I live in southeastern Kansas, and I have researched here back to the Civil War.  I can answer research questions on where to research and how, and give limited help.  I cannot travel to distant places, but I might be able to help with people in my area.

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How close are you to Galena, Kansas?  My grandmother, Virginia Martin, was adopted there. She was born abt 1901, her adopted parent's names were James and Ida Martin.

Thank you,


Hello Debbie,  I go to Galena frequently, and I have met people named Martin there in the past.  There are living Martin in the area.  Unfortunately, I probably cannot help you to find your grandmother's name before adoption.  Most of those records are not public, except maybe to family members.  I might be able to find out who you can contact to get more information.  This may take a few days.  Would a few phone number be acceptable?

I seriously need to explain to you that Galena is on the Kansas-Missouri state line, and it is only four miles to Oklahoma.  It has been my experience researching in the area that it is often necessary to research in Missouri and Oklahoma as well as Kansas. Across the stateline into Oklahoma is Indian Lands, and hard to research.  In my years researching the area, I have never came across adoption documents, other than information declared by family as in Wills. This information may be housed at the Kansas State level in Topeka?  I do need to find this information for another person who lives in the area.  I will see what I can find and get back to you. 

I now understand why my grandmother stated Missouri as her place of birth. It's possible she may have been Indian, at least that's what the rumors were.
Virginia's adopted father was the infamous James Martin who stole the identity of Dr. Lanoix and was arrested for murder due to botched surgery (I have just recently found this out) in Kansas City Missouri (some news articles say Kansas).
Thank you so much for responding to my question, I have hit that brick wall with the adoption. I was glad to discover that James Martin wasn't a blood relative but at the same time frustrated in regards to the adoption knowing I would have a difficult time going further with my grandmothers ancestry.
I don't remember Virginia she died when I was about 6 and I have only one picture of her. She was very beautiful and has always intrigued me.
Thank you again and I will accept numbers, etc.
Debbie :)

In thinking of your problem, I looked for James Martin on the census in Galena and did not find him there in 1900 or 1910.  There was another  (?) James Martin in Cherokee County, and many other Martin, who did not originate from the same places.  Most of the adoptions I have found researching were children of other family members, such as step-children, younger brothers and sisters, grandchildren, children of brothers and sisters, or illegitimate children of the mentioned. She could have been the child of a deceased good friend or neighbor, as I have seen that at least once, but in an earlier time, but with a document. There is a big chance she was a relative of James or his wife.  I found my great-grandfather, as a teenager, living with an older cousin after his father died, but I assume his uncle had taken him in.  You probably do need to research the infamous James Martin, and all wives, and their families. Note relatives who died about the time Virginia was born, young women, and men whose wife had died in 1901 or a bit later.  Most families have a "black sheep," so don't worry about that. Do you know if James was a "doctor" in Galena?  Did he have an earlier profession?  This might be local history.

There is a birth book in Galena for that time period, but if her name was not Martin, it might not help.  When I last saw the original book it was not indexed, but that has been years ago.  A copy may have been made and indexed.  You need to have Virginia's birth date, as the births were listed by date in the original book. Often the child was not yet named when recorded, but the parents names were listed.  There were cradle rolls in local churches, and school records.  If James Martin re-located to Kansas City (or never lived in Galena?), which is on the state line with half in Missouri, there should be like records of Virginia there.  Do you know when she was adopted?  Was she a baby or older child when adopted?  There may be no adoption documents if her parent was a relative.  More modern government agencies insisted on adoption records, but maybe not earlier.  I am not sure about this, so it is something else to research.  If she was not a relative, there would probably be a document somewhere.

The tri-states area (KS, MO, & OK) was a booming mining area in 1900. People came there from many other places, and they often moved around within the area, disregarding state lines.  There were others who came to the area who worked in professions related to mining, and tradesmen, and shop keepers.  The area also has good farming land.  This is why I asked about James Martin's trade, before doctor.  I would not think he was a miner.  He might have worked for a doctor, or worked as a pharmacist or undertaker, or something related.  He may have been one of the fellows selling Snake Oil cure all, or even a gambler.  It was a rough area socially, and attracted all kinds of people.

