Martin Francis McNamaraX

Born: 1916

Location: Kiva, Michigan

I was born in 1916 in the McNamara family farmhouse in Kiva, Michigan on land that my parents, Lawrence and Sarah, had homesteaded upon arrival from Canada. The house was built from logs hewn as they cleared the land. My family was one of the only Irish families in a neighborhood mostly populated by Finns. My parents were very determined to make a better life for themselves and their children. I was the youngest boy in the family; my older brothers, Lawrence, Jim and Sherman all attended college in Marquette as did my sisters, Julia, Cecile and Agnes. My sisters Marie and Florence married young and raised wonderful families in the Kiva and Chatham areas. My baby sister Patricia married a man from the Keweenaw Peninsula. “Let’s see, I remember riding on a sleigh load of logs with my Dad and I would have been 7 years old probably...logs that he had sawed up and he was taking to Ladoga. He had the sleigh all loaded up to take to Ladoga the following morning. He didn’t know he had a passenger. When he pulled out I was hiding on the back of the logs and once he was gone a ways I crawled up over and said “surprise”. He cuddled me up beside him, bundled up to keep warm beside him.” My Dad died when I was 8 years old. When my Dad died in 1924 there were still 4 of us living at the farm and Mum ran the home until she died at home in 1930. After that I went to live with my oldest sister, Julia Biekkala, and her family. I graduated from L’Anse High School and soon after enlisted in the army. I was a staff sergeant – machinist and spent much of my time in the Kodiak Islands off Alaska, trying to keep the Japanese from moving forward there. When the atomic bombs were dropped, I was in California awaiting deployment with a group to invade Japan – luckily we never had to make that invasion. After the war, I met Evelyn Lancour, a friend of my cousin and it was an automatic match for both of us. Evelyn’s young husband had been killed in the war and she had a son, Gary, who never met his biological father. Evelyn and I soon married and moved to Eaton Rapids, Michigan where she gave birth to 16 more children whom we raised during the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and into the 1980s. Today I am 95 years old and still enjoy spending time with my family, golfing and kayaking – I even had the chance to ride in a kayak built by my son Gary. I am very thankful to God for all he has given me.

Contributed by: Kathleen (Kitty) McNamara, Beaver Island