, 14 degrees from Gigi Tanksley and 16 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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