Skip the idea of Virginia being Indian for now, until other possibilities are ruled out.  The Martin I have met are a bit dark, but maybe not Indian or of recent Indian descent.  Some of the Martin go way back in America. And, not all the areas in Oklahoma and adjacent to Kansas were Indian Lands.  There were mines on Indian Lands as at Quapaw, and there were the mining areas of Miami, and Commerce, Oklahoma where people moved to from Galena. Many people moved back and forth from Cherokee County, Kansas to Joplin (7 miles away), and surrounding smaller towns.  They also moved to Crawford County, to the north, which was another mining boom area.  People went to where they could make money.  Many people in the area, even today, are part Indian, but maybe not of recent Indian descent.  Indian genealogy is difficult, and a last resort in researching, unless documents point in that direction.

I will see what I can find out on adoptions, and maybe reaquaint myself with a couple of genealogy societies in the area.  You need to see if you can find a more exact birth date for Virginia, and information on James Martin and wife or wives, and their families, including where James was located.  If Virginia said she was born in Galena, Kansas, then maybe she was.  Where did that information come from, and how trustworthy was it?  Do you have Ancestry.com, or something to search census?


I am a member of ancestry.com and have also searched familysearch.org., the most information that I've received is through the newspaper articles that I've found.  That's also how I found out that Virginia was adopted.  During Ida's testimony against her husband she stated that she went back to James because she thought it would be better for the child that they had adopted while they lived in Galena, Kansas. Ida stated that she was 16 years old when they were married and James was 12 years her senior.  That's how I figured out that James Martin is buried (in Quincy, Ill.), under the name F.W. Lanoix (the age).  Dr Fred Lanoix died Dec. 11, 1902, James died Jan. 19, 1914 while incarcerated at the Wyandotte County Jail.  

I can't find any ancestors for James Martin or Ida (Watson) Martin.  Ida, after she divorced James, went back to her maiden name Watson.  Her and Virginia lived in Kansas City, Missouri in 1910 under Ida and Virginia Watson that's the only census I can find with the two of them living together.  Virginia married my grandfather Elwood Hawkins when she was about 17 or 18.  Some of the census say that she was born in Kentucky and some say Missouri also some of them say she was born in 1903 and some say 1901.

As we were growing up we were told that Virginia's father was a Dr. and had an affair with her mother.  Virginia lists her father in one of her marriage certificates (she was married four times) as Dr. Fred Lanoix. So, for a year I was searching the Lanoix's, then I found out about James Martin stealing his identity not knowing, at that time, that James was my adopted g-grandfather. I found an article stating that Ida Watson was married to James Martin! 

James Martin may have been married before.  I never thought of that.  I have so many dates, names, and states going through my head that it's hard to keep them straight.  I also have corresponded with Jack Anthony with findagrave.com he, and others have said that I should write a book ... I plan on finding someone to do that because this story is so crazy.

What I have written to you so far, regarding my ancestors, is only scimming the surface.  While James and Ida were seperated he went to her house shot her twice then went to stay with the real Mrs. Lanoix. Mrs. Lanoix told her mother "he had shot his wife or shot at her, was pennieless, dirty and ragged".  After James left is when Mrs. Lanoix discovered that her husbands, who was deceased, medical papers where missing.  James worked for Dr. W.H. Lanoix when he was a kid "up until he was about 15 he disappeared". When he returned he worked for Dr. Fred Lanoix (W.H.'s son) as a druggist in Quincy, Ill., so they knew each other for quit some time.  Mrs. Lanoix is the one who pressed charges against James after she found out where he was. And the story goes on ...

