I always wondered why the Colberts rented for so long. As far as I knew my father, Larry Colbert, was the first in the family to own a home. Actually another Larry was the first.
Lawrence Coleman, or Larry as he was called, arrived in New York in 1851 and lived with his sister Mary Coleman Colbert and her family until he married. The Colberts and the Colemans all lived on East 121st Street in Harlem. Larry seems to have worked mainly as a laborer, sometimes as a driver. He and his wife Julia Sullivan opened up an account at the Emigrant Savings Bank in 1875 and saved until they had enough money to buy a house.
On October 27, 1885, Larry and Julia purchased the house at 106 East 121st Street for $4,750.00. The building was wood framed and 2 stories. It looks like there were 2 apartments and Larry and Julia rented out both of them and lived in an apartment a few blocks away. They may have had a mortgage, but in those days people often put down as much as 50%. By 1900 when they moved in to one of the apartments, they owned the house free and clear.
Larry died in 1906, two years after his wife and left no will. Letters of Administration were issued to his son, Lawrence F. Coleman. According to the paperwork the son filed, Larry’s house was valued at $8,000.00 and he had personal property of $1400.00. Lawrence Jr. must have sold his father’s house. When he died a year later he had no real propety, but he did have personal property of $11,000.00.