August 9, 2009

John C. Coffey

John C. Coffey was a son of Richardson "Richard" Coffey and his wife Orenna (var.) Coffey who married on May 3, 1860 in Grainger Co.  Richardson was a son of Benjamin Coffey and Nancy Hayes while Orenna, or Renie in some genealogies, was the daughter of Caswell Coffey and his wife Annie Jordan.

A recent e-mail exchange with a descendant of John C. Coffey, born Jul. 14, 1861, died Aug. 27, 1931, raised some questions. Some genealogies name his wife as Martha Wyatt while others name her as Martha White.

John and Martha were married about 1883.  Their first child, Evaline was born in March, 1885.

1900 census:

This particular family is a little difficult to read on the census page that I consulted.  However, it seems pretty clear that the couple had been married 17 years (i.e., married in 1883), that their eldest child was born in March 1885, and that Martha was born in August, 1861.
1900 Grainger Co., Dist. 10, ED25, Sheet 1B, dwelling/family 17, Coffey, John, head, white male, born Jul. 1861, age 38, married 17 yrs., born TN, parents born TN, farmer; Martha, wife, white female, born Aug., 1861, age 38, married 17 yrs., mother of 8, 7 living, born TN, parents born TN; Em(?)aline, dau., white male [sic], born Mar 1885 (?), age 15 (?), born TN; James Monroe, son, male, white, Jan. 1888, age 12, born TN; Coria [sic], dau., white female, born 1890, July, age 9, born TN; E?aline, dau., white female, born 1892, Aug., age 7, born TN; Charles, son, male, white, born 1895, May, age 5, born TN; Orrena [sic], dau., white female, born 1897, Dec., age 2, born TN; William Brownlo [sic], son, white female [sic], born 1900, Mar (?), age 2 mos., born TN


There was only one Martha Wyatt in the 1870 Grainger Co. census, and she resided in Bean Station.  She was 22 years old meaning that she was born c1848.  There were none in 1880 Grainger Co.  This appears to eliminate her as a potential wife for John C. Coffey.

There was a Martha White of the correct age (age 9, born 1861) in Thorn Hill, Grainger Co in the 1870 census.  She was the daughter of Peter White and his wife Mary.  Others in the household with Peter were: John, age 21; William, age 19; Meredith, age 17; Bettie Ann, age 15, and Wiley, age 13.

We know that Orenna, or Renie, married the Rev. John W. White, born Apr. 23, 1843, on Sep. 24, 1871 in Grainger Co., some six years following the death of Richardson.  Richardson is said to have died that year from wounds received while serving with the 12th TN Cav. Regiment. *

The 1880 census of Grainger Co. shows the family thusly:

1880 Grainger Co., ED102, 10th Civil Dist., Page 15, dwelling/family 137, White, John W., white male, age 33, married, farmer, born TN, parents born NC; Lorena [sic], M., white female, age 34, wife, married, keep house, born TN, parents born TN; John C., white male, age 18, son, single, laborer, born TN, parents born TN; Margaret, white female, age 7, daughter, single, born TN, parents born TN; Willey [sic] P., white male, age 4, son, single, born TN, parents born TN

We can deduce that John C., age 18 (born 1861), was not a White because John W. White and Renie had not been married long enough to have a son his age.  We know that she did have a son with Richardson who was born in 1861.  I think it safe to say that in the 1880 census, he was John C. Coffey.

Next door to John W. and his family that same year is the family of Peter White and two of his children, Wiley and Martha J., age 18.  So, it's safe to assume that Martha and John C. Coffey knew each other.  The only thing that we do not know is when they were married.  It must have been sometime around 1883 or 1884 because their first child was born in 1885 (see 1900 above).

Based on all this, it appears that John C. Coffey married Martha White and not Martha Wyatt.

Hopefully, this has been presented in a somewhat cogent manner.  If not, drop me an e-mail at the above address.

*I've looked for info on this Regiment, but haven't been successful.  He doesn't appear in any of the scant info that I have found on the 12th.

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