Martin H “Mart” Sheldon

Martin H “Mart” Sheldon

Schoharie County, New York, USA
Death 19 Apr 1889 (aged 33)
Belle Plaine, Benton County, Iowa, USA
Burial Delanson, Schenectady County, New York, USA
Plot sec 1a - lot 57
Memorial ID 94789114 · View Source
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Martin H Sheldon was born June 2 1855, the son of Meade Sheldon and Martha Hoag and was most likely born in the town of Wright, Schoharie County, New York. Martin's father was a sheep farmer in 1860 with two children. Martin had a sister Lydia who was 5 years older than he was at the time.

Martin married Mary sometime between 1873 and 1877 and in June 1880 Martin was a farm hand with wife Mary and two children Jerauld b. 1878 and Florence b.1879 and owned a house in Quaker Street New York. Martin was probably working on his father's farm.

By the end of 1880, Martin had given up farming and procured a job as a conductor with the D&H railroad. By 1885 Mary had 2 more children, Susie b 1882 and Cecil b. July 5, 1885. Life must have been looking good for Mary and Martin.

On Nov 7 of 1885, Martin and Mary moved their family to Albany NY. A decision that would prove fatal. Within one week of their move, little Susie Sheldon age 3 contracted diphtheria. Diphtheria is a highly contagious disease that spreads by respiratory droplets (such as those produced by a cough or sneeze) of an infected person or someone who carries the bacteria but has no symptoms. Diphtheria can also be spread by contaminated objects or foods (such as contaminated milk) and had a high mortality rate in the 1800's. In the late 1800's, diphtheria was a leading cause of death among children, and it was once referred to as the "strangling angel of children." Diphtheria primarily affects the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract although it may also affect the skin and lining tissues in the ear, eye. Death from diphtheria is usually from suffocation due to enlargement of the neck lymph nodes or from cardiac complications and kidney failure. Susie died Nov 24, 1885.

Unfortunately, other family members had contracted this deadly disease and on Nov 29, 1885, just five days later, their seven year old son Jerauld would fall victim to diphtheria. Then again two days later on Dec 1, 1885 their six year old daughter Florence would succumb to the disease. In one week, the Sheldons lost 3 children.

Unquestionably, Mary did everything in her power to save her children, but unfortunately Mary had also contracted diphtheria. She fought hard but also succumbed to the disease 40 days later on Jan 11, 1886. Miraculously, their youngest son Cecil survived. Martin was left with one child from a family of five.

After the death of his wife Mary, in Feb of 1886, Martin sold his house in Quaker Street, NY to Isaac G. Griffeth.
But as fate would have it, 1 year and 2 months after the death of his wife, 20 month old Cecil would died on March 6 1887. It is not known how Cecil died.

After the death of his son Cecil, Martin attempted to start his life over by remarrying and starting a new family. In May of 1887 he resigned his position as yard master with the D& H railroad in Schenectady and left for Chicago, Illinois.

By 1889 Martin was working as a yard master in Belle Plain, Iowa. He had another child with his new wife and life again was looking good for Martin. But once again, fate would intervene and cut his dreams short. On April 19, 1889, less than two years after Cecil's death, Martin was run over and killed by the train cars he was managing in the train yard, leaving behind his new wife and child.

One cannot imagine a life filled with so much tragedy as the life of Martin H. Sheldon. Count your blessings.
Rest in Peace Martin

Conductor M. H. Sheldon moved his family to Albany, Saturday. " Mart" was a good citizen and we regret his departure.

Source: Knowersville Enterprise (Altamont Enterprise), Nov 14, 1885
The family of M.H. Sheldon of Albany, are truly afflicted. Friday Nov 27 little Susie was called home to the land beyond, and on Monday the remains of little Jerauld were brought to this place for interment, and on Tuesday morning Flora, the eldest died, and Mrs. Sheldon is in a critical condition, with diphtheria. They have the sympathy of a host of friends in their bereavement.

Source: Altamont Enterprise, Saturday, Dec 5th, 1885
Quaker Street
Isaac G. Griffeth has purchased M. H . Sheldon's house and lot for $1370

Source: Knowersville Enterprise (Altamont Enterprise), Feb 13, 1886
M.H. Sheldon has resigned his position as yard master at Schenectady of the D. & H. railroad in that city, and has left for Chicago. For eight years he was a conductor on the D. & H. railroad.

Source: Knowersville Enterprise (Altamont Enterprise), May 21, 1887
Martin H. Sheldon, formerly a conductor on the local freight, was recently run over and killed by the cars while acting as a yard master at Belle Plain, Iowa. He was a son of Mead Sheldon of Quaker Street. A wife and child survive him.

Source: The Enterprise, April 27, 1889

* All the research for this bio was completed by Portia Westfall. This story would not have been possible without her hard work, dedication and her incredible ability to find the facts. Many, many thanks Portia from Martin and Mary and me.

Bruce A. Barton

Family Members

Gravesite Details Buried in the same Sheldon Plot is Mead J. Van Wagner who is the son of George H and Lydia VanWagner. Lydia was the sister of Martin Sheldon.


In their memory
Plant Memorial Trees


  • Created by: Bruce A Barton
  • Added: 4 Aug 2012
  • Find a Grave Memorial 94789114
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Martin H “Mart” Sheldon (2 Jun 1855–19 Apr 1889), Find a Grave Memorial no. 94789114, citing Grove Cemetery, Delanson, Schenectady County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Bruce A Barton (contributor 46992199) .