Coleman Home

Paul Joseph Coleman

My name is Paul Joseph Coleman. I was born July 30, 1910, a son of John Thomas and Annie Laura Phelps Coleman, on a Wednesday in their home about 75 feet east of Lesueur Street and 150 feet north of Main Street on land presently known as Pioneer Park. My father sold his final ten acres of this land between present day Lesueur Street east to present day Hobson Street in 1928, just a few months after the Arizona Temple was completed and dedicated across Main Street to the south. Mesa Drive in those days was known as Hobson Street. I don’t know whether the presently called Hobson Street had a name or not, but a few names of families living on it (northerly ,—the only direction it traveled) were Entz on the south side of Main Street; Hemperlys; then George “Well Rig” Peterson across the street on the northeast corner; then next north were the Finleys; then Nesmiths; then Sam L. Williams, the original Mesa second hand store owner; then the Magnussons; then Griners, then the Hills, all on the east side. The Frank Ellsworth family lived on the west side about a quarter mile north of Main Street. Names of some of the offspring of these families were Jerome, Marjorie, Sydney and John Entz; Jessie, Minnie and George Peterson; Mahali, Valeda and Sam Williams; Ivan and Delbert Magnusson; Merlin and Ellsworth Griner: Edwin and Hill, Lora and Dora Ellsworth.

Those of us who were Mormons went to the First Ward, which included the Colemans, Magnussons, Griners and Ellsworths, Pomeroys, Lesueurs, Johnsons, Jones and Danas.  When Lute and Ralph were first married, they lived in a lumber house on the northeast corner of the ten acres facing east on that street, the same house that Aunt Ann came to later to live and then married father about 1920.

The house in which I was born burned when I was a baby. I have heard that it was Halloween of 1910, Nannie was only about two and one-half years old. The house was replaced by one built of adobe that was square with a pretty good sized attic which had a pretty good floor in it and windows that faced south, overlooking the front yard and Main Street. The attic was not used for much except storage. Some of the more interesting items stored there which would be great to have now were some of Papa’s —we called our parents Papa and Mama as was the general custom in those days—old stock certificates representing investments in the old Goldfield and other mining claims and Kelly fire retail outlets, and two or three of the old hand crank wall phones that were used in those days.

Papa worked for the phone company installing poles and lines toward Tucson (I have heard), and for the Mesa Flour Mill which was located where Berge Ford’s used car lot now is facing Main Street between Pomeroy and Mesa Drive. As noted above, he later added a porch around the house. Main Street ran between what is now Country Club Drive, then Crismon Street, to Mesa Drive, then Hobson. Heading east from there past our place it was called Apache Trail, and from the west it was called Tempe Road.

Papa was mainly a farmer and mother strictly a hardworking dedicated homemaker. The home place was not the greatest for raising farm products on. We had about half an acre of the old variety of pomegranate, two or three mulberry trees at about the west central part of the acreage near the corrals, and some peach trees on the east side of the house. Other than the work horses and the ones the kids, (especially Phil,) rode, they had a cow or two, lots of guineas, Anaconda, Rhode Island red and Leghorn chickens, pigs and wild quail. When they tried to raise any crop other than alfalfa, such as cotton, the root rot in the ground would kill some of it, including the fruit trees.

Papa cleared land down in Lehi along the Salt River between Gilbert and Lehi Roads for free rent. The land was owned by Harry Chandler of Chandler, W. R. Stewart, and Jim Johnson. They grew all kinds of vegetables and brought them from there to the home in Mesa. We all filled wash tubs full of water and washed the sweet potatoes which sold anywhere from eight down to two cents per pound. We also washed and bunched green onions, radishes, carrots, turnips, beets, etc. Sometimes they had two peddling wagons pulled by horses or little mules which Papa, Ralph and Elmer, or whoever loaded the vegetables sold, along with groceries such as bread, cookies (including Fig Newtons, I remember best) and candy. I enjoyed going along when I could. Other crops they raised were green corn, watermelons and cantaloupes. One time Papa raised a 52- pound watermelon and it was displayed in John Connolly’s grocery store on the south side of Main St. between Center and Macdonald. One year Papa raised and packed cantaloupes down the Lehi hill on Alma School Road. man named Cadwallader bought them, and my job was to load and deliver them in our Model T Ford truck and then to a rail car at the Tremaine Ranch on south Chandler Road. There was hardly a top on the cab of this vehicle and no doors, so sometimes I got pretty well soaked by the rain.

Our mother was a Phelps. She was a wonderful person. She raised twelve children: Elmer, Luanne, Philip, Minnie, Naomi, Carl, Lottie, Naimie, Paul, Oliver, Morris and Iris, not necessarily in that order. She passed away about a month after Iris was born. All of us were born in Mesa.

When we moved to Lehi about May 1920, I was in the 4th grade at Franklin School. I had started in 1st and 2nd grades at Irving School, Center Street at Second Street. I went to the 3rd grade somewhere, then to Franklin at Main and Pomeroy. I graduated from 8th grade at Lehi. Lehi school had two classes in every room and while one class studied, the other was in session. It never gave me any trouble to study the present lesson while hearing a preview of what was ahead next year.

When we first moved to Lehi, we lived in a one-room lumber frame house about 16 feet by 20 feet. I guess the family there included Nannie, Oliver, Iris, Me, Papa, Aunt Ann and her mother. Morris stayed with Lute and Ralph, as he and Bernard were about the same age. Later on we also had an Army tent about 14 by 14 for more space. Nannie did not go to school any more because of her nervous condition. Oliver and I went to school with the Boyle kids, Ellis, Herschel, Alice and Virginia, who had a horse-drawn light strip-down wagon. Sometimes if we were tired, we would ride, but most of the time we just ran along side.

We always laughed about a couple of customers, one with a twang in his voice who wanted to buy a few onions to eat in his gravy, and another who walked too close to the heels of the little ornery mules and got out of reach just in time as Papa hollered at him. He then invented the words as he said to his little son, “Son, your daddy just had a close shave.”

Papa used to surprise Mama quite often bringing some guys, not necessarily bums, home to eat with us. Some would also stay awhile. The farthest back that I can remember was an alcoholic lawyer who had been sent from back east by his folks who then sent him money to live on. His name was Richard Vernon Newton Greaves. My older sisters told me that he made us a barrel of sauerkraut. He was put up in the harness and tack room near the corral. Another man named “Old Man Dunn” stayed with us in Lehi until Papa ran him off. Another came to stay and hunt and fish. His name was Bert Smith, and he got along with us kids when we were living on the Stewart place.

After we had lived on Lehi Road for awhile, Elmer came to farm too, and we moved on down the canal west about half a mile to the Stewart place. When we moved from the Stewart Place to the Johnson place, I wondered, and still do, if it wasn’t just to accommodate Columbus Perry, Papa’s nephew-in-law. He was married to Papa’s niece, Mattie Horsley. Their kids were Mabry, Erma, Radford, Phillip, Lloyd and Leo. The Stewart Place had a little more room in it than any of the others. At all three places we drank, bathed, swam and washed dishes and clothes out side and in the canal water. We carried all the water in buckets to the houses. When the water was muddy, we had to let it stand to settle the mud out. We bathed in a wash tub when we couldn’t do so in the canal, when it was too cold. In the summertime, the drinking water was dipped from an Indian-made clay olla wrapped outside with burlap. If we dipped out more water than we drank, what was left in the dipper was poured on the burlap to keep it wet and cool the water.

After we moved to Lehi, when I was about ten, we kids used to help Papa with the farming. At first it was helping to irrigate, mainly we held the tappoon [tarpaulin] on one end while Papa held the other and we would put it across the irrigation ditch as a dam to send the water out into the rows, usually cotton, corn, melons, vegetables and sweet potatoes. The tappoon, a canvas about 4 feet by 12 feet, was backed by a timber laid across from bank to bank horizontally, then some stakes about four feet long vertically from the bottom of the ditch to the horizontal timber. We always had two sets of equipment so that we could have one ahead set before we pulled the one from the area just irrigated.

