Martin Band Instrument Company
|Founder||Henry Charles Martin|
|Owner||unused trademark of a publicly traded conglomerate|
Number of employees
|Parent||Steinway Musical Instruments,
The Martin Band Instrument Company was a musical instrument manufacturer in Elkhart, Indiana.
John Henry Martin and the first Martin company
John Henry Martin was born February 24, 1835 in Dresden Germany. He learned to make instruments in the old way as an apprentice to the instrument maker Christian Hammig of Markneukirchen Germany from 1850-54, according to the archives of Musikinstrumenten-Museum. In 1855 he emigrated to the United States and followed his trade, first in New York by establishing the "The Martin Company" and the later part of 1865 in Chicago. It is believed that Martin was the first maker of musical instruments in Chicago. In 1871 the original Martin factory was destroyed by the great Chicago fire. The family lost everything and was reunited three days after the fire when they met on the shores of Lake Michigan. In 1876 the family moved to Elkhart, Indiana where John Henry became an employee of the early Conn Company. During this period his employment was sporadic and he worked for other instrument manufacturers. Some of these companies were The Michigan Musical Manufacturing Company of Detroit, Michigan and the early York & Sons Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Because of ill health, he retired from making instruments in 1902 and died on Nov, 25, 1910.
Henry Charles Martin and the Martin Band Instrument Company
The eldest son of John Henry Martin was Henry Charles Martin (b New York City 12 Jan 1866; d Elkhart 8 Nov 1927). From about 1890 he worked for Conn as his father had done. Martin family sources claim that the Martin Band Instrument Company began in 1905. It may have been setting up at this date with very limited production, however it wasn't until 1910 that the company was in full operation with Henry Charles Martin, Robert J. Martin, Charles E. Martin and Frederick Martin as president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer respectively. Family sources indicate that the four brothers fought incessantly over the company, and in 1912 Francis Compton bought a major share and assumed the position as vice-president from 1912 to 1917. Charles Henry Martin remained as president until 1917. In 1922 he was working for Buescher. It is known in a letter dated 1923 that Martin expressed his desire to begin tooling for a third Martin company, but in 1924 he suffered the first of three strokes and was forced to resign from Buescher.
The company from 1912 to 1971
For the next forty years the company had a number of presidents. During this time the Martin Committee trumpet was introduced. Then in 1961 Paul E. Richards combined Martin, E. K. Blessing, and F.A. Reynolds to create the Richards Music Corporation. This arrangement fell apart in 1964. The rights to the Martin trademark were taken over by Wurlitzer, and the Martin factory became a division of Wurlitzer in Elkhart. In 1971 the rights to Martin were bought by Leblanc, and Wurlitzer closed the old Martin factory. Leblanc chose to continue to use the Martin trademark on some lines of instruments.
- McMakin, Dean "Musical Instrument Manufacturing in Elkhart, Indiana" (unpublished typescript, 1987, available at Elkhart Public Library)
- Elkhart city directories (available Elkhart Public Library)
- The Elkhart Truth, Saturday 26 November 1910, obituary of John Henry Martin
- Elkhart Daily Review, Saturday 26 November 1910, obituary of John Henry Martin
- The Elkhart Truth, Tuesday 8 November 1927, obituary of Henry Charles Martin