March 26, 2006

Elijah Coffey

The following appears in the first source listed at the end of this page.

"The first preaching in Memphis took place on a Sunday morning, in the year 1822, in March. On the above day of that year, a flatboat was seen making for a landing at the Fourth Chickasaw Bluff, owing no doubt, to a sudden fog, which was becoming very dense, and which was considered very dangerous by the bold navigators of the ‘Father of Waters.’ The occurrence created considerable excitement among the inhabitants, and aroused great curiosity and desire to know what manner of strangers had come among them. Our informant says: "It was soon noised about that there was ‘a man of God’ on the boat. The village schoolmaster was appointed ‘a committee of one’ to wait upon and request him to hold forth to the ‘children of the wilderness.’"

"The biblical individual in question, reveled in the cognomen of Elijah Coffey. He had translated the contents of the Holy Scriptures into his head, and when he opened his lips the Word was before the people. The venerable Elijah is still an inhabitant of earth and the city of Memphis, and may sometimes yet be seen hammering away for the benefit of perversesoles. He is one, of the ‘oldest inhabitants,’ sometimes alluded to by the newspapers, but which people have gotten into the habit of thinking of as a mythical personage."

This appeared in the second source listed below:

"Elijah Coffey, a shoemaker and a Freewill Baptist, who left a wife and an unsavory reputation behind him in Ill, arrived in Memphis on a Sunday in March of 1822, and he had hardly landed before he was reproaching the residents, at a service in the cabin of Barney Flynn on the batture, for their sinful lives. During his career he belonged to all denominations even the Catholic, but severed his connection with the latter when he found that it did not encourage preaching by laymen. He served on board of Aldermen for Negro African Church and was mayor of Memphis for a brief period. The Nat. Banner and Nashville Daily Advertiser, of Mon., Jun 17, 1833, reported the death in Memphis of Eliz. Coffey, wife of Rev. Elijah Coffey."

Who is Elijah Coffey? Please contact me if you know.

United States of America, Past and Present to 1861, Volume II. Family Tree Legends Records Collection (Online Database). Pearl Street Software, 2004-2005. Our Whole Country; Volume 2. By John Warner Barber and Henry Howe. Henry Howe, Cincinnati, 1861. Early American Travel Narratives. American Memory, Library of Congress, p112.

The Biography of a River Town - It's Heroic Age, Gerald Mortimer Capers, Jr., Chapel Hill, NC, UNC Press, 1939, p65

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