The story of Nancy and Archie Martin is an African American Story of courage, hard work and commitment to family and their community. Archie Martin was born enslaved in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1857. His father was a Methodist minister named George Martin. Freedom came for Archie when he was eight years old. He would often tell the
The story of Nancy and Archie Martin is an African American Story of courage, hard work and commitment to family and their community. Archie Martin was born enslaved in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1857. His father was a Methodist minister named George Martin. Freedom came for Archie when he was eight years old. He would often tell the story of how he met Abraham Lincoln when he was seven years old. Nancy Chandler Martin was born enslaved in Newman, Georgia in 1854. Her parents were Jake and Angeline Candler. Like all slaves her last name was that of the plantation owner. Freedom came for Nancy when she was eleven years old. She would tell the story of how she gave food and water to Shermans troops on their march to the sea. Nancy would change her name from Candler to Chandler to distance herself from her slave owner. Nancy had four children from her first marriage to Richard Simmons - Hattie, Richard, Luther and Ernest. Archie was her second marriage, and they had six children, including Julia Marie, Archie Jr., Nellie Elmira, Paul, Robert and Alphonso Martin.
The couple lived and raised their family in Austell, Georgia. Nancy became well-known as the best cook in Cobb County, Georgia. So, when Drs. David and Jennie Ghrist of Ames, Iowa were traveling through Georgia, they asked where they could get a good southern cooked meal. They were directed to Nancy’s kitchen. The Ghrist’s were so impressed with Nancy’s cooking, they convinced the Martin's to move to Ames for a better opportunity. In 1913 when Nancy was 60 years old, having never been north of the Mason Dixon Line, as a mother and grandmother when most people her age settle into their maturity. Nancy migrated north to Ames, Iowa by herself. The courage and bravery that took to start her life anew at her age was astounding. Nancy took the job of cooking for the Ghrist’s and at a fraternity house on campus. In 1914 she was followed by her husband and their sons. They took jobs working for the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad. In 1919 Archie and his sons built their home on 218 Lincoln Way. It was a large, beautiful home with six bedrooms and two bathrooms. This would become the historic Martin house.
During their early life, Archie and Nancy had no formal schooling. In Nancy’s case, evidence suggests that her earliest teacher was her older sister Margaret who had been taken north by Union troops and educated there before returning to the South. Archie learned how to write his name only. Despite their circumstances, they were known for being caring and generous and always enormously supportive of education as a means of getting ahead in life.
Founded in 1858 Iowa State College allowed students of color to attend but without on-campus housing until the 1940’s. During that interim Archie and Nancy’s home became a refuge for black students to live and thrive while pursuing their educational goals. Their home would be a symbol and servant of their faith in a higher power and their hope in love and education for aspiring doctors, lawyers and educators of African American descent
· James Bowman who served with the Tuskegee Airmen and became a Des Moines, IA school administrator.
· George Washington Carver, the famous botanist, who was the first black graduate of Iowa State College with a B.S. degree in 1894 and an M.S. in 1896.
· Dr. Herbert B. Crouch, Ph.D. in Paristoloty, headed up the housing authority in Nashville, TN during the 1960’s and 1970’s and who also was the dean of the graduate school of Tennessee State University for 30 years.
· Samuel Massie worked on the Manhattan Project and later became the first black professor at U.S. Naval Academy. Massie is listed as one of the 75 most distinguished chemists of the 20th century as compiled by Chemical and Engineering News. He also was awarded the NAACP Freedom Fund Award and a White House Initiative Lifetime Achievement Award.
· Frederick Patterson who was the founder of the United Negro College Fund and former President of Tuskegee University.
· Harold Roasby who became the Superintendent of Schools in Seattle, Washington.
- Jack Trice is one of the first African-American students to play college football at Iowa State University. He passed away from injuries sustained in a football game against the University of Minnesota in 1923. The stadium at Iowa State University is named after him.
As well as a long list of other professionals and educators who pursued their dreams of higher education
It wasn’t until the 1940’s that Iowa State College relaxed their restrictions on students of color living on campus, and Archie and Nancy Martin are credited for their role in creating these conditions while filling the void of reliable housing for African American students in Ames for more than 20 years.
The Martins were recognized by Iowa State 80 years after they began housing students in their home. In 2004 Iowa State University dedicated the 26 million dollar Archie and Nancy Martin Residence Hall in honor of the Martin's for their aid and assistance to African American students who were enrolled but could not be housed there. The Martin House has also been added to the historical record in the State of Iowa.
The Martin's legacy and impact on black students in Ames and on the Iowa State campus can be measured in numerous ways. Mainly their legacy is traced by the successful stories of many who stayed with them. There are numerous educators, professors, administrators, presidents of universities, and engineers that fondly remember the Martin home and acknowledge that, if not for the Martins, they would not have had the chance at an education at Iowa State University. Even though George Washington Carver graduated many years before the Martins moved to Ames, every time he came back to Ames, he stayed with them.
Nancy and Archie knew and believed that an education was the only way for African Americans could achieve a quality of life. They were wholeheartedly dedicated to supporting African American students in their quest for an education. Their legacy lives on in the achievements of those students and also through their descendants who are doctors, lawyers, decorated military officers, and educators. An amazing legacy for two uneducated ex-slaves.
Our mission is the tradition and belief of Nancy and Archie Martin to provide an opportunity to African American students through financial aid in the form of scholarships. If you desire an education or if you're going to pursue a skilled trade such as an electrician, plumber, etc., the Martin Legacy Foundation is here to support that dream and make it a reality. If we don’t support our young people, who will!
Dedicated to the memory of Valerie Crouch-Cobbs, the great-great granddaughter of Nancy and Archie Martin. An outstanding educator who founded the "Cobblestone Day School" in Freeport, NY, a school that established a strong academic foundation for hundreds of children giving them the opportunity to attend 4-year state and private colleges and universities as well as Ivy League schools. Many of her students went on to careers in medicine, law, and all walks of professional life - all giving credit to their experience at "Cobblestone". You had a life well lived.
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