December 28, 2004

Alexander Curry Yell and Martha D. "Patsy" Coffey

Thanks to Betty Landers for giving me a lead to the family of Martha Coffey, daughter of Rice Coffey and Sarah "Sally" Bradford.

According to information found at: (Apparently no longer on-line)

Alexander Curry Yell was born Nov. 12, 1805 in Rutherford Co., TN. He married Martha in Fayettville, Washington Co., AR. Martha died Oct. 24, 1881 in Robinson, Washington Co., AR.

From a Bedford Co. Family History book summited by Linda Pitts via Betty Landers ( on Dec. 18, 2004:

Martha D. Coffey daughter of Rice Coffey 1805-1849 d. in Benton Arkansas married in 1831 to Alexander Curry Yell 1805-1881 b. in Rutherford Co. Tn. d. in Benton Arkansas. they reared six children who all died in Arkansas.

A census search for this family finds them in Washington Co., AR in 1840, but a female of the correct age to be Martha is not found with the family!

Alexander and his children are found in the 1850 Benton Co., Ball Township, AR census:

Sheet 52, dwelling/family 115, A. C. Yell, age 44, male, farmer, $2000, born TN; Sarah J., age 21, female, born TN; Mary E., age 19, female, born TN; Martha E., age 15, female, born TN; Elizabeth, age 9, born AR; Marna E., age 6, female, born AR; Archibald M., age 2, male, born AR

According to information found at:

Alexander's parents were Moses Archibald Yell, born about 1746, location not given; married Jane Curry about 1790 in Delaware. He died in 1817 at Wartrace, Bedford Co., TN. Jane was born Feb. 1, 1764 in Kent Co., DE, and died Jan. 27, 1832 in Shelbyville, Bedford Co., TN.

Anyone with additional information on Alexander and Martha is invited to contact me at

Note: To reach anyone in this document via e-mail, remove the XX from their e-mail address.

December 9, 2004

Will of Lewis Russell Coffey 1772-1795

Will of Lewis Coffey

Source: LDS Family History Center microfilm #0591542: Wayne County KY Wills 1835 - 1909, pages 112 - 115, Transcribed by Sallee Garner November 3, 1991

Transcriber's note: Punctuation, spelling, and capitalization attempt to follow the original record. [Sic] in brackets indicates that the original word clearly appears as written, though misspelled or otherwise apparently wrong. [illegible] in brackets indicates a wholly illegible word or words, [word?] in brackets indicates a guess on my part as to what the word seems to be.

In the name of God amen I Lewis Coffey of the County of Wayne being sick and weak in boddy [sic] but of sound mind and disposing memory (for which I thank God) and calling to mind the uncertainty of human life and being desirous to dispose of all such worldly Estate as it has pleased God to bless me with I give and bequeath the same in manner following that is to say after the payment of all my just debts and funeral expenses

I give my beloved wife Biddy Coffey the the [sic] following slaves (to wit) Aqnes and all her children now with her Sarah and her children and Nancy subject to her own controll [sic], disposal, sale or devise in any such way and manner as may be most agreeable to her own feelings

I give to my beloved wife Biddy Coffey my black man Charles my slave Jane & Bill during her natural life

I give to my beloved wife Biddy Coffey the farm I now live upon and all adjoining lands during her natural life

I give six hundred Dollars out of my Estate to each one of the following named of my children Betsy Rachel Polly James Henderson Shelby Benjamin F. and Thomas to make them equal in amount with what my son E.N.C. Coffey has heretofore received

I give unto the possession of Benjamin F. Coffey my house and lot in the town of Monticello for for the support of my grand daughter Sophronia Coffey only child of J.M. Coffey deceased said Benjamin F. Coffey may lease said house and lot or permit my said grand daughter to occupy the same after five years from this date also rents of sald house & lot is received for the term of five years from this date. After five years said Benjamin F. Coffey may manage and let said house and lot as he may think most suitable to her future interest as no power is herein given my said grand daughter to dispose of said house and lot against the consent of him the said Benjamin F. and at the death of my said grand daughter if without children said house & lot belongs to my heirs--if she shall have issue and they shall due [sic] without children said House and lot shall be vest in my heirs

I give unto the possession of Benjamin F. Coffey after five years three hundred and fifty dollars for the support of my grand Daughter Sophronia Coffey to be paid to her use and [benefit?] at such times and in such maner [sic] as he may think most suitable to her interest

I give unto the possession of Shelby Coffey after five years Eleven Hundred Dollars for the joint support of my grand son and Daughter Lewis Coffey and Mary Coffey the only children of C.L. Coffey deceased to be paid to them equally and severally at such time and in such manner as he may think most suitable to their interest.

