Monday, January 12, 2015

The Grave of C.F. Martin, Guitar Maker ... Located!

This blog is part two of a minor odyssey I began in the summer of 2013 (click link at end of article for part one, The Grave of Guitar Maker C.F. Martin ... Almost). Back then I attempted to find the grave of C.F. Martin (Christian Frederick Martin, Sr.), patriarch of the Martin Guitar Company in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. I remember at the time assuming he was buried with his wife, Lucia Otilia Martin (formerly K├╝hle), at Moravian Cemetery in Nazareth. At the time, there was no entry (or gravestone photo) for him on the website There was, however, an entry for Lucia.

After a highly enjoyable tour of the Martin guitar factory in the summer of 2013, I visited Moravian Cemetery – just a couple miles from the factory. Not having a map to Lucia’s grave marker (just the photo from, and with all the grave stones looking alike, I still managed to find her grave within about ten minutes! However, C.F. was not buried with her or next to her. I conjectured that he may have been in an unmarked grave or possibly shipped back to Bavaria for burial in a family plot. While I was at Moravian Cemetery, I failed to notice that all the markers surrounding Lucia’s stone marked female graves.

What is the Moravian Church? Wikipedia tells us: 

"The Moravian Church … is the oldest Protestant denomination emerged from the Bohemian Reformation. This church's nickname comes from the original exiles who came to Saxony in 1722 from Moravia to escape persecution, but its religious heritage began in 1457 in Kunvald, Bohemia, today part of the Czech Republic, an autonomous kingdom within the Holy Roman Empire. The Moravian Church places a high premium on Christian unity, personal piety, missions, and music"

Music, hmmmm? A few months later, I emailed Chris Martin, current C.E.O. and fourth generation owner of Martin Guitars, about the whereabouts of his Great-great-great grandfather. A Customer Service person, Mr. Jason Ahner answered me back: C.F. Martin, Sr. is buried on the men’s side of the cemetery! This never occurred to me at the time of my first visit.

Map of Moravian Cemetery, Nazareth, PA
Apparently, this is how the Moravians buried their loved ones – women segregated from men. Mr. Ahner was kind enough to even send me a hand-drawn map showing the plot location of C.F. Martin, Sr. as well as subsequent Martin family C.E.O.s at the Nazareth Moravian Cemetery. It took me over a year to make the second trip, which I finally made in December 2014 for closure.

Snow-covered Moravian grave markers
My first attempt at the planned second trip was aborted when it snowed the previous night. Older Moravian cemeteries have smallish, low to the ground, grave markers, almost like a memorial park or a Quaker burial ground with no high tombstones or monuments. If you’ve ever been to a Quaker cemetery, you’re familiar with the small, rectangular stones. The Moravian stones in this Nazareth graveyard are larger, however, and are made of white marble – perhaps twenty inches long, fourteen inches wide, and four inches high. As you see in the photo above, such stones, once snowed over, have their inscriptions covered. 

According to, Moravians focus on the simplicity of burial grounds. They believe in uniform, plain grave markers and inscriptions to emphasize the equality of all human beings.”  

A few weeks later, I had another opportunity to make the trip. The map came in very handy and I found the grave in question within ten minutes – even though the stones all looked alike. C.F. Martin, Sr.’s stone had recently been brought to level and shored up a bit. Another thing that made his grave marker easy to find was the photo of it that I found in a Martin Guitar promotional magazine, The Sounding Board (Vol. 34, January 2013), that I picked up after the tour when I was at the factory. 

C.F. Martin, Sr. and grave marker
In a gatefold section of the magazine was a pictorial history of the founding of Martin Guitars. Beneath an artist’s illustration of the patriarch was an illustration of his headstone. 

The older portion of this cemetery, closer to West Center Street (see map), is organized first by gender, men closer to the cemetery entrance, women higher up the hill. offers an explanation of these segregated burial practices in describing the Schoeneck Moravian Cemetery, which is on West Beil Avenue closer to the Martin Factory: “…within each gender, by date of death and marital status, married men together, single women together, children, etc., with families not buried together. Most of the graves are very late 18th through very early 20th century. A number of the stones are in German, or a German-English mix, but most are in English."

The grave marker of Lucia Otilia Martin, the matriarch of Martin Guitars, is about twenty feet away from Christian Frederick’s. The mens’ section is separated from the women’s section of the cemetery by a strip of grass maybe eight feet wide. Here’s a photo (at right) of her grave marker with C.F.’s marker downhill in the background (my blue camera bag is next to it in the white circle).

After finding C.F. Martin’s grave, I thought I might head over to the factory to thank Mr. Ahner for his help. I pulled up in front of the building and got out. A lovely Christmas tree stood above the main entrance. As I was making a photograph of this, a gentleman in a red coat came up the walk from the parking area. As a photographer, you sometimes want a human in your photo to give a sense of scale to the composition. His red coat would add a splash of color to the scene as well.

Chris Martin, CEO Martin and Co. (ref.)
As I snapped the photo, the gentleman turned around and said, “Did I photo-bomb your picture?”  I recognized him from publicity photos. I asked, “Are you Chris?” (Meaning, Christian Frederick Martin, IV, Chairman of the Board and C.E.O. of Martin Guitars) He said “I am.” I was a bit taken aback and blathered on about why I was there and he said, “C’mon in.” Very nice guy. After some discussion with the receptionist about who I was there to see, Mr. Ahner came into the lobby and we chatted a bit. He said they were considering adding a tour of Moravian Cemetery for vising dignitaries and I offered to add the location of Lucia’s grave site to his map. After we said our goodbyes, I played a few of the guitars in the lobby and toured the museum.

As an aside, I did buy my first Martin guitar last year after taking the tour of the factory. Once you go through the factory and see how these guitars are made, you realize that the (relatively) high cost of these instruments is totally justified. I would also like to express my gratitude to the Martin Guitar Company for its hospitality and welcoming attitude toward my rather offbeat inquiries!

Reference and Further Reading: