Elmer and Walt Hicks
John Elmer Coleman, firstborn of John Thomas and
Annie Laura Phelps Coleman was born
31, 1893, at a time when modern conveniences were just making their
appearance, but because his family was poor, he grew up doing chores
and living in age-old manners. He was baptized Aug. 31, 1900 by his
grandfather, Philip Marion Coleman, and confirmed by William Passey.
He was ordained a priest by Arnold C. Huber Feb. 28, 1915.
He grew to be about five feet, eleven inches tall and slender. His
blond curly hair was the bane of his existence, but it earned him
the name “Kinky.”
Elmer loved music, learning to play the mandolin and piano. He was
self-taught but gathered groups around to sing songs and laugh. He
liked fancy shirts and fancied himself quite a dandy.”
He not only worked hard for his father in farming, but took side
jobs where he could get them to supplement the family income.
He joined the Arizona National Guard, company D, 1St Arizona
Infantry May 3, 1913 and served in that unit until called into
federal service May 9, 1916 for duty on the Mexican Border under
Gen. John J. Pershing. He was honorably discharged Aug. 25, 1916.
After that he entered in the grocery business, first working for C.
R. Clark Grocery for a number of years. His only adventure into self
employment was when he went into partnership with Uncle William
Phelps on the corner of Maine and Pomeroy. Money was scarce and the
He went to work for Johnson-Pearce Commercial Co. in Mesa, selling
everything from live turkeys to overalls, including produce. His
brothers Paul and Morris remember from this period that he was a
master of candling eggs brought in by farmers. He also delivered
goods to Phoenix in a white Model T delivery truck they called the
“White Streak.” He was in a position to hire high school kids for
part time help, so his brother Paul was employed to pluck turkeys,
pick figs and apricots, and sell Christmas trees. Later he worked
for McKellips Mutual Citrus Growers in packing and shipping.
November 1919 Elmer married Martha Ann Brown, known as Mattie, who
was a good friend of Elmer’s sister Naomi. Mattie’s half brother,
Stanley Newell later married Naomi. They had three children, born
over a 16 year period, and then their rocky marriage was ended in
Elmer suffered from heart trouble for several years and died at the
home of his brother Morris May 6, 1945,
Elmer and Tom Attawy