Pioneer Innkeeper —
ELIZABETH GRAY MARTIN WAS BORN in Patrick County, Va., in 1826.She came to Versailles in 1853 with her husband Samuel and three of their children. It had taken them most of the summer, in a covered wagon drawn by a team of oxen, to reach their destination. It was here that they rented a log building and started a hotel.
Many interesting events occurred during Martin’s hotel keeping days.She catered to the public and linked up with the comings and goings of several famous historical characters. Frank James’ signature is in the ledger in the museum. It said that Jesse James was also there with him.
There were some lean years during the Civil War, but the Martin Hotel was frequently called upon to cater to both the Union and Confederate soldiers who came through Versailles. One of Martin’s most vivid recollections was of the time her husband Samuel was accused of being a Southern sympathizer. The sentence of death had been imposed, but their disabled daughter rescued her father. The little girl pleaded with the Union soldiers for his life. The Northern captain looked at the child and told her to go on home and to take her pa with her, since he figured that she needed him a whole lot more than the North did.
Elizabeth Martin passed away in 1931 at the age of 105.