Joel V. Birdwell was born in 1849 to Allen B. Birdwell and Sarah Vannoy. After marrying Mary E. Martin, daughter of John D. Martin and Sarah Crawford, in September 1874 in Nacogdoches County; they had four children. The children, born between 1876 and 1895, were Oscar, Allen, Era and Joe. The family lived for a period of time in Martinsville, founded by Mary's father. Joel was said to have a business established in the community at one time.
(Fuller, Fulton. "Martinsville." Nacogdoches County Families. Dallas: Curtis Media Corporation, 1985.)