Excerpted from Wikipedia:
“Martin was a robust figure in the history of the early frontier,” according to the WPA guide to the Old Dominion. “He was born in Albemarle County in 1740, ran away to fight Indians at 17, became an Indian agent, land agent, and officer of militia, fighting Indians all up and down the frontier. In 1774 he came to Henry County, established himself at Belle Monte on Leatherwood Creek, for nine years sat for his district in the general assembly, and in 1793 was made a brigadier general of state militia. He was a brawny, picturesque man, more than six feet tall and the father of 18 children; wore buckled knee breeches and a great beard, braided and thrust inside his shirt.”
Martin first married Sarah Lucas in Orange County, Virginia. After her death in Henry County, Martin married Susannah Graves, a descendant of Captain Thomas Graves of Jamestown, Virginia. While married to Sarah Lucas and then to Susannah Graves, Martin was simultaneously married to his half-Cherokee wife, Elizabeth “Betsy” Ward, the daughter of Nancy Ward, a power within the Cherokee tribes, and her husband, English trapper Bryant Ward. The polygamous relationship, justified by Martin as common practice among frontiersmen operating among the tribes, caused considerable consternation to General Martin’s son, Col. William Martin. Joseph Martin and Betsy Ward had two known children. (Joseph Martin’s son by his Cherokee wife was educated in Virginia schools, but afterwards elected to return to the Cherokee.)
Joseph Martin had 18 children by his two European wives and his Cherokee wife. There were many rumors of additional Native wives, none of which are well documented, and any or all of which could be true.
One daughter through Betsy Ward is known, a son is reported as well, and a third female with the Martin surname, speculated to be a daughter is married into the Cherokee Benge family. One thing is for sure, if Joseph Martin’s DNA line is identified and confirmed, we could then one day know which Martins are descended from his line and which are not.
Additional genealogy information about General Joseph Martin is available here: