The Martin family became pioneers of Methodism in French south Louisiana. Anatole Martin was one of those faithful servants of the church in those early days of Methodism in Catholic country.
The Bayou Blue and surrounding communities would make great contributions to Methodism in Louisiana. The Martin family alone contributed six men who became pastors and/or local preachers. Robert E. Martin later became licensed to preach and became a local elder. Two of his sons, A.J. Martin and A.M. Martin, also became full-fledged ministers in the Louisiana Conference. They preached around south Louisiana. For a while, A.J. was a conference evangelist. Kleibert F. Martin, Robert's brother, served as a local preacher in Terrebonne Parish. The third brother, Anatole D. Martin, was a pioneer of the French Mission.
Rev. Anatole D. Martin began his ministry on the Lafourche Mission in 1914. Born on April 23, 1882 in Bayou Blue, he was a member of the Spiritualist Society of Bayou Blue, which was led by his brother Robert. As a young man, he and his brothers operated a syrup mill and a saw mill. He married Agnes Matherne in 1902.
Anatole Martin decided to follow his brother Robert and entered the ministry. He started the first Protestant church in a schoolhouse in Raceland in 1914. Over the next couple of decades, he served churches along the bayous of Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes ... Pointe au Chien, Little Caillou, Dulac, Griffin, Lockport, Labadieville, and Golden Meadow. Some of these little churches no longer exist. The church at Griffin was later demolished and the wood used to build the church at Thibodaux. There was no church at Labadieville ... they used to meet at a Mr. Richard's house. To get to Dulac, he would take a boat from Point aux Chene to meet a Mr. Savoie. Mr. Savoie would pick him up in a pirogue and take him to Dulac, where they would hold services in private homes.
He preached at many more locations. His daughter, Maggie, would often accompany him and play the pump organ. Later, during the Depression, several of these churches were closed. Some would reopen in subsequent years, but by then the other Protestant churches had picked up most of the non-Catholic population. His preacher's salary at the time was $500 a year ... not much to support a wife and seven children. He bought a horse in 1917 to get around.
Due to the lack of funds ... his salary had stayed at $500 for six years ... Rev. Martin decided to quit the ministry in 1919. He soon changed his mind and was back in the pulpit.
In 1920, he moved his family to Lydia to serve in Iberia Parish for two years. In 1922, he moved back to Terrebonne Parish and was once again serving the churches "down the bayous" ... Dulac, Grand Caillou, Bayou Blue, Pointe au Chien.
A few years later, Rev. A.D. Martin was left without an appointment. The new presiding elder said that there was no room for uneducated preachers in our district ... and Rev. Martin had only gone through the fourth grade. Now, remember, Rev. Martin had founded and served churches throughout Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes. Rev. A.D. Martin was an excellent example of the fact that education is not necessarily what makes a good minister of the Gospel. Rev. Martin had common sense, zealousness, and a sincere desire to bring Christ to his French neighbors.
It didn't take long before the presiding elder realized that the French churches were not growing. The presiding elder called upon Robert Martin and said, "tell Brother Anatole I want to see him ... the French churches aren't doing well." Robert answered, "I could have told you that... but you tell him yourself." This conflict was one of the reasons that later sent Rev. A.D. Martin to another Protestant denomination.
Another reason was the lack of money. The Baptist preachers got more money. Rev. Martin had always struggled to make ends meet.
In the 1930's he took correspondence courses to study the ministry. In 1936, he was ordained as a Baptist minister. He held the first Baptist services in Dulac. The Baptist services were conducted on a church that floated on the bayou on top of a barge. He pastored the Bayou Dularge Baptist Church from 1938 to 1948, when he had to retire because of his health. He soon joined the staff of the MacDonell School and later resumed serving the Methodist Church as a local preacher. He continued to preach when asked to fill in. He was honored on the television program "Crosswords" in 1954 for his ministry to God and to his fellow man.
In his later years, he would walk from his home on Goaux Avenue to the courthouse every day to visit. He passed away on February 27, 1966.
Methodistm Along the Bayou, Tim Hebert, 1994
Available free online; softcover available from FUMC Houma for $15
Sunrise on the Bayou, Polly Broussard Martin, 2002
Available from Polly Martin; hardcover - $30