October 4, 2006

Jasper Hill Coffey

Jasper Hill Coffey has appeared here previously. See Coffee/Coffey Call: Jasper Hill Coffey for earlier information.

The following appeared in the Coffey Cousins' Clearinghouse newsletter of Dec., 1995 on pages 5-7. It was provided by Ray Coffey who had extracted it from The Albany Capitol Newspaper dated Thur., Sep. 1, 1921. The paper was found at the Albany city library.

Death of Rev. J. H. Coffey

After a brief sickness, from heart trouble and other complications, Rev. Jasper Hill Coffey, one of the oldest and most widely known ministers of the Christian Church in north Missouri, died at the home of his son, R. K. Coffey, on South Hundley Street last Sunday morning at 2:20 o'clock, aged 84 yrs. Of the four surviving sons and three daughters, all were at their father's bedside in his last days except Omer, who is somewhere in the west and could not be reached by message telling of his fathers condition. The other living sons and daughters are: R.K. of Albany; James of Miami, Okla,; Holt of St. Joseph; Mrs. Hattie Hawk of Oklahoma City, Okla; Mrs. Edna Lierley of Salt Lake City, Utah and Mrs. Ethel Martin of Albany.

Rev. Coffey had been for more than sixty years a minister of the Christian Church, having resided at Albany most of the time. After the death of his wife seventeen years ago, he had made his home with his daughters in the west and southwest and with his son Dick in Albany.

He had officiated at more weddings, conducted more funerals, preached to more people and won more men and women to the church and right living than most ministers, and the high regard in which he was held over a large section of this part of the state was probably best attested by the large number of warm friends who came from neighboring towns and communities to pay their last respects in the funeral service, which was conducted by Rev. J. D. McClure of Albany and Rev. Chally Graham of Oxford, at the Christian Church last Monday afternoon at 4 o'clock.

The church was packed to overflowing and the beautiful song service, the eloquent tribute of the ministers, the many beautiful flowers brought and sent by friends, told of the large impress[ion] which this good man had left on the community in which he had lived for over sixty years.

There were in the big audience one or two men who had heard Mr. Coffey make his first talk in Gentry county - at school house near where Gentry now stands, where his brother was teaching school when he first came out from Indiana: there was one or two present in the meeting when he united with the Christian church, out at the "Old Brick." There were a number of husbands and wives at whose marriages he had officiated: There were sons and daughters, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of couples whom he married. It was truly a gathering of friends who felt a great lover [sic] for, and a real sorrow at the going of this good, genial, kindly man who had given his life in service for his Master and his fellow-men. After the service at the church, the remains were conveyed to Highland cemetery, and laid by the grave of the wife and companion who had preceded him.

As a part of the funeral service, Rev. Graham read the following, which had been prepared by himself and by Rev. McClure, at the request of Rev. Coffey, some time ago:

"J. H. Coffey, son of Lewis and Harriet Coffey, was born on Aug. 6, 1838. He was reared on the farm where he was born, and early in life learned to take care of stock and do farm work: and through his entire life took great pride in having a neat garden and in cultivation of small fruits, and was a blessing to every community. In Worth county in 1860, he was appointed school commissioner of that county, which position he held until after the south had surrendered to the victorious forces of the Union army and peac was restored through-out the land.

On Dec. 13, 1862, he was united in marriage with Miss China Frances Culp, at the home one and one-half miles east of Albany. Ten children were the result of this union, seven of who are now living, four boys and three girls, two having died in infancy, and one Dollie Whitman three years ago.

For over fifty years he was before the people as a regular minister, but when old men were no longer in demand, his modesty forbade him applying or even making an effort for a position among the people he had faithfully served and had loved so fondly. Like B. U. Watkins, he would say, "These gray hairs have knocked me out of many years work in the prime of my life." He meekly accepted the situation and was content with the occasional acting as a supply and speaking words of comfort on funeral occasions to those who were burdened with sorrow for the dead.

The greated part of his life as a minister has been spent in Gentry county and northwest Missouri. He never courted debate, but when in his judgement it became necessary, would willing stand in defense of truth. In 1868 he debated with John Shin, a Universalist minister in Dallas City, Ill. In 1870 he met a Baptist minister, by the name of Chenaworth in Gentryville. In about 1871 or 1872 he met Brother A. F. Dugger of the Church of God in a three day debate. he would say "If I am worth anything to the church, it is as an enlister, and I don't want to spoil myself by imbibing too much of the spirit of controversy." He believed that it was "more blessed to give than receive" and was therefore liberal in his gifts for charity and to the church, and what remained of his income he willingly laid at the feet of his family, to which he was strongly attached and much devoted.

"Of all the college socities to which he belonged, he gave to the Sigma Chi, a Greek fraternal society a front rank, on account of the close relation existing among the members and a disposition on their part to help one another. But with him, no human institution or fraternity could take the place of the church, to only divinely appointed institution, showing God as father and men as brethren."

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