December 7, 2006

Rev. Reuben A. Coffey

Rev. Coffey's life has been highlighted in the Summer and Fall 2006 issues of the Owen County History and Genealogy publication. A third part is planned for the Spring 2007 issue. Janet Amtower, a descendant of Reuben, has been researching Reuben's life, work and family and is sharing her findings with readers of that publication.

The articles are well written and documented.

In Part I Amtower writes about Reuben and his rise to the ministry in Wilkes Co., NC and subsequent move to Indiana.

Thomas, Reuben's father, had moved his family from Virginia to Wilkes Co., where they began what became a very large plantation. Thomas' family were members of the Yadkin Grove Baptist Church, which was situated on the grounds of the Coffey Plantation, and it was here where Reuben came to the ministry.

In 1815 Reuben was appointed "pastor of the Globe Mountain Church and many surrounding churches of Wilkes and Burke Counties..." He is also credited as a founding member of a Baptist college in Franklin, Indiana.

In 1832 Reuben and his family was granted "letters of dismission" from the Yadkin Grove church, and they headed off to resettle in Indiana. This relocation was ostensibly to give his children an opportunity to settle on new, cheap land and, to join the "great wave of emigration to southern Indiana by people from the southern states who did not believe in slavery." Indiana's state constitution forbade slavery.

In part II Amtower writes about the journey by wagon that took approximately six weeks. The route, as described by her, was "by way of Asheville, Morristown, Cumberland Gap, and along the Wilderness Road through Kentucky by way of Frankfort and Louisville, then called the Falls of the Ohio, to a place one hundred miles north of the Ohio River in southern Indiana."

Other Coffey families who had left North Carolina before Reuben had already settled in Monroe and Owen Counties in Indiana. Reuben and his family apparently settled somewhere "halfway between Spencer in Owen county and Bloomington in Monroe county."

To read more about this fascinating man and his family, I suggest contacting the Owen County Historical and Genealogical Society (OCHGS), PO Box 569, Spencer, IN 47460. Membership is a cheap $10/year. Back issues are available for a fee.

More details can be obtained by contacting Vivian Zollinger.

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