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COLEMAN, Abel Thomas

Author: The History of Florida:  Past & Present, The Lewis Publishing Co., 1923,  Vol. II p311

COLEMAN, ABEL THOMAS. There are very few men without some ambition,
but not all of them by any manner of means are able to carry out their aims
and live up to their won expectations. ABEL THOMAS COLEMAN, sheriff of Sumter
County, is one of the men of this region whose greatest ambition is to be the
best sheriff this county has ever had in office, and while he may not reach
his own limit of achievement, he is living up to the highest conception of his
fellow citizens with reference to this office, as is proven by the fact that
they returned him to office, and the further one that they stand back of him
in all of his progressive movements. Mr. COLEMAN is a man of the people. For
many years he was poor, and had to struggle hard each step of his way, but,
perhaps because of this, he has earned the reputation of getting whatever he
goes after whether it be personal success, public improvements, or escaping
ABEL THOMAS COLEMAN was born at Abbeville, Georgia, October 25, 1858,
a son of WILLIAM and EMILY (WRIGHT) COLEMAN, the former born in Wilcox County,
Georgia, and the latter in Putnam County, Georgia. WILLIAM COLEMAN was killed
in battle February 8, 1864, while serving in the Confederate Army. His
untimely death left his widow to the support of ABEL THOMAS and an elder
brother, and the two lads worked hard at whatever came their way to take care
of her. Much schooling was out of the question, and Sheriff COLEMAN acquired
the greater part of his education after he was a man grown.
Until 1866 Sheriff COLEMAN lived in Georgia but in that year came to
Florida, and for a time was a resident of Leesburg. Subsequently he came to
Sumter County, and for seven years engaged in farming, which occupation had
been his calling in Georgia. In 1873 he became a marine engineer on
steamboats plying on the Suwannee River, the Gulf of Mexico and the
Withlacoochee River, and he continued in this line of work until 1904, when he
returned to Sumter County. During his life on a steamboat he came into
contact with all classes of men, and learned how to handle them and the
motives which govern them, and this experience has been of great advantage to
him in office. For some years he was engaged in farming, and still has large
agricultural interests near Bushnell. In 1905 he was elected sheriff of
Sumter County, and with the exception of a part of one term has served in that
office ever since. He has made his office self-supporting, and has inspired
the feeling that he is not an official to be trifled with, although the wrong
doers know that he will see that each one of them receive fair treatment.
Therefore, while underworld fears him, they all give him an unqualified
respect, and many bestow upon him a confidence none other could extract.
Sheriff COLEMAN is not only a just man, he is a good one as well, and is
sincere in his profession of Christianity through his membership with the
Baptist Church, of which he is a deacon. During the late war Sheriff COLEMAN
acted as chairman of the Draft Board of his community, and all of his war work
was active in character. In fact, everything he does is of that nature, for
he is not a man to sit back and give orders; he acts them, and others have
difficulty in keeping up with him. As a citizen he has been keenly interested
in and identified with all progressive and constructive work for the benefit
of the community and the uplifting of humanity. He is equally zealous in
behalf of the Masonic fraternity.
Sheriff COLEMAN has been twice married. His first wife bore the
maiden name of JEANETTE G. CARRUTHERS, and she died, leaving two living
children; Mrs. MAYBELLE MORRIS, who is a resident of Tampa, Florida; and
WILLIAM THOMAS, who is deputy sheriff under his father, and is a veteran of
the World war. Sheriff COLEMAN married for his second wife Mrs. ANNIE (WARD)
FIELDS, of Sumter County, a member of one of the pioneer families of this
region. There are no children of this marriage. Mrs. COLEMAN is also active
in church work, and ably seconds her husband in his efforts to raise the
standards of morality in the city and county.

Pesented by Nancy Rayburn

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