Mark Van Buren Coats
Submitted by Guy Coates

Mark V. Coats was born September 14, 1848 in Darke County, Ohio. His middle name,  "Van Buren" was given to him by his father, in honor of President Martin Van Buren.

Mark was born in Darke County, Ohio, part of which later became a part of Mercer County. The family moved around, but it seems they spent most of their time on a farm east of

Covington, Ohio, where his father, John, was born and where his aunt, Abigail Mott and her husband Abraham, also lived. 

In 1856 he and his family moved to a farm in  Honey Creek, Iowa.  Not much is known about his childhood, except that he remained at home to take care of the farm while his father and brother, James, went off to fight in the Civil War.

He came to Ponca, Nebraska in 1869' but returned to Iowa for a couple years and in 1878 to 1879 he joined two of his brothers and  thousands of men in South Dakota's Black Hills gold fever.  He probably was in Deadwood during the same time that Wild Bill Hickock and the Earp brothers were there.

By late 1879 he was back in Ponca where he opened a two-story general store on third Street, known as the Farmer's Store. He also built a six room house on the west part of town. He enjoyed a good business from townspeople and surrounding farms, was a good businessman and a 32-degree Mason. He often acted as deputy sheriff when there were Indians or outlaws to deal with. He had a hobby as a taxidermist and kept a cage of stuffed animals and birds in his store for customers to admire.  Many stories were told of his courage and daring. He maintained an icehouse, where ice cut from the Missouri River during wintertime, was stored for summer use. He also had a wine press, which he made himself, and made wine from wild grapes for his own use.

Mark owned two lots in Ponca:
Lots 5 & 6 , Block 48 which today is approximately 105 W. Third Street --This was the Farmer's Store owned by Mark V. Coats
W 1/2 of Lot 11, Block 99, which today is approximately 820 Fourth Street -- This was the Coats family residence

Mark was married briefly to Estella Lupher in 1877, but that marriage apparently ended in divorce, but not before the marriage produced a son, Ernest C. Coats, who apparently lived with his mother following the divorce..  

Mark married Mary Bernette Mershon, called "Nettie" by the family in January 1882.  Nettie was from Jones County, Iowa. Mark owned a 6 room house in the west part of Ponca Nebraska. The home had a barn where Mark kept his horse, named "Dobbins."  The family owned a two seated buggy and a light wagon. They had an ice house where ice was cut from the Missouri River and stored for summer use. Mark also had a wine press and made his own wine from wild grapes.  

When Mark was only 40 years old, he developed a throat infection (probably Diphtheria) that doctors could not treat and it spread to his brain, rendering him incapacitated.   He spent his final two years at Norfolk Hospital and died at the young age of 42. His funeral was held that the Methodist Church in Ponca.

He left his wife to run the store and care for four children. She moved into the house over the store,
but was soon compelled to sell the store.  About two years after Mark died, Nettie remarried a man named William Austin and had one son, Glenn Elden Austin. 

Children of Mark Coats and Mary Bernette Mershon
1. Guy Roy Coates, b. October 22, 1882; d. October 20, 1960. (This is my grandfather who changed the name from "Coats" to "Coates.)
2. Eva Coates, b. December 16, 1884.
3. Ida (Ethel) Coats, b. November 16, 1886.
4. Violet (Vernie) Coats, b. May 20, 1888.

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