September 21, 2006

William Clayton Coffey

William Clayton Coffey was a son of Jesse Coffey and Margaret Edmiston. He was born c1808 in Burke Co., NC and killed in Feb. 1865 in Caldwell Co., NC by a gang of Union renegades led by William McKesson "Keith" Blaylock. William was brother to Austin Coffey who had married Mary Blaylock, Keith's mother. Mary had Keith and one other child named Mary out of wedlock, and Austin had raised them as his own.

A story found in A History of Watauga County, North Carolina by John Preston Arthur reveals that Keith had married Malinda Pritchard, and both had joined the Confederate Army, she as "Sammy Blalock," with hopes of getting close enough to Union lines to defect. But, "Sammy" was wounded and discovered to be a female and sent home. Keith, not to be left alone is said to have rolled in poison ivy and was so affected that he too was discharged. When he returned to Watauga Co., NC he became a recruiting officer for the Union's 10th Michigan Regiment. They also resorted to bushwhacking, thievery and murder.

According to the above source, during the period Aug. 1864 and Feb. 1865 the citizens in the Watauga Co. were hounded and harassed by gangs who stole horses and other livestock; what they did not steal they destroyed. Their victims were mostly women and children whose husbands and fathers were away fighting in the war.

The Coffey families in the area mostly supported the Confederacy, so Keith and his gang must have felt it their duty to seek out the enemy. They first searched for Reuben Coffey, the older brother of William and Austin. Fortunately Reuben was away when the gang came to visit so they rode on to William's home where they found him working in his field. They took him from the field to James Gragg's mill where he was shot by a man named Perkins, one of Keith's henchmen.

William had married his first cousin, Sarah Green, a daughter of John and Elizabeth B. Coffey Green. I have not found a marriage date, nor an accurate birth and death date for Sarah.

Together they had six children:

- Silas Carroll., born c1835 Burke Co., NC, died Jul. 3, 1893. Silas married Eleanor (Nellie) Green - probably some relation to his mother. They had at least seven chidren: Martha J.; William Pinkney; Francis Richmond; Mary E.; David Columbus; Silas W.; and Rebecca S.

[Update Jun. 13, 2007: Silas Carroll and Nellie's child Silas W. was actually Silas Milton, born c1870. His family was subsequently confused with that of Silas Milton Coffey, born Jun. 16, 1886, a son of John Carroll and Nancy Hartley Coffey. John's Silas married Maggie Philyaw on Nov. 5, 1905 in Caldwell Co. This info may still need some "fine tuning", so please contact me at the e-mail address below if you have information on these families.]

- William Clayton, Jr. born c1838 in Ashe Co., NC, married Louisa Adeline Curtis on May 10, 1866 in Wilkes Co. William served in Co. E, 86th NC Infantry, and died in 1919. No other information has been found.

[Update Jun. 13, 2007: William and Louisa had children: George Calbin, born Jan., 1860, died Dec. 21, 1934, married Louisa Elizabeth (Lou) Curtis; Sarah, born c1862; Andrew J., born Jun. 1863, died Jan. 3, 1951, married Matilda Harrison; Nancy Ann, born May, 1868, married Charles Solomon Young; and Mary E., born 1869]

- George Washington (Wash), born Nov. 21, 1842 in Ashe Co., died Nov. 9, 1912 in Caldwell Co. He married Matilda (Tilda) Coffey. (His first cousin, once removed as well as his second cousin, once removed) She was the daughter of Jesse Calton and Nancy Raines Coffey. Jesse was a son of Reuben, brother to William Clayton, Sr. George and Tilda had 11 children: William Leander; Eliza Jane; Jesse Calton; John A.; Sarah E.; Silas Columbus; Thomas F.; George Washington, Jr.; Roby Monroe; Martha L.; and Mary Etta.

- Jesse Patterson (Pat), born Nov. 1845 in Burke Co., died May 2, 1924 in Watauga Co. he married Phoebe Matilda Curtis, born Feb. 1845 in Caldwell Co., died Oct. 26, 1915 in Watauga Co. Their children were: Laura J.; Eliza Rebecca; Myra Angeline; W. J.; Doctor Peterson; and Thomas Stephen.

- Eliza A. (Louisa), born Jul. 6, 1848 in Burke Co., died May. 24, 1924/25. She married Jesse Hartley, but no additional information has been found.

[Update Jun. 13, 2007: Jesse McAbee Hartley was born Aug. 29, 1846 in Watauga Co., and died Jun. 19, 1905 at Blowing Rock, Watauga Co. They were married in 1868 in Watauga Co. They had at least nine children. Contact me for details]

- John C., born c1851 in North Carolina, married Margaret E., last name unknown. She was born c1852 in North Carolina. Their children were: William Jefferson, born c1876, married Elsie Mae Hodges; Finley Carroll, married Connie Rebecca Tolbert; and Thomas Hall, married Cora Ellen Tolbert. More information is available via e-mail address below.

[Update Jun. 13, 2007: John Carroll married Nancy Evalyn Hartley on Sep. 18, 1873 in Watauga Co. In addition to above three children, they had Joel Partee, born Jul. 1884, died Dec. 21, 1919, married Lillie Mamie Pearl Tolbert; Silas Milton, married Maggie Philyaw; Ilar Jane, born Jun, 1888, died 1981, married Pinkney David Philyaw; and Lilla E., born Jun., 1890.

I have additional information on several of the above families. Please contact me at the below e-mail address if you need more info, or can provide additional data and/or corrections.

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