Other things we did while we were still too light for heavy work but heavy enough for light work, was milk the cow, set out sweet potato plants, drop corn seed ahead of the machine Papa used to cover the seed, chop Johnson grass and other weeds, thin cotton to about 8 to 10 inches, wash sweet potatoes and other vegetables and tie them in bunches for the market, and lie down in the shade in the cotton or other plant to rest when no one was looking.

As we got older, we cultivated cotton, corn, maize, etc. on a cultivator, the likes of which I haven’t seen for years. It was pulled by two horses, either Dick and Charley or Min and Maude, a couple of sorrel mares. (Charley was born the same day that Nannie was, so we always celebrated Nannie and Charley’ s birthday.)

I walked to Lehi school every day from the area of Gilbert Road and the Salt River, about two miles, I guess. My best grades were in arithmetic and spelling. My penmanship was poor and my grade for English grammar was always a C. We also had classes in history and geography. Along with studying and fun things, I was in one student body play called, “The Conversion of Johnny Harrington.” I was Johnny Harrington and my conversion was from not believing in Santa Claus to believe when I got shoes and skates for Christmas. I graduated from Lehi in May, 1924.

I was still living at North Gilbert Road when I started to high school in September 1924. I would walk to Lehi School and catch the bus to Mesa Union High School. We had students from three different districts, Mesa kids from Franklin School, Alma School and Lehi School. Because I knew that if I didn’t do well I would not be able to get a good job, I applied myself in high school. My first choice for a job was with the Johnson Pearce Company. I had worked for them before, picking feathers off turkeys and picking figs and apricots. Also, my brother Elmer and brother-in-law Ralph Matthews had worked for them for many years. I wanted an office job, so the most important subjects I took were bookkeeping, commercial law, and Spanish. I also had algebra, shop, history, men’s chorus, etc. My commercial teacher, J. C. Anderson recommended me, and my greatest hopes were realized when I was hired May 30, 1929. I retired in 1975, but so far I am still there after more than 61 years (10/1/90). The Pearces have always considered us family, not just another employee, and have extended many benefits to us that would not come from any other employer.

I first started keeping books and making income tax and other reports for the Muñozes who own the El Charro Cafe in 1937. Florentino Muñoz started the cafe on South Macdonald Street in Mesa about 1926. He later moved into Mr. Pearce’s building in 1930.

In 1959 he built a new building at 105 North Country Club Drive. He started a new corporation, the El Charro Restaurant, and when he died he left his stock in the business to his son Alfred Muñoz, who is still president and manager. Alfred gave me some stock and made me secretary of the company. His sister, Ninfa, owns some stock and is vice-president. The El Charro Cafe at 416 West Main is owned by Alfred Muñoz and Rudolph Jaimes as partners.

In the old days I also have kept books for other businesses—Sam Fried’s Shoe Store, Molly Fried’s Women’s Wear Store, Jaimes Men’s Store, A-I Auto Clinic owned by William Vayne and Alfred Muñoz, the Lucky Lunch.


Paul married Helen Elizabeth Donaldson, who also was born in Mesa to George Washington and Lula Faie Newell Donaldson. They were going to be married in Tombsone, but when they got there, the justice was closed, so they went on to Bisbee, Ariz. and got married on July 17, 1933.

August 29, 1934 Donna Kay was born, then three years later on Dec. 18, 1937, a son, Nicholas Kent, was born and they named him after the attending physician, Melvin Lloyd Kent. Their third child, Anna Ruth, was born Sept. 18, 1946.

Paul is a member of the LDS Church, having been blessed by M. Calvin Phelps Oct. 2, 1910, then later baptized by Edgar Hunsaker July 31, 1919, and confirmed by Gove E. Phelps the following day.

Paul and Helen, at the time of this writing, have been married 62 years. Paul continues to go to work for the Pearce Development Co. as it is now called.