‘Big Boy’ Martin defended his father’s honor

By Don McAlavy: CNJ columnist

Marvin “Big Boy” Martin was born Nov. 8, 1885, in Calloway County, Ky., and because of his father’s ill health (asthma), his family came to New Mexico on Nov. 12, 1906. His father, Richard “Uncle Dick” Martin homesteaded near Blacktower, southeast of Field.

“My father built and ran a hotel at Blacktower, but he died in 1911,” Martin said.

Martin said he was big and able to hold his own in a fight with Cecil Honea and his brother at Blacktower.

“The Honea boys, heavier than me, had been riding their horses into father’s hotel and had sassed my Dad. I heard of this from my sister and hearing shots fired over in Mr. Barbee’s store, went over and found one of the boys inside on his horse.

“After a little discussion the rider jump off to ‘clean my plow,’ but I caught him square in the face with my big fist and that ended the fight before it got started. I pulled Honea’s leather chaps off him and whipped him with them, like you would with a kid.

“When the other Honea came in, I grabbed his pistol, stopping any trouble from him. But later me and the Honea boys became the best of friends.

“I can recall voting for Curry County’s first sheriff and that was on Nov. 7, 1911. Dick Moye was elected.

“In helping to construct the coal chute down at the railroad in Clovis, I was accidently knocked off the 80-foot tower while they were pouring concrete. When I fell I grabbed for the hoist lines. It was lucky for me that the engineer operating the lines saw me and quickly lowered me to the ground. It really shook me up.

“Later I became a plasterer and worked on the depot and the Harvey House, which then was under construction by the Nelson and McCloud Construction Company out of Chicago. I recall that Lantrum and Sharp Co. built the tracks. I also made the concrete blocks for the buildings housing Woolworth and the old Duckworth Drug building.

“I remember that one of the first buildings here was south of the Santa Fe shops and housed R. Gamble Hardware & Lumber Co. Another building was a hotel south of the tracks in the old Fitzhugh addition. The first building on Main Street was a wooden one built for McFarland and Reid surveyors, and located about where Montgomery Ward is today. Later this building was sold to Claud V. Steed and Clayton Reed.

“I was called at times ‘Big Boy’ and ‘Doc’ and later I lived at 605 Sheldon. I smoked three bowls of pipe tobacco a day, but I don’t inhale! My tobacco was ‘homegrown’ by friends in Kentucky.

“My wife and I are in fine spirits, but I would say we wouldn’t want to settle another country!”

(Some of what “Big Boy” said in 1971 is arguable, it has been said.)

Don McAlavy is Curry County’s historian. He can be contacted at: