Primary Resource

"Funeral of Henry Martin," Charlottesville Daily Progress (October 9, 1915)

In this newspaper article, published on October 9, 1915, Charlottesville's Daily Progress reports on the funeral of Henry Martin, the former head janitor and bell-ringer at the University of Virginia.

Transcription from Original

The largest and most distinguished crowd of white people that ever attended a colored man's funeral in Charlottesville gathered in the First Baptist Church (colored) yesterday afternoon to pay their last tribute of respect to Uncle Henry Martin, bell-ringer at the University of Virginia for fifty-nine years. Law professors and their wives, older students of the University, and townspeople comprised altogether perhaps one-seventh of the congregation.

After the reading of an appropriate text by the Reverend R. J. Terrell, the funeral sermon proper was preached by the Rev. C. M. Long, pastor of the First Baptist Church. A letter from the family recounting Uncle Henry's various achievements was read by Wm. Smallwood, followed by a stirring address delivered by the Rev. L. A. Perkins, pastor of the Shiloh Baptist church.

In his sermon Reverend C. M. Long compared Uncle Henry to Job, showing how they both suffered much in their lives and were equally blessed with a fullness of family and years. The minister took occasion to express the appreciation which he and the members of his race felt for the University and its noble ends. He called attention to the sure reward that follows duty well and consistently done, citing the case of Uncle Henry and the white people present at his funeral as an example.

Reverend Perkins took Uncle Henry's character as the theme of his discourse. He called on all present to witness that, after all, character was a priceless asset. As he said at one portion of his sermon, Character knows no color, a man who well and faithfully performs all the duties of his position cannot fail to please his superiors and his God.

The colored friends of the deceased formed in line and took one last look at his face. At the little colored burying ground in the rear of Oakwood Cemetery the casket was lowered gently to its position over the newly prepared grave and the burial service was read by minister Long.

A male quartet of four voices sand the old, old hymn, "Gathering Home."

  • Oh, Jesus, Redeemer, we look to Thee
  • We lift up our voices tremblingly
  • The waves of the river are dark and cold
  • But we know the place where our faith shall hold
  • Thou who didst pass through the deepest midnight
  • Now guide us, and send us the staff and light,
  • Fording the river one by one, fording the river one by one.
  • There were many flowers on the grave.

Wreaths were sent by:

The President and faculty of U. Va., Prof and Mrs. Raleigh Minor, Prof. and Mrs. Lile, Dr. and Mrs. John Staige Davis, Miss. Mamie Farnell, Mrs. Annabelle Claiborn, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Cosby, Mr. L. A. King, Prof. M. W. Humphreys, Thalian Art and Literary Club, Mr. and Mrs. Geo. P. Carter, Mrs. Brooks, Mrs. Sarah Gowins, Mr. Humphrey Sheton, Samuel Carter, Pete Carter, Mr. and Mrs. White, Mrs. Margaret Harris.

The pall bearers were: Thornton Coles, Luke Brown, W. H. Edmands, Wm. Walker, Wm. Kinney, Oscar Cown, C. E. Coles, Phil Edmunds.