Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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July 9, 2014

Confederate soldiers figured in county history

Athens — The Sons of Confederate Veterans exists to preserve the memory of their ancestors who fought for the Confederate States of America during the Civil War.

Athens Maj. W. H. “Howdy” Martin Camp 1241 Chaplain Jim Day told the Athens Kiwanis on Tuesday that there are currently about 40 members locally. The Commander is Jimmy Abney.

“We are dedicated to trying to preserve the history of what happened between 1861 and 1865,” Day said.

Martin served the Confederacy in Company K of the Fourth Texas Infantry. According to the Texas Historical Commission, Martin fought in the Eastern theater of operations until the end of the fighting. After the signing of the surrender terms at Appomattox, Martin and Capt. W. T. Hill led the remaining members of Hood's Texas Brigade back to the Lone Star State.

“The reason he had the nickname Howdy is he didn’t like to salute people.  He did not even salute Robert E. Lee,” Day said. “He would tip his hat and say howdy.”

Martin moved to Athens in 1850, and started a law practice in Henderson County.  From 1853 to 1858, he represented Freestone, Limestone, Henderson and Navarro counties in the Texas Senate. Martin was 38 years old when he joined the Confederate army.

“When he joined, there were 50 people right here in Athens who joined with him, immediately,” Day said.

After the war, he was elected district attorney for Kaufman, Henderson, Smith and Anderson counties, and served for two terms. In 1887, he was elected to the U.S.  House of Representatives, and served until his retirement in 1891.

The restoration of the historical marker, which had been at the South Palestine Street location of Confederate Park since 1965, was not complete at the time of the Jan. 19, 2012 dedication ceremony.  The letters on much of the marker were faded and unreadable.

“You could not read anything, front or back on that marker,” Day said.

The writing had to be painstakingly restored, letter-by-letter, Day said. The work took six days.

To be eligible for the organization, one must be a male descendant of a Confederate soldier, with proof of descendancy. Application information is available at the camp website www.martincamp.org. Members must be 12 years old or older. A boy under the age of 12, who qualifies, can become a cadet.

At the conclusion of his presentation, Day thanked the Kiwanis for the flags that the club puts up during certain holidays each year,  and for the Splash Pad at Kiwanis Park.

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