November 26, 2010

Joseph Elzie and Mary Ann Coffey Hays

Joseph's parents were Gabriel Hays, Jr. born c1792 in VA who married Martha Coffey in Adair Co., KY on Dec. 26, 1813.  Martha was the daughter of Cleveland and Jane Witherspoon Coffey.  Her date of birth and death is not known to me, but given the time of marriage, she was likely born around the same time frame as Gabriel.

Martha and Gabriel were the parents of Joseph Elzie Hays, born Dec. 6, 1822 in Russell Co., and died there on Jan. 23, 1904.

Joseph was married three times.  His first was to Sophia M. Saufley on Oct. 19, 1848 in KY.  Sophia was born c1822 in VA and died on Mar. 14, 1853 in KY.  If there were children born to this union, none survived.

On Mar 25, 1854 in Russell Co., Joseph married Mary Ann Coffey, a second cousin to his mother, Martha Coffey Hays.  Mary Ann was born Jul. 4, 1828 in Russell Co., and died there on May 24, 1869, apparently in childbirth while delivering their fourth child, Rose.  Their first three children were Sophia, born c1856 who became the wife of Judge W. S. Stone; Mary A., born c1866 and Rose L., born c1869, all in Russell Co.

Joseph's third wife was Elizabeth C. Young of Wayne Co., daughter of G. W. and Margaret Pemberton Young.  There were no children.

A biography* of Joseph, published in 1888, reveals that his father Gabriel Hays, Jr. came from VA to settle in a part of Adair Co. that is now in Russell Co.  Gabriel Hays, Sr., was a "native of Scotland" who came to the "American colonies and went into the war of Revolution, arose to the position of major, and served in that capacity until independence was achieved."

An very interesting part of this bio reads: 
"Martha (Coffey) Hays was born in Adair, now Russell County, was a daughter of Cleveland Coffey, a native of North Carolina who was an early settler in Adair, now Russell County, Ky.; he was a farmer and stock-trader, and a son of Joel Coffey, also a native of North Carolina, whose father, Joel Coffey, Sr. was of English parentage.  Joseph E. Hays is of Scotch [sic] descent on his father's side, and of English on his mother's."

Joel, father of Cleveland, was probably born in VA and was married to Martha Stepp/Stapp c 1753,  Certainly, the number of Joel Coffeys floating around between VA and KY in that timeframe makes it extremely difficult to sort them out.

The following are some random notes that I have and which I believe pertain to Joel who married Martha Stepp/Stapp:
Joel, born 1780, m Martha "Patsy"?.  They had 6 children: Nathaniel, m1 Louisa Durham, m2 Nancy Clark; Alvina (Elvira), b 1811, m Martin Wright, Mar 27, 1828.  She died Sep 7, 1869; Caroline, m Unk Summers; Martha L., m Perry M. Stacy; Francis m Jackson Jones; Henry B., m Sara Ann Isbele. Source:  Lee Robert, Nov., 1998.

Joel was b. late 1740's and d. 1789.  Married Martha in 1753. Martha was b. 1737.  Joel was son of Chesley and Jane Cleveland Coffee. Their children were Jesse Cleveland; James, Joel, Nathan, Caty, Frances Jane, Sealey, Nebuzarren, Cleveland.  Source:  Revolutionary Ancestors, 1976; Wood Coffee Will and Inventory.

Joel and Martha are mentioned in The Georgians, Genealogies of Pioneer Settlers, by J. H. Austin.

Joel's will (probate) dated 1789 Wilkes Co., NC.  Children listed as James, Joel, Cleveland, Nathan, Katy, Jane and Celia.  See North Carolina will book C, page 321.

Marvin Coffey wrote in his works that DAR has always listed Joel as born 1730, and married in 1753 to Martha Sealy, born 1737.  Nebuzaradon, their youngest son, was born in 1780 meaning that Martha would have been aged 52 at his birth.

A number of researchers have theorized that Joel married Martha Sealey who died, and he then married Martha Step.  Others have the opinion that Joel married a widow by the name of Mrs. Martha Step Sealey while another group has said that Sealey was a nickname for Celia which was the middle name of Martha.  Another thought is that Joel was born much earlier, about 1750.

Joseph is not listed in Joel's 1789 will (Wilkes Co., NC Will Book I, p260) but does appear in other researcher's works.  He could have been born to Joel's first wife and died before the will was made.  Joseph has also been reported to have gone to Kentucky quite early, and already otherwise provided for by his father thereby not making the will.  And, even if Joel had only one wife, Joseph could still have died quite young.  Marvin noted that there was a Joseph Coffey on early tax records of Adair Co., KY.
The bio paragraph cited above says that Joel (Martha Stepp) Coffey was the son of a Joel of English parents.  To me, this says the belief (among some Coffey researchers) that Joel was a son of the elusive - almost mythical - Chesley Coffey, may not be accurate. I am told that the DNA test results of some researchers who trace their lineage to this Joel are descendants of Edward and Ann Powell Coffey.

So, it could be that some in the 1888 biography - and who undoubtedly contributed to it - believed they were of English not Irish descent.  We know that Edward was Irish and came to America as an indentured servant and, likely come here through England.  We know that Peter Coffee, an Irishman and Edward's distant relative, came to America from an English prison.  Given that Edward may also have departed from England, seems logical to me that 100-plus year old family tales could have mistakenly told of Edward being of English descent.  Edward may have thought of himself as being English, given the Ireland-England politics of the era.

Continuing with Joseph...

The Bio tells us that his father was a "life-long invalid," and that Joseph was self-educated.  By the time he was 17 he was the deputy county surveyor, working under Hiram Rowe.  He began teaching school at age 19 and at the age of 21 was elected to the Kentucky militia as a captain and, rose the the rank of colonel.  He read law with Gen. Rice Maxey and admitted to the Kentucky bar in 1846.


Being a somewhat wealthy man and the largest slave owner in the county, he was naturally a southern sympathizer during the Civil War.  At the close of the war he returned to his law practice and was appointed "master commissioner of the Russell Circuit Court."  It did not take long for him to recoup the wealth he lost as a result of the war.

His son, Hiram was born on Dec. 7, 1858 and was educated in the law by his father.  He "was admitted to the bar at the age of seventeen years and six months."  He also taught school in Jamestown at the age of 14; spent a year in Texas and returned to KY at the age of 20.  He settled in Monticello, Wayne Co. where he practiced law and became county attorney.

He married Eva Owens, a daughter of Dr. S. R. Owens, a well known physician of the time.  They were parents of one daughter, Mary Owen Hays.  In 1882 Hiram was a candidate for Congress.  While on the stump however, he became ill and withdrew.  He died on Jan. 14, 1888 at the home of Dr. Owens.



* W. H. Perrin, Author, Kentucky: A History of the State: Embracing a concise account of the origin and development of the Virginia Colony; its expansion westward, and the settlement of the frontier beyond the Alleghenies; the erection of Kentucky as an independent state, and its subsequent development, J. H. Battle & G. C. Kniffin, Authors, eighth edition (Lewisville, KY, & Chicago, IL: F. A. Battey and Company, 1888), Pgs 860-861.

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