Colonel George C. Martin avoids being caught in court "totin' weepins"

Photo: Colonel George C. Martin- Brooksville, Florida. 19--? State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

BROOKSVILLE - Colonel George C. Martin was law partner of William Sherman Jennings. Martin served as the campaign manager for his Jennings' campaign for governor. The campaign was successful and Jennings was Florida's 18th Governor from 1901-1905.

Martin was a well known Brooksville attorney and his legal arguments were legendary. In a memoir entitled Twenty Four Year In the Woods, On the Waters and in the Cities of Florida by Judge Harry A. Peeples from 1906, there are several stories about Martin. One of these stories that is particularly fantastic is included.

Colonel George Martin, the famous Hernando county lawyer, was to argue a "pint of law" before the Judge, and the people for miles around had come to hear him. Old man " Tuck" came up and told me to be sure and be on hand, when it came to a show down on any kind of a "pint in law,"

Martin was the man to get. He further told me he had been defended by Martin five times on charges ranging from petit larceny to murder In the first degree, and had often been surprised himself when he would hear a verdict of " not guilty." "Well, to tell you the truth," he said, "I look upon Colonel George Martin as one of the best expectorators before judge or jury in the State of Florida. Come up, sur, and hear him!"

I went up and was greatly interested in the argument, which was as to whether a man in a horse trade, when he told the exact truth as to the good qualities of a horse and absolutely lied as to its age, was guilty of fraud?

Just then the Colonel pulled up his pants, and out fell a thirty-eight Smith and Wesson revolver. Everyone in the room saw it, except the justice of the peace, who was sitting up in the Circuit Judge's chair holding court up there to accommodate the crowd. Of course he was the only one the Colonel did not want to see it. He kept speaking and looking the Justice of the Peace square in the face, and vehemently shaking his right hand at him, while this is the way he was feeling around in the back with his left hand, trying to find that pistol. At last, however, he got hold of it, and I was ordered taken from the court until I knew better than to laugh in a court of justice, sitting on an important matter.

Colonel Martin was representing the horse-age liar, and he (the liar) came clear.

In his ruling the Judge said a man who could not tell a horse's age by its teeth or the wrinkles under its eyes ought not to own a horse, mare, ass or filly, and "the defendant Is discharged with the thanks of the Court."

This story is followed in the book by Martin recounting the same incident. He states that Judge Mitchell "was severe upon parties who were caught in court "totin' weepins."' This is why he had to be so subtle about retrieving his weapon. He was carrying the gun because a man on the other side who he planned to speak ill of was known to be quick to shoot.

Martin built the house that is still stand at 701 E Ft. Dade Avenue in 1885. The two story home is believed to have had the first basement in Brooksville. Martin's law office was above Weeks Hardware.

Like another well known colonel, Martin favored white suits. In spite of this lack of color in his choice of suits, he was definitely a colorful character.

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