Tag Archives: Hartwell Coleman

Hartwell Thomas Coleman (1869-1938)

If Hartwell Thomas Coleman, my great grandfather,  was expected on Christmas Day, he was a couple of days late, making his appearance on 27 December 1869 in Calais, Washington County, Maine. By all accounts, though, he was a much loved son and baby brother, being the fifth child of six born to William Coleman and his wife, Sarah Moriah Crouse.


Hartwell Coleman, c1870

I don’t have too many photos of my ancestors as toddlers, but Hartwell was bundled up and taken to the photographers to have this tintype picture taken. I am guessing it might have been for his first birthday, so taken about Christmas in 1870.

I have no idea where his parents got the name Hartwell, but Thomas was clearly a tribute to William’s father, Thomas Coleman. Although Hartwell had six siblings, he never knew his baby brother, Alvin, born on 27 November 1857, but passing away at the age of 4 1/2 months on 16 April 1858. His sister, Mary Adelaide, was quite a bit older than him, having turned 14 a few weeks before he was born. Addie married in 1878 and was then in a home of her own with her husband and children. His only other sister, Ethel H., almost shared his birthday, as she was born 30 December 1873. Sadly, little Ethel died of croup on 15 March 1880. She was buried next to her infant brother, Alvin, in Calais Cemetery. When Addie died in 1895, she was buried alongside her siblings, too.

In spite of the sadness of losing two small children and a daughter who was a young wife and mother, Hartwell grew up with two other brothers, William Edgar, born 17 October 1858, and Samuel Jones, born 8 October 1863.

Life in Calais revolved around two main occupations – farming and sea life. William Coleman tried farming, following in his own father’s footsteps, but was soon drawn to the sea. He became a mariner and then eventually earned his stripes as a tugboat captain on the St. Croix River. With an abundance of Maine lumber, Calais became a major center for boat building and tugs were needed to guide the sailing ships in and out of the Bay of Fundy.

I imagine that little Hartwell spent many fun times down around the waterfront and, as he got a bit older, likely worked many hours there, too. I imagine when he was old enough, William took Hartwell out in the tugboat with him and, as a result, Hartwell, too , was drawn to sea life.

On 14 July 1890, shortly before Hartwell turned 21, he married Anna Elisabeth Jensen, Americanized to Johnson. Anna was Danish and her family had emigrated from Copenhagen in 1884, first settling in Fort Fairfield, Aroostook County, Maine and then in Calais.


Hartwell and Anna Coleman, c1896

I feel very fortunate to be the keeper of this photo of Anna. Anna bled to death during an at-home in the kitchen gall bladder surgery on 4 March 1916. My grandmother had just turned 15 when her mother died and she entrusted me to take care of the only picture she had of her beloved mother.

Based on Anna’s beautifully fashionable dress, it looks like Hartwell was doing quite well as a tugboat captain.

Besides my grandmother, Hazel Ethel Coleman, born 7 February 1901 (and named for Hartwell’s little sister, Ethel H., who I mentioned had died in 1880), Hartwell and Anna also had a son, Hazel’s older brother, Hazen Raleigh Coleman, born 5 February 1895. I never met Hazen, nor have I ever seen a picture of him.

Hazen married Mary Luella Staples on 15 November 1916, across the river in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada. Hazen died on 17 November 1953 in Massachusetts, but Mary didn’t pass away until 26 May 1993 in Connecticut. I corresponded with her for a while and she shared stories with me about Hartwell.

By the 1910 census, Hartwell had achieved the rank of master mariner.

Hazen’s wife, Mary, wrote to me and shared that Hazen, too, became a master mariner, but he moved to Boston and worked in the harbor there.

Hartwell married again on 12 September 1918 to Lydia J. Wilson, who was also born and raised in Calais.

Lydia was 33 years old when they married and became pregnant in February 1919. On 17 November 1919, their daughter, also Lydia, was born, but mom Lydia barely survived the birth and died five days later.

Hartwell must have decided that he was in no position to raise an infant alone and my grandmother, Hazel, was getting ready to marry and start her own family, so newborn Lydia went to live with her maternal grandparents and was raised by them.

By 1920, Hartwell, my grandmother Hazel, and Hartwell’s mother, Sarah, were living in Malden, Massachusetts. Perhaps Hartwell decided they needed a change of pace after Anna’s death, Lydia’s death and giving up the care of his infant daughter to her grandparents. Hartwell decided to work at Boston Harbor like Hazen.

About 1924, Hartwell and mother Sarah returned to Calais for good. Hartwell didn’t retire from work, though, and he didn’t retire from marriage either.

Hartwell married widow Sadie Ella Staples Boone, elder sister of his daughter-in-law, Mary, probably about the time he returned to Calais. Sadie was born 11 June 1895 in Burtts Corner, York, New Brunswick, Canada. Hartwell’s mother clearly kept in touch with her many cousins and other relatives in New Brunswick and tiny Burtts Corner wasn’t all that far away from Calais.

I have to laugh at the intertwined family relationships. The Staples and Boone families were descended from Loyalists. When Hartwell married Sadie, Hazen’s wife Mary became both a daughter-in-law and a sister-in-law to Hartwell.

I don’t have a wedding photo of Hartwell and Sadie and I believe they likely married in Calais since New Brunswick marriage records are digitally available on the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick website.

As mentioned, Hartwell might have finished his sea-faring career, but Cappy Coleman, as he was affectionately known, opened up a general store next door to his house, which was at the intersection of River Road and Hardscrabble Road in Calais.

My mother had happy memories of visiting Calais in the summer when Grampy would give the grandchildren some candy from his shop.

Hartwell cared for his mother during her very long life. This picture was taken about the summer of 1930:


Calais Summertime, c1930

I’ve never figured out who the extra female in the photo is. Sarah Coleman is seated with grandkids Anna (tall girl) and Floyd (son Hazen’s children) on either side of her. Directly behind is Hartwell Coleman with Mary (Hazen’s wife) on the left and wife Sadie (with the hat) on the right. The petite young lady on the right is Doris Boone, Sadie’s daughter by her first husband, George Boone. Doris married in November 1930, shortly before she turned 17. That leaves the little girl on the left, who is way too young to be my aunt or my mother, who were 9 and 7 in 1930. I haven’t a clue who she is.

In any case, Sarah passed away on 18 October 1930 in Calais at the age of 97 1/2 years. Hartwell himself didn’t live nearly as long a life span as his mother. He died on 30 March 1938 at the age of 66 after “an illness of over three months.” The illness was a cerebral thrombosis, a blood clot, which brought on a stroke, from which he didn’t recover.


Hartwell Coleman’s Obituary

His widow long outlived him. Sadie married a Mr. Stevens and passed away in Freeport, Cumberland, Maine on 10 December 1988.

Like his first two wives, his parents and his grandparents before him, Hartwell Thomas Coleman was laid to rest in Calais Cemetery.