Martin, David W. (1873-1959)

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David Weber Martin: farmer and church founder, was born 27 October 1873 to David Bauman Martin and Catherine (Weber) Martin on the family farm near WallensteinOntario. He attended the Bricker School, and at the completion of eighth grade began working as a farmer. On 13 March 1898 David W. Martin married Mary Regina Cress (6 September 1876-23 June 1951). They raised their family of nine children on their farm, in close proximity to the farm on which David had grown up. In conjunction with his father, David B. Martin, he became the founder of the group known as the David Martin Mennonites. David W. Martin died 31 May 1959. David, his wife, and parents are buried at the Wellesley Mennonite (David Martin) cemetery near Wallenstein.

His father, David Bauman Martin, was born 2 September 1838 to Jacob G. Martin (22 March 1811-10 April 1889) and Esther (Bauman) Martin (17 April 1817-21 June 1910). He was the third of 13 children. Jacob and Esther were farmers in Waterloo Township, Ontario; both were originally from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. On 10 May 1864 David married Catherine Weber (18 April 1846-12 August 1914); they became parents of six daughters and eight sons. The sixth eldest child was David W. Martin. David B. Martin died on 21 April 1920. David B. Martin completed eighth grade at then nearby Bricker School and then worked on the family farm. The David B. Martin family, including David W. Martin, remained as part of the group who became known as Old Order Mennonites after the 1889 division of Mennonites in Woolwich Township, Waterloo County, Ontario. This led to the formation of two separate groups: the Mennonite Conference of Ontario and the Old Orders. Chosen by lot in 1890, David B. Martin was ordained as the first minister at the West Woolwich (Elmira) Meetinghouse. He transferred to the South Peel Meetinghouse, near Wallenstein, Ontario, when it opened in 1901.

By 1908, the Old Order community tried to deal with internal conflict among its leaders and members. In 1909, Minister David B. Martin, feeling there was no peace among the church leaders, cancelled an ordination service after the congregation at South Peel had gathered to ordain a deacon. It was four years until a deacon was finally chosen for the congregation. The planned communion service for the fall of 1909 at South Peel was also delayed until the fall of 1910. Catherine Martin, David B.'s wife, was reportedly so upset by the dissension within the church that she abstained from taking communion again before her death in 1914. 

In June of 1913, then in his late 30s, David W. Martin was chosen by lot as deacon of South Peel Old Order congregation, where his father, David B. Martin was the minister. Deacon David W. Martin has been described by historians as "a conservative and exacting man." As deacon, he felt that those members of the church, who refused to give up their bicycles, should be excommunicated. Bishop Ezra L. Martin didn't agree with this use of the ban. The tipping point of the strained relationship resulted in Preacher David B. Martin and his son, Deacon David W. Martin, withdrawing from the Old Order community and forming their own group in 1917. In the Mennonite spectrum the David Martin Mennonites were considered ultra-conservative.

On Ascension Day, 1918 the small group held its first communion service. During the summer of 1919 the Wellesley David Martin Meetinghouse was built on David B. Martin's farm. A new meetinghouse at the same site was built in the year 2000. The original group was composed mainly of the families of the descendants of David B. Martin, but soon other families joined.

Eventually, David W. Martin was ordained a minister (January 1921), and a bishop (17 August 1924) serving the David Martin church community. He was respectfully known as "Bishop Dave." He remained a bishop until his death and was considered the founding leader of the David Martin Mennonite group.

By 1956 the David Martins had grown to about 180. In 2008 the David Martin group had about 800 members in two separate farming areas of southern Ontario.

See also Independent Old Order Mennonite Church (Ontario, Canada)


Draper, Barb. The Mennonites of St. Jacobs and Elmira: Understanding the Variety. Kitchener, Ontario: Pandora Press, 2010.

Martin, Donald. Old Order Mennonites of Ontario: Gelassenheit, Discipleship, Brotherhood. Kitchener, Ontario: Pandora Press, 2003.

Martin, Charlotte. "My Relatives: Ultra Conservative Mennonites." Ontario Mennonite History 16 (May 1998): 1-7.

Reimer, Margaret Loewen. One Quilt Many Pieces-A Guide to Mennonite Groups in Canada. Waterloo, Ontario: Herald Press, 2008.

Author(s) Del Gingrich
Date Published October 2012

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Gingrich, Del. "Martin, David W. (1873-1959)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. October 2012. Web. 24 Oct 2021.,_David_W._(1873-1959)&oldid=163739.

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Gingrich, Del. (October 2012). Martin, David W. (1873-1959). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 October 2021, from,_David_W._(1873-1959)&oldid=163739.

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