May 30, 2010

Just a Few of My Family's WW2 Vets

Memorial day is tomorrow and  I want to honor just a few of my family's WW2 veterans.  This is by no means all of them, but they are representative of the patriotism that existed in all branches of my kin, as it did in nearly all families across America in those days.  This is my small way of saying "Thank you for your service and sacrifice."*  

A couple of the photos do not reproduce well because they are copies of very small photos which appeared in a yearbook-style book published by The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars shortly after the war was over.


Richard Lilburn Samuel
Richard Lilburn Samuel, first cousin.  He was born in De Ann, Hempstead Co., AR on Oct. 28, 1918 to Sidney Bedford and Ora West Coffee Samuel; died Aug. 8, 1968 in Cotton Valley, Webster Parish, LA.  He entered the Army in 1941, trained in Camp Croft, S.C., Panama and Camp Pariso, C.Z.   He served in Pacific Theater - New Guinea. Awarded Good Conduct Medal and the American Theater Service Medal. Discharged in 1945.  Notice that he is wearing only the Combat Infantry Badge (CIB).



Lilburn Monroe Braley
Lilburn Monroe Braley, first cousin once removed, was born in Sarepta, Webster Parish, LA on Nov. 3, 1925.  Known as "Dude" to his family, he died on Nov. 2, 2007 in Shongaloo, Webster Parish.  He joined the US Marine Corps in 1945 and served in the Pacific on Guam and later in China.







Harry D. Coffee
Harry Devohn Coffee, uncle, born Nov. 6, 1912 in DeAnn, died Feb. 8, 1989 in Baton Rouge, LA.  Harry enlisted in the US Coast Guard in 1942 and served in the European Theater earning air medals and numerous citations as a radioman.  He was discharged in 1945.






Charles Calvin Samuel
Charles was a brother to Richard.  He joined the US Army in 1941 and was discharged in 1942 after serving at Fort Knox in KY.  Charles died on Jul. 2, 1957 in New Orleans, LA.








Frank Hurley Coffee
Frank Hurley Coffee, father and brother to Harry, was born Mar. 8, 1910 in DeAnn and died Sep. 4, 1976 in Jefferson, Marion Co., TX.  He joined the USAAF in 1942 and trained at Lamesa Army Flying School and at Dalhart, TX.  He served in the US and was discharged in 1944.






Clifford Edward Blunt, second cousin once removed, born Jul. 23, 1916 in Grady Co., OK, died Apr. 26, 1997 in Gregg Co., TX.  She served in the USAAF, discharged as a Master Sgt.  His enlistment record is inaccurate in that his birthdate is given as 1845 and place of enlistment as Georgia.  (No photo available)

James Elton Braley

James Elton Braley, first cousin once removed, born Sarepta on Dec. 9, 1909, died Sep. 24, 1974 in Monroe, Ouachita Parish, LA.  He enlisted in the USAAF on Oct. 13, 1942 and served in the US.  He was discharged in 1945.







*See also:

http://coffeycousins.blogspot.com/2010/05/capt-loy-grady-coffey-usaaf-wwii.html and
http://coffeycousins.blogspot.com/2010/05/red-ryder.html

No. 995

May 28, 2010

William Lawson Coffey, Jr.

William Lawson Coffey, Jr.
The Battle of Midway, a naval battle involving aircraft carriers USS Hornet, USS Yorktown and USS Enterprise, began on June 4, 1942 and ended on June 7.  Although the Yorktown was lost and American forces lost many men and aircraft, the American force destroyed a significant portion of the Japanese aircraft carrier fleet and sent a few hundred Japanese fighter planes and battle hardened carrier pilots to the bottom of the Pacific, a loss that Japan was never able to overcome.

William Lawson Coffey, Jr.* was a sailor on board the Hornet and assigned to Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8) comprised of some number of torpedo bomber.  The squadron was essentially wiped out when they were met by overwhelming opposition as they attempted to dive on the Japanese carrier fleet.  Only one pilot, Ensign George H. Gay survived.

Coffey was scheduled to fly with his squadron on the morning of the attack but, a friend and fellow torpedoman by the name of Lyonal J. Orgeron asked if he could take Coffey's seat.  William agreed and Lyonal became one of the days casualties.  Through the chaos of battle, the War Department reported to his family that he was missing.  It was not until 19 days later that the mistake was discovered, much to the relief of William's family.

William Lawson Coffey, Jr. survived the remainder of the war and later served during the Korean War.  He was born May 21, 1908 at Alanthus Grove, Gentry Co., MO and died Sep. 24, 1978 at Sun City in Riverside Co., CA.  He was not buried until Nov. 24, 1978 when the new Riverside National Cemetery began accepting burials.  He married Jeanette Louise Caroline Swore, born Nov. 27, 1917 in Polk Co., MN, died Sep. 2, 1996 in Van Nuys, Los Angeles Co., CA.  They were parents of two daughters: Susan Coffey Wooten who supplied the photograph and other documents on William's family and Donna Jean Coffey Bergmeister of Pollock Pines, CA.

If you visit the USS Yorktown** now anchored at Charleston, SC, you will find a plaque containing the names of 16 lost officers and radio-gunners of VT-8 on display.  The third name down in the left column is that of William.  The mistake has not been corrected.

Otto Marion Coffey
William's brother, Otto Marion Coffey also served his country in the US Navy during WW2.  Otto was born on Jun. 4, 1910 in Alanthus Grove and died on May 7, 1971 in San Francisco, CA.  He was buried at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, Los Angeles.

For the interested, the Midway battle action report to Admiral Nimitz is available here.


The Orgeron surname is one typically found in the southern part of Louisiana.  My curiosity about Lyonel was finally satisfied when I discovered that he was Lyonel Joseph Orgeron, the son of Clement and Melodia Orgeron of Donaldsonville in Ascension Parish, Louisiana.  He was born there in 1922 and was probably just 19 or 20 years old on the day he died at Midway.  His name appears in the World War II Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Casualties, 1941-1945 in the summary of war casualties.  It reads that he was an "Aviation Ordnanceman 3c USN Mother: Mrs. Melodia G. Orgeron of 938 Felicity St., New Orleans, LA."  Lionel is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial in Honolulu, HI.  Through his sacrifice, he earned the Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross.









*William added the Jr. suffix to his name while in High School to make others believe that his father was William, Sr.   His father was George Lafayette Coffey, a son of Lawson Howard and Eliza Ann Campbell Coffey and an abusive father and husband.  George died in St. Joseph, Buchanan Co., MO on Jul. 20, 1945.  George was married twice.  His first wife was Gertrude Derr and mother of Richard Earl Coffey.  His second wife was Elsie Jane Randleman, mother of William and Otto.
**This carrier was under construction at time of the sinking of the Yorktown.  It was to be commissioned as the USS Bon Homme Richard but was renamed Yorktown to honor the one lost at Midway.  This is the one you will see at Charleston.

No. 994

May 27, 2010

Salathiel & Nancy Dunbar Coffey - Continued

The fourth child of Salathiel and Nancy was Harriet, born Jul. 28, 1845 in KY, died Jan. 19, 1891 in Collin Co., TX.  She married Robert Benton Whisenant on Sep. 3, 1865 in Collin Co.  He was born Jan. 18, 1843 in Newton Co., MO and died Jan. 9, 1937 in Allen, Collin Co.  Robert is buried at the Allen Cemetery while Harriet was buried in Plano at the Bowman Family Cemetery.

There were at least 10 children born to this union:  Mary Ann; John Milton; Virginia E.; Maude Franklin, died young; Edgar L., died young; Sarah Frances, died young; Forest B., Henry; Walter S.; and Antha.  John married Ola Stancell and died in Collin Co. in 1935.  Forest married Sarah A. Bryan and died in 1917.

Next born was Milton Wolford "Mint" Coffey who married Amanda Virginia "Jennie Lewis.  You can read about his family here and here.

Following Mint was Zachariah Taylor, born Oct. 20, 1848 in Russell Co., KY, died Jun. 21, 1922 in McKinney, Collin Co., TX.  He married Mary Elizabeth Snider c1873.  She was born Mar 12, 1855, and died Apr. 9, 1898 in Collin Co.

They had at least 12 children:

1 - James Allen, died young

2 - Unnamed infant, died young

3 - Atha Ann, died in her ver early 20s.

4 - Lucy Jane, born 1878 in Collin Co., died in Fort Worth on Aug 1, 1962.  Lucy married Luther T. Hunter, born Jun. 24, 1878, died Aug. 8, 1970 in Montague Co., TX.  Both are buried at Forest Grove.

5 - Zithia Ellen, born Jan. 22, 1880, died Mar. 9, 1969 in McKinney.  She married William Ambers Dungan, born Aug. 16, 1880 in Copiah Co., MS and died in McKinney on Jan. 21, 1967.  They too are buried at Forest Grove.  Children were:  Eustace, Arvel, William, Mary Lou and Joe D.

6 - Mellie Missouri, born 1883, died c1924.

7 - Salathiel Snider, born 1885, died 1889 in Collin Co. and was buried at Forest Grove.

8 - Josephine Alice "Josie", born 1887, died 1975 in Garland, Dallas Co., TX.  Josie married Claude Cecil Martin, born Jan. 28, 1877 in DeKalb Co., TN, died Apr. 22, 1923 in Childress Co., TX.

9 - Edith Eudora, born 1890, married George M. Martin, born c1885 in TN and possible brother to Claude.

10 - Myrtle Harriet, born 1893 in Collin Co., died 1971 in McKinney as was buried at Pecan Grove Cemetery in McKinney.  She married a Mr. Orr. 

11 - Jesse Wolford, born 1896 in Collin Co., died 194 in McKinney.  He married Mildred Elizabeth Joplin on Feb. 26, 1927 in Collin Co., the daughter of Robert Alfred and Katie L. McEntire Joplin.  Mildred was born in 1903 and died Oct. 9, 1989 in McKinney.  Both are buried at Pecan Grove.

12 - America Leta, born 1897.  No other information.
The last child of Salathiel and Nancy was Nancy Jane, born 1851 in Russell Co., KY, died Mar. 16, 1946 in Vashti, Clay Co., TX.  Nancy married  Joseph F. "Joe" Liggett on Feb. 1, 1870.  He was born Dec. 15, 1846 and died Oct. 25, 1921 in Clay Co.  Both are buried at the Vashti cemetery.

