Monday, May 6, 2013


The Larkin Company workforce in 1883 (John D. Larkin and Elbert Hubbard not present)
Darwin D. Martin at 17 (second from right. executive Daniel Coss, with large mustache, stands to Darwin's right and his brother, William Coss, is
 the tall man second from the left at  the top)

Darwin Martin arrived at the Larkin Company in 1879 at the  age of 14 to work as the company's bookkeeper for three dollars a week. His salary rose to $10.00 per week in 1883 when he was  given his first vacation, a week. Martin's capacity for work was astonishing. He typically worked six ten-hour days a week but often returned to the office Sunday mornings to clean up and write letters to his family. In the summer of 1883 he worked long hours at night at the Larkin office transcribing 86,000 customer accounts from ledger books to index cards (thereby creating the first Cardex system). In his spare time (spare time?) he sold his brother, William's, E-Z Stove Polish door-to-door, commissioned a small house that he rented out for additional income, studied bookkeeping practices at a local YMCA class and read voraciously. The death of his boarding house roommate,  Daniel Robins, a railroad brakeman, in January 1883 cast a pall over the year but did not diminish Martin's drive to succeed. BY 1906 Darwin Martin became a millionaire and built the house that would give expression to all those years of hard work.

The Darwin D. Martin House (photo: Jack Quinan)