I will continue to search for names, dates and family members but I having a really hard time with that (the Martins and Watsons).  Just writing this has given me some ideas though. Thank you again for helping me, I really do appreciate it. Even if it is a tidbit of information, anything is better than nothing.

Thank you!

Debbie :)

I went to the genealogy society in Galena today, as I had to be in that town on other business. I accidentally found the genealogy society open, and spent a few minutes looking over the birth book for 1901.  It has been retyped, but not indexed.  It continues to list births by date.  There was only one female birth to a Martin in 1901, and the father's name was not James. The child was merely listed as female Martin.  I did not check other years, but maybe I should have?  If I had known of the Watson name, I could have checked that.  I know as a fact there were Watson in Galena.

Somehow you need to find a more exact birth date for Virginia.  School records are a good place to find that, probably around 1910, when she was living with Ida in Kansas City, Missouri.  Find where they lived and the local school.  Was Ida in the City Directory? The genealogical society there probably has school records in KC. You need more specific birth dates for Ida and James also. Check all known names they used.  Kansas had state census besides the federal ones.

On adoptions in Kansas, you would have to apply to the state and prove you are a descendant.  In a discussion at the genealogy society, we did not know exactly when the state required documents on adoptions.  It may have been as late as 1922 or so.  As I said before, if Virginia was a relative, there may be no adoption papers. 

Work around the few specific bits of information you have, and do not get sidetracked.  Build up specific information and documents on the family members you do know about.

Sometimes it takes a long time to do research.

Your awesome!  Just the suggestions that you've given me have helped .. I found a James Martin, when he was 14 living with Fransis & Mary Martin in Illinois ... He was working as a clerk at a drugstore, James worked for the Lanoix's at their drugstore.  That has to be my James but I'm still looking into that, it got late last night so I had to quit.

I'm guessing that Virginia's birthday is September 8th, 1901,02 or 03.



I found James (Jas) Martin in the directory from Galena, Kansas 1900. He was a miner.  Ida had stated, in one of the newpaper articles, that James was "in the mining business".  She also stated that "while we were at Galena we adopted a little girl".



"Jas" Martin's address was r 11th, s of Cemetery.


I am glad you are getting results!

James may not have been a miner, but worked in some other aspect of the mining business more suited to someone of his background and probable education.

West 11th street is south of the old Galena Cemetery, which is located on 7th Street (The old Route 66), a main through street.  On a map, their residence would have been on 11th street, just east of the intersection with Schemerhorn Road.  A few years ago there were no houses in that area, but I have not looked lately. Many mining relics, holes and piles of stone and rubble was in that area, but has now been cleaned up. James and Ida likely lived in one of the many small miner's shacks, and not in a regular house like the ones that have survived in town from that era. There was a housing shortage then

Galena web sites of interest.

There has lately been a controversy over an old bar & hotel that has been renovated as a "bordello" complete with ghosts, and a supposed bad history.  I've known the place for years, and I am glad it has been renovated, although the history on it is probably wrong.  Also the animated movie "Cars" was based on some of the things in Galena, including the truck called Mater in the movie.  The real truck is parked across the street from the now renovated old hotel/bordello.


photo of restored "bordello"


Photos of Galena online:


1904 history of Galena:


The geneaolgy society in Galena will be closed next week.  When it re-opens (2 days a week), I will see if a female baby was born on the dates you gave.  I am having to go to the Galena area on other business lately.  I can check Cherokee County births too at a different place.

Good luck on your research.

James' address is listed as Galena, Empire City, Kansas ... I'm assuming it's the same thing?

I love the information about the "Cars" movie. And I will definitely check out the links that you posted.



Empire City is now part of Galena, but it might not have been when he lived there.  Empire is the northern section of Galena, north of Short Creek.  The only cemetery near Empire is Oak Hill, and it is farther north.  There is no 11th Street, or any numbered streets in Empire.  He may have moved, with records for him in two places within the same general area? Or, if Galena and Empire had recently merged, both may have been listed.

Photo of real "Mater."



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