For many years past, Samuel M. Inman has been constantly named as the first citizen of Atlanta, and this is no idle compliment, for the position occupied by Mr. Inman in his home town is one which has been won by long and loyal service to his fellow-men. Possessed, in large measure, of a money-making faculty, which has enabled him to accumulate much of this world's goods, he has never allowed the mere making of money to absorb his life - he has been always ready to give time, service and money to everything that would contribute to the general betterment of the conditions around him and to the advancement of the city, either in a material or a moral way.
He comes from East Tennessee, that rugged but beautiful section which has been a nursery of strong men. He was born at Dandridge, Jefferson county, Tennessee, on February 19, 1843, son of S. W. and Jane (Martin) Inman. Shadrach W. Inman, father of Samuel M., was a capable man and highly esteemed by the men of his day in Atlanta. He was a son of John Inman and a grandson of Abednego Inman, a gallant Revolutionary soldier.
The Inman family has been identified with our country since the colonial period, and in the Revolutionary war the patriots had no more valiant soldier than Captain Shadrach Inman, who, at the head of his troop of horse, was in the fore-front in almost every one of the partisan engagements fought in the desperate campaign in the South during the years 1879 and 1880 (are these typos?). He was the right-hand man of such leaders as Twiggs and Clarke, and after participating in many victories, he fell while gallantly leading his command in the battle of Musgrove's Mill, the most complete victory won by the patriots in any of the engagements, for with a loss of four killed and nine wounded they inflicted upon their enemies a loss of sixty-three killed and one hundred and sixty wounded and captured. Their victory. however, was shadowed by the death of Captain Inman.
Samuel M. Inman, also has his honorable military record. His people being steady-going Presbyterians, it was but natural that they should send him to Princeton University, and he was a student in that school when the war clouds burst. He enlisted in Company K of the First Tennessee Cavalry, which became a part of Johnston's Western Army, serving part of the time as Lieutenant of his company, and part of the latter period was detailed on special duty with the Division Staff. The brave old Revolutionary soldier, Captain Inman, did not perform his duty more faithfully nor loyally than did his kinsman of the nineteenth century.
Taking his parole in 1865, Mr. Inman went to Augusta, Ga., where he engaged in business, and from which place, in 1867, he moved to Atlanta. His first venture in Atlanta was a partnership with his father under the firm name of S. W. Inman & Son, which was changed, in 1869, to S. M. Inman & Co. For long years, the firm of S. M. Inman & Co. stood in the front rank of cotton firms of the world. An honorable trader, dealing in actual cotton, buying, selling and exporting, he built up, by rare good judgment and by rigid integrity, a name in the mercantile world second to that of no other man in the business. His business judgment has already been mentioned, and it am be emphasized, for early in the day he foresaw the greatness of Atlanta, and from time to time invested of his surplus until he is to-day a large holder of some of the most valuable property in the city. It is not necessary to enlarge upon Mr. Inman's business success - it is known of all men.
Mr. Inman's best work really has been done outside of business. As cotton merchant, as railroad director, as leading financier, he is known far and wide; but to the people of Atlanta he is known affectionately as Sam Inman, always ready to spend and to be spent in the service of Atlanta. The great Technological School is due more to his efforts than to any other one man, for he led in the movement which resulted in its erection, put five thousand dollars of his own money into it as a starter, secured from the city seventy-five thousand dollars and a pledge of two thousand five hundred annually. As a member of the Board of Commissioners of the School, its instant and splendid success was largely due to his wisdom and labors. This is one of the many instances of Sam Inman's constructive philanthropy. The Young Men's Christian Association, the hospitals of the city, everything that will help his fellow-man appeals to him and can command his support. Examples of his public spirit and devotion to good causes are found in the case of the International Cotton Exposition of 1896, when he threw himself into the breach and carried to triumphant success an enterprise then headed towards disaster; and again it is only yesterday, as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Agnes Scott College, that he helped raise for that splendid school $350,000, leading the donors with a $50,000 gift, in addition to previous gifts of $25,000, and subsequent gifts of $10,000. His immediate family is a remarkable one - his brothers, John H. and Hugh T., both of whom have passed away, made a great success in a business way and were much esteemed during their lives. His uncle, Walter P. Inman, also a successful business man, was one of the best-loved men who ever lived in Atlanta. The family has certainly never been short in ability.
Mr. S. M. Inman has been twice married, His first wife was Miss Jennie Dick, Rome, Georgia, to whom he was married in 1868; she died in 1890, leaving two sons and a daughter; and in December, 1892, he married Miss Mildred McPheeters, of Raleigh, North Carolina.
For many years past, an elder in the first Presbyterian Church, Mr. Inman has set an example of Christian citizenship; His liberality is proverbial; and any public position within the gift of the people of Atlanta could have been his at any time within the past thirty years if he would have accepted it. He has been content, however, to do his duty as a citizen in a private way, and so it has come about that he is known, and justly known, as "the first citizen of Atlanta."
Inman is an ancient family name in Great Britain. One British genealogist of authority deriving it from the Swedish "Ingman" or the Anglo-Saxon "Ingimund."Burke, the great English authority on families, in one of his editions published in 1858, makes a branch of the Inman family of Royal descent. Then comes the iconoclast, Baring-Gould, who bluntly says that the name - like many others - is derived from an Occupation,
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Submitted by Jo Phillips