Interesting Chattanooga Checks From Late 1800s Are In Collection From Old Title Guaranty Building

  • Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Some interesting checks written in the late 1800s in Chattanooga were in the collection found when workmen were tearing out parts of the old Title Guaranty and Trust building on Walnut Street recently.

The checks were written by attorney Lewis Minor Coleman, who once had an upstairs office at the small brick building that is currently being restored.

Coleman was born in Virginia in the first year of the Civil War.

His father was a Confederate Lt. Col. who died at Vicksburg. His mother was the granddaughter of John Marshall, a Chief Justice of the United States who played a significant role in the development of the American legal system. Another prominent ancestor was General Henry Dearborn.

Lewis Minor Coleman came to Chattanooga in late 1885 and began what would be an impressive career. In 1910, he was listed as general counsel at Chattanooga of the Southern Express Company. He worked with the Title Guarantee & Trust Company. It is likely the checks were stored here when he joined the firm.

Coleman attended the University of Virginia with John Thomas Lupton.Following a visit to Coleman's home in Chattanooga in 1887, Lupton also settled in Chattanooga. He went on to make a very lucrative investment in Coca-Cola bottling.

In 1905, Coleman purchased a home at 1 Cravens Terrace from John Cravens. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places: LINK

Coleman succumbed to influenza during the pandemic of 1918.

A.W. Chambliss remembered him as "a genial, courteous gentleman, generous to a fault, absolutely loyal to every friend and every trust. He lived as nearly without reproach as any man I have ever known."  

The ornate checks from several different Chattanooga banks are made out to some of the city's leading figures.

Payees featured:

  • Garnett Andrews
  • Adolph Ochs
  • Julius Ochs
  • E. M. Dodson
  • J. Fred Ferger
  • W. F. Fischer
  • J. B. Frazier
  • M. M. Hope
  • A. W. Judd
  • T. M. McConnell
  • W. B. Mitchell
  • M. B. Parham
  • C. T. Raymond
  • Joseph H. Warner
  • F. F. Wiehl
  • C. E. James
  • J. W. White
  •  

    Sam Hall has scanned many of the checks for posting on his Chattanooga Deepzoom site.

    They can be viewed here: http://deepzoomchattanooga.com/historicchecks.php

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