February 28, 2006

Isaac G. and Malinda Caroline Coffey Franklin

Malinda Caroline was the 10th child of Elijah and Polly Dyer Coffey. She was born Mar. 6, 1825 in Indiana, and probably in Owen Co. I have not found a death date for her. She and Isaac were married May 5, 1845 in Owen Co. 1 Their children, all born in Owen Co., were:

- Mary E. Franklin, born c1846
- Nancy Jane Franklin, born c1848
- Rosetta C. Franklin, born c1851
- William Franklin, born Jan. 29, 1854
- Susan Franklin, born c1857

According to the Franklin Family Researchers United (FFRU) publication, Isaac "Ike" Franklin was born in Kentucky c1823, and served in the Army during the Civil War. Apparently he served from Missouri, because he was there in 1845 to marry Malinda. The family appeared there in the 1850 Clay Township census. After the war Issac and his family moved to Putnam Co. in Missouri where they were enumerated in the 1860 census in Elm Township.

Vivian Zollinger, who submitted this Franklin family information to FFRU, wrote that Franklin deserted his family sometime before 18 October 1873. Malinda is said to have married a second time on that date to a Dr. Joshua Webb in Owen Co., IN. There is no indication in the publication why she returned to Indiana from Missouri. If the Malinda who married Joshua Webb is Malinda Coffey, she may have returned to Owen Co. to be near children who had remained there after she and Isaac moved to Missouri.

The Franklin Family newsletter may be useful to current or future Franklin family researchers. Click on the title link to view the PDF file. It is quite large, and takes a minute or so to download even at broadband speeds. Dial-up accounts will experience even longer download times.

1 Indiana State Library Genealogy Database: Marriages through 1850, online []

February 26, 2006

Schuyler C. Coffey

Schuyler C. Coffey was born April, 1868 in Indiana, and probably in Owen Co. That is where his father and mother, Alfred Coffey and his second wife, Martha J. Smith were married on July 21, 1865. Martha had been previously married, and brought at least two children to the marriage: Allie, born about 1855, and William, born about 1857.

Schuyler married Elizabeth G. Sachs, the grand-daughter of German emigrants, on November 29, 1894 in Hendricks Co., IN. They must have left that county very shortly after the "I Do's", because Lucille, their first child was born in Bloomington on May 9, 1895. By 1900 Schuyler and his small family had moved to Owen Co., IN where Schuyler was employed as a school teacher.

By 1920 Schuyler was an employee of the US Postal Service. He was a mail carrier, and held that job at least through 1930.

Their first child, Lucille was born in Bloomington on May 9, 1895 and died unmarried in that city in January 1980. She was employed most of her adult life as a school teacher in Bloomington. In 1930 she was teaching in the city's high school.

Their second child, also a daughter, was born in Bloomington in July 1897. Miriam was was unmarried at least as late as 1930. No other information has been found.

George B. was their third and last child. He was born about 1903 in Bloomington, and disappeared from the household by 1930. No other information has been found.

From 1910 through the 1920 census, William Smith, a half-brother to Schuyler resided with the family. In 1910 he did not have an occupation, but in 1930 was a factory laborer.

Please contact me if you have information or photographs of this family to share.

Sources: Census records, Indiana State Library Genealogy Database: Marriages through 1850, WPA Index to Indiana Marriage Records, 1938-1940, and the SSDI

Update: John Alfred and Cynthia P. Monk Coffey

I had very little information when the previous post about this family was published. Since then the photo has been updated and all children identified.

Left to right, standing:

Mattie Lillian, born Nov. 13, 1900, died Nov. 23, 1981
David Dillard, born Jul. 24, 1898, died Feb. 6, 1985
Henley Clay, born Oct. 12, 1891, died Nov. 13, 1922
Colby Willis, born Dec. 20, 1893, died Dec. 5, 1966
Dorthula (Mary), born Feb. 10, 1896, died May 31, 1985


James J., born Feb. 19, 1906, died Aug. 22, 1982, seated on lap of John Alfred
Alva, born Jul. 9, 1909, died May 22, 1979, seated on lap of Cynthia
Tina Elizabeth, born Oct. 5, 1903, death date unknown

The photo, courtesy of Bernice Mullins, was taken c1910. Two other children were born after the photo was taken:

Samuel on Jan. 30, 1912, died May 21, 1991
Erwin, born Feb. 15, 1916, died Mar. 18, 1918

February 22, 2006

Can DNA predict your surname?

According to an article presented by BBC News science reporter, Paul Rincon, scientists could use DNA found at a crime scene to predict the surname of the suspect.

Click on the title link to read more about the technique.

Stephen Lewis and Massie J. Coffey Loving, Jr.

Massie was the fourth daughter of Daniel Rufus and Sallie Cole Black Coffey, in the Jordan Coffey line. She was born Jan. 4, 1887 in Amherst Co., VA, and died Jun. 6, 1978 in Lynchburg, VA. She is buried with her husband Stephen at Spring Hill Cemetery in Lynchburg. Stephen was born Feb. 13, 1884 in Amherst Co., and died Apr. 3, 1942. He and Massie married Dec. 11, 1907 in Virginia.

I have found them in the 1910 Campbell Co., and the 1930 Amherst Co. census records. The 1920 census would be helpful in identifying all of their children. In 1910 they were newly married, and had no children. In 1930 the only children enumerated were: Stephen III, born c1916; Daniel V., born c1922; and Marita F., born about May 1926.

