November 2, 2006

McCaleb Coffey

McCaleb Coffey was a son of Thomas and Sarah (Sally) Fields Coffey. He was born Aug. 22, 1803 in Wilkes Co., NC and died Feb. 17, 1881 in Caldwell Co., NC. He married Elizabeth Collett on Feb. 2, 1828 in North Carolina. Elizabeth was born Mar. 8, 1809, probably in North Carolina, and died Jul. 9, 1887 in North Carolina.

He and Elizabeth were parents of at least 14 children, including Thomas Jefferson and Julia Jane, both previously written about in this blog.

The following information was found at a website prepared by Terry Erb:*

McCaleb Coffey, as youngest child, was born (near what is now Patterson, NC) August 22, 1803. Before him were William (the father of Gilliam, Wilborn, Daniel. and Calvin Coffey, and Celia Curtis now or late of this county), Reuben, Martha (wife of Rev. James Dowell), Lewis, and Larkin, who migrated to the West about fifty years ago, Elijah, who went farther South about the same time, and Sarah, who married Samuel Stewart, of Burke County, North Carolina.

McCaleb, soon after his majority, on February 5, 1828, married Elizabeth Collett, a sister of John Collett, Esq., of Burke, and Abraham Collett, of Cherokee County and settled in what was then known as the upper dark hollow of the Yadkin River, where he kindled the cheerful light of a home, since widely known as well for the thrift and hospitality of its inmates as for the noble brood of sons and daughters reared and trained under its shelter. Here sixteen children were born to him, of whom nine survive, four sons: T. J. and W. C. Coffey, of Boone; Charles L. Coffey, of Lower Creek; and Henry C. Coffey of Mulberry; and five daughters: Mrs. J. J. Steele, Mrs. David Farthing, Mrs. Thomas Coffey, and Misses Martha and Jennie Coffey who,with their mother, yet remain at the old homestead. Besides these,there are seventeen grandchildren and three great-grandchildren surviving him.

Without seeking to praise the living, it is but justice to the dead to say that children so taught by precept or example as these have been are the best gifts a citizen can bestow upon the State. To their prudence, energy, and uprightness their several counties owe much, and their immediate neighborhoods very much of their prosperity and reputation.

McCaleb Coffey was one of the last and best specimens of an almost extinct class of men. He was a hunter, pioneer, and backwoods farmer. Never long absent from the place where he first laid his hearthstone, commencing life with scanty means, he was able by steady work and just dealing to erect a slightly and commodious mansion, to raise a large family and equip them for active life, and to accumulate a sufficient fortune for the support of his old age.

While never seeking public position, be was once induced by the united voices of his fellow citizens to act as chairman of the first Board of our County Commissioners, and made a faithful and painstaking officer.

He died February 17, 1881, at his home above Patterson, and was buried February 19, at Harper's Chapel, within sight of the roof tree under which he was born. Without ambition, save to live uprightly and do what he found to be his duties at home, of rare prudence in speech and action, never busied in the affairs of others, inflexibly just, yet not uncharitable, this plain farmer's long life was so useful, clean, and pure that as he was followed to his grave by three generations of his descendants and a large concourse of his neighbors. after more than three-fourths of a century spent under the shadow of the same hills that towered over his birthplace, there was not one in all the throng who pressed near the coffin for a last look at the well-known gray head but who could say, "a good man is gone."

*A source was not provided

Note: Many genealogies and other documents refer to McCaleb as Caleb. He was McCaleb in the 1840 and 1860-1880 census records. He was Caleb in the 1850 census record.

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