There were at least nine children born to them:

1 - America - no information

2 - Sales - no information

3 - Theodocia Ellen, born 1870 in Allen, died Dec. 13, 1954 in Dallas and was buried in the Allen cemetery in Collin Co.  Her husband was a Mr. Richards.

4 - Mary Florence was born in 1878 and died in 1972 at Henrietta in Clay Co., TX and was buried at Vashti.  Her husband was a Mr. Bragg.

5 - Robert Leslie, born 1882, died 1969 in Bowie, Montague Co.

6 - Birdie Ettaroe, born 1884, died 1969 in Irvin, Dallas Co.  She is also buried at Vashti.  Her husband was a Mr. Barker.

7 - Charles S., born 1887.  No other information.

8 - Valaria Jessie, born 1889, died 1927.  No other information.

9 - Elmer Scales, born 1891 in Bowie Co., died 1972 in Wichita Falls, Wichita Co., TX and was buried at Vashti.  His wife was Ruby Lee, born 1900, died 1985 in Collin Co.  They were married Mar. 16, 1919.
This family information as presented here is not complete.  I have more definitive dates and places.  Send e-mail for more information.

Corrections and/or additions are welcomed.



 No. 993

Salathiel (Sail or Sale) Coffey (1812KY - 1892TX)

Back on Feb. 6, 2006 I wrote a short blog on Salathiel. It was mostly information - a copy, really - about him from the Biographical Souvenir of the State of Texas, Illustrated. Since that time, I have compiled much more information for his family than I have time to include here. Needless to say, Ill share the info with anyone who needs it.



Salathiel was born Apr. 20, 1812 in Logan Co., KY and died on May 29, 1892 in Collin Co., TX.  He was buried at Forest Grove cemetery in Collin Co. His first wife was Nancy Dunbar of Russell Co., KY, born c1809, died May 29, 1892 in Collin Co.  I am not sure where Nancy is buried, but most likely she is also in Forest Grove.

[My understanding is the Forest Grove and Fitzhugh cemeteries are considered one cemetery now?  Anyone know for sure?]

With wife Nancy, Sail/Sale Coffey fathered at least seven children:

First - Lettitia, born Oct. 15, 1838 in Wayne Co., KY.  She married Thomas Jefferson Reagan who was born c1838 in Missouri.  Both Lettitia and Thomas died before August., 1869. To them were born three children:  Lettitia Ellen, born c1858, George Washington, born c1859 and Mary Catherine, dob unknown.  Lettitia and Mary were mentioned in a petition brought before the August 1869 term of a court in Collin Co., TX wherein "Sayles Coffey" sought to and become guardian of "Lentittia and Mary Catherine Regan", both "orphans and minors under the age of 14 years and living in Collin County..."  The two girls were found living with Martin Watson, relationship yet unknown, in McKinney, Collin Co., in the 1870 census.

Second - Mary Ann "Polly Ann", born Jun. 22, 1840, died Jan. 7, 1918 in McKinney.  Polly married Elder John Meyers McKinney, born Apr. 14, 1832 in MO, died Jan 1, 1918 in McKinney.  Both are buried in Forest Grove/Fitzhugh.  Their children were 1)J. D., born Oct. 5, 1859, died Aug. 8, 1925 in McKinney.  He is buried at Pecan Grove cemetery in McKinney; 2)Giles Lee, born Aug. 25, 1866, died Jun. 1, 1959 in McKinney.  Giles married Mary Mathews, born Jun., 1866 in Wood Co., TX.  Their children were Ettie, born 184; Cecil, born 1893 and Eustace, born 1898.  3)John S., born 1868, died 1954; and 4) Wiley Benton, born 1870, died 1954.  Wiley married Lula A. Klepper c1900 in McKinney and fathered Collin, born 1902, died 1918 and Juanita, born c1904.

Third - William Stanley, born 1842 in Russell Co., KY, died 1922 in McKinney.  He married Sarah Elisabeth Lucas on Feb. 27, 1866 in McKinney.  She was born Aug. 27, 1847 in TX and died Mar. 7, 1892.  They too are buried at Forest Grove/Fitzhugh.  William and Sarah had at least 10 children:

1 - Dr. John Cicero, born Jan. 6, 1867 in McKinney, died Apr. 7, 1954 in Wichita Co., TX.  Dr. John married Gabriella "Ella" Coffey, a daughter of Matthew Slaughter and Virginia Texana Butridge Coffey.  These two Coffey families were not related.  John descended from Edward while Matthew Slaughter descended from Peter.*  John and Ella had only one child, Ruth, born Aug. 5, 1897, married Roy Raymond Hunter of TX c1929.  They had a child, Virginia, born c1930 in Knox Co., TX.  Sarah Lucas Coffey is buried at Fitzhugh.  William's burial place has not been located but, he too is likely at Fitzhugh.

2 - Robert Henry, born Oct., 1868 in Collin Co. and died Apr. 13, 1950.  He married Minnie Mabel Biddy on Dec. 18, 1892 in McKinney.  She was born Sep., 1874 in TN and died Feb. 20, 1968 in Collin Co.  Robert is at Fitzhugh where Minnie is also likely to have been buried.  Their children were:  1) Clarence Milton, born Nov. 5, 1893, died Feb. 26, 1949 in Wylie, Collin Co.  He married Ola Ellen Leake on Aug. 3, 1913 in Collin Co.  She was born there on Nov. 24, 1893.  Clarence is buried at Forest Grove; Ora's death date and burial place is not yet known.  They are known to have had at least two children: Marcella Ann, born 1915 and Alma Christine, born 1919, both in Collin Co. 2) Tressie Alma, born Oct., 1896, died May 27, 1995 in Collin Co.  She married Virgil Robert Osborn Oct. 9, 1912.  His birth date is not yet known; he died May 29, 1997 in Collin Co.  They had at least two children:  Willis, born c1914 and Vernon, born c1916. 3) Hallie Elizabeth, born May, 1899, died Jun. 3, 1993 in Collin Co.  She married Roy Lee Biggs on Jan. 18, 1920 in Collin Co.  Their children were Elizabeth and Billie Jean.  4) Edgar Biddy, born Aug. 1901, died Jul. 31, 1967 in Collin Co.  His wife was Lucille.

3 - Mary Frances "Molly," born Dec. 16, 1869, died Jan. 2, 1892.  She married Samuel Lloyd Renfrow on Apr. 13, 1887 in Collin Co.  He was born there c1876 and died in McKinney on Apr. 3, 1907.  Their children were: Ethert Alford, born 1887; William Lloyd, born 1890; Alberta; and Edgar, born 1891.

4 - Denie Elzada, born Nov. 17, 1871 in Lucas, Collin Co., died Jun. 14, 1948 in Wylie.  She married first to General Jackson "Jack" Moss.  His birth and death dates are not yet known.  Their children were Sarah Leona, born Jun. 27, 1889, died Nov. 11, 1959 in Wylie, and Orlia Jackson, born Nov. 27, 1891 in Lucas, died Mar. 20, 1975 in Lubbock.  Denie's second husband was William Dillon Goode with whom she had at least two more daughters, Clarice Lora, born 1908 and Virginia Belle, born 1910.

5 - Missouri B., born Aug. 14, 1873, died Mar. 7, 1875.

6 - Laura Ellen, born Mar. 7, 1875, died Feb. 12, 1966 in Paducah, Cottle Co., TX.  Laura married William Johnson Ledbetter c1896.  He was born Jul. 3, 1866 in TN, died Feb. 17, 1932 in Paducah.  Their children were: Horace, Aaron, Roy Robert; Nila Erona; Ruth Ellen; and Mary Elizabeth.

7 - Salathiel "Sales", born Dec. 13, 1876 in Collin Co., died Dec. 17, 2944 in Amarillo, Potter Co., TX.  Sales married Eva Phylena Conner, a daughter of Julius and Mary Hinman Conner on Dec. 19, 1900.  She was born Mar. 15, 1880 in Hopkins Co., TX and died Dec. 21, 1945 in Amarillo.  Their children were: Leona, born 1905; Laura Ella, born 1908; Frances Lorene, born 1915 and Willis, born 1917.  Laura married Arlie Collie Swint c1926 and had children: J. Ronald, born 1928 and Irma Glyn, born 1931.

8 - Alwilda Davis, born Jul. 31, 1878 in Collin Co., died in McKinney on Jan. 11, 1968.  She married Silas Earl Walker on Dec. 5, 1899.  He was born Sep. 6, 1875 to J. F. and Martha Williams Walker and died Apr. 3, 1926 in McKinney.  Their children were Jessie Lois, born 1901; Silas Earl, Jr., born 1905; and Vernon Coffey, born 1908.

9 - Charles Milton, born Aug. 18, 1880, died Oct. 6, 1918 in McKinney.

10 - Homer Lucas, born Aug. 14, 1882, died Feb. 11, 1958 in McKinney.  He married Lela Mae Holder, daughter of W. A. and Elizabeth Johnson Holder in Nov., 1902.  She was born Feb. 1884 in TX and died Feb. 15, 1939 in McKinney.  They had at least one child, Sarah Elizabeth, born Jul. 16, 1906.  Homer and Lela are buried at Johnson Cemetery in Collin Co.
More later!



*We know through DNA testing that Edward and Peter were some kin to one another but so far back in their ancestry that the kinship was extremely diluted.




No. 992

May 24, 2010

Capt. Loy Grady Coffey, USAAF WWII

Capt. Loy Grady Coffee
I too had an uncle that perished serving his country during WWII.  My father Frank H. (USAAF) and another of his brothers, Harry D. (USCG) also served but returned safely.

This uncle was the youngest of four sons born to my grandfather, Albert Lilburn Coffey and his wife, Ora Elizabeth Braley.  Loy was born on Jul. 27, 1917 in De Ann, Hempstead Co., AR and died on Dec. 30, 1944 over Ellis Co., KS.