Elmer H. Loving, born c1894, married Massie's younger sister, Helen McClung Coffey. Helen was born May, 1896 in Amherst Co., and married c1920. They undoubtedly had more children, but the only ones that I have found are: Elmer J., born c1921; Dorothy, born c1925; and Shirley L., born c1927. Elmer was probably a younger brother to Stephen, but I have not sufficiently investigated the family to know for certain.

Photo courtesy of John Taylor

Update Dec. 15, 2012:  After checking the 1940 census, it appears that Stephen and Massie had only the three children named above.

Stephen, III married a young lady by the name of Margaret in c1938 and had a daughter, Sylvia D., born c1939.  The family resided with his parents in the Elon Dist. of Amherst Co. in 1940.

The son Daniel Victor was born Feb. 27, 1922 and married Dorothy Cassidy sometime after 1940.  He died in 1971 at Duke University hospital in 1971 and was buried at Elon Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Amherst Co.

The third child, Marita Faye, was born Aug., 31, 1925 and died Oct. 30, 1925.  She was buried at Spring Hill Cemetery in Lynchburg.

February 16, 2006


Over the past few weeks several readers have posted queries here as comments to some of my scribblings. I will allow comments relating specifically to whichever post readers have questions and/or comments about. However, queries pertaining to matters not directly related to the specific post they are attached to should be posted on the query page at the Coffey Cousins' website. There is where I and other readers will have a better opportunity to respond.

Anonymous comments posted here, and those without a valid e-mail address attached will not be approved.

Click on the title link to reach the query site at Coffey Cousins'.

The Wild Geese of Eire (Part III)

Part III (actually Part II as submitted by the author) appeared in the Dec., 1990 edition of Coffey Cousins' Clearinghouse newsletter:

My 85-year old father likes to tell a story concerning the mark of our ancestor Fielden Coffey (his great-grandfather) and how it related to a run-in with Pardee Butler along the Missouri River in the vicinity of the present Atchison, Kansas, where I was later born. The Atchison area was over-run by Missourians who were descendants of old-line Virginians. These Missourians, including my Fielden (who had been born in Kentucky), adhered to old mid-southern rules and customs, including occupying land by pre-emption which was technically not open to settlement. Fielden had placed his distinctive mark on a certain tree, intending to sometime cut it and make it into lumber. He was in no particular hurry to cut it, as everyone knew his mark and respected his claim on any trees so marked. Atchison had the first newspaper in the state, aptly named the Squatter Sovereign, one issue of which tells of the tarring and feathering of Pardee Butler, a northern free-soiler who was tied to a raft in his feathered state and sent on an ethereal flight down the Missouri River. My Fielden's encounter with Mr. Butler came when someone came rushing to Fielden's house with the disconcerting news that Butler was cutting down a tree with Fielden's mark on it! My father's interpretation of Fielden's response, although more visually demonstrated than by words, leaves little doubt that Fielden's adrenaline surged. Although short of stature and of generally agreeable disposition, on this occasion, when his distinctive mark was ignored, he was as if challenged in battle, and this proved to be one of the few occasions which he settled with assistance of a gun. I am assured by my father that he did not kill anyone, but that is all that he would say.

Although we see the strange M-like mark on Edward Coffey, Sr.;s personal papers, it takes little imagination to see that this would have been the mark by which he signed chits and notes for the plantation Moseley's Quarter. Today certificates representing enormous wealth in corporate stock are still "signed" by means of a cryptic mark made by the pen of the transfer agent in some financial back room. At the time Edward Coffey signed the M-like mark to his will, he had a vested interest in the plantation of "Mosley's Quarter" to say the least. To what extent his interest was so vested 16 years earlier, when he witnessed a document by signing the same M-like mark, is still a matter of conjecture. To make a different mark for his personal affairs than the mark he made for the plantation would have not only been confusing to all concerned but probably to himself as well. He obviously was known by his mark, which for historical reasons was associated with Moseley's Quarter, regardless of whether at any specific time he may have been overseer or owner.

