Married: William A. Martin
Estella E. Manning Martin was the daughter of Mrs. Gabriel Lathrop Manning and grand-daughter of Azel Lathrop; she married William A. Martin. At fourteen, she became one of the first telegraph operators in the Adirondacks, working at Milote Baker's hotel for a dollar a week. She was trained by the Colonel's stepson, William A. Dana, who operated the wire for its first two years of operation. She continued to work there until her marriage, two years later, and after her husband's death, she managed the Postal Telegraph Company, first in Saranac Lake, and then in Newport, Vermont. 1
In The Penny Piper of Saranac, Stephen Chalmers wrote in an Author's Note: "When Mrs. Estella Martin, a member of an old Adirondack family, drove up to the cottage to confer with Mrs. Stevenson about a proposed church supper. R. L. S. took refuge in his 'cubbyhole' study and firmly shut the door. His mother prepared tea for the guest and suddenly said, 'I would like you to meet my son, Louis.' Mrs. Martin, who had heard of the novelist's pet aversion, felt slightly nervous. Mrs. Stevenson went to the study door and there followed a whispered colloquy through a mere chink. Presently, Stevenson came into the room, sat down by the stove, and, after a strained minute or two, asked Mrs. Martin if he might smoke. The moment his cigarette was alight the ice was broken and — 'I had two hours of R. L. S.,' says Mrs. Martin, 'and he was the most interesting man I ever met.'"
Later, it was planned to give the church benefit supper at the old Berkeley Inn in the village. On the promise of Stevenson’s mother that she would induce her son—somehow—to be present, the church ladies sold every available seat, except one—that reserved for the lion of the occasion. Despite the elder Mrs. Stevenson’s assurances, up to the last moment Robert Louis refused to be a party to the party. “Good Heavens!” he exclaimed. “They might ask me to make a speech!”
In the end the ladies had to kidnap him bodily. At first he was silent, even morose, when he took his seat at the supper table in the old inn; but suddenly the humor of the situation struck him and his chameleon-like mood changed color. He threw himself into the affair with a spirit than was more Stevensonian than churchlike. He not only proceeded to enjoy himself, but helped to make that church supper a memorable success; and before he escorted his mother home, he insisted upon making a speech.
All record of that speech is lost—more’s the pity! Mrs. Martin does not remember just what he said, but –
“It was—like him.”
1. Donaldson, Alfred L. A History of the Adirondacks, New York: The Century Co., 1921, p. 268. (reprinted by Purple Mountain Press, Fleischmanns, NY, 1992)