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AUGUSTUS AURELIUS COLEMAN
Biography and Genealogy
(b. 1826 SC d.1910 AL)
Jefferson County, Alabama
Augustus A. Coleman, of Birmingham, Ala., was born on May 21, 1826, at Camden, S. C. He was the son of James B. and Louise (Simpson ) Coleman, the former a native of Camden, S.C. James B. Coleman emigrated with his family to Alabama about 1834, and died a few years later. He was a physician and was the son of Robert Coleman, a native of Virginia, who lived and died at Camden, South Carolina.
Louise (Simpson ) Coleman, the wife of James B. Coleman, was born in Neal, France. Her father, Prof. Elias Sampson, was a professor of languages in the university at Neal, France, and during Napoleon’s Russian campaign he acted as the Emperor’s interpreter. On the fall of Napoleon, he was compelled to flee the country and came to Charleston, South Carolina.
Judge Augustus A. Coleman came to Alabama with his parents at an early age and received his primary education in the schools of that period. Later he entered Yale and graduated with a degree of master of arts at the extremely early age of nineteen years. After his graduation, he began the study of law in the office of Edwards, Lapsley & Hunter, at Cahaba, Ala., and a few years later, having been admitted to the bar, he settled in Livingston, Sumter County, and began practice.
In 1858, at the age of twenty-seven years, he was appointed Judge of the seventh judicial district to fill an unexpired term and was elected to that office in the subsequent May. Although Judge Coleman had declined the nomination he was unanimously elected to the secession convention of 1861, and in the startling sessions of that memorable body, he took a leading part. As a member of the Yancey ordinance committee, he was Mr. Yancey’s right-hand man in the preparation of the ordinance of secession. The document was based on a resolution offered by Judge Coleman and was passed by the convention. It set forth that each State, being sovereign and independent, must necessarily withdraw by separate action, etc.
At the beginning of the war, Judge Coleman tendered his resignation as Judge of the seventh judicial district and organized the Fortieth Alabama regiment of infantry, which he commanded for about a year. Then he resumed his seat on the bench, Governor Shorter having refused to accept his resignation. Judge Coleman continued to preside until the close of the war.
During the war Judge Coleman expended about $5,000 from his personal estate for the maintenance of the regiment that he organized, and at the request of the governor, he and the other judges of the State left their entire salaries for two and a half years in the State treasury, to be used for the support of the families of indigent soldiers. At the close of the war a change of administration having been effected, the incoming administration refused to honor the warrant of Judge Coleman for this salary due, and the amount remained in the State Treasury. In 1898 the State legislature passed an act authorizing the treasury to pay this back salary to the order of Judge Coleman, but the bill was vetoed by the incoming governor, and the amount remained unpaid.
After the war, Judge Coleman moved to Greensboro, Hale County, Ala. where he resumed the practice of law and represented Hale county in the general assembly in 1884-85. In the legislature as head of the committee on penitentiaries, he prepared the “Coleman BILL,” on which the entire system of State penitentiaries was then based. He was also very active as a member of the judiciary committee. In 1885, he introduced the law ending the era of powerful state wardens by placing prison administration under a board of inspectors.
In 1887 he moved to Birmingham, where he became one of the most prominent attorneys of that city. In 1896 Judge Coleman was elected first associate Judge of the tenth judicial district. He made an enviable record for learning and legal ability, judicial fairness and fearless discharge of his duties.
Judge Coleman was always a Democrat and a prominent member of the Methodist Episcopal church, in which he has at various times been an officer and a member of the general conference. He was a Chapter Mason and a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and had been noble grand of his local lodge.
Though he was actively engaged in law, he found time for large literary acquirement and was an extensive contributor to various periodicals. His poetry, to quote one of his reviewers, “seems to belong to the polished age of Pope and Dryden, rather than to this hurried, restless age of ours.” He was largely instrumental in the success of several educational institutions in the Southern States, particularly the Southern University at Greenville, Ala., one of the leading institutions under the direction of the Methodist Episcopal church. In the practice of his chosen profession he is everywhere and at all times pronounced the “Nestor of the Bar.”
On Oct. 5, 1848, in Sumter County, Ala., Judge Coleman was married to Amanda M, the daughter of John G. and Elizabeth (Monett) Phares, of Sumter County, Ala. Judge and Mrs. Coleman were the parents of seven children, all boys.
In 1900, sons, Augustus A. Coleman, Jr. lived in Chicago, and Phares in Montgomery had been for a number of years the reporter of Supreme Court decisions of the State of Alabama. He was an efficient attorney and prominent throughout the State.
Mrs. Amanda Coleman died in 1876, and on April 28, 1892, Judge Coleman married Mary Stuart, the daughter of Dr. Charles Stuart of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Dr. Stuart was a member of the noted family of that name in Virginia. They had one child, Stuart born May 10, 1895. Augustus Coleman died June 4, 1910, and is buried in Greensboro Cemetery, Greensboro, Hale County, Alabama.
- Convicts, Coal, and the Banner Mine Tragedy By Robert David Ward, William Warren Roger
- The Yale literary magazine
- The Magazine of poetry and literary review By Charles Wells Moulton
- Notable men of Alabama edited by Joel Campbell DuBose Vol. III
- Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale University…By Yale University
- Find A Grave.com Memorial# 110930768 # 72246390
This biography can be found in Biographies of Notable and Not-so-Notable Alabama Pioneers Volume V