Johny We Hardly Knew

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John W. Martin, who served as Florida’s 24th governor from 1925-1929, became a more vocal
proponent of the Stuart-area becoming its own county after lobbyists suggested that the new
county be named after Martin.

BY WM. F. CRARY I I

What’s in a name?

Practically everything when it comes to Martin County. By any other name, the county would not be. Idea and hour had to meet in a fleeting moment of opportunity, and there had to be a self-promoting salesman governor, too. He was John Wellborn Martin, and he was an entertaining orator who had risen from three terms as Jacksonville’s mayor to win the highest office in the state. Opportunity to form a new county on the state’s southeast coast arose because people were misreading the times in which they lived. A wild and crazy land boom looked like progress to a horde of get-rich-quick dreamers. All over Florida, promoters were unwittingly laying a foundation for financial devastation that would take decades to repair.

PROSPERITY AHEAD

Newly elected Gov. Martin stoked the fires of ballyhoo with visions of never-ending prosperity, but he chalked up some long-lasting accomplishments, too. As soon as he took office in January 1925, Martin pushed his administration to build hundreds of miles of roads connecting soon-to-be bankrupt communities all across the state.