Friday, August 14, 2015

Martell Elementary School is named for Charles B. Martell (5/10/1892– 2/3/1972), who served on the Troy Board of Education from 1948 to 1952. Charles was one of six children born to Herbert C. Martell (8/13/1852– 4/17/1936) and his wife Eva (11/2/1855– 12/27/1917.) In the Troy Historic Village archive is a wonderful account about Grandpa Herbert written by Lila Martell, Charles’ daughter. The 365 Stories for today and tomorrow are excerpts from her “Memories of Herbert C. Martell.”

Herbert C. was a carriage designer, but was also an inventor. I have a postcard with a picture of the patent building in Washington D.C. sent to him by his son, with the comment that this is the building where H.C.’s patents are filed. . . When they lived in Flint, Michigan he was a carriage designer for Dort & Durant Carriage works. William Durant was later one of the founders of General Motors. I believe that they (Herbert and Eva) bought property at 160 E. Square Lake Road in Troy about 1912 and built a house in about 1915 following his retirement from Dort & Durant.

Grandpa H.C. had a great many interests and abilities which he put to good use during his retirement years. On their seven acres he developed the “Martell Fruit Farm.” He planted many fruit trees, he had large grape vineyards, he raised cantaloupe, and also grew my favorite, raspberries. He had a truck that he loaded with whatever produce was in season, got up very early in the morning, and traveled to the Eastern market in Detroit. My most clear recollection of that period (which was the late 20s and early 30s– Depression years) was of the people that rode the streetcars out from Royal Oak and Clawson to pick the produce.

Grandpa had a fruit stand down in the field where each person brought their bushels, quarts, or whatever they were picking, as they filled them. Grandpa had a printed “Martell Fruit Farm” punch card for each person, which he punched as they brought in the picked produce, and paid them at the end of the day according to their number of punches.

To commemorate the City of Troy’s 60th Anniversary in 2015, we will publish a different story each day that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 and that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context. We will include the facts related to controversial stories, allowing our readers to form their own opinions. We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page, You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at

WordPress Image Lightbox