I leave in the hands of my executors one horse mare or filly or fifty Dollars to each of my grand children who names [illegible] follow (to wit) Sophronia Coffey Lewis Coffey and Mary Coffey to be delivered or paid to their use and support at such times and in such manner as my executors may think best

My desire is that should my grand Children from any Cause not receive the devise herein made to them in that event said devise shall belong to my heirs

my desire is that if my grand children Lewis and Mary Coffey should dye [sic] without children the devise herein given to them [revest?] and belong to my heirs

The devises and Bequests herein made to my grand Children may be put at interest at the option and will of their said Trustee as such devise or Bequest is not subject to the Control or responsibilities of my grand Children but to be Controled [sic] by their said Trustee

My Black woman Cass is to remain in the possession of my wife during the natural life of my wife should said black woman live as long at the death of my wife to be by my executors taken care of and ample provisions out of my estate by them made for her support whilst she may live provided she may not be able comfortably to support herself

My desire is that after the devises and Bequests herein made are set apart and provided that the remainder of my estate both person [sic] and real to remain in possession of my wife to be disposed of by her as she may think right

My will and desire is that after the death of my wife that all the rest of my estate undisposed of by her both real and personal of whatever nature or kind soever it may be by [my?] executors sold the personal property on such credits as they may think best and the landed estate on a credit of three years from and after the date of said sale and the proceeds when collected and expenses paid equally divided among the following of my children (to wit) Betsy, Rachel, Polly, James, Henderson, Shelby Benjamin F. and Thomas C.

I do hereby constitute and appoint Henderson B.F. Coffey and Shelby Coffey executors of this my last will and testament and the County Court upon their taking the Oath as executors are not required to bind them to security for the execution of this my last will

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand this 13th Day of April 1850.

Witness Lewis Coffey *seal*

Joshua Buster
William Simpson

I Lewis Coffey this day publish and declare the following as a Codicil to my will bearing date the 13th Day of April 1850 viz the proceeds of the five years rent of the house and lot mentioned in and Reserved in the 5th item of my said will I desire and direct my son B.F. Coffey to use and apply as he may deem most Condusive [sic] to the interest of my said Grand Daughter Sophronia Coffey named in the 5th item of my said will provided however he the said Benjamin F. may apply out of the proceeds of said five years rent to his own use and benefit (if he sees proper to do so) an amount equal to the expenses which he has and may incur in the suits between James W. Griffin & wife and himself concerning said house and lot.

Witness my hand and seal this 17th day of September 1850 signed sealed and acknowledged in the presence of

Witness Lewis Coffey *seal*
Joshua Buster
William Simpson

State of Kentucky Wayne County [Jct?]
I J.A. Shepperd Deputy Clerk for Wm Simpson Clerk of the Wayne County Court do Certify that the last will and testament of Lewis Coffey was on the 25 Day of Nov 1850 produced in open Court and proven by Oath of William Simpson one of the subscribing witnesses thereunto in his proper person and Jushua Buster the other subscribing witness not being present his had writing was proved by said Simpson to have been done in the presence of the testator which was ordered to be Recorded and is accordingly done

Given under my hand this 29th Day
of August 1853


(J.A. Shepperd [D?]
(Wm Simpson Clk

The John Coffey-Mary Jolliffee-Rebecca Ireland Myth

In 1960 George C. Greer published his reference, Early Virginia Immigrants, 1623-1666. In that work, Greer wrote that John Coffee came to Virginia in 1637 as the indentured servant of one Nicholas Hill.

In 1969, Nell M. Nugent, in her work, Cavaliers and Pioneers, Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants, Vols. I-III, transcribed the same information, but recorded the name as John Coffin or John Scoffin.

Marvin Coffey, in his work of 1984, James Bluford Coffey, His Ancestors and Descendants in America, wrote that he went to the original records, and found that Nugent had copied the name correctly; e.g., Coffin in one place, and what appears to be Scoffin in another. Marvin observed that whatever the name, it is not Coffee or Coffey!

Many Coffee/Coffey genealogists have accepted that John found in Greer's work was the earliest Coffee in America. Some researchers have given him a wife, often two wives; either Mary Jolliffe or Rebecca Ireland.

Records found, in York Co., VA, mention a William Ireland, in that county from 1633-1648. And, there is a John Jolliffee in Nansemone and Isle of Wight counties in 1653 (see Nugent). But, after all of the research, by literally hundreds of Coffee/Coffey researchers over several decades, no one has related any credible evidence that 1) there was a John Coffee/Coffey in that time frame, and 2) that a Mary Jolliffee or Rebecca Ireland ever existed.

