June 17, 2006

Smith Coffee Daniel II

Smith Coffee Daniel, Jr. [sometimes spelled Daniell] was, as his name implies, the son of Smith Coffee Daniel, Sr., and wife Priscilla Skinner. Senior was a son of Charles Daniel and Elizabeth Coffee, a daughter of Peter Coffee, Jr. and Sarah Smith. Peter, Jr. was the son of Peter, Sr. and wife Susannah Matthews.

I have not found any documentation substantiating the lineage, dates of births, deaths, etc. of the this line. To my knowledge no one has published a scholarly work documenting the Peter Coffee - Susannah Matthews descendants.

We do know that Smith Coffey Daniel, Jr. lived in Claiborne Co., MS where he married Catherine Skinner Freeland in about 1849. Together they had three children: Priscilla, born about 1851, Thomas Freeland, born about 1852, and Smith Coffee III, born about 1861. If these birthdates are close to accurate, there must have been other children born and died between 1852 and 1861.

Smith and Catherine began building Windsor, their Mississippi River plantation home in about 1859. A University of Mississippi website (click on title link) states that the home was supported by "29 forty-five (45) ft tall columns..."

The home survived the Civil War, and was used by both Confederate and Union forces. When U.S. Grant crossed the Mississippi River from the Hard Times Plantation in Tensas Parish, Louisiana side to Bruinsburg on the Mississippi side, the house was used as a Union Hospital. There are no known drawings or other representations of the home except for a sketch made by a Union soldier during their occupation of the home.

Unfortunately, the home was lost to fire on Feb. 17, 1890 when a lighted cigar fell into scrap left over by workers making repairs to the home. Today, only a few columns remain to attest to the magnificience of this plantation.

I visited the site a number of years ago and was dismayed to see that it had deteroriated into nothing more than a dump where visitors dropped their trash. The area was overgrown, and little had been done to preserve it. I understand that it has now been placed on the National Registry of Historical Places, and that Mississippi state parks officials administer the site.

Other links to Windsor:

Photographs by Mac McGuffee

National Scenic Byways Program

or, search Google


  1. Nice to read a bit about your ancestors. Thought you'd like to see the REAL sketch of Windsor.

    The "sketch" you link to is actually a recent drawing and aside from the columns is incredibly inaccurate. I don't know why Ole Miss still has it up, nor do I understand why the State of MS had someone (badly) redraw the sketch for the State sign at the Windsor site but a copy of the original (along with photos of the site today) can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mstyborski/2368944816/

    It is by Henry Otis Dwight, a soldier in the 20th Ohio Infantry, who camped at Windsor for a time during the Civil War in 1863. As you can see there are marked differences between the Ole Miss "sketch" and Dwight's, notably in the crenelated roof, chimneys and observatory. Ole Miss also added in a second set of stairs which is clearly not there in the Dwight sketch.

  2. Anonymous9:32 AM

    I am making a replica of Windsor ruins and have found a floor plan drawn by Smith Coffee Daniel III from memory. The sketch by Lt Henry Otis Dwight, coupled with the floor plan, has given me a more accurate idea of the Windsor house. I have also taken measurements of the spaces between the columns and believe that there were actually four sets of stairs. I also think they were added after the Civil War or were not drawn by Lt Dwight. Either way there is some supposition allowed because of certain innaccuracies.

    Paul Reihle

  3. Very sad to see such gorgeous piece of history destroyed in such a tragic manner. Cigar/ Cigarette by guest starts a fire while family is gone to town. Sad


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