Resident of Battle Ground celebrates 100th birthday


Grace Jemison-Martin reached the century milestone on Saturday, Feb. 11. 

Raised in the North Clark County area, Jemison-Martin has witnessed a lot of change in many aspects of her life.  

On Thursday, Feb. 9, a birthday party for Jemison-Martin was held at Battle Ground’s Mallard Landing Assisted Living facility where she is a resident. 

“It scares me,” she said about her upcoming birthday. “I can’t imagine I’m that old.”

Jemison-Martin was born in Portland on Feb. 11, 1923. She was born a month earlier than expected. At the time of her birth, a consistent snowfall and freezing temperatures made travel difficult. 

When she was 3 months old, her family bought an 80-acre farm along present day Northeast 299th Street. 

During that time, the roads were dirt that easily turned to mud. In the process of moving, their truck became stuck in the mud on present day Highway 503. In order to complete the moving process, the family’s piano had to be moved onto a wagon so the truck could maneuver out of the mud and finish the journey. The house she grew up in was built by a Civil War veteran. It had no electricity, no radio, and Jemison-Martin referred to it as pioneer living at the start. 

“I was 9 years old before we got electricity,” Jemison-Martin said. “I used to study my schoolwork by an old kerosene lamp.” 

The muddy roads eventually became gravel roads. Jemison-Martin wished she had electricity earlier in life, noting it’s something many people take for granted. 

Jemison-Martin graduated from Battle Ground High School in the class of 1941. When she graduated from high school, Lewisville Park was only a year old. 

Jemison-Martin worked for The Reflector in the 1950s. When John and Olivia Dodge were the owners, Jemison-Martin wrote stories for the paper as a freelancer which soon turned into a full-time job. 

“One day, John Dodge turned up at the house and wanted to know if I’d work for them,” Jemison-Martin said. “It was a one girl office at the time. I answered the phone, went out to the public, and wrote stories.” 

Jemison-Martin also wrote a book titled “The History of Battle Ground” in the 1950s, which was on display with her more recent artwork and photos of her life in the dining hall of Mallard Landing during one of her birthday celebrations. 

In 1969, Jemison-Martin got married and moved to Butte, Montana. Her husband worked for the historic Anaconda Company in Anaconda, Montana. She worked in the Murray Medical Clinic of Butte. When her husband retired, the two moved to Apache Junction, Arizona where they established a band for fellow senior citizens to enjoy music and have potlucks. As many as 100 people came to their house for 23 years to listen to their music. Jemison-Martin’s husband died in March 2006, but she stayed in Apache Junction up until a few years ago. She lived on her own until the age of 97 and continued to drive up until then. 

“I think the worst things are, if you lose a loved one, have cancer, or have to give up your car,” Jemison-Martin added. 

Jemison-Martin now has the company of her pet cat at Mallard Landing Assisted Living. She continues to write letters and send cards on a daily basis to keep herself busy. 

She has always had good food, which she said is the key to reaching the 100 year mark.