Biography of Simon Coats

Simon Coats. Among the men who are representing Wilson County in positions of public importance, none have a better record for clean and capable service than had Simon Coats, sheriff, who had held his present position since January, 1915, but who had been connected with the sheriff’s office since 1911. He had been a resident of Wilson County for more than forty-five years, during which time he had been identified with farming, stockraising and business ventures, and is well and widely known to the people of this community as an honorable man of business and an official possessed of the courage and the ability to discharge well the duties of any office to which he may be elected.

Sheriff Coats was born in Randolph County, Indiana, June 30, 1860, and is a son of Daniel and Mary Ann (Snyder) Coats, and a member of a Welsh family that was founded in the United States prior to the Revolution, when the first of the name located in Pennsylvania. The great-grandfather of Simon Coats was John Coats, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1782. From that state he went to Ohio, and when he took up Government land in Indiana and became the pioneer of the family in that state, he was compelled to freight his supplies into the wilderness of Randolph County, where his new home was located. He was one of the sturdy type of pioneers, fearless, self reliant and resourceful, and a sample of the type of men who blazed the way for civilization. From the heavy virgin timber he hewed himself a farm, and what had been a deep and almost impenetrable forest became under his hand a prosperous and productive farming country. He passed the remainder of his life on this farm, and died in 1874, having reached the remarkable age of ninety-two years. Among his children was the grandfather of Simon Coats, Isaac Coats, who was born in the wilderness of Indiana in 1806 and there passed his entire life in agricultural pursuits. He grew up to the hard life of the frontier, developed into an industrious and substantial farmer, and a citizen who assisted his community in many ways. He died in Randolph County in 1876.

Daniel Coats, the father of Simon Coats, was born in September, 1836, in Randolph County, Indiana, and grew up in the locality in which his father and grandfather had passed their lives. As a young man he engaged in agricultural pursuits, but the Civil war came on to interrupt his activities, and in 1862 he enlisted in the Seventh Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Cavalry, with which organization he served bravely in the Union army until the close of the struggle. When he returned from the war, Mr. Coats again engaged in farming in Indiana, but in 1873 brought his family to Wilson County, Kansas, and became a pioneer of the prairies. He purchased a farm of eighty acres, but after two years removed to Greenwood County, Kansas, then went to Burlington, Coffey County, and finally returned to Wilson County, where his death occurred in January, 1905. Throughout his life Mr. Coats was a devout and consistent member of the New Light Christian Church, and for many years traveled all over the southeastern part of Kansas as a minister, or circuit rider, of that faith. A short time prior to his death, he joined the Masonic fraternity, at Chanute, and was also a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, at Burlington. Mr. Coats married Miss Mary Ann Snyder, who was born in Preble County, Ohio, in 1837, and died in 1862, in Randolph County, Indiana, and they became the parents of the following children: Simpson, who was engaged in farming near Akin, Minnesota, at the time of his death in 1912; Jasper, who is engaged in farming in Wilson County; Simon, of this notice; Rawson, who is engaged in farming in Wilson County. Daniel Coats was married second to Mary Ann Hiatt, who was born in Indiana and died in Wilson County, Kansas, in 1913, and they had three children: Ella, who married Andrew Hull, a resident of Thayer, Kansas; Martha, who is the wife of John Babcock, a farmer of Rocky Ford, Colorado; and Roscoe, who is a farmer of Wilson County.

Simon Coats attended the public schools of Union City, Indiana, until he was eleven years of age, and was reared on the farm of his uncle, Silas Coats, his mother having died when he was two years of age. In 1871, he came with his uncle to Kansas and located in Wilson County, where Silas Coats engaged in farming on an eighty-acre tract of land, a claim of Osage Indian land, on which he filed and which he deeded. While residing on this farm, which he still owned, Simon Coats finished his education in the rural schools of Wilson county, and when the elder man died, in 1884, took charge of the property and conducted it until 1907. In that year he removed to the town of Rest, in Wilson County, and there began shipping stock, a business in which he was connected for four years, his cattle going to the Kansas City markets. In November, 1911, Mr. Coats was appointed under sheriff of Wilson County, under Sheriff J. E. Whiteside, and remained in that position until succeeding the latter in office in January, 1915, an office to which he had been elected in the fall of 1914. As had been stated Mr. Coats’ record had been an excellent one, and he had proven himself possessed of marked courage as well as high ability. He was elected to the office in the fall of 1916 by a majority of 2,297 votes. Sheriff Coats maintains offices in the Court House at Fredonia and in the new jail building, on Seventh Street, between Madison and Monroe streets, where he had his residence. He is also the owner of a dwelling on South Central Avenue, and rents the old homestead place in Wilson County. Sheriff Coats is a stanch republican, and was formerly township trustee of Pleasant Valley Township, where the home farm is located, from 1901 to 1905. He belongs to the Methodist Episcopal Church. Fraternally, he is affiliated with Fredonia Lodge No. 75, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and was a charter member of Altoona Lodge of this fraternity.

In 1898, at Fredonia, Sheriff Coats was united in marriage with Miss Mary E. York, who was born in Wilson County, Kansas, in 1871.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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