October 21, 2005

Henry Coffey (c1817 to 10 Jun 1871)

Continuing with the children of Jordan Coffey by John Taylor

Although Henry Coffey shows for the first time in the 1850 Census as the head of a household, he may have been one of 2 boys his age living with Jordan and Elizabeth in 1840. According to Census reports, Henry was born around 1817. He married, at the age of 31, Elizabeth (McDaniel) (Ogden) Coffey, who was older than Henry, and she had several children of her own from a previous marriage to Zachariah Ogden. Henry seems to have acted as guardian to her older children and they took his surname, at least for the census reports, but they are believed to have used their own names later. Henry F. Coffey died 10 June 1871 of Colic, in Amherst County, according to the Amherst County death records. The information on the death record, including naming his parents as Charles and Jane Coffey of Nelson County, was given by Henry's son, Henry L. Coffey. His place of burial is unknown, but is probably up on the hill behind Embree Crawford's house, in an unmarked grave.

Henry shows in the public records for the first time in 1839 when he paid personal property taxes in Amherst County on the same day as John, Schylar, Jordan, Hudson and William Coffey. For this reason and others, he is believed to have been informally adopted by Jordan and Elizabeth, although his biological surname was Coffey also. This likely occurred in Nelson County before the family left in late 1827 or in 1828. At that time, he would have been 10 or 11 years old. By 1839, he was 22 or 23 and needed to pay taxes.

Henry married Elizabeth (McDaniel) (Ogden) Coffey on 10 March 1848 in Amherst County. In 1848 Henry had nothing and paid no personal property taxes. By 1849, he owned one horse, two slaves, one over 16 and another over 12 years of age, and 4 metallic clocks. By 1850, he was down to one horse. On 8 May 1851 he bought 340 acres on both sides of the middle fork of the Pedlar River from his father-in-law William McDaniel. William had bought it in 1811 from Benjamin Sandidge. This deed had a built-in will. That is, Henry paid $1000 for the use of this land during his lifetime. When he died, ownership would revert to William McDaniel or his son Lindsay. Nevertheless, Henry was happy to have his own land to work. This is the first piece of land adjacent to or near Staton's Creek (middle fork) which we have found. The same deal may have been made with Zachariah Ogden, when he married Elizabeth, because Henry seems to have been living on her property in 1850, along with the other Coffeys. Most of the land around present day Coffeytown seems to have been owned by the Richerson family. John Jack Coffey bought some of it in 1859, later expanded with a joint land purchase by him and William in 1873. By that time, Henry was dead.

It seems that the first Coffey settler in the Coffeytown area was the youngest of the Coffey clan, Henry Coffey. Since Henry "owned" land on both sides of the Pedlar, it is likely that Henry continued to live on the south side and that the others set up housekeeping on the north side of the Creek, but judging from the census reports, and reading a little between the lines, the other Coffeys may have initially set up on the far south end of Henry's land.

Henry and Elizabeth had three children of their own, but Paulin apparently never knew his father Zachariah Ogden who died before he was born. Paulin J. Coffey names Henry as his guardian in his will. He died evidently without marrying, at the age of 24. His will named the three children of Henry as benefactors. He is believed to be that P.J. Coffey who enlisted as a Private in Co. E, 13th VA Infantry in Culpepper on 28 October 1863. The record has him as a deserter in December 1863.

Nothing is known of the other elder children of Elizabeth. Henry's children Avarilla, Henry L. and Mary F. all married and had children of their own.

Avarilla (Coffey) Davis listed Henry as her father on her marriage application, although she was apparently born 2 years or so prior to Henry's marriage to Elizabeth. If there was an earlier marriage by Henry, it is not listed in Amherst, Rockbridge, Albemarle, or Nelson counties. Henry may have been working on Zachariah's farm when he died, stayed on to help out, since Elizabeth was pregnant at the time and had at least 6 other children to care for, only one of whom, "Zack", was male, and he was only about 8 years of age at the time. Avarilla married William Webster Davis, who had previously married Sarah Jane Coffey, daughter of John Jack Coffey. By that marriage there were two children. Avarilla gave him 13 more, including Virginia Ann "Jenny" Davis who married Arthur Coffey.

Henry L. Coffey married Lillie Belle (Burch) Coffey on 3 December 1873 in Amherst County. They lived in Coffeytown and had a number of children, including Georgiana, Mattie, John, Emmett, Bernard, Albright, Harry, Eliza, and Ruth Coffey. Henry was called "Big Hill" Henry, leaving little doubt as the topography of his housesite. Henry was probably drafted as a Private into the 13th VA Infantry on 22 April 1862 in Gordonsville, along with others in the family. He is listed as deserted 17 June 1864, but was AWOL much earlier. Most likely he came back to Amherst County. It does not appear that he rejoined in another regiment.

Mary F. Coffey married Joseph Crawford on 5 December 1866 when she was very young. Nothing is known of this couple.

[Next: Jane Coffey (c1814-1880)]

Update March 6, 2012 I am still a bit confused by the family of Henry F. Coffey and wife Elizabeth "Betsey" McDaniel Coffey.  In 1850, two years after their marriage on Mar. 10, 1848 in Amherst Co., the census record lists family members as Margaret Coffee [sic], age 20, Elizabeth Coffee, age 18; Zac Coffee, age 15, Catharine Coffee, age 13, Serana Coffee, age 7, Paulus Coffee, age 5, Avarila Coffee, age 4, Henry Coffee, age 1, Mary F. Coffee, age 6 mos., and Sarah Coffee, age 16.

Zac, Catharine and Sarah appear to be Elizabeth McDaniel's children by her first husband, Zachariah Ogden, who she married on Nov. 16, 1825 in Amherst Co.  Sarah Ogden went on to marry Charles Edward Coffey, a son of John Jack and Elizabeth Duff Coffey, on Feb. 14, 1854.  Zachariah married Mary Elizabeth White on Dec. 23, 1853 and Catharine married Frederick Coffey, son of Nelson and Rebecca Hamilton Coffey on Mar. 10, 1856.

My confusion arises while attempting to reconcile the children Margaret, Elizabeth, Serana, Paulus and Avarila.  Based merely on the fact that Henry and Betsey married in the Spring of 1848, when Henry was 26 and Betsey 35, I cannot figure how those children might have been off-spring of either.  My opinion is that Henry Landon "Big Hill" Coffey, born Nov 18, 1848 and Mary Frances, born c1850 were Henry and Betsy's only children.  In the John Taylor essay above, he writes that Paulus was an Ogden, born shortly after his father Zachariah, Sr. died.

Jordan and Elizabeth Rippetoe Coffey, Henry's parents, are thought to have taken in a number of "orphan" children in the Coffeytown area so perhaps, these children were taken in by Henry!?  I don't know.

Avarilla became the second wife of William Webster "Buck" Davis on Sep. 15, 1865 in Amherst Co.  Buck's first wife was Sarah Jane Coffey, another daughter of John Jack and Elizabeth Duff Coffey. Sarah died c1863 after giving birth to her second son, William Henry Davis. Her first child was John Edward, born c1861.

Buck and Avarilla had at least twelve children, one of which married back into the Coffey family:
Virginia Anne "Jenny" Davis, born 1866, died 1951 in Amherst Co., married Arthur Coffey on Jan. 31, 1884.  He was a son of William "Billy" and Sally Crawford Coffey.  William was a son of Jordan.

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