My wife Nelda and I have just returned from spending a cold, wet week in Nashville, Tn. That's where the 23d Annual Coffey Cousins' Convention was held. It was hosted by Billie McKinnie and daughter, Patsy Burns. I don't have an exact count handy, but there were 50-plus registrants.
We arrived a couple of days early to visit the state archives, and I ended up walking a couple of miles in the rain on the day I chose to go. It's difficult enough to get around in Nashville under normal conditions. Add rain and road construction and it becomes extremely difficult. I also found out that not everyone in Nashville knows the difference between the "state archives and library" and the "public library."
Soon, other 'cousins' began to arrive, and I was drafted to drive some, and lead some from our hotel headquarters to the archives. Other drivers in the pool left ahead of me, or so I thought. I was racing to catch up with them on the interstate, and they were racing to catch up with me. They had not actually left the hotel parking lot, but had lagged behind waiting for me to lead.
But, we all got to the archives safely, and even had some time to do research. Once there we were greeted by the archives staff, given a brief summary of archives duties and holdings, then turned loose amongst the microfilm, stacks, and books.
Many of our 'cousins' chose to remain at the hotel, and sit around in the conference room set aside for us by the hotel. Bonnie Culley, editor of the Cousins' newsletter, always brings her outstanding collection of Coffee/y books. Those generally attracts a number of researchers, and keeps many busy reading and copying from them the entire three days of the convention.
Our hostesses in Nashville were Billie McKinney and her daughter, Patsy Burns. They "employed" their entire family - brothers, sisters, some in-laws, etc. - to put on a memorable convention. They are an especially talented family. Roger Burns, Patsy's husband, entertained us on the keyboard accompanied by guitarist Scott McKinney, Patsy's brother. Mindy Odum, a member of their church choir, sang two inspirational songs for us.
Saturday night is always set aside for our banquet, business meeting, and election of officers for the coming year. We also discuss plans for the next convention (e.g., where and when). We also hope there will be volunteers willing to host future convention.
There were no volunteers to host us in 2006, so Nelda and I will host the convention in Chadron, Nebraska! That's going to be a long distance affair since we live in Louisiana! But, I think we can do it. Darlene Clarke, a cousin from Iowa offered to host the group in 2007 at Dubuque. Readers can get a brief overview of Chadron at the following link:
I will write more on the Coffee families that settled in that area in a subsequent blog!
Officers for the coming year are:
Jack Coffee of Louisiana, President; Ed Coffee of Virginia, Vice President; Jo Langwell of Texas, Secretary; Darlene Clarke of Iowa, Treasurer. We continue to be supported by Reams Goodloe who has patiently indexed 24 and a half years of Coffey Cousins newsletters; Bonnie Culley, who edits those newsletters; and Bennie Coffey Loftin, past hostess of two conventions.