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An outstanding representative of one of the oldest families in the county is this native of Pulaski, now a retired business man of the City of Atlanta, living at 39 Palisades Road. He was born at the plantation home of his parents, three miles west of Hawkinsville,
April 17, 1873, the son of Captain Gabriel R. Coley (December 19, 1832-January 6, 1880) and Elizabeth Sutton Coley (September 21, 1837-May 22, 1902), who were married October 14, 1856. There were eight children: John Thomas, Vanness (who became the wife of R. S. Hardin), Martha Sutton (who married John Fleming Kellam, October 7, 1884), Newton Redding, Gabriel Snell, James Kibbee, Alcanan Robert, and Luther Branch Coley, the subject of this sketch and the last of his immediate family.
The youngest son of a widowed mother, as a boy he had to perform the many and varied tasks about the home and on the f arm. After attending school in Hawkinsville, he left in 1889, a boy of sixteen, for Atlanta, where he entered a business school. His first job was with the Beck Laundry. In 1892, he went to work for the City of Atlanta, serving in the capacity of assistant bookkeeper in the office of the City Comptroller. In 1897 he went with the Standard Ice Company. It sold out to the Atlantic Ice and Coal Company in 1901, and with the latter company he remained until his retirement from business in 1925. He was at that time assistant manager of this large and well-known concern, with which he made an enviable record for faithful and efficient service.
Mr. Coley was, on February 26, 1908, married to Miss Hattie Perry, of Charlottesville, Virginia, a woman of fine Christian character, a Presbyterian in her religious affiliations. Her mother was a cousin of Thomas Jefferson; her father a direct descendant of Commodore Perry. There are two children: Harriett Perry Coley, who finished at North Avenue Presbyterian School in 1931, after which she entered the University of Georgia and there graduated in 1935. Marion Hull Coley received his preparatory school training at Boys High School, Atlanta, and is now a matriculate of Emory University, from which he will graduate in 1936.
The Coleys have been prominently and actively identified with Pulaski County for considerably more than a hundred years. They are descendants of Sir Francis Drake, one of the early English explorers. It is believed that the first Coley to locate in this county was Luther B. Coley’s grandfather, John A. D. Coley. He married here Mary Dykes, May 20, 1827, and settled at Longstreet, famous in the old days for its many fine citizens, large plantations and beautiful homes, where lived the Masons, McCalls, Reeves, Taylors, Jordans, Walkers, and Coleys. John A. D. Coley amassed a large fortune and was the owner of many slaves and many acres. He built near Coley’s Station, which was named for him, a beautiful colonial home, and for years there lived the life of a country gentleman and took a leading part in the affairs of his community and county. He owned plantations in other sections also. There has been no more splendid type of colonial architecture than the old home on the road leading from Cochran to Laurens Hill, lately owned by Mr. Robinson Smith. In ante bellum days it was one of the J. A. D. Coley places, and is still referred to by the older inhabitants as the Coley place.
To J. A. D. Coley and his wife were born thirteen children, eight of whom lived to maturity. They were: Alashia, who never married; Gabriel R., the father of the subject of this sketch; Turner, whose children were Mary and John; James R., who married Martha Taylor, and whose children are Herbert (H. H.), and Mack (T. M.); and Gabe (G. R.); Mary (Mrs. Walters), whose children are Alashia, Julia, Joe, Coley, and Mary; Eliza, who first married Raiford, and later Davis, and whose children are Mary, Elizabeth, and Floyd, now living in Texas; Julia, who married Robert J. Anderson, who, moving to Macon, served Bibb County for forty-six years as tax receiver, and whose children were Coley, Felicia, Julia, John, Frank, Charles, Nona, William, Louise, and Robert, besides two other children who died in infancy; “Pet” and Mary Mason; John (J. A. D. Coley, Jr.), who married Charlotte Coombs, and whose children are Cain, Snell, John, Mary, and Sarah.
Two of the sons of J. A. D. Coley I-Gabriel R. Coley and James R. Coley-served as captains of a troop of cavalry from Pulaski County in the War Between the States, first in the Nineteenth Battalion of Georgia Cavalry, known as the Partisan Rangers. They later became a part of the Tenth Confederate Cavalry. Chiselled on the Georgia Monument at Chickamauga is the name of the Tenth Confederate Cavalry. They were the heroes of a hundred battles and skirmishes, and were as good as the best of those who fought under
Wheeler. There were two troops of cavalry from Pulaski in this regiment. One was known locally as the “Hawkinsville Rangers,” and the other as the “Swamp Rangers.” Avery’s History of Georgia names James S. Leith and P. T. McGriff as captains at different times of the one, and Gabriel R. Coley and James R. Coley, of the other.
Gabriel R. Coley was not only a prominent planter, but was also for a number of years prior to the war a partner with Colonel Charles C. Kibbee in a mercantile enterprise.
Martha Sutton Coley, the second daughter of Captain Gabriel R. Coley, who became Mrs. Kellam, died July 18, 1895. She is survived by a son, Armine R. Kellam, who was born May 4, 1890, and now lives in Atlanta. He was married on May 4, 1918, to Rebecca Warner. They have three children: Rebecca, Coley, and Janie.