August 30, 2018

Austin Coffey - A son of Edward and Ann Powell Coffey?

In his will published Feb. 14, 1715/16 in Deed & Will Book 14, p.669, Edward Coffey named six children; Two or three sons and three or four daughters.  Those named were: John, Edward, Martha, Ann, Anstes, and Elizabeth.

All of the children are pretty much accounted for except Anstes. Was she the oft mentioned Annister or, was she an unaccounted for daughter?  We believe that daughter Ann Coffey might be Annister and that she produced an out-of-wedlock son with James Samuel. Born between 1735 and 36, she named the child James Coffey. More on him at a later date. We know from Chenault researchers that Annister later married Stephen Chenault.

Some interpreters think of Anstes as a male child whose name was Austin.
Dr. Marvin Coffey, descendant and long time Edward Researcher and published of James Bluford Coffey, his ancestors and descendants in America*,  believed that Austin might be the real name instead of Austes because descendants of Edward’s son John and wife Jane Graves Coffey descendants used the name Austin [extensively through many consecutive generations of male descendants*]. That would not have been unusual for a brother to name one of his children, or a influence a son to name a child after his beloved younger brother. He may have been killed in some Indian attack on the colony or otherwise distinguished himself.

Whomever he was, he is never more mentioned in any published history of the Edward Coffey clan.

He (Marvin) wrote that he had no idea where Edward and Ann might have obtained the name Austin but reminded us that there was a Daniel Austin family, contemporary with Edward, residing in Essex Co.  Marvin didn’t consider accurate the idea that the child was a female or named Austes.  But, if he was a male, what happened to him. Was he one of Edward’s children that married a Chenault female?

Marvin also worked to show that the Coffey, Duling and Chenault families were close, he cited the fact that when John sold his Essex county land in 1745, witnesses were Wm Duling and Wm Chenault. In 1747, when he sold more land, Wm Duling and Stephen Chenault Jr were witnesses and presumed that Austin might have been there as well. Could be Austin moved out of the area or perhaps died young. In either case, he left no records.

Searching the early census records of Burke Co., NC reveals that many of the Coffey family members relocated there after John’s death in 1775.  Depending on age of course, Austin, or any name similar to that does not appear.

In wrapping up that section of his book, Marvin wrote that it was possible that Austin existed without creating any public records and managed to have several children.  If that should be true, he speculated that some of the children of Edward, Jr. might actually be Austin’s.

*For reference:

Austin Coffey, born c1800 in NC, was in Wilkes Co. 1840-1860 census.  Great-Grandson of John
Austin Coffey, born c1818 in Burke Co., was in 1850-1860 census in Caldwell Co. also great-grandson of John
Austin Coffey, born c1840 in TN – 2d great-grandson of John
Austin Coffey, born 1871 in MO – 3d great-grandson of John
Austin Coffey, born 1912 in MO – 4th great-grandson of John
Austin Coffey, born 1936 in KY – 6th great-grandson of John

There are seven more Austins in this family.

To confuse things bit, there was an Austis Bedford Coffey, born 1893 in MO who was a 3d great-grandson of John. The ‘s’ could have been a editorial error!. Difficult to determine last letter in his signature on WW1 draft registration. And, on his 1918 marriage record his name was interpreted to be Autis and was spelled Autis on the marriage license. In 1920 Camden Co., AR census, he was Ottis. By 1930 it was back to being Autis. And finally, his grave marker is engraved Autis. He is buried at Maple Hill Cemetery in Kansas City, Wyandotte Co., KS, memorial no.20519495.

I conclude therefore his name was Autis.  Probably a family spelling for Ottis? I am pretty sure that many of us have seen Otis spelled variously.  I went to school with an Odest.

Based on the writings of Dr. Coffey, I believe the child was male and his name was Austin.

What do you think?



  • * James Bluford Coffey, his ancestors and descendants in America; v. 01 Author: Coffey, Marvin D. (Marvin Dale), 1930-deceased; Call No. 929.273 C654cm Provenance: Owning Institution Family History Library, FamilySearch International, http"//familysearch.org/: NOTE: This book is not on-line. Talk to your local LDS Library about a library loan.


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