He was a bombardier instructor aboard a B-29 bomber out of the 2d Air Force, 17th Wing stationed at Walker Army Air Force Base in Hays, KS.  On the morning of Dec. 30, the B-29, piloted by 1st Lt. Rufus C. Anderson took off on a training run.  In addition to Capt. Coffey, others on board were 2d Lt. Glenn V. Welander, F/O Thomas H. Joyce; 2nd Lt. Stanley M. Franklin; Sgt. Dale M. Thompson; Pfc. William R. Fierini; Cpl. Robert F. Rich; Cpl. Richard R. Berg; Pfc. Nicholas G. Brando; Pfc. Kenneth L. Bryant; Cpl. Harry Bochichio and 2nd Lt. Verne E. Roycraft.  All but Berg, Brando and Roycraft were killed.  One of the survivors may have ultimately died from injuries.  A news article reported that one of the men was not expected to survive, but did not name him.

According to reports, the bomber climbed to about 25,000 feet and was proceeding on course when at about 10:20 a.m. the number 3 engine [ironic the same engine number as on the B-24 in previous blog] backfired and erupted in flames.  Extinguishers were activated but within a short time the engine caught fire again and burned more fiercely. The extinguishers were again activated but were ineffective.

A subsequent investigation revealed that the fuel line had ruptured and a steady flow of gas to the engine was fueling the fire.  The engine eventually exploded causing the plane to lose the left wing.  It began an uncontrollable spin and cartwheeled to the earth.  The crew lost their oxygen equipment and in the chaos men were bouncing around in the plane, unable to physically jump out.

Lt. Anderson had earlier alerted the crew to prepare for a jump.  Capt. Coffee, the navigator and the radio operator began to move towards the bomb bay with the radio operator attempting to help Coffee strap on his parachute.  The next time a survivor saw Coffee he was lying on the bomb bay door and had a deep gash on the top rear of his head.

Headstone for Capt. Loy Grady Coffey
Some of the men fell to earth while still inside the plane and their bodies were burned.  Capt. Coffee was fortunate in that he somehow fell free of the plane and his body was not burned.  He was returned to his then hometown of Minden, in Webster Parish, LA where he was buried with military honors in the Minden City Cemetery.

Capt. Coffey enlisted when he was six months shy of receiving a law degree from Louisiana State University.  He was also an ROTC cadet and had received some prior National Guard training.  Upon enlistment he was sent to Midland [Texas] Army Flying School where he began the second class of bombardier training.  Graduates were known as "Hell from Heaven Men" and "the most dangerous men in the world."  Following graduation he was commissioned an officer in the US Army.

He married Miss Martha Easley of Harlingen, TX in March, 1943 and she had been with him since their marriage.   I have often searched for Martha with no success.  Undoubtedly, she remarried and had children and, it would be nice to know more about her life after the death of Capt. Coffee.

The grainy photo was retrieved from a newspaper article of the day announcing his death and is the best that I have of him.  He was a handsome man; probably the best looking of all his brothers.

Within the last year, a contact and local historian in Hays discovered the bomb bay door in a barn owned by a local farmer.  He removed a small piece and sent it to me as a keepsake.  I will be forever grateful.




No. 991

The Red Ryder

I am getting a jump on Memorial Day by honoring this WW2 Bomber Crew today.



Standing (R-L): Pilot, 1st Lt. George N. Ryder, Jr, husband of Mary A. Ryder, Decatur, GA; Co-pilot, 2nd Lt. Wayne A. Kretschmar, son of Otto B. Kretschmar, Venturia, ND; Navigator, 2nd Lt. Billy K. Isbell, son of Ray E. Isbell, Charleston, IL; Bombadier, 2nd Lt. Easton W. Duval3, Jr., son of W. E. Duval, Sr., Austin, TX; Right Waist Gunner, T/Sgt Robert D. McIntire, son of Ella McIntire, St. Louis Park, MN

Kneeling (R-L): Ball Turret Gunner, S/Sgt Bud W. Armstrong, son of Mrs. Ima M. Armstrong, Shattuck, OK;
Top Turret Gunner, T/Sgt Charles E. Doane, son of Mrs. Katie Doane, San Diego, CA; Nose Turret Gunner, S/Sgt James H. Williams, son of Mrs. Loretta Williams4, Kingsland, AR; Tail Gunner, S/Sgt Julius J. Bryson, son of Mrs. Eva Marie Bryson, Greensboro, NC; Left Waist Gunner, S/Sgt Raymond H. Bourgeois, son of Mrs. Josephine Bourgeois, Gramercy, LA


This photo is of the crew of The Red Ryder, a WW2 B-24 Bomber on which my wife's youngest maternal uncle S/Sgt Raymond H. Bourgeois was a gunner.  He was a son of Henry Joseph and Josephine Corinne Caillouet Bourgeois of Gramercy, LA and he and his crew were lost on May 31, 1944 while returning to their base in Italy following a bombing run over the Polesti, Rumania oil fields.  He was six days shy of his 22 birthday.

The aircraft cleared the coast of Yugoslavia and was over the Adriatic sea, near the island of Vis when the pilot feathered the number 3 engine, but maintained air speed of about 150 knots. The crew was seen throwing guns, ammunition and equipment out of the aircraft in order to maintain altitude. Other planes attempted to contact the crew by radio, but were unsuccessful. At about 5000 to 6000 feet, the crew began to bail out, and 10 chutes were seen to open. All landed in the water, but none were recovered alive.

From all reports by others in formation with the Red Ryder, the bomber was not in severe distress, but no one will ever know for certain! It must have been however, since the crew did abandon it.

How we came to be in possession of the photo is forgotten.  We knew that one of the men was Raymond but unsure which.  There are no sisters or brothers remaining alive to identify him. 

It took some time for me to identify and eliminate all of the other crew members before determining that Raymond was the airman kneeling left.  Later I discovered that at the time, a protocol existed for such photos: From right to left standing, the pilot, co-pilot, navigator, bombardier and crew chief/right waist gunner.  Then kneeling right to left was the  ball turret gunner, top turret gunner, nose turret gunner, tail gunner and left waist gunner.  But, because I did not know which gun Raymond manned, I still would have been lost.  My wife and her oldest sister thought he might have been kneeling second from right.

After obtaining the official US Army Air Force accident report and learning the names and hometowns of the men, I began a letter writing campaign to newspapers, libraries, court houses, etc. in an effort to find anyone who could identify the men.  Somewhat to my surprise, many people contacted me, including a phone call from a surviving brother of one of the men.  All of the people who wrote expressed their gratitude for the photograph and information that I had gleaned from the accident report.  Reports they had received at the time from the military either contained scant information or, were long ago lost in the dusty attics of time.

Only one newspaper - a daily in St. Louis Park, MN - refused to run my letter to the editor saying instead that it was not "public interest" and, I would have to pay advertising rates for them to include it in their publication!

My wife told me that her grandfather Bourgeois never acknowledged his son's death.  He reasoned that because his body had not been recovered, his son was not dead.  I feel certain that belief comforted him until his own death in 1953.

Readers interested in viewing more information about this research effort, and letters from relatives should click on the blog title to reach my website that feebly attempts to honor these men.

The plane in the photo is not the Red Ryder.  This photo was taken in Fresno, CA c1944, before the crew went overseas.


No. 990

May 22, 2010

Jesse & Elizabeth Riffe Coffey (Follow-up)

Jesse and Elizabeth are known to have had at least 10 children.  Of those, about half of them went west from Kentucky to settle north of Dallas in Collin Co., TX.  Some of them raised their families in Anna, Melissa, and Van Alstyne while some moved just up the road to Sherman in Grayson Co.

Those who ended up in TX:

Osborn Nightingale Coffey, born Feb. 4, 1807 in Casey Co., KY, death date and place unknown.  He married Jane Bell on Sep. 4, 1829 in Lincoln Co., KY.  At least one of their sons, Finley Luckey Coffey, born July 7, 1849, went west and settled in Beaumont, Jefferson Co., TX where he died on Apr. 13, 1926.  Osborn and Jane are not known to have gone to TX but, may have!

Mary Coffey, born Apr. 25, 1808 in Wayne Co., KY, died in Casey Co. on May 29, 1842.  She married Jeremiah Vardaman on Mar. 12, 1829 in Casey Co.  After Mary died, Jeremiah and five of his seven children went to Texas.

Mary Elizabeth, the eldest, born Aug. 1, 1832, died May 1, 1877 in Texas, exact place unknown right now.  Lucy, born Nov. 13, 1834 in Lincoln Co., died Feb. 22, 1901 in Grayson Co., TX.  Third Was Ephriam Pennington born Jan. 9, 1837 in KY, died Mar. 6, 1901 in Collin Co., TX.  Patsy Jane, born Jan. 29, 1838 in Lincoln Co. was next.  She married Richard Nightingale Portman on Jan. 4, 1858 in KY.  He died in Collin Co. in 1886; she on Oct. 18, 1926.  He is buried in the Highland Cemetery at Anna while she is buried at Throckmorton cemetery in Melissa.

Following Patsy Jane was Jesse Morgan Vardaman, born Feb. 3, 1839 in Lincoln Co., died May 17, 1903, I think in Collin Co.  He married Hannah, born c1834 in KY and their first child Mary was born there in 1853.  I know of three others, George, Patsy and Betsy - the last two likely twins, born c1859 - were born in TX.

I believe the last child born to Jeremiah and Mary Coffey Vardaman was Jeremiah, Jr., born Jan. 1840, died May, 1863 in TN during the Civil War.  I've seen another genealogy that credits Jeremiah, Sr. with fathering John in 1846, KY, but that was after Mary died and I have not found him married to anyone after he death.

Minerva Coffey was Jesse and Elizabeth's sixth child.  She was born Nov. 15, 1814 in Casey Co., and died in Collin Co. on Feb. 7, 1891.  Her spouse was James H. Slaughter, born Apr. 8, 1812 in Wayne Co., KY and died in Collin Co. on Apr. 17, 1895.  They apparently did not leave KY until 1851 or 52 because their second to last child was born in KY on Feb. 1, 1851 and the last on Ma.r 19, 1853 in Collin Co.  They had at least nine children and, six are known to have survived to marry and raise their own family.

Jesse Perry was the ninth child and he was born Mar. 17, 1823 in Casey Co., died in Collin Co. on Apr. 5, 1906.  He married Tabitha Slaughter - undoubtedly some relation to James, husband of Minerva - and they had at least eight children, the last four born in TX.  Tabitha was born Feb. 14, 1822 in KY and died Aug. 26, 1909 in Collin Co.