Descendants of Joel Coffey and Martha Stapp have noted that the names "Woodson Coffey" or "Joel Woodson Coffey" appear in the lines of at least two of Joel's children, although no Woodson ancestor is readily apparent in published genealogies. If only one of Joel's children had named a son Woodson, we might shrug it off, saying that the child must have been named for a highly respected neighbor or godfather of no blood relation. But even in parallel cases in other families, such neighbors or godparents, upon further research, often prove to be blood relations. Woodsons proliferated from Virginia through the South and West and were sometimes Coffey neighbors although no blood relationships have been previously suggested. Let us examine the family of Joel and Martha, as there is evidence that their children may be triple Coffeys in the sense of being descended from Edward Coffey, Sr. in three lines: 1) Edward Coffey, Jr., and a wife who may have been a daughter of a Chesley Martin, 2) Martha Coffey and Joshua Stapp, through their grand-daughter Martha Stapp; and 3) Elizabeth Coffey and John Cleveland through their daughter Jane Cleveland. I am reserving details of these genealogical interpretations for another discussion. (I am myself a descendant of this triple Coffey line through Celia, the daughter of Joel and Martha, but my line is further complicated by a descent through Celia's marriage to Fielding, son of Isaac Nebuzaraden Coffey, of yet uncertain ancestry, but undoubtedly going back again to Edward Coffey, Sr.) The tripling in the Joel-Martha line, for one thing, would magnify the likelihood that any Woodson connection would be in a Coffey line merely because there are fewer non-Coffey lines to contend with. We need to analyze the heritage of Joel's family. Joel has all the appearances of having inherited his parents' wealth under the British primogeniture system. His 14 slaves appearing in the 1787 Wilkes County, North Carolina, census are ten times the average for Wilkes County families of the period. Nebuzaraden has only one and many Coffeys none at all. Only Jane (Graves) Coffey, the widow of John Coffey, came close with 7. Her wealth was preserved by her failure to re-marry. Colonial custom was to leave the estate to the wife only until she re-married or died. Thus, Edward, Jr., and John Coffey (rather than their mother who re-married) inherited Moseley's Quarter. Upon the death of their mother Ann, she willed her possessions to her sons by her last husband (Dooley) and to her daughter or daughter-in-law, Annister, rather than to her earlier sons by Edward Coffey, Sr. Joel's wealth is further confirmed by the lands appearing in his name on tax lists of the period. Joel was likely the prime heir of his father, Chesley Coffey, Sr., who may have died young but was probably the eldest son and prime heir of Edward Coffey, Jr., thought by Coffey genealogists to have been the twin brother of John Coffey, the twins being the inheriting sons of the original Edward Coffey, Sr. That Joel Coffey's full name may have been perpetuated by his grandson Joel Woodson Coffey is suggestive, although only that. Under the British primogeniture system (which was repudiated with the success of the American Revolution), the elder branch of a family was the depository for tradition. A father passed not only his wealth to his oldest son, but a responsibility to be head of the entire group of related families descending from the father. This family headship was in a sense that we can barely comprehend today. It was the senior son who not only inherited the vast proportion of the estate, but who also had an obligation to help junior families out if the fell on hard times. We believe that Irish families adhered to primogeniture, as well. This is all in way of explaining how we would expect Joel to have been trained in family traditions forward. It would not be unusual, therefore, for him to have known the name of his great grandfather of his wife, Martha Stapp. Did anyone in the lineages between the original Edward's mother and Joel or Martha have Woodson as a middle name? Or did they have a Bible record of a Woodson ancestor? Remember, Joel's grandson was named Joel Woodson Coffey and two other grandchildren had Woodson incorporated into their names in some way. Was there a Woodson in Joel's ancestry? If such a Woodson ancestry were in colonial Virginia rather on the other side of the Atlantic, it would have had to have been in the very early generations of the Virginia Woodson family. The patriarch of the Virginia Woodsons settled in the Jamestown colony in 1619 and was killed by Opechanchanough's brutal massacre of 1644, but Mrs. Woodson protected two sons by hiding them, one in a tub, the other in a potato pit. Genealogists have married off the descendants of these two sons to account for the Woodsons living in America between 1619 and the present, although little attention was given to the female lines. We should look for a Woodson daughter of an extremely early generation who may have had an early marriage but was remembered by genealogists only for a second marriage to a person with property. Sarah Woodson, daughter of Robert Woodson and Sarah Ferris, is the likely candidate, particularly since the Ferris family was intermarried with the Washingtons and one of Joel's grandsons was named Meredith Washington Coffey. Is this sheer speculation? Not at all! Although genealogies commonly state that this Sarah Woodson married Edward Mosby, Henry Morton Woodson in his book Historical Genealogy of the Woodsons and Their Connections states that this was Edward Moseley and that the line is untraced. Sarah's father was Robert, one of the little Woodson boys saved from the Indians by being hidden by his mother. Sarah's brother John is known to have been a carpenter. There is evidence that many Coffey connecting families were carpentering families who followed building booms at the edge of settlement, but this topic is reserved for another discussion. Such books spread from the Jamestown colony eventually to Henrico County, up to old Rappahanock (Essex), to Spotsylvania, to Orange, to Albemarle, and eventually into the back country of the Carolinas and from there south and west.

[Frank believed in writing long paragraphs!]

If Edward Coffey was not a Wild Goose in the sense of the 1691 exodus, what was he? It is commonly said that "birds of a feather flock together." Graves women who married Coffeys in two widely separated lines both seem to be descended from Captain Thomas Graves of Jamestown colony. It is significant that a Thomas Graves signed as security for Edward Coffey, Sr.'s widow when she administered Edward's estate. Was he descended from the Captain Thomas Graves mentioned above? If there is a Woodson connection, the progenitor again would be an old-line Jamestown colony Virginian. Could our Coffey ancestors go back this far as well? Descendants of colonial Virginia Coffeys have tried to trace their ancestry by looking at dates when people with names similar to those of their ancestors were supposedly imported to America. Recent research indicates that landgrants given by Virginia for importing settlers often were fraudulently issued, the supposed importees merely being ship's crews who returned to England. It is axiomatic that Coffeys supposedly imported seem to have left no descendants. Paradoxically, Coffeys tracing back to colonial Virginia can find no ancestor who unquestionably was the one who immigrated. Do the Edward Coffey and Peter Coffee lines track back to a common ancestor as some long-deceased Coffeys once claimed? [Recent DNA testing reveals that Peter and Edward were related, but not closely] Descendants of Peter Coffee now have evidence that he was not the Peter Coffee of importation records. Carpentering tendencies of the Peter Coffee line led to John Coffee's boatbuilding which led to a water-freighting partnership with Andrew Jackson, then to the Coffee-Jackson victory in the Battle of New Orleans, and finally to the election of a President. The carpentering connection between the Edward and Peter lines may be partly because of carpentering being a Graves characteristic. This would not explain carpentering in the line of Edward Coffey, Jr., however. Perhaps the Graves met the Coffeys through carpentering in relation to Coffeys and their connections, which is found in another discussion, also explains why these carpenters excelled in the military.

