James M. Martin, physician, teacher, and pioneer radiologist, was born to Charles M. and Valeria (Simpson) Martin on December 11, 1867, in St. James, Phelps County, Missouri. The elder Martin was a farmer and stock raiser and served a term in the Missouri legislature. Martin attended the local public schools and then entered the normal school at Valparaiso, Indiana. After graduation he taught school and enrolled at Vichy Normal and Business Institute in Vichy Springs, Missouri. During this time he decided to learn more about medicine and entered the drug business with a cousin in Vichy. He worked part-time in the business and accepted the position of principal at the Vichy Normal and Business Institute. He left in 1890 to enter St. Louis College of Physicians and Surgeons, where he completed studies in general medicine in 1892. Upon graduation, he visited an uncle who owned a ranch near Hillsboro, Texas. Martin stayed on and practiced medicine for six years in that community. A typhoid epidemic in nearby Massey influenced him to move there; he lived in Massey for nine years, operating a drug business. He also served as president of the Hill County Medical Society. Martin took additional training in radiology in 1904. About this time he met Edward H. Cary, dean of Baylor University College of Medicine, who invited him to join the staff there. Martin moved to Dallas in 1906, became a faculty member at Baylor, and established an office in the Wilson Building in downtown Dallas. He specialized in electro-therapeutics and X-ray techniques and developed a particular interest in skin cancer. He taught at Southern Methodist University from 1902 to 1912. He became Baylor's first professor of electro-therapeutics and served in that role until Baylor moved to Houston in 1943. Shortly after the establishment of the Southwestern Medical College in Dallas, Martin was named professor emeritus in its Department of Radiology. He also served on the staff of the Baptist Memorial Sanitarium. In 1912 he authored Practical Electro-Therapeutics and X-Ray Methods.
He was a member of the American Medical Association and the Southern Medical Association and served as president of the American College of Radiology, the Texas Radiological Society, the Dallas Radiological Society, the Physicians Club of Dallas, the Dallas Southern Clinical Society, and the Dallas County Medical Society (1929). He served as chairman of the Cancer Committee of the Texas Medical Society and Texas representative of the American Cancer Society. He was a member of the Rotary Club, the Bonehead Club, the Dallas Athletic Club, Hella Temple Shrine, and the Masonic Lodge. His additional interests included metalcraft, woodcraft, and photography, and he served as president of the Texas Geographic Society. He married Emma Auerbach of Edgar Springs, Missouri, on January 22, 1893. They had one son, Charles Lewis, a prominent Dallas physician, who shared a practice with his father for many years. Following the death of his wife in 1942, Martin moved to his son's residence, a farm in Irving, where he passed his last years. He died in Dallas on September 26, 1947, following a lengthy illness, and was interred at Hillcrest Memorial Park.