October 19, 2005

Nelson Coffey (1810-20 to 1845-48)

Continuing with the children of Jordan Coffey by John Taylor

Nelson Coffey's birthdate and parents have not been pin-pointed. It seems clear (although still speculation) that Nelson was Schylar's brother, but the two of them were probably not brothers with the others. William the elder Coffey of Nelson County is believed to have had a son named Nelson who died prior to 1825. There is speculation that this Nelson could have been the father of both Schylar and Nelson, but there is no proof that Nelson the older ever had any children or that he ever existed.

Our Nelson married Rebecca Hamilton, daughter of Robert Hamilton, on 5 February 1833 in Amherst County. Schylar Coffey gave permission for Nelson to marry. We believe this was his older brother, not his father. Jordan and Elizabeth, although they were in the area, are not mentioned as being part of the ceremony. Surely they were there, perhaps as best man, but not as witnesses. Since they had no possessions, they also could not provide security.

Nelson and Rebecca had Frederick, Nancy, Julia, Mathew, Pauline, and Nelson Coffey. Nelson the older must have died sometime between 1844, when little Nelson was conceived, and 1849, when Rebecca remarried, to Abram Clement. According to tax records in Amherst County, Nelson paid the taxes in 1845, Rebecca paid in 1848, no one in that family paid taxes in Amherst County in 1846 or 1847.

In the 1850 Census, Frederick was a 16 year old farm laborer, living with Rebecca and her new husband. Rebecca and Abram had 2 children - Missouri (female) and John Clement - before Abram was killed in Civil War action in Harrisonburg in 1862. By 1870, Rebecca is alone again as the head of the household. Robert Hamilton, father of Rebecca and 2 others who married into the Coffey family, died in 1841. Nelson and others filed petition in Amherst County court to have the court appoint an executor to sell the assets. In 1842, Nelson paid $475 for 170 acres of land along Thrasher's Creek. This is the first recorded deed of Coffey land in present day Amherst County which we found. Rebecca continued to live there with her new husband and even beyond his death. In 1859, Frederick and Nancy sold their 29 acres to James P. Hamilton, who lived nearby and was a young son of Robert Hamiltons who had his older brother John P. Hamilton (he married Elizabeth Coffey, Jordan's daughter) appointed as his guardian when Robert died. Another young son, Robert Lewis Hamilton, had Nelson and Rebecca appointed as his guardian. The Hamiltons and Coffeys were very close in those days in Amherst County, having left behind some of the court cases of assault and battery between the two families in Nelson County.

Apparently Frederick Coffey settled on a farm near or in Coffeytown, and Nancy (Coffey) Lawhorne settled south of Dodd's Ford. Two of Frederick's sons, "Fed" and Zack were in Coffeytown in 1900, living next to "Big Hill" Henry. Zack was married to Mary Catherine Crawford, but "Fed" was still a bachelor at that time. He eventually married Mary's sister Susie Massie Crawford and they had at least four children, one of whom was Thomas F. Coffey who lived only 26 years, but married Flarie Taylor. They had one child George W. Coffey who lived only two months. Thomas, Flarie, and George are buried at Bridgehill Cemetery in Coffeytown. Mary Catherine and Susie Massie
were sisters of Ora Wills Crawford who married Hugh Nelson Coffey. Frederick Coffey was a Private in Co. I, 49th VA Regiment Infantry, having enlisted 1 March 1864 in Amherst County for 3 years. He appears on the final disposition of Conscripts at Camp Lee, VA (in Petersburg) on 14 March 1864, no further record. There is no record for Nelson, son of Nelson and Rebecca, which we could find, although he would have been the right age if he lived. "Fed" and Zack Coffey are buried with their wives and several other family members in the "Wright Family Cemetery" at the rear of a present golf course, in the northeast corner of Amherst County.

Pauline Coffey's marriage record could not be located. She had 2 children, Moses and William, both named Coffee, who could have been illegitimate. She was living with Edward Drummond in Amherst County for a while, perhaps as a domestic - he was much older than she. Application was made for a marriage license when she was 36 years old, and her children were teenagers, but it was not completed. Family descendants, as we understand, believe she and Edward were eventually married.

Julia (Coffey) Rogers married Benjamin Rogers 10 November 1856. They had six known children. Both are buried in the Asberry Cemetery at Oronoco. Mathew Coffey, son of Nelson, may was a Private in Co. I of the 58th Virginia Infantry, CSA. He died of measles in the spring of 1862 at Stribling Springs, VA, but he married Mary M. Coffey near Buffalo Springs in Amherst County on 21 March 1861. She was living in Madison, VA, near Lynchburg in 1888. There are no known children, but there could have been one, as they were married for a year. We have not searched for any of her possible offspring.

Little Nelson Coffey was born about 1845, but nothing is known of him.

[Next: Henry Coffey (c1817 to 10 Jun 1871)]

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