Although our Coffey immigrant ancestor may not have a Wild Goose in the restricted meaning of the 1691 sense, today the term is used for practically any ancestor who fled from Ireland at any date, as shown by the recent article in Town and Country magazine. These Wild Geese intended to fly home to Ireland when conditions permitted. That our ancestor was a Wild Goose in the broad sense of having fled from Ireland is taken for granted from the very Irishness of the name Coffey, for what true Irishman would have willingly left the emerald Isle unless forced by circumstances to do so? Coffey is a true old Irish name, not a "Scotch-Irish" name, and not an Irish name of English origin.

In reviewing the document whereby Ann, the widow of Edward Coffey, Sr., was granted administration of Edward's estate, the very Irishness of the names of all involved simply flows out from the paper. Here was Ann Powell who had become a Coffey, with a Thomas Graves signing as security together with a John Hart. The Irish family of Powell as an alias for MacFullafoil, a Gaelic name freely translated as a "devotee of St. Paul," the Paul part of the name inspiring use of the name "Powell." Hart is exactly equivalent to the family of O'Hart to which belonged the author of the book which takes the Coffey pedigree back to Adam. Graves was a family in the 1659 census of Counties Dublin, Meath and Louth. The Graves family was noted for certain prominent clergymen, one the Anglican Bishop of Limerick. John Graves was sheriff of Limerick. Arthur Graves wrote the ever popular sons "Father O'Flynn."

Historians are intensely interested in early Irish settlers in Virginia prior to the coming of the Scotch-Irish to the Great Valley of Virginia. Of interest is whether the very early Irish existed as isolated families who lost their Irishness amid the predominant English, or whether they associated together with some social binding so as to make an ethic group. If they did make a group, however so small, historians would like to know if they had any effect on development of the country. If Coffeys can ever sort out and document their family history, there may prove to have been significant influence by descendants of early Irish who settled in the Tidewater region of Virginia, long before coming of the Scotch-Irish.

My interest in my ancestor Fielden Coffey being a traveling merchant led me to research traveling merchants in colonial Virginia. There was great interest by historians in a diary of a traveling merchant written shortly after 1800 which revealed that he belonged to a secret society or brotherhood of Irishmen in Virginia which met something like the Masons. Unfortunately no one has discovered who wrote the diary or anything about the society other than that no one had suspected that the Irish had such social connections in Virginia at such an early date. The merchant's route closely corresponded to some of the territory where Coffeys lived. In the Tye river area of old Albemarle County (now Nelson County), with its Coffey connections, he mentioned coming to Crosthwait's as if it were an old stopping point or way-station, which it probably was. Descendants of colonial Virginia Crosthwait/Crosswhites have never discovered whether they are of the English or Irish branch of the family, only that their ancestor came down from Pennsylvania to Spotsylvania County about 1732, possibly descending from the Charles Crosthwayte who settled near Boston in the previous century. Charles had descendants in West Jersey prior to 1700 who were living on the opposite side of the river from the point where the new town of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was being built. If Crosthwaits were of the Irish branch, they would, like the Coffeys, be very early examples of Irish immigrants. A Thomas Crosthwaite once served as Governor of the Bank if Ireland and High Sheriff of Dublin. This is mentioned because a Coffey presently is Minister of Finance of Ireland and has served as Governor of the Bank of Ireland, an interesting parallel. I am reserving an analysis of the fiduciary or "treasurer" meaning behind the surname Coffey for another discussion.

[I hope readers have enjoyed this dissertation by Frank Crosswhite. He never again submitted such work to Coffey Cousins for publication, and I understand that he died within a few years of this publication. That is too bad! Many, if not most researchers today are simply satisfied with copying and/or citing the work of others. Besides the obvious problem with that, neither one has cited a credible source for any of the information. If anyone would like to submit such scholarly work as this paper, please contact me or Bonnie Culley. I was unable to reproduce Edward's "distinctive mark" here, but imagine this: A printed letter E, tilted slightly to the right where it almost appears like the printed letter M, except that the legs of the M do not dip in the middle, but rather go straight across like the spine of the E.]

The Wild Geese of Eire (Part II)

Genealogists have demonstrated repeatedly that Americans descended from old-line colonial Virginia families tend to underestimate the number of generations their families have been in this country. This syndrome, known as fore-shortening, often attributes details to a grandfather or great grandfather when they actually relate to a more distant generation and may actually confuse facts of one generation with tradition from another. Thus, a family of English origin having a grandfather with two brothers who were of marrying age about 1750, classically is re-told to state that three brothers immigrated together from England to America about 1750 and married. The common pattern is to remember back to some ancestor and then to suppose since nothing is known beyond this generation, then it was this person or the person's parents who immigrated. Although there is no intention to deceive, a date of immigration is arrived at as an estimate. Unfortunately, such a date often gets firmly established in people's worksheets and published genealogies entirely without evidence.

