Calvert Malcolm Coleman



Calvert Coleman died on March 3, 1919.  The cause of death was listed as arteriorsclerotic vascular disease, which means he probably died of a heart attack due to hardening of the arteries.  Although the death certificate says he was "80?" when he died, the obituary released by the mortuary to the newspaper says he was 83, in which event he would have been born in 1836.

There is more confusion than clarity about the actual year of Calvert's birth.  Various historical records suggest birth years ranging from 1834, to 1840, to 1842, to 1844.  The earliest document is his marriage record from 1863 which says he was born in 1840.  Census records from 1870, 1880, and 1910 all say he was born in 1842 in New York state.  A court clerk's record from 1941 says he was born in 1834. 

So it would be safe to say that Calvert was born in New York state sometime between 1834 and 1844.  His death certificate shows his parents as Patrick Coleman and Bridget Hand, listing the place of birth for each of them as Ireland.

Calvert married Sarah Elizabeth Westall in Van Buren, Michigan, on December 24, 1863.  When he arrived in Michigan is unknown, but he lived in Michigan from the date of his marriage to the date of his death.  He and Sarah had eight children, the first being born in 1864 and the last being born 20 years later.

Although Calvert's occupations varied, the one thing they had in common was the use of manual labor.  Census records in 1870, 1880, 1900, and 1910 all list him as a farmer.  He was laborer with the teamsters union from 1889 to 1891, working near the railroad and the waterfront in Detroit.

According to information gathered by family historian Clarice Coleman (from newspaper accounts and personal interviews), Calvert had an ongoing problem with alcohol dependency.  This may have been the reason that Sarah left him around 1890.  His alcohol problem was so notorious that the Belleville Enterprise newspaper twice commented on it in 1886. 

Toward the end of his life, Calvert lived at a rooming house in Belleville.  When the place was demolished in order to create a city park, he moved to the Wayne County Infirmary in Eloise, Michigan.  Eloise, as it was known, housed chronic alcoholics, drug addicts, and elderly people who were destitute.

When none of his children stepped up to arrange for his burial, James Pullen took charge.  Pullen was an old friend who happened to own a mortuary.  Calvert is buried in an unmarked grave in Hillside Cemetery in Belleville.


Links to Documents


Marriage Record


Census records:
1870, 1880, 1900, 1910




Death Certificate


Hillside Cemetery Information


Historical Account by Clarice Coleman