October 19, 2005

William "Billy" Coffey (23 Apr 1815-26 Jul 1879)

Continuing with the children of Jordan Coffey by John Taylor

William "Billy" Coffey was probably the third son of Jordan and Elizabeth Coffey, but fourth in age of those in the family. He is not William B. Coffey, who lived his life in Nelson County. There were several of those who lived out their lives in Nelson County. According to his headstone he was born 9 April 1815. Other information indicates 23 April 1815 as his date of birth.

He married Sarah Ann "Sally" (Crawford) Coffey on 24 September 1835 in Amherst County. His parents are clearly listed as Jordan and Elizabeth Coffey. Her mother was Sarah Crawford. This couple, along with John Jack, Sr., had most of the population of what became Coffeytown.

Billy and his family built a house just north of Staton's Creek to the immediate west of Elsie Coffey's present house, where the family grew up. It was not until 1897 that the house Elsie lives in now was constructed. This may have been his second house in the general area of Coffeytown. His first purchase of land was made in 1873 when he and John Jack jointly purchased 1335 acres of property in the area. Up until that time, he may have lived on Henry's property or John Jack's land which he purchased in 1859.

William was too old for the Civil War but some of his sons were of the proper age, including Jim and William. Harden was about the same age as Daniel Rufus and was not known to have been involved. James Coffey was enlisted 22 April 1862 in Gordonsville, VA by Col Walker for 3 years or for the duration of the war, whichever was longest. He was a Private in Co. E, 13th VA Infantry. This is the same group John Jack, Jr. and Charles joined. He is listed as deserted 13 August 1862. William Coffey has the same record. Evidently, they all came home because the farm needed attention. Later John Jack and Charles joined the 50th Regiment VA Infantry. There are many James Coffeys involved in the war from Virginia. The one record which looks most like it would be Jim's is for a Jim Coffey who joined the same group - 50th VA, and that James is listed as being captured Spottsylvania Courthouse and sent to Elmira 30 July 1864, but then this James is listed as having died 14 October 1864 from chronic diarrhea, and they have him buried in grave #714. Fortunately, Jim Coffey lived until 1915. The 1910 Census indicates that he and Sophia had 5 children, only two of whom were living then - Edmund and Andrew. We have no idea who the other three were. The records for none of the other James Coffeys seem logical for this man, and it is possible that he never re-joined after the episode in Gordonsville. The same may be true for William.

Billy's headstone shows a death date as 11 May 1896. Death records show a William Coffey, unlisted parents, dying 26 July 1897. Evidently Billy's death came as a result of falling down the stairs at the original house, after he had returned from the new house. If this is true and the new house was not built until 1897, the 26 July date may be accurate. Otherwise, it could have been over a year since his death when it was reported in Amherst Courthouse, and the record shows the reported date, not the actual date; or, the listed William is not the right one. However, the listed Billy was 81 years old, which is right for his age. No other William of that age was known to be in Amherst County at the time.

"Sally" and Billy Coffey are buried on the hill behind Elsie Coffey's house in a fenced-in area which includes Bettie Coffey, their unmarried daughter. Bettie evidently died of grief, as she was very attached to her mother. Others in the cemetery include Walter Campbell, perhaps related to John Jack's second wife, or to one of John Jack Jr.'s two daughters, Lena and Emma Jane, who married Campbell men in sufficient time to have had Walter. Robert H. Coffey, great-grandson of Billy Coffey, grandson of Harden Coffey and Hersey Coffey's brother, has the only other marked grave (1903-1907) in this cemetery. John Jack and his wife Betsey Duff are also believed to be buried in this vicinity, but there is no marker.

[Next: NelsonCoffey (1810-20 to 1845-48)]

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