One of the most common indentures in colonial tidewater Virginia resulted when a child's parents died. Such indentures were less common if the mother was still living because she usually remarried very soon to have a means of support. The new mate husbanded the wife and her possessions which were placed in his name in trust for her dower interests, the latter passing to her descendants rather than his. He was expected to serve as master of her minor children by previous marriages in trust for her interests, the relationship of master was often perpetuated by an indenture of the child. Scholars of colonial social customs in Virginia point out that multiple marriages were the rule rather than the exception prior to about 1740 because sudden death from epidemic or Indian attack was so common during reproductive years then. The bane of the colonial Virginia genealogist is that records passing down in a given family often ignore these other marriages, so that books of collective genealogies often do not give the whole picture, listing only one marriage.

Many instances can be cited where a child was indentured to a woman's second or third husband after the woman died. Such indentures, in fact, can be a clue to such second or third marriages. Custom required that a child orphaned by death of mother who had re-married be indentured since the widower had no legal obligations to the child and no means of control or discipline unless the child were bound by an indenture. Death of the wife had erased the husband's mastery of the child as trustee of the wife. Generally a fully orphaned child was allowed to choose the person to whom it would be bound (from among any bidding, although often a mother's second husband or a person of some family connection), but once bound, the relationship was that of indentured servant. Actually during this period in history marriage itself was looked on as similar to an indenture, the wife essentially binding herself to the husband and promising to serve and obey him until death.

There is evidence that Edward Coffey was overseeing "Mosely's Quarter" at the time of Edward Mosely's death. This evidence in the use by Coffey of what the present author thinks must have been the plantation mark for Moseley's Quarter, as will be shown below. In any event, Moseley left Coffey a 2-year old helfer [heifer] in his will. Coffey was undoubtedly living at Moseley's Quarter at the time (from other evidence) and Moseley obviously expected him to have a place to raise such livestock in the future. Moseley specifically referred to him as his "servant Ed. Coffe" in the will. Was this to specifically remind everyone that Edward was a servant rather than a step-son so that he could not claim a greater inheritance on the theory that he should have inherited his mother's dower? Edward Moseley clearly felt affection for Edward Coffey and envisioned him raising cattle, as a helfer is the means by which young cattle are born. But by the same token he wanted to look out for the interests of his own blood descendants. Perhaps Edward Coffey was living happily and productively on land owned by Edward Moseley, only thinking of him in the sense of a father-figure when suddenly Moseley died and status of both Edward Coffey and the land came into question with Moseley's heirs. In any event, Edward Coffey quickly received a judgment for his freedom, corn and clothes, indicating that the indenture was terminated. This would have been the time for a mere servant to have moved on to obtain a start on his own. It is obvious, however, that Edward Coffey's roots were already set down. Edward Coffey's heirs were eventually to have ownership recorded for "Moseley's Quarter", the 200-acre plantation of the deceased Edward Moseley, as a result of a complicated deed which suggests that Edward Coffey was living on this land at the time of his death but had either not yet obtained full ownership or that the full ownership and its consideration had not previously been recorded.

Marvin Coffey (see James Coffey Vol. II, pg. 18) has pointed out that the two hundred acres, although willed by Edward Coffey to his sons Edward, Jr., and John, was deeded to these sons by the heir of Edward Moseley upon the death of Edward Coffey, Sr. This would make it appear that Edward Coffey, Sr., never had a land deed during his lifetime, even though he bequeathed what he considered his own land to his sons in his will. This must have been the land where Edward Moseley expected Edward Coffey to raise the helfer (and her increase) mentioned in Moseley's will. Indeed, the land is proven to have been no other than "Moseley's Quarter" itself by various deeds in the title chair. Edward Coffey, Sr., must have been either a trusting soul or had such an unquestioned degree of authority that it never occurred to him that his land should be made over to him by some paper which could be used to sell or transfer it. This may be because he was himself operating the old Moseley plantation as his own without benefit of deed. In genealogy it is necessary to understand precipitating factors. Legal documents can be correctly interpreted only when the precipitating factors are understood. For example, a person might believe that a land entry recorded in Burke County, North Carolina in 1778 to 1782 might indicate that a person entering the land moved there that year. In reality that person may have lived on the land for many years, the registration being precipitated by the Revolution and opening of the Burke County land entry office by the Whig government in 1778 and its closing in 1782.

Records left concerning Edward Coffey, Sr., seem to have been in two flurries, one from 1699-1700, the other in 1716. During the first flurry, Edward Moseley died mentioning Edward Coffey in his will, then Coffey married and his indenture was certified by the Moseley estate to be terminated. It is important to note here that the Moseley will itself was not the instrument precipitating termination of the indenture, but rather it was the death of Moseley which precipitated it. There is an important distinction which will be apparent later. During the second flurry, Edward Coffey died and the Moseley heir deeded the estate "Moseley's Quarter" to Coffey's heirs.

Now enters a very revealing piece of evidence. Edward Coffey, Sr., apparently had the custom of signing the Moseley plantation mark as early as 1700. Here a little explanation is needed. The colonial plantation mark or seal has been likened to the brand used for marking cattle in the American west although it was undoubtedly used for marking cattle belonging to the plantation, it was much more than a brand. It can be compared with the seal of ancient times used as a "signature" by an authority figure. In colonial Virginia, tobacco was used as currency. The plantation seal, burnt like a brand into the tobacco cask, was like the signature on today's bank notes. It guaranteed the legitimacy of the cask's contents as conforming to the standard of quality and purity that allowed its use as money. The device for making the mark was well guarded by the plantation owner to prevent what would have been practically the same as counterfeiting.

