Men of the Martinez family

Photo courtesy John M. Motter
Pictured, from the right, are Emmett Martinez, his father, Judge Joseph Teofilo (J.T.) Martinez, Red Ryder and Little Beaver creator Fred Harman II, and J.T.’s wife, Manualita.

We’ve been writing about Emmett Martinez, a member of one of the prominent pioneering Hispanic families in Archuleta County. Before he passed away, I had the privilege of spending many hours talking with Emmett. I learned much of what I know about local history from Emmett and am indebted to him for many of the old pictures he gave me.
As we reported in last week’s column, Emmett’s grandfather on his father’s side was Jose Benedito (J.B.) Martinez, one of the Hispanic leaders in the deadly 1886 fight between Hispaños and Anglos for control of the newly formed county’s government.
The Anglos knew at least one thing for certain about J.B. Martinez: He wasn’t afraid to use his gun. Following a tradition of the Old West, J.B. had several notches on the handle of his six-shooter. One of those, hard to believe as it is, was a reminder of a witness he shot in front of judge and jury in a Durango District Court trial where he was in custody for an earlier killing.
Even more unbelievable, he got off with only a manslaughter charge for his courtroom shenanigans. As you read in last week’s column, J.B. was one of the richest men in Archuleta County. That soon changed. As you also know, lawyers don’t come cheap. In effect, J.B.’s impetuousness in the courtroom, using an Old West term, “cost him the ranch.” He hired the best, translate that the most expensive, lawyer he could find. The legal eagle immediately got a change of venue, from Durango to Walsenburg, where his life story wasn’t so well-known.
He got his money’s worth in the Huerfano (Spanish for orphan) County Court and went on to serve a useful, productive life in Archuleta County. His son, Joseph Teofilo (J.T.) Martinez, was Emmett’s father. J.T. was born April 3, 1874, and died July 7, 1954, at the age of 80. He served many years as Archuleta County judge and in many other ways contributed to the local community.
Emmett had a son, Jerry, now deceased, who served as an Archuleta County commissioner. I should point out that for some, such as myself, it is easy to confuse J.T. and J.B. Martinez, as I have done in the past. The photo used this week is, for sure, J.T. Martinez. J.B. was deceased long before this picture was taken.
Finally, Martinez is a name of Spanish origin, but in common use in many countries around the world. It is derived from “Son of Martin,” or, digging a little deeper, the God Mars from Roman times, the god of war and fertility.

This story was posted on July 1, 2018.