Thursday, March 13, 2008

Twins Leona Mary and Lee Joseph MARTIN

(click photo several times to enlarge)

(reverse of photo)

Source: Martin, Leona Mary and Lee Joseph. Photograph. C. 1907. Original photograph in the possession of Michael Midkiff, Spokane, Washington. 2008.

Isn't this a darling photo? The little girl on the arm of the sofa is Leona Mary "Sis" MARTIN, about a year old, and her twin brother, Lee Joseph "Mick" MARTIN, is on the sofa back. Leona was my husband's maternal grandmother. This photograph was sent to the children's maternal grandparents, Isaac LUKE and Rebecca HEWITT, as evident by the message on the back: "for Grandpa & Grandma". The children's paternal grandparents, Francois Joseph MARTIN and Rachel HUBBY, had died in 1887 and 1892, respectively, so they could not have been the recipients of this photographic gift, perhaps sent as a Christmas gift when the children were a year old.

Lee and Leona were the youngest of twelve children born 17 December 1906 to John Franklin MARTIN and Angelia Rebecca LUKE. A large Catholic family of French, Scottish, and English roots, they were living in Bonners Ferry, Bonner (now Boundary) County, Idaho in 1906, where Frank worked for the railroad (probably the Northern Pacific). At the dinner after Leona's funeral in 1993, Mick's daughter, cousin of my mother-in-law, told me the story she had heard about the day the twins were born. Apparently, no one knew that Mama Martin was pregnant with twins. The family at that point consisted of five sons and five daughters, and there was a competition on as to whether the next baby would be a boy or a girl, since Mama had declared that there would be no more babies. According to the family story, the children, ranging in age from 21-year-old Gertrude (who was married) down to five-year-old Steve, were waiting outside the house to hear the news (seems somewhat inaccurate, given the fact that it was December in Northern Idaho--brrr! Perhaps instead they were waiting in the front room.). The doctor came out and announced, "It's a boy!" to the rousting cheers of Frank Jr., Clarence, Isaac, John, and Steve. He went back in to the house/bedroom and returned not much later to announce, "and it's a girl!" to the delight of Gertrude, Maude, Jane, Agnes, and Viola.

True or no, it's a fun story. When Lee grew up, he settled in Eastern Washington. He was married three times and fathered five children. Leona also lived in Eastern Washington, but spent her latter years in Vancouver, Clark County on the southwest side of the state. She and her husband, Forrest "Frank" L. CHAPLIN, had three children, the youngest of whom is my mother-in-law. Leona was present at our wedding, along with our other three grandmothers, my paternal grandfather, and our two step-grandfathers. This was the only time I got a chance to meet her, as her health was poor and she lived on the other side of the state. Lee died in 1984, before I knew my husband or his family. Interestingly, his Social Security Death Index information states he was born 17 December 1907, rather than 1906, while Leona's has the correct birth date. I spoke with my mother-in-law to verify their birth year (Idaho didn't record births until 1908), and she told me that an error had been made on Lee's birthdate, either by the Social Security Administration (or perhaps by a surviving family member after his passing) but no one in the family wanted to go through the paperwork to correct it.

As an aside: we know that giving birth to fraternal twins is a genetic female trait, usually appearing every other generation, while giving birth to identical twins is not genetic (it's a "mutation" in the development of the embryo, where one splits into two complete embryos). Leona's oldest daughter had twin fraternal daughters. I imagine that eventually one--or both--of them may have twin grandchildren someday.


Anonymous said...


I love that picture and the accompanying story.

My curiosity extends to who might be propping the twins up on that sofa/chair! Otherwise, that's some balancing! LOL

"Guided by the Ancestors"

Miriam Robbins said...

George, I'd been thinking about that, too! I figure that this was taken around their first birthday (December 2007), and so they would have been able to sit fairly well (and were probably walking) by then. However, I wouldn't be surprised if a parent was situated behind the sofa holding them up, just to be on the safe side. As a matter of fact, if you go to the online photo album where this photo originates (here) and click on the magnifying glass icon in the upper right hand corner, you can see that Leona's dress billows out to the left of the photo, while Lee's dress seems to be sticking out a bit on the right of the photo. It appears to be that one or more people are helping to prop them up!