October 18, 2005

Andrew Jackson Coffee

Andrew Jackson Coffee, Captain of Company I, First Regiment, O. N. G., is a native son of the Golden State, born in Oakland, January 13, 1861. His ancestors were among the early settlers of Virginia, and the immediate descendants engaged in planting. Joshua Coffee was an officer in the Revolutionary war, and General John Coffee was a distinguished soldier in the war of 1812; he was General Jackson's most trusted friend and lieutenant, and was selected to make the right attack upon the British, which resulted in that memorable hand-to-hand combat on the night of December 23, 1814, when the Tennesseeans used their hunting-knives in place of bayonets. Colonel Andrew Jackson Coffee, the father of our subject, was born near Nashville, Tennessee, August 20, 1819. In 1837 he was appointed a cadet at West Point, but afterward resigned to become a civil engineer. In 1846 he was appointed Paymaster in the army, and served through the war with Mexico to the battle of Buena Vista, in which he won the rank of Major with the brevet of Lieutenant-Colonel for gallant and meritorious conduct. After the battle, as a mark of especial confidence and appreciation he was selected to carry dispatches to President Polk. Thus at the early age of twenty-nine years he had attained distinction in his country's service. He retained his position in the army, serving in Texas and Louisiana until 1853, when he was assigned to duty on the Pacific coast with headquarters at San Francisco. In July of 1859 he resigned his position, and retired to civil life. He was one of a syndicate to acquire almost the whole of the present site of Oakland, but misfortunes came, and he lost his property. he was married April 3, 1839, to Miss Elizabeth A. Hutchings, of Huntsville, Alabama. Captain A. J. Coffee is the youngest of the family of five children born of this union. He was educated in the public schools of Oakland, and San Francisco, at Urban Academy, and Heald's Business College of San Francisco, California. He then took up the study of electricity, and in 1876 he accepted a position as salesman and assistant electrician with the Electrical Construction & Maintenance Company of San Francisco. he continued his duties and the following year he entered the employ of the American District Telegraph Company of San Francisco; in the fall of that year he put up the first telephone in San Francisco. He was also connected with the Belle Telephone Company and the Golden Stock Telegraph Company until October, 1880, when he came to Portland, as superintendent of the Portland Telephone, Telegraph and Electric Light Company; he remained with this corporation until 1883 when he became electrician for the United States Electric Light and power Company, which was merged into the Willamette Falls Electric Company. In 1884 Captain Coffee was appointed city electrician of Portland, oregon, and has charge of all the electric works of the city.

He was married in San Francisco in 1882, to Miss Edith Hinton, who died in July, 1889, leaving one son, Luen H. He was married a secod time in Portland, October, 1890, to Miss Ella L. Muffley, of California, and to this union one child has been born, Lenore.

The military education of the Captain began in San Francisco, in 1877, during the Chinese riots; he joined Company B, Volunteer Citizens' Safety Committee, and was actively engaged in supressing the Mail Dock riot and other disturbances about the city. After peace was restored, a military company was organized, knows as Company F., Second Infantry Regiment, O. N. G., he was mustered in April 3, 1878, and was an active member until leaving the city. In 1882, he with two others organized Company "G," First Regiment O. N. G. of Portland, Oregon and which soon proved the banner company by meritorious service in the threatened riots of 1885. In 1887 he was elected Captain of Company I, formerly known as the High School Cadets; this company was organized by some of the older pupils, and attracting attention by their enthusiam, they received encouragement and assistance from Professor Warren, who drilled them to a degree of excellence and perfection not (now) attained. After the resignation of Captain Warren, Captain Coffee was elected to the same position by the unanimous voice of the company; through the personal efforts of Captain Warren this company was admitted as Company I, First Regiment; they have always been noted for their zeal and energy, and are one of the best drilled companies of the Regiment. In 1890 Captain Coffee, assisted by George P. Frank, Police Commissioner, instituted a system of company drill in the police force of the city, and have acquired so high a degree of proficienty that their exhibitions are highly commended, and their skill in maneuvers would do credit to any company of the National Guards.

Hines, H. K. An illustrated history of the state of Oregon : containing a history of Oregon from the earliest period of its discovery to the present time, together with glimpses of its auspicious future, illustrations and full-page portraits of some of its eminent men and biographical mention of many of its pioneers and prominent citizens of to-day
Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1893, 1329 pgs.

[O. N. G. = Oregon National Guard]
[I recall that John Coffey Hayes, the former Texas Ranger, was also involved in purchasing property, and establishing what is known today as Oakland, CA (jkc)]

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