September 12, 2005

Iowa Biographies Project

This project is another in a series of Rootsweb projects taken on by volunteers. This particular project is modeled on the US Biographies Project which was modeled on the earlier Kentucky Biographies Project, which apparently no longer exists.

The following biography was found on the Iowa site (click on title link), and was taken from Past and Present of Hardin County, Iowa, edited by William J. Moir, Indianapolis, published by B.F. Bowen, 1911:

Robert Coffee, pp. 638-639

Among the well known and representative farmers of Hardin county, where he spent twenty-five years of active life in honest and honorable toil, is Robert Coffee. By diligence in his occupation he gained a competency and is now living in honorable retirement, spending his later years in the society of his friends. In all the situations in which has has been placed, whether as a soldier on the field of battle or a farmer performing some seeming hunble task, he as done his duty.

Robert Coffee was born on February 5, 1838, in Logan county, Ohio, the son of Abraham and Hannah (Dunn) Coffee. His sisters and brothers were Mary, Sarah, William, Isaiah, Hannah and Charles, the latter of whom has lived in Hardin county for about eight years. Robert received his education in the common schools in Ohio, and worked on the farm until he was twenty-one, when he moved to Illinois. On February 2, 1869, he was married to Hannah M. Cheney, of Rock Island county, Illinois. Her father was William C. Cheney, who was born in Champaign county, Ohio, on September 30, 1819. Her mother was Emily (Sayre) Cheney, also a native of Ohio. In 1842 they came from Ohio to Rock Island county, Illinois, where they spent the remainder of their lives. The brothers and sisters of Hannah Cheney were Mary Ellen, Alanson and Alma Jane.

Robert Coffee enlisted in Company A, Ninety-third Illinois Infantry, in 1862, and served during the whole war, with the rank of corporal. During a great portion of his term of service he was in the convalescent camp sick, but was never in the hospital, and though he was sick most of the time, he kept on duty all the time. Mr. Coffee lost his health in the army. He was a loyal soldier throughout the entire war and did his duty at all times. Though not as physically able as some of his comrades, he kept at his post all the time, refusing to go to the hospital, preferring to sacrifice everything to bear his part of the heavy burden of war. He is deserving of special praise for the patriotic manner in which he met his duty. He was mustered out June 2, 1865, at Washington, D. C., having marched three hundred and eighty-eight miles to get there to participate in the grand review of troops.

After his marriage he remained in Illinois until 1872, when he came to Grundy county, Iowa, and bought eighty acres of land. In 1875 he sold that farm and bought one hundred and sixty acres in the eastern part of Hardin county, in a most fertile region. For this land he paid twenty dollars per acre, and it is now worth one hundred and twenty-five dollars per acre. Here Mr. Coffee spent twenty-five years in general farming, and during that time improved his farm greatly and made a comfortable living. In 1900 he and his wife came to Eldora to live, where they have a convenient and pleasant home.

Mr. Coffee has always been considered as one of the solid and substantial men of this neighborhood, a citizen of sterling worth. He is in politics a Republican. He and his wife have long been members of the Christian church and both exemplify true Christian character.

I would appreciate hearing from anyone researching this family. I believe Abraham probably descends from Peter Coffee, but have no definitive information.

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