JOHN HAMILTON INMAN, merchant, was born Oct. 23, 1844, in Jefferson county, Tenn., and is the second son of Shadrack W. and Jane Martin Inman. His father was of English lineage and his mother of Scotch-Irish descent. From this sturdy ancestry, John H. Inman inherited robust physique and unusual brain power. His father was a rich planter in Tennessee before the war, besides being a banker of pronounced success. The family have been stanch Presbyterians through several generations, and the subject of this sketch is himself a consistent member of that denomination.
On returning home, he found poverty where he had left wealth, and widespread devastation in place of prosperity and plenty. His father's fortune had been turned topsy-turvy, and the problem of life through the violence of war had become serious indeed. The impoverished South offered no encouragement, and Mr. Inman, with nothing in his pocket except a soldier's parole, came to New York to make a new start in life. From that day to this, his career has been a campaign of usefulness as well as a triumphal march.
On coming to New York in September, 1865, he secured a clerkship in a cotton house, which position he held for three years, when he was admitted to full partnership in the firm. Two years thereafter, he organized the now internationally well-known house of Inman, Swann & Co., cotton commission merchants, and has been the presiding genius over the destinies of that firm from the hour of its organization to the present time. About ten years after the house of Inman, Swarm & Co. had been established, Mr. Inman turned his attention to the railroad interests of the South and rapidly went to the very foremost position in the management of Southern railroads. Latterly, he has almost completely withdrawn from that field of operations in order to enjoy more [p.346] leisure than grave official responsibilities will permit. He is a member of the Rapid Transit Commission of this city and has been since its creation. For the material development of the New South, he has probably done more than any other one man. It is estimated that more than $100,000,000 have been sent to the South for investment through his indirect instrumentality. He has a large following, having won to his support, through brave undertakings and brilliant achievements, men of brains, character and wealth. His personal fortune is great enough not to need counting. Suffice it to say, he is several times a millionaire.
Mr. Inman was married June 8, 1870, to Miss Margaret M. Coffin, of Monroe county, Tenn. They have six living children, four sons and two daughters. Their eldest son, Hugh Martin Inman, is a student at Yale University, and the other sons are preparing for college.