The Martin Family employed a number of people on staff at their home on Jewett Parkway. We know many lived on the property, including in the Gardener’s Cottage and in the carriage house. The lives of the staff are more of a mystery than those of the Martin Family. Working class citizens often were not documented in the same way affluent families of the times were.
In late 2003, Laurie Thorpe Hatch, the granddaughter of William Thorpe, the Martin’s last employed chauffeur, reached out to the Martin House. She had found a collection of photographs from the time William, his wife Mary, and son Arthur, lived in the carriage house. The Martin House obtained digital copies of these photographs which are now part of our historical collection. These images are vital in telling the story of the estate as it relates to the people who worked here.
According to transcribed journal entries, William Thorpe was employed by Darwin D. Martin sometime around 1917. William, along with his wife and son, moved into the carriage house shortly after joining the staff. The family continued to live in the carriage house until at least 1940, after Isabelle had already left the property for good.
What we know about the Thorpes comes mainly from oral history accounts from living family members. Laurie Thorpe Hatch recounts memories her father, Arthur, shared with her from his time with the Martin family:
…I always remember Dad saying that Mr. Martin seemed to like him. He says “I kind of think he thought of me as like his son”. Because he was always taking him with him and going places with him. So at some point he gave him that set of Mark Twain books.