Martha (Porter) Collester (1819-1912) was born to in 1819 in Kentucky. Not much is known about her early life. No primary sources could be found that listed her parents, but a family member’s Ancestry tree listed her parents as James and Amelia Naomi (Nash) Porter. On April 9, 1842, she married Benjamin Franklin Collester in Vigo County, IN. Benjamin was a cabinetmaker as well as a private in the US Army during the Civil War. He died during the War on July 29, 1864 in Pine Bluff, AR and is buried in a military grave at Little Rock National Cemetery. Together the couple had four children: Charlotte, Charles, James Franklin, and Eliza.
According to the 1860 census, Martha was living in Louisville with her sons Charles and James Franklin. The household was also comprised of two other women and their children meaning this was likely a boarding house. The 1870 census shows Martha living with her son James Franklin, a machinist, and her daughter Eliza, a seamstress. Martha was keeping house. Her daughter Charlotte was living in the adjacent household her with husband William McKnight and their four children. In 1880, Martha was living on Jefferson Street with her daughter Eliza, Eliza’s husband Benjamin Murray, and their three children.
The city directories in the 1880s and 1890s show Martha boarding at different locations in the Portland Neighborhood—Rowan and 29th Streets, 2500 block of W. Market Street, and Pirtle Street. The 1900 and 1910 censuses list Martha as a resident of the Louisville City Almshouse, which was also known as the Home for the Aged and Infirm in Shively. On July 12, 1912, Martha died at the approximate age of 92. She was buried in Eastern Cemetery. Her grave appears to be unmarked. The photo of Martha and Benjamin is from Find a Grave user Robert W. Collester III.