William Coffin Coleman

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William Coffin Coleman
William Coffin Coleman (ca. 1920).jpg
Born (1870-10-20)October 20, 1870
Chatham, New York, USA
Died November 2, 1957(1957-11-02) (aged 87)
Wichita, Kansas, USA
Cause of death Acute myocardial infarction[1]
Resting place Old Mission Mausoleum, Wichita, Kansas
37°43′30″N 97°17′49″W / 37.725°N 97.297°W / 37.725; -97.297
Education Emporia State University
Known for Founder of Coleman Company

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[edit]

Coleman was born in Chatham, New York in 1870.[1] 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.[2]

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[edit]

In 1901 Coleman married Fanny Sheldon and they moved to Wichita, Kansas. They had two children: Sheldon and Clarence Coleman.[1]

Settlement in Wichita[edit]

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.[2] 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.[1]

Coleman died in 1957 from a heart attack.[1] He is buried in Old Mission Mausoleum, Wichita, Kansas.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e "W.C. Coleman, 87, Stove Maker, Dies. Manufacturer of Utensil Used by G.I.'s Founded Company in Wichita". The New York Times. Associated Press. November 3, 1957. Retrieved 2007-07-21. William Coffin Coleman, maker of gasoline lamps and G.I. pocket stoves known the world over, died of a heart attack today. His age was 87. 
  2. ^ a b "William Coffin Coleman". Kansas State Historical Society. Retrieved 2007-07-21. 

External links[edit]