Edward is first found mentioned in the 1699 will of William Mosely. The will was proved in Essex Co., VA on April 16, 1700, and in September, 1700 Edward received his "freedom, corn, and clothes" from the Mosely estate. Mosley transported many indentured persons to Virginia from about 1660 until the 1690's. Edward was likely one of his servants.

Edward Coffee/Coffey remains as our earliest known ancestor in America.

Anyone with evidence to the contrary will certainly be hailed by the large and growing family of Coffee/Coffey researchers!

Sometime after I wrote the above, and following questions posted on a well known genealogy forum, I asked Marvin Coffey to revisit this question. He submitted the following:

"Peter Rigllesworth had a will in which he mentions a daughter Mary. It has been said that this Mary married John Jolliffe but I have seen no record to substantiate it. John Jolliffe appears in the deed records of Nansemond and Isle of Wight cos., VA in 1653 and in Lower Norfolk co. in 1661, the latter being just a renewal of the patent of 1653. I have not yet seen a list of John's children or that he had a dau. named Mary, but I think it likely he did."

"The record of a John Coffee(y) arriving in Elizabeth City co. VA in 1637 with a patentee being Nicholas Hill was misread as the original record clearly says "Coffin". I have found no Coffee(y), John or otherwise in early or middle 1600s in Elizabeth City co., Norfolk co. or any closely surrounding ones, except for a John Coffe(?) on an inquisition or jury in Surry co. in 1669. There was also in the same county an Anthony Koffey(?) on a jury in 1654 and a John Coffer in 1665. The ? after the first two names is not mine, it is of the person recording it from some original. It indicates that this person couldn't read it and was guessing at the spelling. There is also a John Coffin in Isle of Wight co. in 1697 and several Coffers, inclcuding a John about this time."

"Going further north in Virginia the records of Northumberland and Lancaster cos. have several Coffins, Coffers and Coffee(y)s in the mid to late 1600s and early 1700s. None of these seems to be a John except a John Coffin or Coffins in 1669-70. In the early 1700s we find Edward Coffee(y) in Essex co. and later his sons John & Edward, Jr. in Spotsylvania and other counties."

"In sum I have seen nothing to demonstrate that there was a John Coffee(y) in the area where this Jolliffe family lived or a Mary who married a John Coffee(y). If anyone should have any further records on this matter I would appreciate them corresponding with me as I would like to solve this problem. Finally, it should be noted that even if there were a Mary Jolliffe-John Coffey marriage there seems to be no connection with Edward in Essex co. who was most likely an immigrant and indentured servant, and not a son of some Coffey already in Virginia."

More information about various Coffee/y families can be found at:

December 8, 2004

Blacks mentioned in my Coffee/y Files

Over the years I have collected a virtual ton of miscellaneous Coffee/y information. In an effort to "sort" it all out, I created a database, one that I could sort on any field, including date, source, etc.

I have often thought of printing and publishing the nearly 12,000 entries in the database, but just have never gotten around to it. The expense associated with printing it at home, then having it copied and bound is not something that I'm prepared to absorb.

So, in an effort to see that at least some of the info is available to Coffee/y researchers, I hope to pull various records from the file and post them here. The first will be nine records in which "Negro" is mentioned.

So far, as I start this project, I can think of only one "rule." None of the information has been proven by me, or anyone else that I know of. I will list the source of the information when available.

Here goes:

No first or middle name, Coffee; Year: 1712; State: MA; Event: Marriage; Source: Boston Massachusetts Marriages, 1700-1809; Remarks: Negro, married 4 Sep by Rev. Mr. Eben'r Pemberton, Presbytn

Joshua Coffee; Year: 1745, State: VA; County: Prince Edward; Spouse: Elizabeth Graves; Event: Birth; Source: The Georgians, Genealogies of Pioneer Settlers by J. J. Austin; Remarks: Joshua, son of Peter, was Capt of VA Mounted Guards, moved to Granville Co., NC where he witd deed dtd May 26, 1779 of Thomas Mutter to Geo. Terry of Mecklenburg Co., VA for 2000pds and four negroes. Granville Co., N. C. deed book 1, p342, Acct of Sale of Negroes of Est. of Robert Pryor, decd, sold to Joshua Coffee, to Mrs. Olive Pryor and to Is. Pope 8/1782. Colonial Granville and its People by Worth S. Ray states that Rev. Joshua Coffee m Eliz. Graves. Joshua listed in 1790 Rockingham Co., NC census. Eliz. Graves b 1751, d1804, m1769. Joshua d c1793 in Rockingham Co., and his widow and son, Gen. John, moved to Haysborough, TN.