Their eldest son was Matthew Slaughter Coffey, born c1844 in KY, died c1929 in Grayson Co., TX.  He was married in Grayson Co. to Virginia Texana Butridge, a daughter of Riley E. and Susan Watson Butridge.  Virginia was born on Jul. 31, 1854 in Sherman and died there on Sep. 27, 1949.  They raised at least five children:  Gabriella, Birdie, twins Pearl and Earl and Richard "Dick."

Matthew's brother, James Perry, Jr., was born Jan. 18, 1851 in KY and died Jan. 16, 1931 in McKinney.  James married Sally Margaret Griffin, born Sep. 1, 1864, where not known, died Jan. 30, 1943 in Collin Co.  I know they had at least one child, Malcolm T. who lived less than two years, born Oct. 4, 1876, died Oct. 1, 1878 in Collin Co.

Anna Belle Coffey, married Finley Luckey Coffey.  You can read about this family here.

Child six was William G., born c1859; seven was Galen, born Sep. 2, 1862, died Dec. 4, 1889 in Collin Co; and last was Cynthia McKinney, born Oct. 8, 1865, died unmarried on Feb. 23, 1966 in McKinney.

Most of these families are buried in the cemeteries at Anna and Melissa in Collin Co.

Click on the title link to read and earlier blog about Jesse and Elizabeth.

Corrections and/or additions welcomed!





No. 989

May 20, 2010

Backroads

Lynn Coffey moved to the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1980 and settled in Love, Nelson Co. She began publishing Backroads, a small rural newspaper, in 1981. Her intent then was to "capture the stories, crafts and culture of our mountain neighbors." The last issue of the newspaper was in December, 2006. Now, she has published in book form many of the stories that had appeared in the newspaper over the 25-years that it was printed.

There were a lot of Coffey families mentioned in her articles and it was Lynn - and my friend John Taylor that many of you have read about in this blog - who were very beneficial in helping me compile the Coffey families in that area of Virginia.

David A. Maurer, a writer for the Charlottesville Daily Progress announced Lynn's book on May 16.   He began this way:

Even as a little girl growing up in the flatlands of south Florida, Lynn Coffey could hear the mountains calling her.

She spent countless happy hours in a nearby woods creating an imaginary cabin of moss and branches. In high school, she was the only girl in the agriculture class, but she knew the knowledge it provided would be invaluable when she reached her mountain home.

Such callings don’t have to be explained, only answered. And so it was that in 1980, Coffey came to the Blue Ridge Mountains to live.

She discovered her place in the world was near the hamlet of Love in Nelson County. The mountains had called, but it would be the kind, elderly folks living in the hollers and on the ridgelines who would tell the young woman their stories.

"From the time I was a little girl, I had always had a bent toward this kind of life, and always wanted to talk with the old people,” Coffey said one recent afternoon in the log cabin that sits on the small farm she and her husband, Billy, own.

“When I moved here, one of my neighbors [Bunny Stein] was an artist and liked to write. I liked to take photographs and had always kept a journal."

“We started talking about starting a small rural newspaper that could capture the stories, crafts and culture of our mountain neighbors. We decided to do it, and it just went crazy.”

Stein came up with the name Backroads. The first monthly edition came out in late 1981, and it was an immediate success.

According to the article, Lynn will sign copies of her book at the New Dominion Bookshop located in the "Historic Downtown Mall" at 404 East Main Street in Charlottesville beginning at 2 PM, Saturday, May 22.

The book will also be available at Quest Bookshop, Michie Tavern’s General Store, the Virginia Shop, UVa Bookstore and Student Book Store or by mailing a check or money order for $25 made out to Lynn Coffey to Lynn Coffey, 1461 Love Road, Lyndhurst, VA 22952.

Click on the title link to read the complete Maurer article.







No. 988

May 19, 2010

Daniel & Matilda Setzer Crump

While sitting home today waiting for the Doctor to tell me whether or not I have mumps - which he tells me is rare these days - I was trying to come up with a Coffey-associated family to write about.

What I typically do is scroll about in my family names until I find someone that has a long list of descendants.  When I settle on one name, I then check to see if I have enough facts to properly connect everyone.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't!  Perhaps it did this time.


Daniel Crump is the earliest of that surname in my file.  He was born c1830 in Caldwell Co., NC and married Matilda Setzer, also born in Caldwell in c1836.  I have not found a death date or place for either, nor have I found a marriage date.  They must have married sometime in early 1850 because their first child was born Jul. 15, 1851.

That child was David who married Mary (or, Mahulda) Jane Clarke on Dec. 29, 1869 in Caldwell Co.  She was born Sep. 10, 1849 in Hudson Twp., Caldwell Co., and died in the Globe on Jan. 23, 1929.  David died on Jan. 5, 1931 in Caldwell Co.  Both are buried in the Globe but I know not exactly where.

The children of David and Mary - as I know them - were: Mary Jane, born Jul. 9, 1872 in Avery Co., died Aug. 11, 1968 in Banner Elk, Avery Co.; Theodore H. "Steve", born Jun. 15, 1881 in Caldwell and died in Lenoir on Jan. 27, 1975.  Theodore married Cansadia [sic] Coffey c1910, the daughter of Rabon Scott and Margaret E. Hollander Coffey; and Martha Etta Destimonia "Dessie" Crump who married (2d wife) David William Coffey, a son of Joseph Reubin and Martha Elizabeth Gragg Coffey.

David William and Dessie were the parents of at least seven children, all but one living to marry and raise their own families.

Jennie Decola, born Dec. 22, 1903, died Apr. 17, 1972, married William Sidney Joplin, born Mar. 7, 1903, died Jun. 28, 1974.  They lived and died in Lenoir.  I do not yet know who their children were.

Joseph Howard, born Mar. 7, 1905, died Oct. 14, 1990, married Florence Oleen Hartley, born Jun. 13, 1910, died Feb. 12, 1994.  They also lived and died in Lenoir.  Florence was the daughter of Granville Monroe and Cora Jane Tester Hartley.

Leonard Gilbert was born Feb. 10, 1907 and died Dec. 8, 1985.  He married Beulah Crump, born Jul. 26, 1919 in Buckingham Co., VA and died Jul. 26, 1998 in Blowing Rock, Watauga Co.

Daniel Jerome, born Mar. 19, 1909, died Mar. 20, 1983 in Boone, Watauga Co.  He married Lela L. (LNU), born c1914, died 1990.

Lewis B. is the only known child of David and Dessie no died young.  He was born Dec. 27, 1910 and died Nov. 29, 1913.

Dillard Greene, born Dec. 7, 1912 in Avery Co., and died Aug. 10, 1988.  Dillard married a distant cousin, Nancy Elizabeth Coffey, born Oct. 6, 1919, died 1989.  She was the daughter of William Carlton "Will" and Bessie Mae Townsend Coffey.

Nell Verlene was the last known child of David and Dessie.  She was born c1915 and died Jan. 12, 2010 in Burke Co., NC.  Her husband was Samuel Leroy Beck.

Her obituary:

Obituary, The News-Topic, Lenoir, Caldwell Co., NC, Jan. 19, 2010

Nell Beck

Nell Verleen Coffey Beck 94, of Morganton, formerly of Lenoir, passed away Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010, at Carolina Rehabilitation Center.

Mrs. Beck was born in Avery County to the late David W. Coffey and Martha Dessiemona Crump Coffey. She also was preceded in death by her husband, Samuel Leroy Beck; a son, Henry M. Beck Sr.; five brothers, Howard, Dillard, Ivey, Leonard and Jerome Coffey; one sister, Jennie Coffey Joplin.

She was a homemaker and a member of Mountain Grove Baptist Church. Mrs. Beck was also a member of the Eastern Star.

Survivors include two daughters, Nancy Swenson of Colorado and Desta Ureel of Michigan; one daughter-in-law, Joann Beck of Casco Mich. She also is survived by seven grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services for Mrs. Beck were Monday, Jan. 18, 2010, at 2 p.m. at Pendry's Chapel with the Rev. Randy Gibson officiating the service. Burial followed at Blue Ridge Memorial Park.

The family received friends at Pendry's Funeral Home one hour prior to the service.






 No. 987

May 17, 2010

The Doctors Coffey

My recent research has uncovered several Coffey families that have produced a number of medical doctors over several generations.  I was especially impressed with the family of Osborn and Mary Nightingale Coffey whose son, Dr. Richard Nightingale Coffey was responsible for several:

Dr./Rev. Richard, born Jul 5, 1795 in Amherst Co., VA, died Nov., 1867 at Camden Point, Platte Co., MO, and his wife Margaret Catherine McCormick produced two:

 I- Dr. William A., born Mar., 1821 in Madison Co., KY, and died there on Feb. 11, 1875.  He and his wife, Elizabeth Hill produced two:

    1- Dr. William Harrison Coffey, who produced one:

        1- Dr. Ralph Ringo Coffey

    2- Dr. Richard Nightingale Coffey produced two:

        1- Dr. George McDowell Coffey, DDS

        2- Dr. Erval Richard Coffey

II Dr. Ephraim McDowell Coffey produced one:

        1- Dr. Grundy C. Coffey


Update Oct. 23, 2012:  Dr. Ephraim McDowell Coffey produced at least two.  The second was Grundy's older brother, Dr. Albion McDowell Coffey.  He was a Dentist and served in the US Army.  The Military Surgeon: Journal of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, Vol. 28, 1911, page 357, reported that First Lt. Albion McDowell Coffey was a member of the Medical Reserve Corps.  His military record shows that he served in Alaska, the Philippines, and at several bases in the US including Fort Davis, Alaska, Vancouver Barracks in Washington Territory; Fort Same Houston in San Antonio; Jackson Barracks in New Orleans; Fort Philip in Louisiana and at Fort Lawton, Washington, Fort Sill, Oklahoma and Fort Crook, Nebraska [See Returns From U.S. Military Posts, 1800-1916; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M617, 1,550 rolls); Records of the Adjutant General’s Office, 1780’s-1917, Record Group 94; National Archives, Washington, D.C.]

He lived with his mother through at least 1910 but, married a lady named Dorothy c1914, perhaps in Philadelphia where they appeared in the 1930 census.  I have not yet found him in 1920.  Sometime before he married he completed at least four years of college and became a dentist.  In 1930 however, he reported on the census that he was a medical physician.  Dorothy owned a beauty shop in the city.  By 1940 he was a widower residing in Wild Wood city, Cape May Co., NJ.  He appears to have died in 1954, either in NJ or PA and probably buried in PA.  The funeral home card is not clear on either.

