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John A. Coleman


Posted By: Cathy Joynt Labath (email)
Date: 12/21/2006 at 13:27:55

A History of Montana by Helen Fitzgerald Sanders. 2 vols. Chicago & New York: Lewis Publishing Co., 1913.

JOHN A. COLEMAN, now one of the best-known and most successful lawyers in the city of Lewistown, Montana, where he has been established since 1909, has seen a varied existence since he first began to fend for himself at the tender age of ten years. Ambition and perseverance have constituted the keynote of his life, and he has never been a stranger to hard work. He saw to the acquiring of an education without assistance from family or friends, and the position which he occupies today in Lewistown is the direct result of his own concerted effort.

Mr. Coleman was born in Allamakee county, Iowa, on the 27th of June, 1877, and is the seventh child of the fourteen born to his parents, Michael and Margaret (Corcoran) Coleman. Michael Coleman was born in County Galway, Ireland, while the mother was a native of Covington, Kentucky.

When Michael Coleman was two years of age he came with his parents to America. He was a youth of fifteen years when the Civil war broke out, and straightaway his combative and heroic spirit manifested itself in a compelling desire to enlist. His youth caused his parents to resist his impulse and determination but nothing daunted, the young patriot did not hesitate to take "French leave" of his home and family. He was so unfortunate as to be apprehended before he was able to enlist, and was taken home, much to his disgust. His ardor was not dampened by this slight check, however, and it is of record that the boy ran away a second and a third time before he finally accomplished his purpose and succeeded in joining the Union forces, in which he served honorably until the close of the war. For a full quarter century Michael Coleman Montana and followed the business of railroading, but at present he is living on his ranch in North Dakota. His wife died at Livingston, Montana, in 1901, in the fifty-seventh year of her life. Two of the daughters make their homes in this state. Elizabeth, the wife of John J. O'Connor, lives in Butte, and Stella, who married Michael Crowley, lives in Logan, Montana.

In 1881, four years after the birth of John Coleman in Allamakee county, Iowa, he was brought to North Dakota by his parents, but the stay of the family there was a short one, as it was their desire to locate in the extreme west, or at least, to a more distant part of the west than is represented by the Dakotas. Their next move took them to Eastern Montana, which was their home until 1891, and from there they moved to Livingston. The family continued to reside there until the death of the mother in 1901. John Coleman early began to care for himself and at the age of ten he found his first employment in the selling of fancy autograph cards, which will be remembered as being immensely popular in those days. He soon gave up that work to take a regular job as herder for the Hatchet Company, at a salary of forty-five dollars, a month. This money he gave to his mother to assist in the support of the large family of which he was one. When they moved to Livingston, he was fourteen years old , and there he secured work with the Northern Pacific Railroad as clerk in their store room department. During these years the boy attended school whenever he found it in any way possible, as he had a determination to secure something of an education, at whatever cost. He succeeded in completing the high school course in Livingston when he was nineteen and he straightaway left that city and went to Minneapolis, where he entered the University of Minnesota after completing his entrance requirements at St. Thomas college in St. Paul. His passage through the University was made possible through his own efforts, as he worked his own way, and in 1900 was graduated from the University. He then returned to Montana and entered the law office of A.J. Campbell of Butte, with whom he was associated for about two years. He was then appointed deputy county attorney for Silver bow county, spending two years in that office, after which he engaged in private practice in Butte. He was one of the attorneys for the Heinze Company, of western fame, and also for the Fusion party. In 1904 Mr. Coleman was sent to the legislature from Silver Bow county, and served one term, and he has since then taken a particularly active part in the field of politics, the ranks of the Democratic party finding in him a fighter of strength and courage, and one of the best of organizers. Although he is a Democrat in his politics, Mr. Coleman is a warm personal friend of Colonel Roosevelt, with whom he became acquainted on a cattle ranch in North Dakota.

On June 15, 1908, Mr. Coleman married Miss Anna Maguire, who is the daughter of Charles and Rosanna Maguire, of Boulder, Montana. The marriage was solemnized in the city of Bozeman. Three sons have been born to them: John M., the eldest, was born in Butte; Don C., was born in Lewistown in 1910, and Joseph B was also born in Lewistown in 1912.

Mr. and Mrs. Coleman are devout communicants of the Roman Catholic church, and are very active in its work. Mr. Coleman is a member of the Knights of Columbus, and in both Butte and Lewistown has been prominent in that organization. He has been Grand Knight in the lodge of both cities, and has been especially active in the work of the order. He is also a member of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, and is a member of the Judith Club and Elks Club of Lewistown.

Irish in Iowa

Allamakee Biographies maintained by Sharyl Ferrall.
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