Simon J Martenet

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Simon J Martenet
General Information
April 13, 1832
Baltimore, Maryland
November 6, 1892
Baltimore, Maryland
Loudon Park Cemetery
Alma Mater
City College
Philena L. Fussell
Martenet, Simon signature.jpg
Professional Accomplishments
Elected 6 times as City Surveyor


Simon Jonas Martenet, surveyor, mapmaker and real estate consultant, was born April 13, 1832, and died in Baltimore on November 6, 1892, at the age of 60. He was a son of Jonas Martenet, a native of Switzerland, who came to Baltimore and died when his son Simon was not quite four. Jonas became a naturalized citizen, and he may be the "John Martnelk" who died at age 40 of bilious fever, and was buried at German Lutheran Church Cemetery the week ending 28 December 1835.[1] City directories for 1835 show that a "Joseph" Martenet lived on French Street opposite Exeter, and Catherine Martenet, possibly his widow, was listed in the directories a few years later, at the same address.

Young Simon went to work after school hours at an early age, and, from then City Surveyor Thomas P. Chiffelle, learned the business of surveyor and civil engineer. By 1867 he had published an atlas and a large map of Maryland that was so accurate that the General Assembly provided copies for all the public schools in the state. His maps and atlases at the State Archives span the years 1858 to 1886, but Firm records indicate that maps were produced and sold up to the time of the Great Baltimore Fire, February 7-8, 1904.

He was elected six times to the office of City Surveyor of Baltimore: 1867, 1871, 1873, 1875, 1877 and 1879.

He was married in August 1853 to Philena L. Fussell, daughter of Jacob Fussell, a Quaker. She died in 1894. Simon and Philena had nine children including: Jefferson, b. 1855, a surveyor who died at the age of 30; Simon J., b.1856, a businessman in the insurance field, who married Matilda, daughter of August Henry Lange; J. Fussell, M.D., b. 1858, one-time President of the Medical and Chirurgical Society of Maryland; William H., b. 1861, a veterinary surgeon; and Clarissa F., b. 1863, who married Edwin Mabbett. The remaining four children did not survive into adulthood. Jefferson and William both worked at the firm for a time.

Martenet suffered from heart trouble for two years prior to his death, but the actual cause of death was a stroke on November 6, 1892. He is buried at Loudon Park Cemetery along with his wife and other family members.

After his death, his four principal assistants purchased the assets of the firm from his widow and continued the business.

The following is from The Biographical Cyclopedia of Representative Men of Maryland and the District of Columbia:[2]

Martenet, Simon J., City Surveyor of Baltimore was born in that city April 13, 1832. His father, Jonas Martenet, a native of St. Blaise, near Neufchatel, Switzerland, came to this country when scarcely of age, and resided from that time in Baltimore. He died in 1835, leaving his widow, Catherine (Johannes) Martenet, with six sons. Mrs. Martenet was a native of Hesse Cassel, Germany, her father having emigrated to this country with his family and settled in Baltimore in the year 1800. Simon J. was less than four years old at the time of his fathers death, and very early was obliged to exert himself for the maintenance of the family. He was sent to the public schools, finishing his course at the High School, which he entered when just over twelve years of age. After attaining the age of thirteen he supported himself by working out of school hours. He early chose the profession of Surveyor and Civil Engineer, and in March, 1849, began to learn the business practically with Mr. Thomas P. Chiffelle, a graduate of West Point, and City Surveyor of Baltimore for several years. Mr. Chiffelle left Baltimore in 1855, and Mr. Martenet succeeded him in business, in which he has continued to the present time with uninterrupted success. In the same year (1855) he was the Democratic candidate for City Surveyor. Though only twenty-three years of age he was fully competent for the position, having for several years previously done the principal work of the office, but was defeated with his whole ticket by the American party, which was then dominant. During the financial crisis of 1857, when his business had somewhat fallen off in the general depression of that period, to fill up his time he commenced surveys of several counties of the State with the design of making maps of the same, and of finally making and publishing a complete and detailed map of the State of Maryland. He had completed surveys and maps of Cecil, Howard, Kent, Anne Arundel, and Prince Georges counties, and had commenced the work in several others, when the civil war interrupted its further prosecution till 1865. Surveys were then completed and maps made of Carroll and Harford counties, and the remaining counties surveyed for the purposes of the State map only, the entire work having required about 15,000 miles of surveys. The large map and atlas of Maryland which bear his name were published in 1867, and are recognized as the standard representation of the geography of the State. So speedy and so general was this recognition that the following year, by act of the Legislature, copies of the maps were supplied to the public schools throughout the commonwealth. In November, 1867, the first year of the return to power of the Democratic party, Mr. Martenet was elected City Surveyor of Baltimore. He was succeeded in 1869 by Mr. Charles P. Kahler, but was re-elected in 1871, and at the end of each term to the present time, filling this responsible office with great acceptance of the people. In 1871-2 he made an atlas containing very accurate and complete maps in detail of the lands of the Canton Company, which comprised a large part of the eastern section within Baltimore City, and extending several miles into the county, and embracing much of the best manufacturing and water front property in and near the city. This atlas shows the real estate operations of the company from its incorporation for over forty years; and he also, in connection with it, established a complete system of grades on the streets to be projected, covering several square miles of the same territory. The long experience, untiring energy, and ability which Mr. Martenet brings to his work, constitute him as the leading man of the city in his profession. His business is conducted with perfect system; his numerous surveys, maps, and other data, accumulated during the last thirty years, are all recorded and indexed on the plan of a recorders office. He was united in marriage, in August, 1853, with Philena L., daughter of Jacob Fussell, of Baltimore. They have five children living. Jefferson and Simon J., Jr., are also surveyors, and associated with their father in business. Jacob Fussell, the third son, is studying medicine; while William H. and Clarissa F. are still in school. Mr. Martenet is a member of the Society of Friends.



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Project Completed Address Image
Project Completed Address Image
Baltimore City Hall 1875 100 Holliday Street
Baltimore City Hall.jpeg
Francis White mansion 1885 1114 St. Paul Street
Pratt Library 1883 100? W. Mulberry Street
Clifton Park 2801 Harford Road
  1. Peden, Jr., Henry C. (1996). Baltimore City Deaths and Burials 1834-1840. Westminster, MD: Willow Bend Books. ISBN 978-1585490745.
  2. The Biographical Cyclopedia of Representative Men of Maryland and the District of Columbia. Baltimore: National Biographical Publishing Co. 1879. pp. 447–448.