Please contact me if you know where he and Dorothy are buried.


Others:

Dr. Edmond Aurelius Coffey

Dr. Everett Lee Coffey

Dr. Francis Ellsworth Coffey produced one:
     1 - Dr. Roy B. Coffey

Dr. George Alfred Caldwell Coffey

Dr. James Heath Coffey

Dr. James Leo Coffey

Dr. John Cicero Coffey

Dr. Lawrence Henry Coffey

Dr. Robert Calvin Coffey produced two:
    1 - Dr. Jay Russell Coffey
    2 - Dr. Robert Mayo Coffey

Dr. Robert Tuttle Coffey

I feel certain there are others that I have not yet discovered or, do not yet know they became doctors. Additionally, many of those above may also have produced sons and daughters who became medical doctors. Please contact me to add to or correct any of this information.




No. 986

May 12, 2010

Dr. William Harrison Coffey (1862 KY - 1948 MO)

Wm. Harrison & Virginia Ringo Coffey
Dr. William Harrison Coffey was a medical doctor descending from Dr. Richard Nightingale Coffey, himself the father of two physicians, through his son, Dr. William A. Coffey, also the father of two physicians including Dr. Richard Nightingale Coffey.

Dr. William Harrison Coffey was also the father of a physician, Dr. Ralph Ringo Coffey.  Dr. Richard Nightingale Coffey was also the father of two physicians, Dr. George McDowell Coffey, DDS and Dr. Erval Richard Coffey, MD.

The following mini-biography was prepared by Edward L, Stewart for the Jackson County [MO] Medical Society Weekly Bulletin, Vol. XXIII, No. 31, Aug. 5, 1939, and is through the courtesy of Marty Johnson, a granddaughter of Dr. Ralph Ringo Coffey.



William H. Coffey, born in Madison County, Kentucky, October 12, 1862, was one of five children.  His brother James, a commercial traveler, died several years ago, and Richard N. was a physician.  He graduated from the University Medical College, Kansas City, and practiced there until the time of his death in 1932.  The third brother, Edward McDowell, now living at Grain Valley, Missouri, was formerly chief of the Kansas City Fire Department.  His only sister, Elizabeth, who married Milton Wyatt of Kansas City, is deceased.

Dr. Coffey's father was Dr. William A. Coffey, who practiced medicine in Madison County, Kentucky, many years.  He died there when William was twelve years old.  As his mother had died two years previously, the five children were left orphans.  They remained in Kentucky three years and then came to Missouri.  Their father had a brother, Dr. Edward Coffey, who was then practicing medicine in Platte City.  All but William lived with their uncle.  William obtained work on various farms about Platte City, and saved his money to attend William Jewell College.  For three or four years thereafter, he taught school in various districts about that city, spending his spare moments reading medicine in his uncle's office.  He later entered the Missouri Medical College at St. Louis from which he graduated in 1886.  The same year he moved to Parkville, where he opened his office, doing general practice and also serving as local surgeon for the Burlington Railroad.

On July 26, 1889, he married Miss Virginia Ringo, daughter of Dr. J. W. Ringo of Parkville.  Dr. Coffey continued his practice in Parkville until 1900.  Here their two children were born:  Ralph R. Coffey, now a physician with officers in the Professional Building, and E. R. Coffey, a well known business man in Kansas City.  In 1900 the Coffeys moved to Kansas City buying a hime at 500 Bellefontaine, which was at that time a desirable residential district.

Dr. Coffey lived in and practiced his profession in Kansas Cith for 25 years.  He did general practice, specializing in Proctology, and was quite successful.  He was Professor of Proctology in the Medico-Chirurgical College and after the school was absorbed by the University of Kansas, served the latter institution as Clinical Director of the Dispensary.  He was chief of the Proctology Department of the General Hospital when it was first established.  He wrote many papers on surgical subjects, some of which were published in medical journals.  He also tried his hand at politics during his earlier days in Kansas City.  He was Police Surgeon of the city in 1903-04 and Coroner of Jackson County in 1917-20.  He is an honorary member of the J. C. M. S. and a member of the Independence Boulevard Christian Church of which he is a member of the board of Deacons.  He belongs to the Masonic Temple Lodge No. 299, Orient Chapter R. A. M. No. 102, Oriental Commandery No. 35 and Ararat Shrine.

After practicing medicine and surgery in Kansas City for a quarter of a century, the doctor and his wife looked longingly toward the scenes of their early life.  They bought a large farm, about 200 acres, one mile east of Parkville, and built thereon a magnificient, large stone house, high on a knoll from which you can see six counties - three in Missouri and three in Kansas.  They named their home "Dream Haven."  Here they live today.

Dr. Coffey is not practicing medicine today, but he has not retired.  To him life has but one beginning and one retirement.  He goes about his beautiful vine-covered home, "Dream Haven," doing just what interests him most.  He is always busy carrying out his heart's desire.  When the weather is bad, or when he just naturally feels inclined, he goes up to his study and writes on his latest book.  It is the Doctor's custom to write and publish a short story at Christmas time and send copies to his many friends in lieu of Christmas cards.  This, his hobby, he has done for last 14 years.

He was born and lived the early years of his life in the Cumberland Mountains of Kentucky.  He knows the simple people who live there and many of his stories have a Kentucky mountain setting.  Then too, there is usually a physician playing a leading role in the story.  His father was a physician there and he knows just what a mountaineer physician must be to hold the love and high esteem of the mountain folk.

On July 26, Doctor and Mrs. Coffey celebrated their 50th year of happy married live.  They have lived their lives of love and service to mankind and to each other and are today reaping their golden reward.  The Doctor is not really old - only in his seventies - and be it again understood he has not retired - just going about "Dream Haven," watching the birds, the trees in his yard, tending the flowers and writing stories.

To his happy couple we can only say:  Congratulations, and may you live happily together, as you live today, for many years to come.


Obituary(s) for Dr. W. H. Coffey
Dr. William Harrison Coffey died on Mar. 25, 1948 in Kansas City.  He and his wife Virginia Ringo Coffey are buried there at Mount Moriah Cemetery.  Dr. Coffey's will was probated in Jackson Co. on May 9, 1949.

Photo and obituary also contributed by  Marty Johnson

No. 985

May 11, 2010

Ernest Irven Coffey Ahnentafel

Generation 1

1. Ernest Irven COFFEY: born Mar. 13, 1888 in Missouri; died Sep. 23, 1955 in Clayton, St. Louis Co., MO.

Generation 2

2. Squire Jackson COFFEY: born Nov. 1851 in Missouri; married Oct. 2, 1876 in Maries Co., MO; died May 20, 1926 in Lawton, Comanche Co., OK.

3. Sarah F. GIBSON: born Jul. 3, 1858 in Missouri; died Feb. 16, 1944.

Generation 3

4. Irvin S. COFFEY: born ca 1822 in Kentucky; married Nov. 3, 1842 in Jackson, Osage Co., MO.

5. Nancy HUGHES: born Feb. 7, 1826 in Osage Co., MO; died abt 1860 in Maries Co., MO.

Generation 4

8. Marvel COFFEY: born ca 1790; married Feb. 2, 1813 in Burke Co., NC; died before Aug. 17, 1840 in Gasconade Co., MO.

9. Rachel BOONE: born 1793 in Burke Co., NC.

10. John HUGHES: born Oct. 6, 1780 in Virginia; married c1803 in Burke Co., NC; died c1856 in Sacramento Co., CA.

11. Jane BILYEU: born May 22, 1785 in North Carolina; died Oct. 8, 1845 in Osage Co., MO.

Generation 5

16. Thomas COFFEY: born Mar. 7, 1742 in Essex Co., VA; married 1778/9; died Apr. 1825 in Wilkes Co., NC.

17. Sarah "Sally" FIELDS: born c1750 in Virginia; died Nov. 21, 1828 in Wilkes Co., NC.

18. Jesse BOONE: born c1748 in York Co., PA; married 1772; died Dec. 11, 1829 in McMinn Co., TN.

19. Sarah MCMAHAN: born c1750 in Rowan Co., NC; died 1830 in McMinn Co., TN.

Generation 6

32. John COFFEY: born bet 1699 and 1700 in Essex Co., VA; married c1728 in Virginia; died bet Jan. 1775 and Feb. 1775 in Albemarle Co., VA.

33. Jane GRAVES: born c1708 in Essex Co., VA; died 1792 in Wilkes Co., NC.

34. Richard FIELDS: born c1727 in Virginia; married; died c1764 in Virginia.

35. Elizabeth MURREL: born c1723 in Virginia; died Sep. 14, 1830 in Virginia.

Generation 7

64. Edward COFFEY: born c1670 in Ireland; married 1700 in Essex Co., VA; died cNov. 20, 1716 in Essex Co., VA.

65. Anne POWELL: born bet 1683 and 1685 in Essex Co., VA; died bet Oct. 1744 and Dec. 1744 in Essex Co., VA.

66. John GRAVES: married.

67. Hannah  .

Generation 8

130. Thomas POWELL: married c1665.

131. Mary PLACE: born bet 1648 and 1649 in Virginia; died Dec. 1710 in Richmond Co., VA.





No. 984

May 10, 2010

Squire Coffey in Missouri

The reader question on the previous blog prompted me to do a bit of digging into the Squire Coffey men of Missouri.

I have found three with that name in Maries Co. and they are all related to Squire Coffey, born 1803 in Burke Co., NC, died after 1840 in Cherokee Co., NC.  I'll call him Squire 1.  He was a son of Smith Coffey and Hannah Boone.

Squire 2, the first in Maries Co. was a son of Marvel Coffey and Rachel Boone.  He was born in TN in 1828 and died 1912 in Hickory Co., MO.  He married Drucilla Parker and had children: Matilda, William D. B.; John R., Mary E., Martha E.; and Malinda J. 

Smith Coffey and Marvel Coffey were half-brothers, sons of Thomas Coffey; Smith by first wife, Elizabeth Smith and Marvel by second wife, Sarah Fields. Rachel and Hannah Boone were sisters, daughters of Jesse Boone who was a son of Israel, a brother to Daniel.

