From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Coleman, John A., Sr.

(born: 1869  -  died: 1936) 

John A. Coleman, a community leader born in Centerville, KY, was the son of George and Ann Sharp Coleman. He was a builder, school teacher, and musician.

According to author and musician Bill Coleman, his uncle John built his own house and many of the homes in what was then an all-African American community known as Centerville. John Coleman was first in the community to have electricity in his home.

Though he is listed in the Census as a laborer, John Coleman also served as a teacher in the Centerville Colored School, a one-room structure that served students in grades 1-8. The school was mentioned in a 50-year survey completed and published by Dr. C. H. Parrish in 1926. The Centerville School held classes about five months out of the year, the same as many of the common schools founded after the Civil War in small African American communities in Kentucky.

In addition to being a school teacher, John Coleman was a musician: he and two of his brothers were members of a local music group. John played the cornet, Ernest Coleman the tuba, and Robert Henry Coleman (Bill Coleman's father) the snare drum.

According to the U.S. Federal Census, the Coleman family had been in Centerville at least since the end of slavery (and probably before that). John and his wife, Kitty [or Kittie] Bachelor Coleman, were still living in Centerville in 1930. They were the parents of four children: Mattie Coleman Hersey, Ida B. Coleman, John A. Coleman Jr., and Cora M. Coleman.

For more see Dr. C. H. Parrish, "A fifty year survey," Proceedings of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association, April 21-24, 1926, pp. 23-24; and Trumpet Story, by Bill Coleman.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Bourbon County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Centerville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Coleman, William Johnson "Bill" (musician)
NKAA Entry: Parrish, Charles H., Jr.
NKAA Source: Trumpet story
NKAA Entry: African American Schools in Paris and Bourbon County, KY

Related Entries Citing this Entry


Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Coleman, John A., Sr.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed April 14, 2024,

Last modified: 2022-06-24 17:57:19