All persons, whether knowing how to read or not, knew the marks of local plantations and identified the marks with the owners. The marks were used in various tobacco warehousing documents and in receipts. The marks were not limited to livestock branding or tobacco warehousing, however, particularly if the present theory of Edward Coffey's use of the Moseley plantation mark is correct. Slaves when trusted on errands or allowed to be out on their own were required to have a pass with the "master's mark" and it was necessary for anyone challenging them, whether literate or not, to readily recognize the mark. Anyone making the plantation mark was either 1) the owner, 2) an overseer having the what amounted to today's "power of attorney," or 3) a forger.

The mark which Edward Coffey made to legal documents was a stiff capital M with a straight top, long dangling straight but somewhat angled legs, and something of an uphill bent. It has the characteristic look of a livestock brand of today and although I have only read about the plantation marks burnt into tobacco casks, it looks exactly like what would be expected Typewritten copies of papers with Edward's mark usually merely show it as an x which we have grown accustomed to recognizing as the universal mark of the illiterate. To oversee a plantation a person had to understand numbers as to be able to read and write a mark somewhat more distinctive than an x, a mark which represented the plantation.

Go to Part III

The Wild Geese of Eire

The following appeared on the cover page of the Coffey Cousins' newsletter No. 33, dated Dec., 1988. It was apparently taken from the an article by the same name which had appeared in Town and Country, March, 1988, a publication that I am unfamiliar with.


After the treaty of Limerick in 1691, the pride of Ireland's nobility took flight. Generations later they would find their descendants living in France, Austria, Brazil, The United States, Argentina, Mexico, Spain, and Portugal. They have become titled families by virtue of distinguished military and governmental service. One was president of his adopted homeland, another prime minister. Their names now reflect the style of their present homeland but still include the O'Donnell, Murphy, etc. from centuries before. The Celts who came to Ireland were protected by geographic isolation until the 12th century when Pope Adrian IV granted the overlordship of Ireland to English King Henry II. This began a series of incursions into Ireland and in the 16th century under Henry VIII, The Church of England was established becoming the opponents of the Roman Catholics. In 1691 after the English were victorious over Irish-French forces at Limerick, a treaty was struck which allowed the Irish to join English forces or leave the country. About 100 stayed. But it began the Flight of the Wild Geese involving 11,000 men and their families to other Catholic countries.

In continuing the Wild Goose of Eire principle, Coffey Cousin Frank S. Crosswhite presented the following information. This article appeared in the Coffey Cousins' newsletter No. 40, dated Sep., 1990.

Was Edward Coffey a Wild Goose or an Old-line Virginian?

The book, Irish Families by Edward MacLysaght (Dublin: Hodges Figgis and Co., 1957) makes frequent mention of "The Wild Geese". A recent article in the magazine Town and Country (March, 1988) tells how the Wild Geese were the thousands of Ireland's nobility who fled overseas as a result of the treaty of Limerick in 1691. Their lands were confiscated by the Crown when William was king. The "Wild Geese" are of interest to Coffey genealogists because it has been speculated that Edward Coffey came to Virginia about 1690 as a result of the "Willamite Confiscation" in Ireland (see James B. Coffey, Vol. II by Marvin Coffey, pg. 17). This would be tatamount to calling him a Wild Goose.

Further research shows that the treaty of Limerick had to do with the Catholic religion of the Irish. It granted the Irish Catholics religious freedom and allowed them to live peacefully in Ireland if each would sign an oath of allegiance to Britain. It was known that many staunch Catholic Irishmen would never do this, so the treaty allowed those refusing to sign to be allowed to take passage to France where the State-recognized church was Roman Catholic. As a result of the treaty seven thousand of the wealthiest Irish Catholics took passage to France and from there many hopped around the world to various other countries. These were the Wild Geese in the classic use of the designation, although we use the term today for anyone who fled Ireland by necessity.

The winners at Limerick were Britain and her King, William of Orange. William had taken to the battlefield in Ireland himself and the French king had sent troops to fight on behalf of the Irish. Catholic[s] were not any more welcome in colonial Virginia in 1690 than they were in Britain; it seems unlikely for a Wild Goose to settle in Virginia following the Treaty of Limerick. Colonial Virginia liked Protestant King William so much that it named King William County for him, as well as Orange County. Not to slight his Queen, it named King and Queen County for the pair as well as the colonial college (William and Mary). That Edward Coffey came to Virginia about 1690 as a result of the Willamite Confiscation seems less likely than other possible scenarios.

Lawrence H. Coffey in his book Thomas Coffey and his Descendants (pub. 1931) states that he put the best material together to suggest that Edward came to Virginia about 1690 from Liverpool, England having originated in Ireland. This statement seems to be the original basis for those who claim that Edward immigrated to Virginia from across the ocean rather than having been born in America. However, Lawrence did not even know Edward's name, merely identifying him as the father of John and the other Coffey children of Essex County. Lawrence probably obtained the round date 1690 by extrapolating back to a suspected year of birth for John's father and them assuming that he immigrated as a young man. Some claim that Edward came in 1690 as an indentured servant. I question that Edward came as a result of the Willamite Confiscation, that he came as indentured servant, and that he came in 1690.

