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William Coffin Coleman

William Coffin Coleman Foounder of Coleman Company; mayor of Wichita, Kansas

Foounder of Coleman Company; mayor of Wichita, Kansas
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Foounder of Coleman Company; mayor of Wichita, Kansas
Was Politician
From United States of America
Type Politics
Gender male
Birth 21 May 1870, Chatham
Death 2 November 1957, Wichita (aged 87 years)
The details

William Coffin Coleman (May 21, 1870 – November 2, 1957) was a businessman, the American founder of the Coleman Company, a maker of camping equipment, and a politician, mayor of Wichita, Kansas in 1923–1924.


Early life and career

Coleman was born in Chatham, New York in 1870. His parents moved the family to Labette County, Kansas in 1871, and in 1881 his father died. William started earning money by selling small goods as a child.

After he got older, he became a salesman, a good entry position for someone with limited education but much energy.

Coleman with two of his employees standing in front of a Baptist railroad chapel car in Wichita, Kansas (1911).

While he was selling typewriters in Alabama, Coleman saw a lantern that used gasoline instead of kerosene. He switched his sales to lanterns, believing these would be useful. He began to craft his own lantern, which he marketed as the Coleman Arc Lamp.

Marriage and family

In 1901 Coleman married Fanny Sheldon and they moved to Wichita, Kansas. They had two children: Sheldon and Clarence Coleman.

Settlement in Wichita

Coleman also developed what he called the G.I. pocket stove, in addition to the gasoline lamp. He used the factory as a The business was now called the Coleman Lamp and Stove Company. after two decades in Wichita, Coleman entered politics, joining the Republican Party. He was elected as mayor of Wichita for one two-year term, serving 1923 through 1924.

Coleman died in 1957 from a heart attack. He is buried in Old Mission Mausoleum, Wichita, Kansas.

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