September 11, 2010

Archelaus Coffey (1806-1883)

In the ancient world there were a number of men named Archelaus.  Diogenes wrote in The Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers (translated by C.D. Yonge) that four men had lived with such a name.  One such man lived before Socrates and was the son of Apollodoras.  He is considered the last of the natural philosophers.  The other three were: a geographer who described the travels of Alexander the Great; a poet and the third, an orator.

There was one other: Herod Archelaus, son of Herod the First, ruler of Judea.  Herod Archelaus was ruler of Judea from 4BC to 6AD.

Wikipedia mentions others - one a deacon and 3d Century Saint - and they can be read about here.  I think it would be safe to say that those in the Edward Coffey genealogy - at least - were named for the 3d Century martyr rather than the one who crucified Jesus Christ.
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Other researchers with an Archelaus in families not even remotely associated with the Edward Coffey line of descendants have noted the name found spelled various ways; sometimes as Archilles, Achilles, etc.
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Elder Archelaus Coffey
The Archelaus of this blog was a son of James M. & Frances Lane Coffey.  He was born on Jul. 30, 1806 in Wayne Co., KY and died in Saline Co., IL on Mar. 10, 1883.  His wife was Jane - perhaps Jennie - Dean who he married on Apr. 23, 1824 in Hamilton Co., IL*.  At some point in time he too became known as Achilles Coffey.

At around the age of 19 or 20 years, Archelaus was commissioned a 2nd Lt. on Dec. 19, 1825 and fought in the Black Hawk Indian wars beginning on May 12, 1832.  He was promoted to Captain and given command of "Captain Coffey's Company" of the 1st Regiment, 1st Brigade, Illinois Mounted Volunteers. He somehow managed to lose his horse, saddle and other tack during a forced march in August 1832 and was subsequently furloughed and mustered out on Sep. 25, 1832.  In 1851 he received 40 acres of land for his service and, another 120 acres in 1855.

He and Jane initially lived in Gallatin Co., IL but for the most part, lived out their lives in Saline Co., IL.  They were for awhile (1860) in Humboldt, Allen Co., KS, but returned to Saline Co. by 1870.  Archelaus died there on Mar. 10,1883.

In 1877 Achilles was encouraged by his fellow churchmen to "write a history of the Baptists, principally of Southern Illinois..."  When the book was completed, Richard Fulkerson Golconda of IL was asked to prepare the forward.  Instead, he wrote a short biography of "Elder A. Coffey."

Having been intimately acquainted with Elder A. Coffey for the last forty years, and believing that it will not be amiss, I will therefore give a short history of his life.

He was born in Wayne County, Kentucky, July the 30th, A. D. 1806.  In the year 1813, the time of the British war, his parents moved to the territory of Indiana, Jefferson County, and settled four miles from the fort.  Here they suffered many privations and fears, insomuch that they remained only one year.  Thence they removed to Washington County, and settled near the town of Salem, where they remained three years.  In the fall of 1817, they moved back to Wayne County, Kentucky, but stayed there only the short space of one year.  In 1818, they went to Alabama, where they remained two years.  On 30th July they started for Illinois, and in the fall of 1820 landed in what is now Sangamon County, where they were again among the Red Men.  Here they stayed two years, and them moved to what is now Saline County, Illinois, which was then a very wilderness country.  During all this time they were almost entirely destitute of any means of education.

It may be rather strange that a man who has been raised among the savages and wild beasts, could write a history, but when we consider that the most talented and useful men have been what is termed self-made, the mystery is solved.  Elder Coffey took a great deal of pains to gain an education, and is a tolerably fair scholar.  He made a profession of religion in his youth and attached himself to the Baptist Church before the division of the Missionary question.  Believing the Bible and the Bible alone to be the only rule of faith and practice, and being utterly opposed to the inventions of men in the affairs of religion, he stood firm on the principles upon which the church was founded.  And by his unswerving fidelity to the Apostle's doctrine, he rendered much service to the Regular Baptists of this country.  Taking the Bible alone for his guide, and finding that the church of Christ was set up on earth and was to stand forever, his inquiring mind led him to search history to find out where she had been in the dark ages, and the Baptists having such implicit confidence in him, have repeatedly requested that he write a history of the Baptists, principally of Southern Illinois, which he with a great degree of reluctance consented to do.  Having examined his manuscript, I, with all my heard, recommend his little volume to the Regular Baptists, and to all enquirers after truth.

There is no man that stands higher among the Regular Baptists than does Elder Coffey, not only among them, but he is a man of good report with them that are without.  Having laborer to the best of my ability in the same gospel field the the last thirty years, I know whereof I speak.

Respectfully, Richard Fulkerson, Golconda, Illinois, January 1, 1877
Note how often this family moved and how busy Archelaus remained throughout most of his life:
Born 1806 in Wayne Co., KY; 1813 in Jefferson Co., IN; 1814 in Washington Co., IN; 1817 back in Wayne Co., KY; 1818 in Alabama; 1820 Sangamon Co., IL; 1822 Saline Co., IL; 1824 married in Hamilton Co., IL; 1832 in Black Hawk War; mustered out in 1832; 1833 joined Bethel Church in Saline Co.; 1834 chosen moderator of Church; 1836 Ordained to preach; 1844 on list of Presidential electors; 1877 wrote a book and died in 1883.
 Archelaus and Jane were parents of at least 13 children.  I have chosen however, to write first about their ninth child, a son, Lawrence Lasenby, born Aur. 10, 1841, died Jun. 9,1912.  He will be the subject of the next blog.



Dr. Marvin Coffey wrote in his book that the court clerk mistakenly entered his name as Nicholas Coffey.

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