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Photo of the Month
December 2015
See Previous Photos     Unknown Faces and Places

FROM OHIO FARMBOY TO FEDERAL JUDGE -- The Gaumers are one of the largest branches of the extended Meinert/Minerd/Miner family. This image, courtesy of the Library of Congress, depicts Martin Welker, great-grandson of Johann Dietrich and Maria "Elizabeth" (Meinert) Gaumer Sr. Born on a farm in rural Knox County, Ohio, he rose to become a congressman and later a federal judge appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant. Martin is profiled in the Albert Adams Graham book History of Knox County, Ohio: Its Past and Present, which reads as follows:

...Martin Welker, born in Union in 1819, left the farm in 1831, and went with his brother, John, jr., to clerk in his store at Millwood, where he remained several years. He intended to make a merchant of himself, but an incident occurred, which changed his plans of life. In the store one day, a man offered him a bank bill which, on inspection he found to be counterfeit, and so informed the man. It was passed on another individual, and he prosecuted, and Martin was subpoened as a witness, before the grand jury at Mt. Vernon. He attended, and was compelled to remain several days. He had never seen a court, or a live judge. He there saw judge Dean, then in the prime of life on the bench, and who seemed to him a much greater man than General Jackson, of whom he had heard. He also there saw Brown, the Curtises, Delano and other lawyers engaged in court matters, and he concluded it would be a great thing himself to be a lawyer. Sitting beside another boy of his acquaintance, he informed him that he would be a lawyer and a judge, and some day take the place of Judge Dean. He kept that resolve before him, and worked for that aim and purpose, and within twenty years, with their great changes, he became a lawyer, and was elected in 1851, judge of the district over Judge Dean, who was his opponent at the election. He sat upon the same bench, held the same court at Mt. Vernon, the holding which by Judge Dean had inspired his youthful ambition. 

When the Civil War erupted, he served as aid-de-camp to Governor Dennison, and also as an assistant adjutant general with Governor David Tod, bearing the rank of colonel. After the war, from 1865 through 1871, he served as a U.S. Congressman representing Wayne County, Ohio. Eight years after the war's end, in November 1873, President Grant appointed him as District Judge for the Northern District of Ohio, with chambers in Cleveland.

In retirement, Martin and his wife resided in Wooster, Ohio. Former President Rutherford B. Hayes once was a guest in the his home. In 1895, he authored the 88-page book Farm Life in Central Ohio Sixty Years Ago, providing fascinating insights into a world gone by. More>>>

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Copyright 2015 Mark A. Miner