Sandburg's Hometown

March 18, 2013

Martin G. Sandburg, 1881-1944 

Martin G. Sandburg

By Barbara Schock

There was about 2 ½ years difference in age between Carl Sandburg and his younger brother, Martin, born August 22, 1880. They played together and shared a garret bedroom while they were growing up. They had many of the same experiences, but their personalities were different. Mart was the steady man who found a job and contributed his wages to the Sandburg household while Carl went hoboing and traveled the countryside selling stereoscopic views.

Mart married Kate Stater on June 9, 1904, and they moved into a two-room apartment in the Sandburg house at 809 East Berrien Street. He was an agent for the Adams Express Company, which involved taking the night train to Chicago. When Carl was living in Aurora trying to find his way into a life of writing, Mart would sometimes give him a free ride to Galesburg.

Mart helped Carl get a job at the Brooks Street Fire Station which paid $75 a month. Carl was required to perform certain tasks which took about two hours a day plus being called out for actual fires. Carl was able to spend time working on his writing while earning a regular salary.

During the first decade of the 20th century Mart was superintendent of Galesburg’s street department. He also had an interest in a cigar store on Main Street. By 1912, he was working for the S&S Packing Company which was later purchased by the Wilson Packing Company. In 1918 Mart and W.W. Felt erected a building on South Chambers Street which was leased to the Rath Packing Company.

Mart Sandburg served on the Galesburg Board of Education in the 1920s and on the Election Commission in the 1930s. He filed petitions for the office of mayor in 1937, but decided to withdraw after a three-way race developed in the city primary. Or, there may have been some unseen pressure from other powers in the city. Mart also acquired a farm and spent many hours improving it.

Mart and Kate Sandburg had four children. The first child, Fred (named after his brother who had died of diphtheria), died at six months of age. The other children were Lena, Martin, Jr. And Merrill.

Mart retired in 1942. During World War II he volunteered for the special agents force in the Burlington Railroad yards. The railroad had difficulty maintaining an adequate watch system in the yard because the military draft had taken so many young men. On April 7, 1944, Mart had a heart attack and died a few hours later. His wife had died of cancer a few months earlier. They were buried in Linwood Cemetery.

Carl and Mart Sandburg both had a good sense of humor. They supported one another throughout their lives. They mourned together in the kitchen of their mother’s house after she died in 1926. They recollected her encouraging words to them as children and her dedication to her family. They also reminisced about the comical events of their childhood.

Sandburg’s Hometown

March 18, 2013 -"Martin G. Sandburg"
March 4, 2013 - "The Edison Talking Machine"
February 25, 2013 - "Joe Elser, Civil War Veteran"
February 18, 2013 - "Remember the Maine..."
February 11, 2013 - Lincoln's Birthday
February 4, 2013 -- Curiosity