September 4, 2010

James Coffey, bc1862

The James Coffey I am searching for was born c1862 in Hancock Co., TN.  His father may have been William Coffey, born c1831 in TN to Caswell and Annie Jordan Coffey. I do not yet know who William married and I do not know all of his children.

James is said by some researchers to have been married at least four times.  By one he was the father of Tilmon, born c1883 in TN, died Nov. 27, 1970 in Claiborne Co., TN.

Tilmon married twice.  His took his first wife Bealey Ferguson, c1904.  She was born Jun. 4, 1890 in TN, died July 21, 1989 in Hancock Co.  Following Tilmon's death in 1970, Bealey married Tilmon's brother Matthew with whom she had at least one child, a daughter named Laura.  I find this difficult to believe because Bealey would have been close to 80 years old when Tilmon died.

If Tilmon did not die until 1970, then he and Bealey must have divorced because Tilmon married Susan Parker c1918.  If there was a divorce then Bealey could have married Matthew early in the century and been the mother of several more children.*

The marriage by Tilmon to Susan produced at least four children:

Stella, born Jul., 1918; Clester or Cluster, born 1919; Ethel M., born c1925 and Joseph, born Feb., 1927.

His obituary, which appeared in the Claiborne Progress on Nov. 26, 1970 related that he was survived by half-brothers Clint Barnard, Kyle Coffey, Meb Coffey, Ott Coffey and Nan Coffey, all half-siblings.  I does not mention living or deceased full siblings.  He was also survived by children Lonnie, Floyd, Cluster, Joe, Lloyd, Carson, Lee, Harrison, Pearl, Ethel, Bertha and Adra.

So, from this we know that one of James' marriages - probably the second - was to Nancy Barnard with whom he had at least one child Hamilton, born Apr. 2, 1870, died Dec. 30, 1953.  In fact, Hamilton's death certificate from Middleboro, Bell Co., KY, tells us that his parents were James and Nancy.  It also appears that Nancy was not born Barnard but was previously married to one with whom she had Clint.

I cannot find  the first wife of James.  She would, as I calculate, have been the mother of Tilmon, Matthew, Charles H. "Charlie", William Caswell and Laura.  Charles married Emily Dalton on Jun 16, 1906 in Grainger Co. and they had at least two children:  Dovie, born c1907 and Herman, born c1909, both in Grainger Co.

The 1951 obituary for William Caswell tells us that he had one brother, Tilmon and two half-sisters, Cordy and Nan Coffey, and half-brothers Kyle, Albert, and Arthur Coffey, Clint Barnard, Milburn, Mat, and Hamilton Coffey.

Coffey-Wolfe Marriage License
The TN State Archives tells us that a James Coffey married Mattie Wolfe in Grainger Co. on Aug. 13, 1898.  The 1900 census found this family in Hancock Co.  Mattie and John had been married for two years.  Mattie was 21 and James was 40.  They had two children: Charley, born Jun., 1888 and Laura, born Feb., 1892, neither of which was Mattie's.  The only child she had until then was lost at birth.

The 1920 enumeration for Hancock Co. reports that Mattie and James had been married 13 years and that she was the mother of four, three living.  Children were Nan, age 6, Rena, age 3 and Elbert, age 1 year, 6 mos.

So, we have a Nan that could be the half-sister from William Caswell's obituary.  Was Elbert really Albert? Was Charles H. really Charles Hamilton?

Charles Coffey-Emily Dalton Marriage License
The problem with Charles H. and Hamilton being the same person arises when we remember that Charles "Charlie" married Emily Dalton in 1906.  This does not eliminate the possibility that Emily died and he then re-married.  They did appear together in the 1910 and 1920 census.  In the latter enumeration they had children Dovie, age 13, Herman, age 10, Lillard, age 10, Louie (?), age 8 and Ruby, age 4 mos.

The problem is compounded when we learn that Hamilton married Sarah Purkey c1900, and had two children, John and Viola.  Sarah apparently died because Hamilton then married Louisa Howerton and they had at least one child, Martha born June, 1919.

The last wife of James' may be Margaret, who we find in the 1910 Grainger Co. census, a 52 year old widow with daughters Vernie, age 21, Bettie, age 19, and Oma, age 17.  Next door was Charles and Emily Dalton Coffey with their children, Dovie and Herman.  Margaret and Charles were also neighbors in the 1920 Grainger Co. census.  The same three daughters were in the home with Margaret and were joined by Stella Shockley, Margaret's eight year old granddaughter.  Charlie and Emily's children were Dovie, Herman, Lillard, Louis (?) and Ruby.

So, was Margaret really Mattie [Margaret Martha?] and, was she James' last wife, or was she one somewhere in between the others?  Were the 1910-20 women with Margaret her daughters or, one of his other wives?

I will send a free Edward Coffey Project DVD to the first** researcher who can satisfactorily sort this out for me while also providing sources to backup their conclusions.

*I can imagine how reunions went if both families showed up!
**You do not have to be the first to submit information; just the first with the most accurate information that can be substantiated.  If your information is substantial, with photos, etc., then contact me before sending anything via e-mail.  Of course, I will be the judge of what is satisfactory. This offer ends at midnight, Sep. 30,2010.

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