Squire 3 was Squire Jackson and, a son of Irvin S. and Nancy Hughes Coffey.  Irvin was a son of Marvel and Rachel.  Squire Jackson was born c1853 and married Sarah F. Gibson in 1876, Maries Co.  Their children known to me were Carnie Ellis and, Earnest J.

Squire 4 was also Squire Jackson and a son of John M. and Susan A. Vanderpool Coffey.  John M. was a son of Irvin and Nancy Hughes Coffey.  This Squire Jackson married Clara Della Eads on Sep. 29, 1901 in Maries Co.  Two of their children were Leslie H. and James C.

Squire 2 through 4 were double-first cousins to Squire 1, with 50 years separating the youngest from the oldest.







No. 983

Andrew Jackson Coffey (1833 NC - 1903 MO)

Note:  There are many Coffey men named Andrew Jackson.  Some of the below information is known to be accurate for this one, but some of it has not yet been confirmed.  Some of his wives and their children may not match up correctly. Please use with caution and contact me with any additions or corrections.



This Andrew Jackson Coffey was a son of Cleveland and Susan Hayes Coffey, born Dec. 1, 1833 in Ashe Co., NC, died Dec. 3, 1903 in Ozark Co., MO.

He was first married on Mar. 3, 1850 to Pricilla [sic] Emeline Hayes in Rutledge, Grainger Co., TN.1  No children are known to have been born to this union.  On Sep. 1, 1851 he married Louisa Jane Hutchinson in Grainger Co.2

Louisa was born c1833 in TN and died c1871 in Ozark Co., MO.  Children credited to them were: Althela M., born Jun. 25, 1852 in TN, died Feb. 4, 1919 in Ozark Co.  She married Zachariah Maritt, born Apr. 25, 1847 in Bradley Co., TN, died Dec. 15, 1893 in Ozark Co.  They are said to have married on Oct. 2, 1866 in Ozark Co.  Althela is the only child with known descendants.  The other children by Louisa, all born in Ozark Co., were: Susan Ann, born c1856; Thomas J., born c1859; William Wesley, born c1860; James Timp, born c1862; Andrew Jackson, Jr., born Oct. 20, 1864, died Aug. 25, 1944 in Los Angeles, CA3; and Cleveland P., born c1868.4 5

Andrew's third wife was Rachel Imes of Ozark Co.6  They married c1870, probably in Ozark Co., and 11 children are credited to that union, all born in Ozark Co.:  Joseph Ambrose, born c1872; Louisa J., born c1874; Nancy Mahala, born c1876; Avarella, born c1878; Robert S., born c1879; Melissa, born c1881; John T., born Jun., 1884; Charles Green, born Apr. 16, 1885, died Sep. 3, 1913 in Pontiac, Ozark Co.; Francis, born Jan. 8, 1866; Effie Eliza, born May 4, 1888, died May 3, 1960 in Wagoner Co., OK; and Albert Alexander, born Jun. 22, 1891.

Of these, Nancy Mahala married Shadric Quick c1900 in MO and had children:  Elbert, Celess, Hettie, Bennie, Eunice and Roxie.  Avarella married Jess Harper c1898 and had children: Oma, Clyde, Arizona, Austin and Benonia.  Effie married Nathan Eber Long, born Sep, 1880, died May, 1951 in Wagoner Co., OK.  No children are known to me.

The fourth wife to Andrew was Nancy Hamilton Tannehill to whom he was married c1893.  Only one child is credited to this union:  May Onia, born Mar. 2, 1895 in Dugginsville, Ozark Co.

There was an Andrew J. Coffey in the 1890 Special Schedule - Surviving Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines, and Widows, etc. for Bridges, Ozark Co., MO, Page 3, SD4, ED148, Minor Civil Division Bridges Twp., MO.  It shows that he was a Private in Co., F., Phelps Mo. Infantry, and that he enlisted on Dec. 10, 1861, and was discharged May 12, 1862, having served for 5 months and 2 days.  His address at the time of the census was at Gainesville PO in Ozark Co.  He suffered from a "spinal affliction from penumonia."

Another entry on Page 4, SD4, ED148, marked "Dup" for Andrew J. Coffey in the same location as above shows that he was a 2d Lieutenant who served in Co., I, 146 MO Inf from Nov. 21, 1864 to 24 May 1865 for a total of 6 months, 3 days.  He also suffered from an "Injury of Spine."

Additional census work is needed in an attempt to find Andrew Jackson in the 1850 and 1900 record.


1 Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002. Nashville, TN, USA: Tennessee State Library and Archives. Microfilm.  Name: Jackson Coffee Spouse: Prescilla E Hayes Marriage Date: 30 Mar 1851 Marriage County: Grainger Marriage State: Tennessee 

2 Ibid:  Name: and J Coffey Spouse: Louiza Hutcheson Marriage Date: 1 Sep 1831 [sic] [1851] Marriage County: Grainger Marriage State: Tennessee. From Marriage Bonds and Licenses, 1835-1866, Grainger Co., Tennessee, Book 2, Billie Wyrick Kennerly, Houston, Texas, Bond Thomas J. Coffee

3 California Death Index, 1940-1997. Original electronic data: State of California. California Death Index, 1940-1997. Sacramento, CA: State of California Department of Health Services, Center for Health Statistics, 19--.  Name: COFFEY, ANDREW JACKSON Social Security #: 0 Sex: MALE Birth Date: 20 Oct 1864 Birthplace: Missouri Death Date: 25 Aug 1944 Death Place: LOS ANGELES Mother's Maiden Name: HUTCHINSON Father's Surname: COFFEY

4 1860 Ozark Co., Falling Spring PO, Page 41, dwelling/family 273, Andrew J. Coffee, age 26, white male, farmer, $200, $325, born NC; Louiza, age 27, female, white, born TN; Athela, age 8, female, white, born TN; Susan A., age 4, female, white, born MO; Thomas J., age 1, male, white, born MO

5 1870 Ozark Co., Bridges Twp., Gainesville PO, Page 5, dwelling/family 34, Coffee, A. J., age 38, male, white, farmer, $1000, $1433, born NC; Louisia [sic] Jane, age 38, female, white, keeping house, born TN; Mary A., age 24, female, white, without occupation, born MO; Susan Ann, age 13, female, white, at home, born MO; Thomas J., age 11, male, white, at home, born MO; William G., age 15, male, white, farm laborer, born MO; James F., age 8, male, white, at home, born MO; Andrew J., age 5 male, white, at home, born MO; Cleveland P., age 2, male, white, at home, born MO.  [Who is Mary?]

6 1880 Ozark Co., Bridges Twp, ED109, Page 13, dwelling 89, family 98, Coffey, A. J., white male, age 47, married, farmer, born NC, parents born NC; Rachel, white female, age 29, wife, married, keeping house, lung disease, born MO, parents born MO; James T., white male, age 16, son, born MO, father born NC, mother born TN; Cleveland P., white male, age 11, son, born MO, father born NC, mother born TN; Ambros, white male, age 8, son, born MO, father born NC, mother born TN; Loneza [?] J., white female, age 6, dau., born MO, father born NC, mother born TN; Nancy M., white female, age 5, dau., born MO, father born NC,mother born TN; Ava R., white female, age 2, dau., born MO, father born NC, mother born TN; Robert S., white male, age 1, son, born MO, father born NC, mother born TN; Imes, Mary A., white female, age 52, mother-in-law, widow, born TN, parents born VA; Imes, Nancy J., white female, age 23, sister-in-law, single, born TN, parents born TN


No. 982

May 7, 2010

James Avery & Mary Jane Laney Coffey of Kings Creek, Caldwell Co., NC

James Avery Coffey was born in April, 1846 to James Coffey, Jr. and his wife Mary Keller.  James Avery married c1871 to Mary Jane Laney, a daughter of James and Moriah Laney.  Jane was born in Apr., 1848 and died on Jul. 30, 1931 in Kings Creek Twp., Caldwell Co., NC. They were in the Kings Creek Twp. census from 1870-1900.

Mary Jane was buried at Kings Creek Baptist Church cemetery*.  James is probably also buried there but I have not found a record.

James and Mary Jane were parents to eight children, all born in Kings Creek:

James Columbus, born Aug., 11, 1873.  James registered for the WW1 draft at Williamson in Mingo Co., WV where he was employed as a coal miner by the War Eagle Coal Co. of War Eagle, WV.  He was 45 years old, born Aug. 11, 1873 and was described as being short and stout with blue eyes and dark brown hair.  He named Ann Coffey of Kings Creek as his nearest relative.

George Wesley, born Aug., 1875, died Jul. 25, 1928 in Caldwell Co.  George married c1911 Lula Jane Barlow, a daughter of John and Martha Grubb Barlow.  Lula was born Oct. 10, 1895 in Kings Creek and died in Lenoir on Apr. 16, 1971.**  She was buried at Kings Creek; George's grave site has not yet been located.  Their children were Nora Lee, born Nov., 1912; Charles W., born c1915; Viola A., born c1917; Callie, born c1919; Ellen, born c1922; Annie, born c1924 and Clara M., born c1928.  Nora Lee married Lee Otis Keller, a son of Anderson and Emma Mayberry Keller.  He was born Jan. 12, 1893 in Caldwell Co., and died May 16, 1958 at Kings Creek. Nora lee died May 7, 1944 at Lenoir.  Both are buried at Kings Creek.

Mary Genelia, born Jul. 31, 1878, died Mar. 17, 1946.  She married Finley Green Andrews, born Apr. 22, 1882 in Watauga Co., died at Lenoir on Dec. 31, 1960.  Both are buried at Kings Creek.+  Their children were Troy Lawrence, born Aug. 10, 1907, died Aug. 12, 1946 in Forsyth Co.; Elizabeth, born c1910; Roy Green, born c1912; Sarah Jane, born c1916 and Marvin Pershing, born c1918.

Julia E., born Jun., 1879; Amanda L., born Jul., 1881, Robert Lee, born Aug., 1885, died 1930; and William Henry, born Aug., 1886, died 1959 - no further information.

Elisha Elmore, born Aug. 14, 1889, died Oct. 7, 1962.  He married Fannie Bell Kirby, born Apr., 1898 at Kings Creek to William N. & Sarah G. Kirby Kirby.  She and Elisha were married at Caldwell Co. in 1919.  Their children were Edgar Lee, born 1922; Toye May, born Dec. 14, 1925, died 1987, and Claude William, born 1928.  Toye married Earl Pearson in Caldwell Co. in 1948.


















