Randolph  County,  Indiana

Seth  D.  Coats

            In placing the name of Seth D. Coats, for more than twenty-four years president of the Randolph County Bank, in the front rank of Winchester's business men, simple justice is done to a biographical fact, universally recognized throughout the section of Indiana of which this history treats by those at all familiar with his history, for he is not only one of our most influential financiers but is a potent factor in public affairs. A man of rare soundness of judgment, wise discretion and business ability of a high order, he has managed with tactful success important enterprises and has so impressed his individuality upon the community as to gain recognition among the leading citizens and public-spirited men of affairs. What of the man and what of his work? This is the dual query which represents the interrogation at least nominally entertained whenever that discriminating factor, the public, would pronounce on the true worth of the individual. The career of Seth D. Coats indicates the clear-cut, sane and distinct character, and in reviewing the same from an unbiased and unprejudiced standpoint, interpretation follows fact in a straight line of derivation. In this publication it is consistent that such a review be entered, and that without the adulation of ornate phrases. The city of Winchester naturally takes pride in the work performed by Mr. Coats, who has stamped the mark of definite accomplishment on the highest plane of industrial activity, and consistently demands that he be given due relative precedence in a work which has to do with those who have lived and labored to good purpose in the county of Randolph, and permeated the great industrial and civic life of the commonwealth of Indiana, in which he stands well to the forefront in representative citizenship. His history and that of the later day progress of Winchester and vicinity is so indissolubly interwoven that they are pretty much one and the same, he has taken a leading part in the general upbuilding of the locality for past two decades, and no man stands higher in public esteem.
            Mr. Coats was born in White River township, Randolph county, February 20, 1847. He is a son of William and Mary (Moffet) Coats. This is one the sterling pioneer families of Randolph county and has been well and favorably known here for several generations. They are of Scotch descent and possess the characteristic thrift, integrity and perseverance of that noble race of people. Three brothers, Robert, James and William, belonging to the "House of Coats" and the family of the thread-makers of Paisley, Scotland, emigrated to North Carolina in the old Colonial period, prior to the Revolutionary war. These three brothers established homes in North Carolina and there spent the rest of their lives. John Coats, the first of the name in Randolph county, was the son of William Coats, one of the three brothers came from Scotland. William Coats was the son of Philip Coats, of Scotland, and a sister of William Coats was the mother of Rev. John Coats, of Coatsville. Of the large family born to William Coats and wife it is known definitely that seven of them left their native state in the far southland and came to the northwest they were John, William, Joseph, Mrs. Hepsy Wright, Mrs. Rhoda Wrench, Mrs. Hattie Harrison, and Mrs. BeanblossomJohn Coats was born in North Carolina, January 20, 1788, and his death occurred September 19, 1878, at the advanced age of ninety years; he married Sally Wright in 1807; she was born September 20, 1789, and died July 11, 1875, also at an advanced age. She was a daughter of Thomas Wright. John Coats and wife came to Ohio soon after their marriage, and in 1819 moved to Randolph county, Indiana, locating on White river, and were thus among the earliest settlers here, the county still being a wilderness, with settlers few and far between. John Coats and Thomas Wright, his father-in-law, lived for a while near Covington, Ohio, upon what was later destined to be famous stone quarries.
            William Coats, father of Seth D., of this sketch, was a son of John and Sarah (Wright) Coats, and his birth occurred near Covington, Ohio, May 28, 1817. He devoted his life successfully to general farming and stock raising and was a substantial citizen, well liked throughout his community, and he did much for the early-day progress of White River township.
            Seth D. Coats grew up on the home farm in his native township, and there he assisted with the general work until he was nineteen years of age, and he received his early education in the common schools of his neighborhood, which has been greatly supplemented in later life by contact with the
business world and by extensive home reading and study. He proved his courage and patriotism when but seventeen years of age by enlisting for service in the Federal army during the war between the states. He became a member of Company F, One Hundred and Thirty-fourth Indiana Volunteer Infantry on May 11, 1864, and was assigned to the Army of the Cumberland, in which he proved to be a faithful and brave soldier, and he was honorably discharged and mustered out in Indianapolis the following September, having enlisted in the one-hundred-day service. After leaving the farm, in 1866, he engaged in section work on the Grand Rapids & Indiana railroad, also worked in this capacity on other roads for four years. He was then elected trustee of his native township, in which office he served four years in a most faithful and creditable manner, and during this time was also in the boot and shoe business. He built up a good trade with the surrounding country and had by this time gotten a good start. Then he turned his attention to banking, which has remained his chief vocation to the present time. He secured employment in the Randolph County Bank of Winchester, as assistant cashier. On March 5, 1891, he was elected president of this institution, which position he has held to the present time, discharging the responsible duties of the same in a manner that has reflected much credit upon himself and to the eminent satisfaction of the stockholders and patrons of the bank; in fact, his personal popularity, his able management and wise foresight have been responsible for the steady and substantial growth of this strong and solid institution. Before his election to the presidency he had served some time as cashier, and in all his positions his connection with the bank covers a period of thirty-four years.
            Mr. Coats has manifested an abiding interest in the public affairs of his town and county. In the autumn of 1902 he was elected to the state senate from the joint district of Randolph and Jay counties, and during the sessions of the legislature of 1903 and 1905 he made his influence felt for the general good of his locality and the entire state, winning the hearty commendation of his constituents. He served on many of the most important committees, and was chairman of banks, trusts and savings associations during both sessions. He has been a member of the county council board since 1908, and is president of the board. He is a Republican in politics and has been loyal in his support of the party. He belongs to the Grand Army of the Republic, and, fraternally, he is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Tribe of Ben-Hur and the Knights of the Golden Eagle. He holds membership with the Randolph Club. He was reared in the Friends faith, and his wife and family belong to the Presbyterian church.
            Mr. Coats was married in Winchester, November 4, 1865, to Lucinda Skiver, who was born in Randolph county February 18, 1850, and here she grew to womanhood and received her education. She is a daughter of Adam and Margaret (Shaw) Skiver, natives of Virginia and Ohio, respectively. The father was born in 1805 and the mother in 1812, near the city of Bellefontaine. Mrs. Coats is a lady of many estimable characteristics which have won and retained for her hosts of warm personal friends.
            To Mr. and Mrs. Coats have been born three children, named as follows: Oren married Dora Heaston, who died in 1908, leaving two children; he died in Winchester in August, 1913; William Oscar, the second son of our subject, is engaged in farming in White River township; the daughter, Lydia Leona, married Charles E. Reed, a druggist of Winchester. These children were all given excellent educational advantages and are all well located in life and highly respected throughout their native county.
            Mr. Coats is deserving of a great deal of credit for what he has accomplished, for he started out at the bottom of the ladder, which he has mounted unaided and has through entirely honorable methods become one of the leading business men of this section of the state and at the same time enjoys the confidence and respect of all classes.
Past and Present of Randolph County, Indiana, 1914.
Contributed by Gina Richardson

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