January 12, 2007

Finley Patterson Coffey - Caldwell County, NC

Caldwell County was formed in 1841 from Wilkes and Burke counties. It is named for Joseph Caldwell, the first president of the University of North Carolina. In 1847 a part of Caldwell was taken to form Alexander Co., and in 1849 a part of the county was used to form Watauga Co. In 1861 another bite was taken out of Caldwell to help form Mitchell Co. Avery Co. was formed in 1911, again at the expense of surrounding counties, including Caldwell. The county seat is Lenoir, named for Rev. War figure, Gen. William Lenoir.

Today Caldwell Co. has a total area of about 472 square miles and is dominated by the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Piedmont is also a part of this county and in contrast to the Blue Ridge, is an area of gentle rolling hills. The latest demographics that I have found gives the population in 2000 at a bit over 77, 000.

In 1850 the county consisted of the townships of Johns River, Kings Creek, Little River, Lower Creek, Smokey Creek, Summers and Yadkin. By 1880 the townships had changed somewhat. Johns River, Kings Creek, Little River, and Lower Creek remained. Replacing the others were Buffalo, Globe, Lenoir, Lovelady and Patterson.

Finley Patterson Coffey was born in the Johns River township in 1848. He was the son of an early Caldwell Co. settler, Wilborn Coffey and his wife, Sarah (Sallie) Cottrell. Willborn has been born in Burke Co. in 1807, and married Sarah in Caldwell Co. in Jan., 1832.

According to my research, Finley was the seventh of eight children. Of course he grew up on his father's farm where he learned how to properly go about the work of providing food for a family. By age 21 he was married to Mary Elizabeth Tuttle, born in Caldwell Co. around 1851, likely the daughter of Robert Tuttle, sheriff of Caldwell Co. in 1860.

Within the first 10 years of marriage, Mary gave birth to at least 6 children. In 1900, and again in 1910 she told the census taker that she was the mother of 11 children, and that 10 were still living. Most research that I have seen agrees that their fourth child, Wilborn Haywood, born Feb. 9, 1876, died in 1891 at age 15.

Their first son was Rufus Gamewell Coffey, born Dec. 15, 1871 and died Apr. 9, 1939 in Granville Co., NC. The Caldwell Co. town with that name was named for Gamewell Tuttle, a Methodist minister and likely a relative of Rufus' mother. Rufus married Minnie Ann Welch and they were the parents of Roby Elbert, born 1912; Mabel Alberta, born 1914; Dora Helene, born 1917; Nellie Ruth, born c1920, and Lyle Welch, born 1926.

Robert Calvin, born May. 15, 1872, married Salah Palistine McHan. I haven't found much information on this family, but believe that Sarah was the daughter of Allison and Eleanor McHan, born Nov. 1883 in North Carolina, died Apr. 25, 1922. I have found only three children: Allison, born c1903, Clara, born c1906 and an unnamed female, born c1909. In 1910 the family was living in Swain Co., NC.

The next two children were Sarah L., born c1874 and Wilborn, born 1876. Wilborn died young, and I have not found any information on Sarah's descendants.

John Hill was the fifth child. He was born in 1877 and died in 1965. He married Dessie Cunningham, born 1899 and died in 1979. In 1920 and 1930 this family was in Swain Co., NC.

The sixth child was a daughter, Cora Estelle, born Jul. 16, 1879. She married George Avery Link on Jul. 11, 1907 in Caldwell Co. They had at least one child, a son named Marshal Gaius, born Nov. 26, 1908. In 1910 and 1920 the family was still in Caldwell Co.

William Finley followed, born in 1881, died 1972. He married Annie Mae Smith, born 1886 in North Carolina, died 1975. They had a large family - at least 10 children. They remained in Caldwell Co. from 1910 through the 1930 census record. The children that I have found are: Avery Grayson, born 1906; Lexie, born 1908; Hilliard, born c1911; William Garland, born 1912; Raymond Woodrow, born 1914; Mary Lucille, born 1917; Willie M., a daughter, born c1921; George R., born 1923; Margie K., born 1925, and Sarah A., born c1927.

Lanese Tuttle was next. He was born Jul. 1, 1884 and died Apr. 4, 1964. His wife was Ethel R. Lovelace, born Dec. 6, 1894, died Jan. 2, 1935. They also had a large family of eight children: Vera, born c1914; Claude T., born c1916; Ralph L., born c1918; Paul, born 1919; Doyle Robert, born 1921; William Ray, born 1923; Lee Roy, born 1926, and Max J., born c1930.

Nancy Alice came next, born Jan. 9, 1890, died Feb. 9, 1983 in Burke Co. She married Hardie Sudderth, born Apr. 8, 1886 in Caldwell Co. and died Jul. 29, 1967. They were married Apr. 15, 1920 in Caldwell Co. I have not yet found any of their descendants.

The 10th child born to Finley and Mary was Mary Vestal. She married Henry Ward Beecher Anderson, born May 7, 1898 in NC, died Oct. 1, 1984. Mary was born Sep. 10, 1892 and died Feb. 9, 1981. I have no descendant information.

Their final child was Davis Eugene, born May, 15, 1895 and died Dec. 6, 1935. He married Etoy Greene and they were the parents of at least one child, Jackie Bradley, a daughter, born 1934.

Please contact me if you need more information, or can add to or correct any of the above information.

Sources: NC State Archives. North Carolina Deaths, 1908-67; US Census records; Caldwell Co. Register of Deeds; WW1 Draft Registrations; North Carolina Birth Index, 1800-2000

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