*NC Death Cert., No. 279
**NC Death Cert. No. 11910
+NC Death Certs. 34854 (Finley) & 6800 (Mary)

No. 981

May 6, 2010

Antioch, Cumberland Co., VA

Antioch, Cumberland Co., VA

Just in case you ever need to find this place!

Actually, I just ran across this photo in my files and thought I'd share.



May 5, 2010

The Elrod Family of Watauga Co., NC

I recently received as a gift A History of Watauga County by John Preston Arthur (Richmond, Everett Waddey Co., 1915).  It was brand new and still in the cellophane wrapper when it was presented to me.  It's probably unnecessary for me to tell you - especially if you are a descendant of most anyone in Watauga County - that a large number of families in that county in the 1800's were either related by blood or by marriage.  Many of them are represented in this work by Arthur.

Some researchers have told me that Author made many mistakes in connecting some of the families but, so far, all have checked out pretty accurately; that is, I have not yet discovered any gross errors.  I am using census records to confirm family members, marriages, births, and where available, death records found at Ancestry.com.

So, for the foreseeable future, I'll be filling in some of the blanks that I have for many of those early families and reporting on a few of them in the blog.



The Elrods are said to be from France.  Conrad Elrod, the father of William, is first found in 1800 Burke County and again in 1810 in Morganton, Burke Co.  William's mother was not named by Arthur.  Conrad was not found in the NC census after 1810.

William Elrod appeared in the 1820 Ashe County census.  There were no other heads of household with that name in the NC census that year.  William married Elizabeth Lowrance and was the father of at least two children:  Alexander, born c1823 and Mary, born c1827.  There were probably others but, I have not yet found them.

Mary married  Thomas Cook c1845 and at least five children resulted from that union:  James Hamilton, born 1849; Sarah, born c1852; Martha Ellen, born Jul. 3, 1858; Alberton, born c1861 and Julia, born c1868.

Martha Ellen married Thomas Carlton Coffey on Nov. 14, 1875 in Watauga Co.  Thomas was born to Jesse Calton and Nancy Raines Coffey on Jan. 1, 1853 in Haywood Co., NC.  He died Dec. 17, 1915 in Watauga Co. and was buried at the Coffey Family cemetery at Blowing Rock.  Martha Ellen died Mar. 25, 1939 and was also buried there.

They had at least 13 children; too many to describe right now.  However, drop me a note if you are interested in their descendants.   I will get to them in later blogs.

Alexander Elrod was born c1823.  His wife was Mary B. "Polly" Shearer, born c1833 in NC.  I have not yet found a marriage date or death dates for them.  He and Polly had at least nine children.  Their fourth child and first son was William Thomas, born Apr. 17, 1858, died Aug. 4, 1941 in Caldwell Co., NC.

William married was married c1881 to Laura Velora Green, a daughter of Augustus and Sarah Green.  She was born May. 29, 1862 and died Sep. 15, 1923 in Caldwell Co.  I do not yet know where either of them are buried.

He and Laura were parents of at least seven.  Their fifth child and third daughter Lester Pearl Elrod married Roby Columbus Coffey.  Roby was born Jun. 16, 1881 and died in Boone on Sep. 26, 1964.  He is buried at Mt. Zion Baptist Church cemetery in Hudson, Caldwell Co.  Lester Pearl died on Aug. 17, 1939 in Forsyth Co. but I do not know where she was buried.

Roby Columbus was a brother to John Wesley "Happy John" Coffey, sons of Joseph Reubin and Martha Elizabeth Gragg Coffey.  They and Thomas Carlton were second as well as third cousins.

Andrew Jackson & Sarah Louise Hagaman Critcher

Captain Andrew Jackson Critcher was a son of Nathaniel & Cynthia A. Clark Critcher.  Nathaniel was born in Granville Co., NC in 1803 and settled in Watauga Co. in c1840.  Cynthia was born in Orange Co., NC in 1804 and, it was likely in that county they married in 1822.

Andrew was born in Orange Co. in Sep., 1834.  He was the fourth of what I believe to be seven children born to Nathaniel and Cynthia.

Nathaniel and his family were in Watauga Co. by 1840 and most remained there for the remainder of their lives.

Andrew married Sarah Louise Hagaman c1868.  She was a daughter of Thomas Andrew and Sarah Reece Hagaman.  Their children numbered four and included Meta Belle, born Jan. 24, 1871, who married Charles Daniel Coffey.  Click on the title of this blog to see photos and to read more about that couple.

Andrew had a remarkable career during the Civil War.

His record reports that on Dec. 25, 1861, shortly after enlistment, Andrew was promoted to second lieutenant and shortly thereafter to first lieutenant.  He was wounded at Ox Hill in Fairfax Co., VA, part of the Northern Virginia campaign from June to Sept., 1862.

He was returned to duty sometime in Nov., 1862 and promoted to captain in Dec. of that year.  Capt. Critcher was captured in May, 1864 and confined to the Old Capital Prison in Washington, D.C. and, later moved to Fort Delaware in June, 1864.  Later that summer he and other prisoners were moved to Charleston, SC where they were used as human shields against the south's bombardment of that Federally occupied city.

Having survived that, Critcher was moved to Hilton Head in Dec., 1864 where he was released sometime shortly thereafter in a prisoner exchange.  He was captured again at Boone in Watauga Co., NC in Mar., 1865 and sent to Camp Chase in OH where he was released on Jun. 14, 1865.

Andrew returned to Watauga Co., and to Boone where he met and married Sarah. They settled there and the 1870 census shows that he was a retail merchant and somewhat wealthy. By 1880 he was a farmer.

In addition to Meta Bell (second oldest), he and Sarah were parents of Maury P., born Jun., 1869; L. Frank, born Jan., 1879 and M. Ethel, born Sep. 1885.

Andrew died in Watauga Co. on Jul. 7, 1904 and was buried at Lovill in the Greer Cemetery. I do not have a death date or burial place for Sarah and would appreciate that input.

I know that Andrew had at least one brother who served during the Civil War. He had four brothers, all of the right age at the time of the war to have served. The one that I know of was John Calvin.

John was born c1841 and died Aug. 13, 1863 in Orange Co., VA. He had enlisted on Nov. 5, 1862 at Boone in Co. D., 1st NC Cavalry Regiment. Some genealogies report that he is also buried at Lovill, but a headstone as not been found.

A source was: Michael C. Hardy, Author, A Short History of Old Watauga County (Boone, Watauga Co., NC: Parkway Publishers, Inc., 2005).

May 3, 2010

Elisha "Lish" and Anna Harmon Moody Coffey

I touched a bit on Elisha and Anna Coffey in the Aldridge & Coffey blog of May 1.  Elisha was a son of Joseph and Isabella Lindsay Coffey and was born c1814 and almost certainly in North Carolina.

Anna was a daughter of Edward and Frances Carter Moody and was born c1814 in NC.  She died before 1880 and probably in Watauga Co.  Elisha appeared in that county's 1880 census as a widower.

There are at least two other sons of Lish and Anna for whom I have very little information.  They were all born early enough to have been strong candidates for service during the Civil War and, may have been killed.  Those sons were Jacob, born c1838 and, DeKalb, born c1839.  Some genealogies that I have seen also names another Levi, born c1844 as their son.

I think the Elisha Coffee [sic] and wife Hannah in the 1850 Watauga Co. census is this couple.  In addition to the parents, there was Levi, age 16; De Calb [sic], age 11 and Mary Cannon, age 7.  I am not certain who Mary Cannon was, but there is at least one Cannon female (not Mary) who married into a Coffey family in Burke Co., NC.

In 1860 Watauga co., Jacob, age 21 appeared with the family.  Another child, May A. Harmon [sic] age 2, was enumerated with the family. Although named as a child of Elisha, it isn't clear to me yet that he was.

The 1870 Watauga co. census shows that May Harmon was then Mary Harmon, age 13.  Except for a black male, age 14, named John Adges [?], the only others in the household were Elisha and Ann.

As mentioned earlier, Elisha appeared as a widower in the 1880 census for Watauga Co.

Levi Lafayette, who appears to be the eldest child of Elisha's, was born May 30, 1833 in Burke Co., and died Feb. 11, 1925 in Watauga Co.  He married "Tempie" Calloway, a daughter of James and Nicey Gragg Calloway, c1859 in Watauga Co.

To them were born at least seven children:

1 - Caroline Lavinia Coffey, born Mar. 6, 1860, died Feb. 13, 1923.  Caroline married her cousin David Nathaniel Coffey c1886.  David and Caroline are mentioned in several blogs.  If you are interested in more about them, search the blog archives [use search window in upper left corner and surround search term with quotes; e.g., "David Nathaniel Coffey."]  You can view a photo of David and read a bit of info about him in this blog.

2 - Joseph DeCalb Coffey, born Jan. 24, 1863 at Shulls Mill in Watauga Co., and died there on Dec. 30, 1930.  He married Lutittia [sic] F. Walters, a daughter of Johnathan and Emeline Long Walters, on Apr. 9, 1899 in Watauga Co.  Both are buried at the Byrd Cemetery in Foscoe, Watauga Co.

3 - Judith Coffey, born c1866 - no further information.

4 - Emma Coffey, born Oct. 19, 1869 in Watauga, died Jan. 3, 1938 in Hickory, Catawba Co., NC.  Emma also married a cousin, William M. Coffey c1896.  William was a son of Smith W. and his wife Charity Elizabeth Redmond.

Laurence Coffey gives this name as Elizabeth Baker Redmond, indicating to me that she was probably married previous to her marriage to Smith.  However, in an e-mail to me dated Aug. 23, 2007, Carolyn Curtis wrote this:

"Elizabeth was born 6/25/1836 and died 5/20/1912. She was not married prior to her marriage to Smith Coffey on June 25, 1854 (that was her 18th Birthday). According to the Caldwell County Court of Pleas and Quarter Session, Volume II – January Term 1848, Elizabeth, an orphan child of 11 years of age, was bound to Lucinda Baker (that is where the Baker name originated) until age 18, at which time she was give her freedom, $6.00, a new suit of clothes, a bible and she was to be taught to read and write."


I seem to recall some speculation that Elizabeth was full or part Indian and the Redmond might have something to do with that part of her heritage.  But, that is something that I have not pursued.

