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Luke Martin Jr., 97; son of ex-slave, Union vet

Luke Martin Jr. at the 2013 unveiling of a monument to his father’s regiment.
Luke Martin Jr. at the 2013 unveiling of a monument to his father’s regiment.Bill Hand/New Bern Sun Journal

RALEIGH, N.C. — Luke Martin Jr., the son of a former slave and Civil War Union soldier, has died — 179 years after his father was born.

Mr. Martin was 97 when he died Sunday at his home in New Bern, N.C., said his daughter, Fannie Martin-Williams. Her father suffered from congestive heart failure and other ailments.

‘‘He had a long, full life,’’ Martin-Williams said of her father, with whom she lived in the house where he was born — a house his father built in the 1890s. ‘‘He enjoyed every minute of it.’’

Mr. Martin had little memory of his father, Luke Martin Sr., who died at age 84 when the son was just a few years old, according to Martin-Williams.

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According to multiple historical references, Luke Martin Sr. was enslaved at a plantation near Plymouth, N.C., but escaped and became a member of the First North Carolina Colored Volunteers, later called the 35th US Colored Troops.

The US Colored Troops were established in 1863 and by the end of the Civil War, black soldiers composed 10 percent of the Union Army.