Indentures to pay for passage were generally for seven years although criminals might serve fourteen years before receiving their freedom. The indenture system in colonial Virginia was complex. It served for the training of apprentices as well as for the monetary reason of paying passage for someone who could not afford to have immigrated otherwise. Indentures for immigration grew out of the practice of indenturing orphans and sending them to America to choose a master. Unlike indentures of orphans already in Virginia, the immigrant who was indentured owed a bill for passage to the ship's captain. Since the new master paid the bill he had more of an interest vested in the servant than mere death of the master could erase. Indentures for reason of apprenticeship or orphanship ceased at the death of the master, like in marriage, although indentures for monetary reasons could not be so simply relinquished. Of course a young orphan with a deceased master would have his helplessness erased by being re-indentured to someone, just as a widow who lacked financial resources would find it convenient to erase her need by "re-indenturing" herself by means of a new marriage. Since the termination of Edward Coffey's indenture coincided with Edward Moseley's death, an indenture for the ship's passage to America seems less likely than for local orphanship or apprenticeship reasons. [emphasis mine]

The 1690 supposed arrival date in America for Edward Coffey gained acceptance by Coffey scholars because Edward's indenture to Mosely (unknown to Lawrence Coffey) seemed to buttress Lawrence's earlier independent supposition. The 1690 date was likely a guess on Lawrence's part, however, as shown below. The part that came from old family tradition to Lawrence most likely was that the Coffey progenitor came to Virginia from Liverpool, England, but was Irish.

Go to Part II

Beeler Ester and Sallie Elizabeth Cross Coffey

Henry Kelly (Caleb) Coffey Henry Kelly Coffey

Sarah Jane Gragg

Sarah Jane Gragg

In August of 2005 I wrote a short note on Beeler Coffey. Click on the title link to read that piece, and to find a link to the file submitted by Sharon Steele-Smith of Roswell, GA. Sharon has created and shared with me a very fine document that includes numerous photographs of her Coffey, Sherfey, and Cross ancestors.

Henry Kelly and Sarah Jane Gragg Coffey were parents of Beeler as well as:

- Wallace E., born Apr. 1885, died 1968
- Docia Ann, born Jul. 27, 1886, died Dec. 11, 1886
- Robey James, born Jul. 16, 1887, died Oct. 19, 1957
- Charles Riston, born Feb. 12, 1892, died Oct. 11, 1966
- Bertie Louise, born Nov., 1893
- Ellis Empsey Marshall, born Sep. 18, 1895, died Apr. 7, 1965
- Dartha Jane, born Jan. 29, 1898, died May 21, 1931
- Josie Eleanor, born Mar. 11, 1900, died Apr. 24, 1983
- Herman Herbert, born Apr. 3, 1902, died c1919

Charles Riston Coffey married Teresa Missouri (Tressie) Sherfey, marriage date unknown.

Dartha Jane Coffey married James Blaine Phillips, marriage date unknown.

Josie Eleanor Coffey married John Henry Sherfey Jul. 6, 1916.

Please contact me if you are researching any of these families.

New Webpage Design

Chris, my youngest child and son, volunteered to re-design and simplify the Coffey Cousins' webpage. Some readers may have already noticed the change. If not, click on the title link to view the updated site.

Please take a critical view of the overall design and send appropriate comments/suggestions to me.

February 15, 2006

Roots Magic Updates

An announcement released today from Roots Magic:

- New Family Tree Maker Import Added

We have long been asked for the ability to import Family Tree Maker files directly. The many FTM users who have switched to RootsMagic (or who have wanted to switch) have discovered that FTM doesn't export its pictures and other information to GEDCOM, so those items were either lost or had to be re-entered by hand.

RootsMagic 3.2 now offers the most complete FTM import available. Not only is all the FTM data seamlessly imported, but RootsMagic will also extract the images from the FTM file and will set up the links to those images.

So now when someone sends you an FTM file you *no longer* have to request them to create and send a GEDCOM instead. You can just import the FTM file directly.

Click on the title link to read more about this genealogy software.

February 13, 2006

Irish king left a wide genetic trail - Genetic Genealogy - MSNBC.com

Are you a descendant of "Niall of the Nine Hostages"? This Irish warlord lived in the 5th century and according to the MSNBC news item, was the head of one of the most powerful dynasties in ancient Ireland.

According to Wikipedia, Niall died c450-455 AD, and is said to have raided the coastlines of Britannia and Gaul, and was responsible for kidnapping and bringing to Ireland the boy who later became St. Patrick.

Coffeys, or Coffees who claim Irish descent likely descend from the Celtic plunderers who terrorized Europe during the 3d and 4th centuries BC, and eventually invaded Ireland.

Some historians who have written about the Coffey name tell us that it was originally Cobhthaigh which means "victorious." At some point in time it became O'Cobthaigh which means "of the family of" or "descendant of."

This family line is considered to have descended from Olliol Flann Beag, a king of Munster who ruled c240 AD. I have not found any information on Wikipedia about this Irish king.

The Wikipedia entry for Niall includes a family tree.

Click on the title link to read that article about Niall, then use the Wikipedia link to read more about him.

Please let me know if you learn how he he became known as "Niall of the Nine Hostages."