Both Charity and Smith are said to be buried in a Coffey Cemetery at Shulls Mill.

5 - James Wesley Coffey, born May 2, 1873 in Watauga Co., died in Boone on Dec. 6, 1960.  He married Donnie Brewer c1906.  A subsequent spouse was Callie Ward, born Mar. 30, 1898, daughter of James Ward and Mary Hicks.  Callie died Aug. 25, 1975 in Boone.  They are also said to be buried in the Coffey Cemetery at Shulls Mill.

6 - Archie E. Coffey, born Mar 23, 1876, died Apr. 11, 1903.  He married Virginia Frances Brown on Sep. 30, 1900.  "Jennie" was a daughter of Samuel Walker and Nancy Jane Joyce Brown.  See the other Levi Lafayette Coffey blog for more.

7 - Oscar Lee Coffey, born Sep. 7, 1878, died Jul. 1, 1977 in Davidson Co., NC.  Oscar married Ollie Belle Calloway, born Mar. 10, 1886 in Watauga Co., died Apr. 23, 1943 in Boone.  She was the daughter of William Henderson Calloway and his wife Almirah M. "Myra" Johnson.  Ollie is buried at Foscoe in the Community Cemetery.  I have not located Oscar's burial site.

I would really love to know if the Coffey Cemetery at Shulls Mill is actually known locally by that name and where it is located.

May 1, 2010

Robert Lewis Coffey, Jr.

Robert Lewis Coffey, Jr. was born in Chattanooga, TN on Oct. 21, 1918 and moved with his family to Pennsylvania at an early age.  He was appointed a flying cadet on Sep. 23, 1939 and commissioned a 2d Lt. in June, 1940.  On Nov. 1, 1940 he was promoted to 1st Lt. and served in the USAAF during WWII.

Robert Lewis Coffey, Jr.
During his military career he served as air attache at the US Embassy in Santiago, Chile (1945-48) after which he resigned his commission as Lt. Col.  The following day (Sep. 2, 1948) he was commissioned full colonel in the Air Force Reserve.  His medals included the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Presidential Citation and the Belgian and French Croix de Guerre.

He was elected as a Democrat to the 81st Congress for the state of Pennsylvania where he served from Jan. 3, 1949 until his death on April 20, 1949.  He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.


The following appeared in the Las Cruces, New Mexico Sun-News on April 21, 1949.


Pennsylvania Congressman Dies in Crash of Jet Plane Taking Off At Albuquerque Air Field

by Finis Mothershead

     ALBUQUERQUE, N. M., April 21 (AP)--A crashing jet fighter plane carried Rep. Robert Lewis Coffey, Jr. (D-Pa) to death here late yesterday.

     The crackup of his P-80 Shooting Star was tentatively laid to a partial power failure.  A thorough investigation was ordered.

     Coffey, a 30-year-old wartime hero and first timer in Congress, had landed at Kirtland Air Force base to refuel.  His ship rose only 25 feet, wavered and plunged into an arroyo as he took off on the final leg of a flight to March Field, Calif.  

On Cross-Country Hop

     The Johnstown, Pa., flier was on a cross-country training flight, undertaken while the House is in recess.  He held the rank of colonel in the air force reserve.

     A helpless witness to the crash was Lt. Col. William Ritchie, friend and companion of Coffey in European air combat during World War II.

     Ritchie, taking off behind Coffey in another P-80, was compelled to circle overhead for an hour.  This was to use up fuel before he could land.

Describes Crash

     "The plane (Coffey's) just settled at the south end of the runway," Ritchie said in describing the crash.  "I could see it strike a stream of sparks, like those from a grinding wheel.  They it bounced over into the ravine."

     Col. Harold O. Gunn, Kirtland commandant, said the ship turned a series of cartwheels before it snapped a powerline pole.  The engine was catapulted 100 yards beyond the main portion of the shattered fuselage.

Flier Wedged in Plane

     The plane did not explore or burn.  A crash crew found the body of the flier wedged inside.  He was killed instantly.  The accident happened about 4:40 p.m.

     As a deputy group commander in the Ninth Air Force, Coffey flew 97 combat missions over Europe.  Shot down over a German air field, he evaded capture and spent a month with the French underground.  Subsequently he worked his way through enemy lines to rejoin American forces.

  He emerged from the war with a chestful of decorations.  They included the distinguished flying cross, awarded him three times; the air medal, 27 times; the purple heart and bronze star.



There were three Coffey sons in this family.  In addition to Robert, William Coffey also died in a plane crash at an Iowa Army training base in 1944 just before he was to go overseas. (The Morning Herald, Uniontown, Fayette Co., PA, Sep. 14, 1949, p1, col. 3)

A special election was held to fill the seat of Robert Coffey.  His mother was defeated for the seat by Republican John C. Saylor of Johnstown.  Predictably, the labor unions headed by James L. McDevitt, accused the Republicans of buying the election. (Lebanon Daily News, Lebanon, PA, Sep. 22, 1949, p9, col. 3)




Robert's earliest ancestor in the US was Richard Coffey, first found in 1850 Bald Eagle, Clinton Co., PA.  He married Margaret McGinley, first generation American whose parents were born in Ireland.  Richard's son, John Leonard, was the father of Robert Lewis, Sr. who married Curry Brindley of AL.





Aldridge & Coffey

In his 1915 A History of Watauga County, North Carolina, John Preston Arthur wrote about James Aldridge who appeared in Shulls Mill, Watauga Co. c1819 and shortly married [or took up with] Betsy Calloway, an attractive daughter of one Benjamin Calloway.  The chapter in which this story appears is entitled "Some Thrice-Told Tales," so use your best judgment in deciding the accuracy of the facts cited.

Arthur wrote that James was already married and had left a wife and five children in Virginia while he hunted in North Carolina.  James persuaded Betsy to marry him and a son, Harrison Aldridge was born Dec. 15, 1821.  Six more children followed:  Jane c1824; Tempe c1825; Ellen c1828; Emeline c1835; Benjamin c1837; and Waightstill c1842.

Sometime - and probably after the birth of Waightstill - the "real wife" of James appeared in the area of Foscoe at the home of Edward Moody seeking directions to the Aldridge home.  Before day break the next morning, James was at the Moody place to buy a bushel of wheat.  He is said to have told Moody that "the cat was out of the bag at last."

Sometime between 1834 and 1836 A "fur peddler of the name of Price" had spotted Aldridge in Watauga Co.  On his return to "Big Sandy" [Kentucky, where the "real wife" had apparently relocated from Virginia] he told what he had discovered, precipitating her travel "on a fine horse" to Watauga in search of James Aldridge.

To me, this story seems a "stretch."  Given the perils of the time, a wife abandoned for some 15 years would probably have remarried within a few years, believing that her first husband had been killed.

The tale of the "real wife" is attributed by Arthur to Levi Coffey who was probably Levi Lafayette Coffey, a son of Elisha and Anna Harmon Moody Coffey.  Levi was born in Burke Co., NC c1833 and in Watauga by 1859 when he married Temperance "Tempie" Calloway, born c1844 to James and Nicey Gragg Calloway.

Anna Harmon Moody was the daughter of Edward and Frances Carter Moody. Both Edward and Frances were natives of Virginia and may have known James Aldridge prior to coming to Watauga Co.

In a footnote to this chapter, Arthur wrote:  "In his genealogical tour through Ashe in 1828, Dr. Elisha Mitchell speaks of a hunter living on the head of the Watauga River with the children of his real wife, who was then residing on the Big Sandy in Kentucky, and his own children by another woman with whom he was then living as his wife.  If this refers to James Aldridge, then Betsy Calloway had two children by him after his first wife appeared in the scene, for both Ben and Waightstill were born after 1828."*

I have not found an Aldridge in the 1840 or 1860 Watauga county census.  The 1850 census for that county enumerates Elizabeth Caloway [sic] with five children in her household:  Ellen, Emeline, Benjamin and Waightstill and William.  Within three doors of her residence was that of Harrison Aldridge.  William was not listed by Arthur as one of James' and Betsy's children.

Harrison married Jincy Clark c1845,  She was born c1827 in NC.  Harrison died on Jan. 11, 1905** in Watauga Co.  Together they raised at least nine children, one being Harrison, Jr., born Jul., 1864.  He married Mary Etta Buchanan c1886 and their son, Samuel Anthony Aldridge (1893-1966) married Lora Destomonia Coffey (1888-1967), a daughter of Joseph Reubin and Martha Elizabeth Gragg Coffey.

James Aldridge (1853-1939), another son of Harrison and Jincy, married Sarah Gragg, daughter of Johnson and Nancy Cuthbertson Gragg.  Their son, Arthur Blaine Aldridge (1884-1947) married Rosa Lee Coffey (1886-1946), a daughter of Jesse Filmore and Martha Storie Coffey.

Samuel Columbus Aldridge (1862-1941), a third son of Harrison and Jincy, married Margaret Buchanan c1884.  Their son, Horatio Acuff Aldridge (1891-1971) married Byrd Elizabeth "Birdie" Coffey on Feb. 19, 1913 in Watauga Co.

So, how does Levi Coffey relate to the Coffey women who married into the Aldridge clan?

To all three he was a double second cousin, twice removed; a fourth cousin once removed and a fifth cousin once removed.  They all descend from Edward and Ann Powell Coffey through their son John and his son Reuben who married Sarah Scott.


*According to ages given in 1850, Benjamin was born c1837 and Waightstill in c1842.  Mitchell wrote:
"In the neighborhood is a hunter who has two women living with him; to one of them he owes and to the other he graciously discharged the duties of a husband; one has 3 children, and the other one and another at hand. 'Tis a region for these irregularities. The Leather Stocking of these regions, and whom we would have had as a pilot, but that he is in the woods, has a wife living on Sandy River in Kentucky, and the children of that wife, and another woman living with him here on the Watauga."  Earlier in his writings on this topic, he wrote that he was heading for the cabin of "Leather Stocking Aldridge."  Leather Stocking seems to be a common term used in the day to describe hunters and woodsmen.


**Arthur wrote that "Harrison, in memory of a faithful dog which saved his life from wild hogs, had that dear friend buried on a ridge above the home of his son, James A. Aldridge, and requested that the be buried there also.  His tombstone, surrounded by a substantial stone wall, records the fact that he joined the Baptist Church October 22, 1870, and died January 11, 1905."

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