September 9, 2005

Judge Silas D. M. Coffey

Silas Coffey was born Feb. 23, 1839 in Owen Co., Indiana, and died Mar. 6, 1904 in Manatee, Manatee Co., FL. He was the son of Hodge Raymond and Hannah Wilson Coffey. This is the Reuben and Sarah Scott Coffey line, descended from John and Jane Graves Coffey.

"He entered Indiana University in 1860, but withdrew when the Civil War erupted. Yet the war did not stop his studies. He carried a copy of Blackstone’s Commentaries with him. After the war Coffey returned home, studied law and opened an office in Bowling Green, Indiana, then the county seat of Clay County. Coffey was an active participant in the Republican Party. In 1881, he was named to the 13th Circuit Court bench where he stayed until he was elected to the Indiana Supreme Court. He sat from January 7, 1889 until January 7, 1895."

Silas D. Coffey enlisted as a private in Co. H, 14th Indiana Volunteers in 1861.

Although the state biography of Silas indicates that he died in Indiana, his obituary disagrees:

News article, Terre Haute Evening Gazette, Monday, March 7, 1904, p1

Judge Coffey Dropped Dead

Brazil Jurist Died Suddenly Sunday Night at Manatee, Fla.

Brazil, Ind., March 7 - (Gazette special). - Judge McGregor received a telegram from Wallace Coffey at Manatee, Fla. this morning announcing the death of Silas D. Coffey who dropped dead last night from an attack of heart trouble. The deceased was one of the best known citizens of the state. He was born on a farm in Owen county, February 23, 1839 and in 1860 entered the University of Bloomington where he remained till the breaking out of the Civil war, when he entered the service a member of the Fourteenth Indiana Infantry and served for three years. He moved to this city in 1879, where he has since been recognized as one of the leading lawyers of the county. He was appointed in 1881 by Governor Porter to fill the unexpired term as circuit Judge of Clay and Owen counties of Judge Turman and was subsequently twice elected to the Supreme bench. In 1883 he served six years. Formed a partnership with Judge McGregor for the practice of law three years ago and since that date this firm has been considered one of the strongest in the state. The deceased's remains will be shipped here for burial. A wife and one son, attorney Wallace Coffey, and three daughters survive him. He leaves a large estate.

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