February 7, 2006

William Perry Coffey (1857-1926)

William Perry & Mary Ellen Wemple Coffey Family
William Perry Coffey was born June 9, 1857 in West Plains, Howell Co., MO to William E. and Sarah Lucinda Coffey Coffey.

William was the son of George and Margaret L. Rucker Coffey. Sarah was the daughter of John and Elizabeth Rucker Coffey.

George and John Coffey were brothers, and Margaret and Elizabeth Rucker were sisters.

At bottom left in this photo of the William Perry Coffey family is Mary Ellen Wemple Roark, and to the right is William Perry Coffey. Their children are (front) Lulu who married George Washington Roberts, and Rose Etta, who married Clarence Elwood Woods. Back row, left to right is: Samuel Wemple; George Washington; Victor Lee; William Adolph; and Andrew Jackson. Two children born to William and Mary died young. they were Minnie, born 1887, died 1888, and Sidney, born 1895, died 1897.

Please contact me if you have additional information.

Photo contributed by Judy Coffey of Colorado

Update 8/6/2011 - While rechecking this family in the census record, I found Mary Ellen Roark residing with her father, Myndert Veeder Wemple in 1880 Howell Twp., Howell Co., MO.  Both were enumerated as married, but spouses where not present in the household.  Next door was the family of William Coffey, age 32 with wife Heellen (?), age 22 and daughter Nora, age 1.

One possibility exists.  Mary Ellen Wemple Roark, according to a family file found at the Family History Library,* had a twin sister named Jane Helen, born Nov. 8, 1857 in Michigan.  The file reports however, that she was married to William Taylor Coffey c1878.  I do not have a William Taylor Coffey in my files.

I have seen a few genealogies in which Levi Coffey, who married Dolly Edmundson, had a son named John Collins Coffey, born c1809.  Levi and Dolly did have a son named John but I have no information that his middle name was Collins.  There was a Collins Coffey, born c1809 in North Carolina, and family which appeared in the 1850 Finley Twp., Greene Co., MO census.  Among other children, they had a son named William T., born c1846 in TN.

It seems then that William - if indeed it was William Perry Coffey who was the neighbor - had been previously married and had a child.  Apparently, the wife and child Nora died prior to his marriage in 1882 to Mary Ellen.  Nora could have survived but I do not know that because of the loss of the 1890 census record.  Mary Ellen's Roark spouse continues to elude me.

William Perry died Sep. 29, 1926 in Eureka, Humboldt Co., CA.   In 1930 Mary Ellen lived alone in Eureka and died there on Jul. 13, 1936.  Both are buried at Ocean View Cemetery in Eureka.

*"Ancestral File v4.19," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.2.1/MWWN-GBB : accessed 6 August 2011), entry for Jane Helen WEMPLE ;TWIN

February 6, 2006

Salathiel (Sail) Coffey

Salathiel Coffey was born in Russell county, Kentucky, April 20, 1812. His father, Eli, was born in North Carolina, May 8, 1775, moved to Kentucky when a young man and there died July 18, 1833. He was a boot and shoe maker by trade and spent most of his early life in the shoe shop, but after going to Kentucky turned his attention to farming and distilling. His wife bore the maiden name of Mary Coffey. She was born in North Carolina, September 7, 1782, and died in Kentucky about 1873. She born him twelve children, the fifth of whom, Salathiel, was reared in Kentucky on the home farm and in his father's distillery. In 1855 Salathiel came to Texas and in 1857 settled on the farm where he now resides. He is an extensive farmer and a large land-owner; although he came to Texas poor and has dug what he has out of the ground. August 20, 1835, he married Miss Nancy Danbar [Dunbar] of Kentucky. She bore him nine children - Willis S., Jesse P., Lettie, Mary A., William S., Harriet, Milton, Zachariah T. and Nancy J. Mrs. Coffey died November 14, 1853, and May 10, 1854 Mr. Coffey married Mrs. Mary A. (Ballew) McFarlan [McFarland] of Kentucky. To this union have been born three children - Margaret E., Josie C., and Sterling P. The family are members of the Baptist church.1

Salathiel Coffey was the son of Eli and Mary (Polly) Coffey. Mary was the daughter of Nathan and Mary Saunders Coffey. She and Eli were first cousins because Nathan and Salathiel, the father of Eli, were brothers.

In addition to Salathiel (Sale), Eli and Mary were parents of at least 11 additional children: Mariah, born Jan. 17, 1803; Willis, born May 2, 1804 married Lotty, last name unknown; Elizabeth, born Aug. 14, 1807, married Jacob Wolford; Nancy, born Oct. 14, 1809; Serene (or, Serena), born Aug. 9, 1814; Nathaniel J., born Jan. 30, 1817; Stanton P., born Dec. 4, 1819; William S., born Jul. 10, 1821; Newton Eli, born May 2, 1827, died Jan. 13, 1890, married Martha Louise Vermillion; Mary Ann, born c1828; and Reuben, born c1830.

This family moved to Sangamon, then Shelby and finally to Christian Co., IL.

Salathiel (Sale) and his families can be found in the 1850 Russell Co., KY census. From 1860 until 1880 they are in Collin Co., TX.

Please e-mail me if you can add to or correct any of this information.

1 Biographical Souvenir of the State of Texas Illustrated, Fannin County TXGen Web (The TXGenWeb Project) online [http://www.rootsweb.com/~txfannin/s.html], accessed Feb. 2005

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