Elijah Coffey; Year: 1822; State: TN; Memphis; Event: History; Source: The Biography of A River Town - Its Heroic Age by Gerald Mortimer Capers, Jr., Chapel Hill, UNC Press, 1939, p65; Remarks: Elijah Coffey, a shoemaker and a Freewill Baptist, who left a wife and an unsavory reputation behind him in Ill, arrived in Memphis on a Sunday in March of 1822, and he had hardly landed before he was reproaching the residents, at a service in the cabin of Barney Flynn on the batture, for their sinful lives. During his career he belonged to all denominations even the Catholic, but severed his connection with the latter when he found that it did not encourage preaching by laymen. He served on board of Aldermen for Negro African Church and was mayor of Memphis for a brief period. The Nat. Banner and Nashville Daily Advertiser, of Mon., Jun 17, 1833, reported the death in Memphis of Eliz. Coffey, wife of Rev. Elijah Coffey.

Henry B. Coffey; Year: 1837; State: TN; County: Bedford; Event: Sale; Source: Chancery Court Records 1837-1845 by Marsh, p14; March 6, proceeded to sell Negro boy. Boy was bid off by Alfred Campbell and money handed over to Henry on April 10.

Rice Coffey; Year: 1840; State: TN; County: Bedford; Event: Info; Source: Land Deed Genealogy of Bedford Co., TN 1807-1852, p32, by Marsh; Remarks: Deed Book JJ, Benjamin F. and Wm. P. Bowers, bill of sale to Rice Coffey, purchased Isham, a negro man, from estate of John Bowers, June 1.

Edward Coffee; Year: 1842, State: SC; County: Pickens; Spouse: Elizabeth LNU; Event: Probate; Source: A Collection of Upper South Carolina Genealogical and Family Records, Vol. II, by James E. Wooley; Remarks: ISBN 0-89308-210-4, p53: Coffee, Elizabeth, Box 11, No. 138, Probate Judge Office, Pickens, SC; Elizabeth, wife of Edward Coffee was probably a daughter of James Nevill whose will was proven in 1842. He bequeathed to them a Negro girl named Minerva.

William B. Coffee; Year: 1842, State: TN; County: Hamilton; Event: Deed; Source: Records of Hamilton County, WPA Project, 1936, and Deed Book E., 1841-1843; Remarks: Book E, p. 428, Sep. 14, 1842: Bill of Sale and Trust, Beriah Frazier to William Coffee, trustee to secure payment of two hunderd and twenty dollars due Samuel Frazier by note--one negro boy named Frank aged about eight years, two horses, 2 saddles and 2 bridles, 2 cows and 2 calves, fourteen head of hogs, three feather beds, bedsteads and all their necessary furniture, one bureau, two tables and one lot of medicine. Witnesses: P. T. Rawlings, Asahel Rawlings; Registered Hamilton Co., 14 Sep 1842, Book E, p. 184-185

Henry B. Coffey; Year: 1854; State: TN; County: Bedford; Event: Info; Source: Chancery Court Enrollment Book "D"; Remarks: p99, Stokes and Mullins vs Green, Coffey, et al; Inj. Bill, Apr 4. John M. Stokes and James Mullins filed against Henry B. Coffey, R. E. Coffey and W. P. Green, all of Bedford Co. John M. Stokes states he purchased of Henry B. Coffee on 19 Apr 1852 a negro man, Abner, age 44 or 45 years.

David S. Coffey; Year: 1859; State: NC; County: Mecklenburg; Event: Will; Source: Mecklenburg County, NC Wills 1791-1868, Books A-J; Remarks: Book J, p121; Charles E. Spratte wills to David, the Negro Sinth and her daughter, Adeline. Sarah Ann Coffey also named but relation not given.

Three Moore Women

Mary "Mollie", Mildred "Millie", and Bidant "Biddy" Moore, all daughters of Jesse Moore and wife Alley Johnson, married Coffey brothers.

Mollie, born 2 Jun 1766, married James Coffey, Jr. on Aug. 30, 1794 in Wilkes Co.,NC.

Some researchers claim that James never married. Some report that Mollie married Abraham Alloway Strange. The Moore Family of the Globe, published in the Lenoir Topic of Oct. 7, 1891, and reprinted in Gleanings from the Heart of the Corn Belt, Vol. 4, No. 1, 1970, pp18-22 are two publications that make the argument for the Strange marriage. The only Abraham Strange that I have any information on was born 1808, and died 1866. He was a son of Archelus Alloway Strange and Elizabeth Coffey. Because of the age difference, I doubt that this Abraham is the one claimed to have married Mollie.

