THOMAS H. COLDWELL was born in Shelbyville August 29, 1822. His father, John Campbell COLDWELL, was born January 8, 1791, in Hawkins County, Tenn., and removed with his father, Ballard COLDWELL, and family to Bedford County, January 1, 1807. John Campbell COLDWELL served two campaigns under Gen. Jackson, one against the Creek Indians, in which he participated in the battle at Horse Shoe, and the other against the British, in which he was a participant at New Orleans, January 8, 1815. After this campaign he settled at Shelbyville, and was a merchant from 1818 to 1843, at which time he retired to his farm, where he died July 17, 1867.
Thomas H. COLDWELL’s mother was June NORTHCOTT, born in Fleming County, Ky., the daughter of Rev. Benjamin NORTHCOTT. Thomas was the eldest of two boys and two girls in this family. He was educated at Dixon Academy, Shelbyville, and studied law with Irwin J. FRIERSON, Esq. He was licensed to practice in January, 1844, and has ever since been in his profession at Shelbyville, and is one of the leading members of that bar. He first married Mary J. HODGE, at Murfreesboro, November 24, 1844. After her death he married Sarah E. GOLING, in Cincinnati, May 6, 1851. After her death he married Mrs. Mary H. BOSWORTH, in Shelbyville, September 20, 1854, and after her death he married Carrie HOPKINS, in Cincinnati, November 11, 1875. The last wife died December 4, 1884.
For many years Judge COLDWELL was an active worker in the Sons of Temperance, and was elected Grand Worthy Patriarch for the State of Tennessee in 1851. He was an unflinching Union man throughout the war. In 1864 he was commissioned by Gov. Andrew Johnson chancellor of the Fourth Chancery Division of Tennessee, but resigned in a shore time. In October, 1865, he was commissioned attorney-general of the State and reporter of the supreme court, and in May, 1867, was elected by the people to that office without opposition. While serving in this capacity he reported seven volumes of the decisions of the Supreme Court of Tennessee, and considers this the most pleasant part of his professional career. While attorney-general he entered a nolle prosequi in all cases that came to the supreme court, when persons were indicted for treason against the State — a class of indictments which grew out of the late civil war, the disposal of which in this manner won for him the earnest gratitude of his fellow citizens. In 1868 he was the Grant and Colfax elector for the Fifth Congressional District of Tennessee. From 1865 to 1871 he served as one of the directors of the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad. He was a lay member of the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church at its session, held at Brooklyn, in 1872, and while there was the author of the resolution sending fraternal delegates from the Methodist Episcopal Church to the Methodist Episcopal Church South. He has always been a zealous worker in the church, giving most liberally to all of its enterprises, and has always been an active Sunday-school worker. During 1871-72 he was president of the Bedford County Agricultural Society. He was instrumental, in 1869, in securing the building of the Bedford County Court House, and was chairman of the building committee. He has been one of the directors of the Shelbyville Savings Bank ever since its organization, and was president of that bank three years. He has been a member of the board of directors of the Central Tennessee College, in Nashville, ever since its organization, and for thirteen years has been president of the board.
He is a fearless advocate of the education and Christianizing of the negro. For fifteen years he has been president of the board of school directors of the Seventh District, and at his last election he received every vote cast. In 1871 he was appointed by President Grant, at the recommendation of Gov. DeWitt C. Senter, as commissioner for the State of Tennessee to the Centennial Exposition, at Philadelphia, in 1871. He served till 1877. He was on many of the important committees and was elected first vice-president of the commission, being one of the most active participants in those measures that made the exhibition so great a success. Judge COLDWELL has two children; Gen. Ernest COLDWELL, the child of the third wife, who is his partner in law, and Carrie (“Sunshine”) COLDWELL, the child of his last wife. Judge COLDWELL is an outspoken Republican. He is a friend to the poor and oppressed, a liberal supporter and patron of education and religion, and a leading and enthusiastic member of his party.
Transcribed by Kathryn Hopkins
Goodspeed Publishing Co. History of Tennessee from the Earliest Time to the Present: Together with an Historical and a Biographical Sketch of Maury, Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson, Bedford & Marshall Counties, Besides a Valuable Fund of Notes, Reminescences [Sic], Observations, Etc., Etc. Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1988.