Biography of George W. Coker
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GEORGE W. COKER. In compiling an account of the mercantile establishments of the town of Lead Hill, Arkansas, it is the desire of the publishers to particularly mention those classes of houses which are the best representatives of each special line of trade, and which contribute most to the city’s reputation as a source of supply. As one of the leading representatives of general merchants and cotton dealers, the firm of G. W. Coker & Co. may well be quoted, for the extensive trade they have built up is the outgrowth of enterprise and commercial sagacity.
Mr. Coker was born in Marion County, Arkansas, in 1850, and is a son of William and Margaret (Holt) Coker, both born in the year 1821, the former in Marion County, Arkansas, and the latter in Cannon County, Tennessee Previous to her union with Mr. Coker, the mother of Geo. W. Coker married Thomas Pumphrey in Tennessee, and in 1839 came to Ozark County, Missouri, where she remained a few years. From there she moved to Fulton County, Arkansas, where Mr. Pumphrey died. After the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Coker they resided in Marion County, Arkansas, until the Civil War, when they refugeed to Greene County, Missouri There Mr. Coker died in 1865. He was a successful farmer and stockraiser, a prominent Mason for a good many years, and a Democrat in politics. He was a Southern sympathizer, but took no part in the war.
Geo. W. Coker’s paternal grandfather, Edward Coker, came with his parents to northern Arkansas when that State was wild and unsettled, inhabited chiefly by Indians and wild animals. His death occurred in 1865, and he left a large family well provided for, being a thrifty and enterprising man. His father, William Coker, better known as ” Buck ” Coker, was one of the first white men to settle in the wilds of northern Arkansas, where he located nearly eighty years ago (1814), being the first settler of whom there is any record. He landed on White River in what is now Marion County, Arkansas, the day the battle of New Orleans was fought, and was well known by many of the old people now living here. He was a farmer, and followed that with more than ordinary success until his death, which occurred when our subject was a boy. The mother of George W. died in 1860. She was the daughter of William Holt, who came from Cannon County, Tennessee, and settled in Ozark County, Missouri, in 1840. Nine years later he settled on White River, Marion County, Arkansas, and there improved a good farm, on which his death occurred in 1860. Mrs. Holt died in Lead Hill in 1882, when about eighty-five years of age. Geo. W. Coker is the eldest of five children: Winnie, wife of William Magness, of Lead Hill; Edward, of Howard County, Missouri; Mary, wife of E. P. Kelly, who is the other member of the firm; and Casandra, wife of W. L. Brown, of Lead-Hill.
He was reared on a farm, and his educational advantages were interfered with by the war. After the death of the father he began for himself as an agriculturist, and followed this until 1871, when he embarked in the mercantile business at Lead Hill, under the name of Pumphrev & Coker. This he carried on for nine years, when he removed to Harrison and sold goods there for seven years. Returning to Lead Hill, the present firm was established, and since that time they have done a thriving business of between $20,000 and $25,000 per year. They carry everything the farmer needs, including farm implements, etc., and they also own extensive farming and stock interests. Mr. Coker was married in 1873 to Miss Ruth Kelly, a native of Tennessee, and the daughter of A. L. and Adeline Kelly, who came from Tennessee to this county about 1869, and are still living. Mr. and Mrs. Coker’s union resulted in the birth of nine children. Mr. Coker is a Mason, a member of Polar Star Lodge No. 224, Lead Hill, and he has always been an active Democrat in politics, his first presidential vote being cast for Tilden in 1876.