Heritage Server > Our People > John Coleman

"Mr. Coleman was born at Walton, England, August 9, 1823, and moved to Toronto, Canada, in 1846. When lured by the reports of the discovery of gold, he joined a party of Argonauts who journeyed across the almost trackless plains and mountains, arriving in California in 1850, when with pan and rocker, he followed the occupation of gold hunting.

"Like many of our early settlers, the desire to ‘return to the States’ possessed him, and in November 1852, he sailed for New York via Panama—but like the rest, the life of California beckoned him back, and in April 1853 he purchased a band of cattle, and on May 10, in company with his brother Edward, he crossed the Missouri and entered upon a second tramp to California, locating at Iowa Hill, when with pan and rocker he resumed the occupation of gold hunting, remaining until 1867, when they moved to Grass Valley and purchased and opened the famous Idaho mine, and for nearly thirty years thereafter, Mr. Coleman was a leader in the development of Nevada County.

"He was the first president of the Narrow Gauge Railroad from Colfax to Nevada City, and represented his county in the state senate, which settled the important question of impounding the mining debris.

"Mr. Coleman removed to San Francisco in 1893 and assumed the duty of directory of [the Fireman’s Fund], to which he had been elected in anticipation of his residence here, and served twenty-seven successive years on our board.

"During the critical times following the 1906 conflagration his earnest loyalty and wise council made him a tower of strength to our Officers, and his strong financial standing and unquestioning integrity assisted in securing public confidence, without which our company, without which our company could never have accomplished its restoration.

"Coleman was one of the original stockholders of the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company. [He and his brother] gave financial support in the formation of the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. One of their earliest interests was the North Pacific Coast Railroad, now part of the Northwestern Pacific System. John Coleman was vice-president of that company for several years. For many years Coleman was an active Mason and Knight Templar, being noted, also, for his church and philanthropic work.

"Death removed our oldest Director on March 23, 1919, at the ripe old age of ninety five years. He was survived by nine children."

Quoted from Fireman’s Fund Archives, [04-03-01-001-0052-0813]


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