"History of Lincoln, Oneida, and Vilas Counties Wisconsin"

Compiled by George O.Jones, Norman S. McVean and Others. Printed in 1924 by H.C.Cooper. Jr. & Co., Minneapoli-Winona MN. ill. 787 pages. The first two hundred pages are history of the three counties, the remainder of the book is biographies.


Colman, Niles A. one of the best known and highly esteemed citizens of Vilas County, formerly county judge and who has served ably and faithfully in othe offices of responsibility and trust, was born in Greenbush, Sheboygan County, Wis., May 4, 1860. He is a son of Charles B. COLMAN, who was born in Warren, Litchfield County, Conn., Feb. 4, 1822. The origin of the Colman family in America has been traced to three brothers who came to this country from England in early colonial days, one of them settling in Warren, Conn. Charles B. COLMAN, father of the subject of this sketch, was educated in an academy at Warren, Conn., and subsequently taught school for a while. In 1842 he started out to see the West, leaving at the old home in Connecticut his father, mother, a brother, Frederick, and three sisters, Lucia, Sarah and Elizabeth. His wanderings brought him to Wisconsin, and being pleased with this section of the country, he took a homestead of 160 acres in Sheboygan County, 20 miles from Lake Michigan, and set to work to transform it into a comfortable homestead, being engaged for some years subsequently in agricultural pursuits. He first married Emma CARTER, of Sheboygan County, but after a brief married life she died, leaving one child, Orpha E. Mr. COLMAN took for his second wife Anna S. STODDARD, a native of New York State, and by her he had five children, Florence, Niles A., Henry J., C. Francis and Emogene. He was a staunch Democrat and took an active part in political affairs, being elected to many town and county offices and also to the State Assembly as a member from Sheboygan County, and wwas a man well known for his ability and mental activity. At a late period in their lives he and his wife took up their residence in Dunn County, where they both passed away. Niles A. COLMAN spent his youth and early manhood on his parents' farm in Sheboygan County. He attended the public school in Greenbush up to the age of 18 years, after which for two years he taught district school. He then pursued more advanced studies at Oshkosh, Wis., and in the fall of 1884 entered the University of Wisconsin at Madison. In 1887 he became a student in the law department, from which he was graduated June 19, 1889; his admission to the bar followed, with the right to practice in all courts. Mr. COLMAN had reached this point in his career only after considerable hard work, as his funds were limited, and he had studied and taught alternately, and while in Madison was in the office of William F. VILAS. In July 1889, after being admitted to the bar, Mr. COLMAN engaged in the practice of his profession as a member of the law firm of Alban, Barnes & Colman, an office being opended in Eagle River, which was then in Oneida County. This partnership lasted two years, Alban and Barnes withdrawing at the end of that time, and Mr. COLMAN has since practiced alone very successfully. Soon after his arrival here he became a prominent member of the community, being recognized not only as a man of sound professional attainments, but also as a public spirited citizen who had the interests of this locality at heart and was willing to work for them. It was not long before a good occasion presented itself in the proposal to set off Vilas County from Oneida. This was in 1893, by which time Mr. COLMAN had gained a wide acquaintance with public men and was able to exert considerable influence in the matter. For this purpose he spent much time at Madison, and his exertions united to those of others also interested in the project proved effective, the new county being set off and the county seat fixed at Eagle River. Its first officials were appointed by Gov. W. PECK, Mr. COLMAN receiving the appointment of district attorney, to accept which he gave up the position of county superintendent of schools of Oneida County, which he then held. In 1894 he was elected district attorney on the Democratic ticket, a fact which showed in a marked degree his personal popularity, as with respect to the other offices the county went strongly Republican. After four years elective service in the office of district attorney, Mr. COLMAN in the fall of 1898 was elected county judge of Vilas County, and, through two successive reelections, served in all three terms. In 1910 he closed his law office and moved to Portland, Ore., where he was largely interested in timber lands. He was accompanied by his family, but shortly after he left them in Portland and returned to Vilas County, Wis., to look after his business interests here, in particular his large farm known as Clearwater Lake Farm, which embraced a tract of 1,632 acres entirely surrounding Clearwater Lake, and on which he was engaged in breeding Percheron horses and Guernsey cattle. There he was subsequently joined by his family, and it was not until 1922 that he again opened his law office. He is greatly interested in the development and progress of northern Wisconsin and in addition to the farm mentioned above owns other valuable property in Vilas County--at State Line and in Phelps Township, that in the latter place consisting of a farm of 620 acres, which has one and a half miles of lake frontage and is known as Spectacle Lake Farm. Immediately adjoining this farm, which he is developing, is Camp Kentuck, a summer camp for boys covering an entire section of land which was sold to them by Mr. COLMAN. At the time Mr. COLMAN went to Portland he sold his residence in Eagle River. He is a lodge and chapter Mason and is also member of the Rhinelander Lodge of Elks. Mr. COLMAN was first married in Eagle River, June 19, 1892, to Bessie B. SHANK, who died March 8, 1894, leaving one child, Bessie B., who was graduated from the Downer Seminary of Milwaukee, and from the University of Oregon, and also took graduate work at Columbia University. She is now the wife of Lieut. Joyce R. KELLY of New York City and has one child, Joyce. Lieut. KELLY holds degrees from Reed College, Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Niles A. COLMAN was married secondly, April 30, 1901, to Gertrude Madge SEXTON, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, and of this marriage one child, Niles S., was born, June 9, 1902. The latter was subsequently graduated from Howe University of Howe, Ind., and entered Vanderbilt University at Nashville, Tenn., where he will take his B. A. degree.

Transcribed by Susan Swanson, from pages 402-404 (with picture), History of Lincoln, Oneida and Vilas Counties Wisconsin; Compiled by George O. Jones, Norman S. McVean and Others 1924, H. C. Cooper, Jr. & Co

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