Family Stories

Robert E. Coleman, Biography

From Mercer County, Kentucky, Biographies

Robert E. Coleman, the proprietor of the largest livery stable in Harrodsburg, is a native of Mercer County, and was born July 14, 1836.  His father, James H. Coleman, was born in Spottsylvania County, Virginia, October 6, 1809, and when a boy of twelve years of age was brought by his parents to Mercer County, where he spent most of his life.  He was a successful business man, and acquired in the course of his business career a very good English education, being an expert penman, at his death, although he could not legibly write when twenty-one.  He owned twenty-three slaves and a farm east of Harrodsburg of 300 acres, being worth before the war $20,000, but lost his property on account of sympathizing with the Confederacy.  He was married October 8,1833, to Miss Martha A., daughter of Henry and Linda (Linthacomb) Lewis, both Virginians.  Linda Lewis was a daughter of Thomas Linthacomb, a Virginian of great wealth, who immigrated to Bardstown, Kentucky, where he died and is buried.  To the marriage of James H. and Martha Coleman were born ten children:  Robert E.; Rev. Thomas H., a Baptist minister living near Georgetown, Kentucky; Sally Ann, who died at St. Catharine’s Academy at the age of thirteen; Linda L., wife of James E. Conrad, deceased; Rev. James M., a Baptist minister living in Lincoln County; Simeon Burton, a farmer living near Bardstown, in Nelson County; Susan Elizabeth, wife of Mr. Simpson, and living in Bardstown; Burr H., farmer in Nelson County; Ellen B., wife of Julius Bukey of Nelson County, and a daughter Sally, who died in infancy.  Of these children, Sally Ann and Linda are now dead.  James M. Coleman enlisted in Captain Gabe Alexander’s company, of Morgan’s cavalry, but lost his health and resigned.  He did not recover for several years after the war.  James H. Coleman was a member of the Baptist Church, and departed this life January 23, 1876.  Mrs. Coleman, who has been a member of the Baptist Church since sixteen years of age, is living with her daughter, Ellen, in Nelson County, in the sixty-ninth year of her age.  James Coleman, grandfather of Robert Coleman, was a Virginian, owning his farm and slaves.  He was married in Virginia to Miss Mary Penny, and all of their children, eleven in number, except one, were born in Virginia.  Their names were Meredith R., a farmer and trader in the South in horses and mules; John L., a farmer and trader in horses; Bozell W., same occupation; Robert E., a slave trader; James H., Mary R. (Daniel), George D., Linsfield, Jane Amanda (Sorral), Maria (Dedman), and Thomas C., of whom George D. and Thomas C. are now living in Mercer County, and Thomas C. is in affluent circumstances.  Their brother, Robert E. Coleman, began life with no property except a sow and pigs, and in 1833, when he was killed by his slaves and a white man, was worth $30,000.  The negroes were hung, but the white man, because negro evidence was not valid in Kentucky courts, escaped punishment.  James Coleman immigrated to Mercer County in 1820, and at his death owned a farm of 800 acres.  The Coleman family are of English-Irish origin.  Robert E. Coleman, subject of these lines, received a fair business education in youth, at country schools, attending Bacon College, one five months’ term.  He left home at the age of nineteen, and began a life of agriculture, trading at the same time in horses in the South, both of which he engaged in for the first seven years.  At the age of twenty, March 6, 1856, he was united in marriage to miss Margaret A., daughter of Stephen and Mary O. (Alexander) Hughes, both Virginians and of English-Scotch origin.  Stephen Hughes, who was a veteran of the War of 1812, enlisting when only seventeen years of age, was a farmer and trader during life.  Mr. Coleman carried on agriculture until 1874 and during this time traded extensively in blooded horses, and bred and raised them.  By the panic in 1873 he lost very heavily, having nothing left when he embarked in the livery business in 1879.  He owned three horses and two vehicles at that time, and no other earthly possessions, and now runs one of the largest livery stables in the State, the building being 260 feet long, and forty-two feet wide, in which he has horses and vehicles to the amount of $6,000.  Mr. Coleman was the first man in Mercer County who sold a pair of horses as high as $1,200, and the first who sold a trotting horse as high as $2,000.  Three times he has failed and begun on nothing, and during this time has not received a dollar that he did not earn.  To Mr. and Mrs. Coleman have been born seven children:  Stevana A., wife of L. D. Cardwell of Harrodsburg; Clara, wife of Edward Rosser, railroad contractor.  To them was born one child, Robert E. Rosser, born November 11, 1882; Thomas H., Jr., a partner of R. E. Coleman in the livery business; Mamie, wife of John M. Moberly, a bookkeeper in Harrodsburg – have one child, a boy; James H., a farmer in Reeder, Kiowa County, Kansas; Roberta and Robert, twins, of whom Robert died aged four years.  Mrs. Coleman is a member of the Baptist Church in Harrodsburg, and Mr. Coleman, who has always been Democratic in politics, is a member of no organization except the I. O. O. F. and K. of H.  His son, Thomas H., Jr., was married in April, 1884, to Miss Dixie, a daughter of Henry Cohen, a trader who lives near Georgetown, Kentucky.  To this marriage has been born one child, Rosser.

8 replies »

  1. My great-grandmother was Stevana (also called Stevia) Coleman; her sisters were Clara, Roberta (twin of Robert who died at age 4, and I think there was one more sister. Stevia married Llewellyn Cardwell, and their children included my grandmother, Tebbetts Cardwell who married A.H. Borjes of Cincinnati. They are both buried in Harrodsburg in Spring Hill Cemetery.

Leave a Reply