But, on the otherhand, a marriage record for James and Mollie has not yet been found. There is a marriage record dated Aug. 30, 1794 in Wilkes Co., NC for a James Coffey to a Sarah Coffey, but so far I have't placed these with a definite family.

Research hasn't been sufficient yet to separate this James in records of NC from the James, son of Thomas and Delilah Ferguson Coffey. There is a James, Jr., mentioned in Wilkes Co. Court of Pleas, and in the Yadkin Baptist church in 1790 is probably the son of Rev. James Coffey.

This James Jr. lived next to his father in in Wilkes Co., and later moved to Wayne Co., KY in the early 1800. He returned to NC and traded his land in KY to his brother Lewis Russell Coffey. James, Jr. hasn't been definitely identified in the 1800 or later census records of Wilkes Co., nor in Wayne Co. Perhaps we went with Rice and others to Bedford Co., TN. There was a James there in 1830 who is of the approximate age, and another in Jefferson Co., TN, listed on the 1800 and 1807 tax rolls.

So, we can only say that James and Mollie are placed here more out of tradition than any proven research.

Mildred's marriage to Ambrose is more certain, although we only have an approximate year (1788) for their union. Millie was born Mar. 31, 1770 and died in 1812, probably in Pulaski Co., KY.

Mildred gave birth to at least 12 children; five daughters, and seven sons. All were born between about 1788 and her death in c1812. More information on these children, and their descendants can be found at the Coffey Cousins' website by clicking on the link to Edward and Ann Powell Coffey.

Bidant was born May 3, 1775 in Albemarle Co., VA, and died Jan. 13, 1857 in Wayne Co., KY. She and Lewis Russell were married Dec. 10, 1795 in Wilkes Co., NC. Lewis' will was made April 13, 1850, and proven on Nov. 25, 1850. Lewis was a slave owner, and willed a number of them to his wife and children. A copy of his will can also be found at the Coffey Cousins' site.

If any reader has more information that will add to the accuracy of the genealogy of the Coffey and Moore families should write to me at my published e-mail address, or leave messages in the discussion site at Coffey Cousins'.

December 7, 2004

Coffey Cousins' Clearinghouse Convention

The 22d annual Coffey Cousins' Clearinghouse Convention will be will be held April 28 to April 30, 2005 at Nashville, Tennessee.

More details can be found at:

(if URL does not wordwrap properly, highlight, copy and past into your browser)

Coffee/y - Mills Connection

Recent DNA testing has shown that my own Coffee heritage is somewhat suspect.

A DNA project by Coffey Cousins' Clearinghouse has tested about a dozen or more volunteers who can trace their ancestry back to Edward and Ann Powell Coffey, as well as to Peter. These tests have shown that Edward and Peter are related, but their common ancestor has not yet been determined.

My own test shows that I am not related to any of the Coffee/y lines thus far tested. The numbers do show however, that I am related to a Mills line that had at least one male who married into the Ambrose Coffey/Mildred Moore family.

Ambrose* and Millie had at least 12 children. Their first child, a daughter by the name of Alice "Alley" Coffey was born about 1788 in Burke Co., NC, and married John Mills on Mar. 19, 1804 in Wilkes Co., NC..

John was the son of William Mills and Sarah Ellis. William was born about 1741 in Virginia, and Sarah was born about 1742, also in Virginia.

William and Sarah had at least 8 children: Isham, born about 161, died 1832; Henry Hardy, born about 1763, diec 1841; Elizabeth, born about 1765; Mary Judah "Polly", born about 1767, died 1832; Martha "Patty", born about 1767, died 1834; Nancy, born about 1770; William II, born about 1780, and John, who married Alley. John was born 1788 and died sometime before 1850.

John and Alley appeared in every Pulaski Co., KY census from 1810 until 1840. In 1850 Alley was enumerated as a widow in the Hancock Co., TN census.

Alley and John had at least seven children: William, Hiram, Elizabeth, America, John, Perry Commodore, and Thomas. All of these children were born between about 1805 and 1828, and all were probably born in Tennessee.

Of course, my Mills DNA could come from any of the descendants of William Mills and his wife Sarah Ellis. But, it is their son John that married into the Coffey family, and likely that family is the one that somehow came to adopt a child - formally or informally - by the name of Lilburn Mills and to whom they renamed Lilburn Coffee.

*After Millie's death, Ambrose married twice more. His second wife was Elizabeth Rice who he married in about 1807. She apparently died sometime after 1817, and Ambrose married Polly Garner, to whom he was married at the time of his death in 1818. Polly later married a John Mills.

[corrected and amended 9/26/05]

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