March 24, 2006

The Coffey Family

[The following appeared in the Sep., 1992 edition of Coffey Cousins' newsletter, pp14-15. It was submitted by Walter and Elaine Coffey Obermayr, and was taken from The Washington County (Pennsylvania) History, dated 1895]

To "Caledonia, stern and wild," whose hardy sons and daughters are to be found in every clime where it is possible for a man to live. America is indebted for a large portion of her most industrious, most useful, most thrifty and most loyal citizens, and among these stand prominent the Coffey family, of whom this sketch relates.

George Coffey, (b.1801) a wagon maker by trade, which he had learned in his native land, (Aryshire) Scotland, was the only child of George Coffey. He was married there to Miss Agnes, only daughter of Alexander Dickey, who came to America and made a settlement in Buffalo township, Washington Co., Penn., where he died at an advanced age: he was a typical son of Scotia, sturdy and tenacious of life, and it is said of him that a few months before his death he journeyed on foot to Pittsburgh in one day. Mr. and Mrs. George Coffey, after several years of married life in their native land, at the desire of Mr. Dickey followed him to his adopted home in Washington county, where for a time Mr. Coffey carried on his trade at Rankintown, on the National pike. he then moved to Buffalo township, and for fourteen years was recognized as the leading wagon maker within a radius of many miles. Retiring, however, from his trade, he took up the farm where his son George now lives, located at a point on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, known as "Coffey's Crossing," where he engaged in agricultural pursuits up to the time of his wife's death, in 1883, when he came into the borough of Washington and here passed his remaining days. He died in June 30, 1886, at the age of seventy-three years, after a busy life, in which by hard work he had to make his own success. When he first came to the county there was much in his line of trade to do, repairing the heavy wagons used in the construction of the National pike, besides a vast amount of other custom work, that came to his shop from far and near. In the building up of the home the several members of the family had to do their respective parts, and, when they moved from the shop to the farm, even the daughters would often work in the field, in all kinds of weather, and many a day under a broiling sun do as much work as a man. In one day Miss Annie Coffey and her sister cut and tied about four acres of heavy corn. In those times it was customary for the farmers, who had produce to sell, to proceed early in the morning to Washington market, take their places and patiently wait for customers; and frequently Miss Annie Coffey and her mother would work in the sugar bush until late at night, then go to the house, change their clothing, and start on foot for Washington, a distance of five miles, carrying heavy jugs of maple molasses, which having sold, they would walk home again, change their garments, and once more go to work in the sugar camp. thus, with little sleep or rest, did the brave women of those early days unrepiningly [unrepentingly?] labor to build up a home for coming generations, and materially assist in the growth and advancement of the county.

To Mr. and Mrs. George Coffey were born seven children, as follows: Alexander, in Iowa; Maggie, deceased; Annie, in Washington; William, deceased; Jennie, married to Daniel Clemens; George, on the old home farm in Buffalo township; and Agnes, deceased. Of this family Miss Annie was true filial devotion, always remained with her parents, comforting them in their declining years, and reverently closing their eyes in death. She has always enjoyed good health, and it is the earnest prayer of her many friends that she may be spared to them for many happy years to come. Her home in Washington is peaceful and pleasant, as is the life she leads in it. She is a devout member of the Presbyterian Church, the faith of her forefathers.

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