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Guide to the Colman Family Papers, 1827-1894 MSS V

Guide to the Colman Family Papers, 1827-1894


Summary Information

Rev. Henry Root Colman, father of Charles, Elihu, Henry, and Julia, was born October 9th, 1800, in Northampton, New York. Colman became a Methodist minister who took charge of the Oneida Methodist mission near Green Bay, Wisconsin in 1840. Colman died February 7th, 1895. Of Colman’s three sons, Charles Lane Colman became a prominent citizen of La Crosse, Wisconsin, and was head of the C. L. Colman Lumber Co. Records consist mainly of the personal correspondence of the Reverend Henry Root Colman’s children to their father and mother. His children were Charles Lane Colman, Elihu Colman, Reverend Henry Colman, and Julia Colman. Also included are notebooks of Charles Lane Colman and essays written by Julia Colman.
Collection Title
Colman Family Papers
Date of Materials
Colman family
Call Number
0.2 cubic feet
Physical Description
1 archives box
Language of Materials
La Crosse Public Library Archives

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Colman Family Papers, MSS V, La Crosse Public Library Archives, La Crosse, WI

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Biographical Note

Rev. Henry Root Colman, father of Charles, Elihu, Henry, and Julia, was born October 9th, 1800, in Northampton, New York. He took up farming in his early years, but entered the ministry in 1831 and became a Methodist Episcopal preacher on the missionary circuit. In 1840, he and his family moved to Wisconsin where he was a missionary among the Oneida Indians near Green Bay and later near Fond du Lac. During this time he helped found Lawrence College in Appleton. Ill health eventually forced him to retire from the ministry. Colman died February 7th, 1895.

Charles Lane Colman was born February 23rd, 1826, in Northampton, New York. In 1840 he moved with his family to Wisconsin to an area near Green Bay. During these early years, Charles was educated almost entirely by his father, H. R. Colman. He became involved in farming before moving to La Crosse and starting his shingle manufacturing business in 1854. The business grew rapidly, having a capital stock of $1,000,000 when the C.L. Colman Lumber Co. was incorporated in 1899. Colman himself became a prominent and respected businessman and citizen of La Crosse. He served several terms on the La Crosse city council and was mayor of La Crosse in 1869. C. L. Colman married Laura Place of Fond du Lac in 1850. They had three sons and one daughter. Colman died July 1st, 1901.

Elihu Colman was born May 11, 1841, in Brown County, Wisconsin. He attended Lawrence College until 1861 when he enlisted in Company “G”, First Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers, Cavalry. He was discharged in January, 1863 because of physical disability. He graduated from Lawrence in 1865 and was admitted to the Bar in 1866. Colman was elected to the state legislature in 1872 and ran for congress in 1880 as a Republican, losing a close race. In 1863 President Arthur appointed him chairman of a commission to examine 150 miles of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad in Arizona. In February of 1890 he accepted an appointment by President Harrison to the position of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. He also helped to organize the Fond du Lac Public Library. He married Elizabeth M. Hill on September 29th, 1868.

Rev. Henry Colman was born May 14th, 1834, in Addison County, Vermont. He moved with his family to Wisconsin in 1840. In 1857 he graduated from Lawrence College in the first graduating class of that school. In 1858 he joined the Methodist Episcopal Conference and entered the ministry in 1861. He was principal of the Evansville Seminary in Rock County, Wisconsin from 1863 to 1867. After leaving the school he served many Wisconsin pastorates, primarily in Milwaukee, until his retirement in 1909. Colman was also a trustee of Lawrence College for 60 years. Colman married Lucinda S. Darling on September 20th, 1860. They had three children.

No biographical information was found on H. R. Colman’s daughter Julia or his sister, also named Julia.

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Scope and Contents

The Colman papers document the personal lives of the Colman family, of whom Charles Lane Colman became an important figure in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The collection is made up mostly of personal correspondence to Rev. and Mrs. Henry Root Colman from his three sons and one daughter. The collection is divided into six sections, each corresponding to a different family member; Rev. Henry Root Colman, his sons Charles Lane Colman, Elihu Colman, Rev. Henry Colman, his daughter Julia Colman (letters), and his sister Julia Colman (essays). Julia Colman's essays have a scholarly slant and say nothing about the Colman family. They cover the years 1847-1851.

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Arranged in three series:

Series 1: Reverend Henry Root Colman

Series 2: Charles Lane Colman

Series 3: Other Family Members

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

La Crosse Public Library Archives 1987 June

800 Main St.
La Crosse, Wisconsin, 54601
(608) 789-7136

Access to Materials

Materials in this collection are available for patron use.

Acquisitions Information

(Accession No. 1984.006) Transferred from the La Crosse County Historical Society

Processing Information

Processed by Bill Petersen, June 1987

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Controlled Access Headings

Family Name(s)

  • Colman family

Personal Name(s)

  • Colman, Charles Lane, 1826-1901
  • Colman, Elihu, 1841-
  • Colman, Henry Root, 1800-1895
  • Colman, Henry, 1834-
  • Colman, Julia, 1828-1909
  • Colman, Julia


  • Banks and banking--Wisconsin--La Crosse--History
  • Businessmen--Wisconsin--La Crosse
  • Lawyers--Wisconsin--La Crosse

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OCLC Number


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Collection Inventory

 (Series 1) Reverend Henry Root Colman 

Scope and Contents

The Reverend Henry Root Colman series is made up of correspondence to Colman from various individuals, mostly people that were not members of his immediate family. The section contains letters from C. S. Pillsbury and miscellaneous correspondence. The letters from C. S. Pillsbury concern H.R. Colman’s interests in the Monitor and N. W. Silver Mining Company in 1871. The miscellaneous section is divided into two parts covering different years, 1837-1850 and 1867-1892. Both parts are made up of personal and religious matters.

Box Folder

Letters from C. S. Pillsbury, 1871 

1 1

Miscellaneous correspondence 

Box Folder


1 2


1 3

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 (Series 2) Charles Lane Colman 

Scope and Contents

The Charles Lane Colman series contains personal correspondence and notebooks. The personal correspondence is made up of letters from C. L. Colman and his family to his father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. H. R. Colman. Although the correspondence is mostly personal in nature, there is some mention of C. L. Colman’s lumber business. The letters cover the years 1878-1894. There are two notebooks found in the notebook series. Notebook one contains a list of lawyers in La Crosse in 1858, a list of banks from 1860, dates and places of some fires in La Crosse and a list of businesses from 1857-1858. Notebook two contains addresses, business memos, financial figures and other similar information.

Box Folder

Correspondence to parents, 1878-1894 

1 4


Box Folder


1 5


1 6

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 (Series 3) Other Family Members 

Box Folder

Elihu Colman correspondence to parents, 1866-1893 

1 7

Reverend Henry Colman correspondence to parents, 1866-1893 

1 8

Julia Colman correspondence to parents, 1867-1893 

Biographical Note

Daughter of Rev. H. R. and Mrs. Colman

1 9

Julia Colman essays, 1847-1851 

Biographical Note

Sister of Rev. H. R. Colman

1 10

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