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Below is a family biography included in The History of Lawrence County, Missouri published by Goodspeed Publishing Company in 1888.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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John S. Coleman was born in Roane County, Tenn., February 18, 1830, and is the third son of William S. and Elizabeth (Shaw) Coleman, who emigrated from Virginia to Tennessee in 1828. The father died in July, 1832, leaving his wife and the following children: William J., Thomas B., Mary A., John S. and Lydia E. The mother was left in quite destitute circumstances, but by unfailing energy and the assistance of her children, who began assisting her at an early age, she managed to keep the wolf from the door, and in time established a pleasant and comfortable home for them. Their educational advantages were quite limited, but, by the encouragement and aid of their mother, became well versed in the “three R’s.” At the age of eighteen years John S. Coleman was given three years in which to learn the mill-wright and carpenter’s trade, and in the fall of 1850 came to Springfield and began working as a journeyman, but in February left Springfield and began working for a company engaged in manufacturing wheat cleaning mills. October 21 of the following year he was married to Miss Lucy A. Smith, of Greene County (now Webster County). At this time he had saved about $200 from his wages, and by the aid of friends, and in partnership with another gentleman, engaged in the fanning-mill business, but closed out in 1857. His share of the profits amounted to $1,200. January 26, 1858, his wife died, leaving two children: Lewis T. (deceased) and Lucy J. (now the wife of W. H. Bradford). Mr. Coleman engaged in the mercantile business in Webster County, and in the fall of 1858 was married to Miss Sarah A. Ruffin, who has borne him four children: McCord L., Jackson W., Ulysses L. and Fenton D. In the latter part of May, 1861, he helped organize a home guard company, and was elected its captain. At this time he invoiced his goods, notes and accounts, and was found to be worth about $4,000, but nearly all this was lost during the war. His company served under Gens. Lyon and Sigel at Springfield, Mo., and August 10, 1861, the battle of Wilson’s Creek was fought. Gen. Lyon was killed, the Federal army retreated back to Rolla, Mo., and August 28 of the same year he organized Company A, Phelp’s Regiment Missouri Volunteer Infantry, at Rolla, Mo., and January 19, 1862, the regiment marched from Rolla, Mo., under command of Gen. Curtis, against the rebels who were stationed at Springfield under command of Gen. Price, which place they reached February 13, 1862. Price retreated, pursued by the Federals, into Arkansas. His company led the advance. The hottest engagement on the retreat was on Sugar Creek, Ark., February 17 or 18, 1862. Price was soon reinforced by Gen. VanDorn, and returned and surrounded the Federals, and the battle of Pea Ridge was fought March 6, 7 and 8, 1862. Twenty-three men in Mr. Coleman’s company were killed and wounded. April 11, 1862, the company was mustered out, their term of service having expired, and August 2 of the same year Mr. Coleman was elected captain of Company B, Seventy-fourth Enrolled Missouri Militia, and was actively engaged in serving under Gens. Totten, Schofield, McNeil and Holland. In November, 1862, he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel of the Seventy-fourth Enrolled Missouri Militia, and in January, 1863, his command was attacked by Marmaduke’s men, who, after being repulsed at Springfield, endeavored to take the government trains he and his men were guarding; the rebels charged his command several times, but were repulsed. March 26, 1863, he was made lieutenant-colonel of the Sixth Provisional Regiment Missouri Rangers, and operated with his command in Lawrence, Jasper, Newton, McDonald, Barry, Stone and other southwestern counties, where he did effective service. His conduct was very offensive to the Copperheads in Southwest Missouri, and his commission as lieutenant-colonel was demanded of Gov. Hall, who was at that time provisional governor of Missouri. Mr. Coleman afterward assisted in organizing the Forty-sixth Missouri Infantry Volunteers, and would have been major of the same had not Gov. Hall interfered. He, however, served as a private until the close of his term of service. In 1865 Gov. Fletcher, of Missouri, presented him with a colonel’s commission, but the war closed about this time, and he returned home to rebuild his fortunes. He located at Marshfield, Mo., and engaged in the mercantile business, but sold out in 1867 and moved to his farm on the James, six miles south of Marshfield, where he built a steam flouring mill and wool-carding machine. In 1872 he moved to North Springfield and built the Anchor Mills, but sold out in 1877, and has since been a resident of Marionville. He engaged in the mercantile business, the firm name being J. S. Coleman & Sons, but sold out in 1881. In June, 1886, he accepted a position with the Equitable Mortgage Company, of Kansas City, Mo., but resigned in November, 1887, came home and engaged in the real estate and loan business, and is also insurance agent and notary public. He is a member of the Baptist Church, and in his political views is a stanch Republican. His sons are all in business for themselves in Marionville with the exception of Fenton D., who is yet a small boy and resides with his parents. One of the coolest acts of bravery during the late war was that of Lydia E. Short, youngest sister of Mr. Coleman. Her husband at his door-yard was attacked by two murderers, who were overpowering him, when she took up the axe and demanded the men to let go her husband. They refused. She struck with her axe and killed one, and struck at the other’s head, brushing it. The murderer ran for life, leaving her the defender of her husband and home. She has since died, but her acts are cherished by her many loyal friends as a brave Christian woman who proved true in time of need.

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This family biography is one of 272 biographies included in The History of Lawrence County, Missouri published in 1888.  For the complete description, click here: Lawrence County, Missouri History, Genealogy, and Maps

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