DATE: JUNE 16, 2000



MARY THERESA VANDE CASTEELE was born in Moerkerke Belgium on September 6, 1861. She came to the United States when she was 5 years old. We don't know anything about her parents. She had two sisters Rose and Lucille and a brother Edward.

MATHIAS MARTENS was born in DePere, Wisconsin. Uncle Clem only knew his grandfather Girard who came from Holland. Girard ( he married Gertrude Johaanson) had three sons, Mathias, Willie and John and 2 daughters Annie and Delia.

MATHIAS MARTENS AND MARY THERESA VANDECASTLE WERE MARRIED IN DE PERE on April 8, 1881. THEY HAD ELEVEN CHILDREN, 4 DAUGHTERS AND 7 SONS. Florence, Bessie, Angie and Esther and Louie, Ray, Charlie, Harry, George, Edward and Clem.


I was born in Coleman, Wisconsin in 1904 on the Martens Homestead East of Coleman. I am the last of Mathias and Mary's children. Grandfather Girard lived with us and also Uncle Willie. Grandpa died when I was in my 20's. Uncle Willie died when I was in my 30's.

When I was growing up my Esther was my best friend. We always played together.

Uncle John (Mathias's Brother whom I have no history except this) was an engineer on the NORTHWEST RAILROAD that went from Chicago to Michigan. Uncle John had three children, 2 daughters and 1 son, Gertrude, Frances and Harry when his wife died . He could not take care of them because of his job on the railroad, so ma and pa said they could live with us. That is how we got a Big Harry and a Little Harry. Uncle John lived in Chicago on Barry Street. He came to Coleman often to see his children. Photo left to right: Gertrude, Esther, Harry Jr. and Clement.

Florence & Ben Simino lived in Two Rivers. They had four sons, Aelred, Hubert, Claude, and Bernard. Florence could not manage Aelred. Florence was sickly and was having a hard time with Aelred, so ma and pa said he could live with us. Ma and pa also raised four other children. All of these children were close to my age.

Pa had a team of horses, Kit and Colonel. Esther and I took Maud our horse to cathicism in Pound every Saturday morning. It took us about a half hour. We had to cross the river with the horse and buggy in the summer and horse and cutter in the winter. There was always a bridge to cross the river. The Dam was always there but not as it looks today. When we got to Derick's hill Maud always let off steam (pass gas) all the way up the hill. Esther and I would laugh. Derick's hill is where Patz Company North of Coleman is located. (Any Pictures of the horses?)

My dad worked at Boises Mill as a Timber buyer when he first came to Coleman. He also ran their store. The saw mill and the store were located by Little River between Pound and Coleman. He thought why should I run their store when I could build my own store. So he went into Coleman and built his own store located on Main Street. The store sold everything from baby shoes to hardware. The store was salvation to many families during the great depression of World War I in 1918. My dad was very generous to the people he loaned goods to. When the war was over he destroyed a book of charged notes because he said they would never pay anyway so why go after them.

The homestead was a beautiful house with a porch and railing all around the second story and a porch and railing around the first story. Today the house is still standing but has totally been renovated and made to look modern. Al Simino remodeled the home first and then Bonnie Martens Woulf and Jerry Woulf remodeled it again. Martens or relatives of Mathias have owned the homestead until June of 2000 when it was sold out of the family. We had a barn with three horses and a cow for milk. We had a double stall garage. We did not have refrigerators as we have today. We had to put ice in them to keep the food cold. We had an ice house where we stored our blocks of ice for our refrigerators. Our ice house was located behind our gargage.

We would go with our team of horses Kit and Colonel to Mud Lake located about five miles west of Coleman and load blocks of ice on our sleigh and haul it home to our ice house. We would pile it in and cover it with sawdust to keep it from melting.

The first car was a Model T Ford and I was 10 years old when we got it. There were about seven cars in Coleman when we got ours. It was one of the best makes. It had curtains for protection as most cars were open on the sides. There were no sedans at this time. You had to use a match to light the headlights. We went to Peshtigo or Marinette with the car. All the roads were dirt roads and when it rained we often got stuck in the mud. We couldn't use the car in the winter so at the first snow fall we put the car up on blocks because the tires at that time were hard rubber and they would wear out quicker.

We didn't have snow plows. This prompted me to invent a snow-snake around 1920 it was during the war. I made a snow snake out of a Model T Ford with my best friend Andrew Gendron, We cut the Model T down to the width of the farmers sleigh. I put on double wheels on the back with big chains wrapped around each tire. Then I put runners on the front.

I tried it out with my brothers, Harry and Ray. We went to Marinette to see the show "William Desmond and Jacqueline Logan in "The Steel Rails". It was a silent picture with writing on the screen. The show was very exciting, the villian was just tying Jacqueline Logan to the rail and the train was coming and the screen said "SEE YOU NEXT SATURDAY". We did not know when we went that it was a serial. We had to go five times to see the end of the picture. We went five times with my snow snake and never got stuck once. Today I believe it would be called a snowmobile.

Then I started raising Scotch Collies. They were totally white. My dad and I took one and brought it to President Wilson at the White House. I think we had a Studibaker car at that time. President Wilson accepted the dog and I had a dog in the White House. (Serving from 1913 to 1921 as the 28th President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson is considered one of the greatest Presidents and the nation's first international leader. His pursuit of world peace and security has now been taken up by many. His influence is still present in today's headlines. )

Then I started to raise Belgium Hare Rabbits. They multiplied so fast I had to quit raising them. I sold all of them.

Then Aelred (Flo's son) and I started to play golf. We went every morning to Marinette to Little River Golf Course at 4:00 A. M. Some mornings the holes would be covered with water after a rainstorm from the river over flowing.

Grandfather Girard had a farm on the lower road going to DePere. In later years it was sold to make a golf course. I remember playing golf on that course and one thing I remember was a huge hickory tree on the course.

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President Wilson