September 7, 2011

William and Henrietta Josephine Coffey Lawrence

Henrietta Josephine Coffey was a daughter of William Saunders and Elizabeth Schooler Coffey. I wrote earlier this year about one of her siblings, John Nathan Coffey and his family with Emma Mariah McCown.

Henrietta was born in Alabama on Jul. 2, 1838 and died Apr. 8, 1916 in Lavaca Co., TX She and William were married on May 11, 1864 in that county where they raised a family of at least seven children.

Lawrence, Henrietta Coffey
Henrietta Josephine Coffey
Photo via Kathy Coffey Simmons
William was born to Joseph E. & Mary Eleanor McGary Lawrence on Dec. 13, 1839 in Washington Co., TX and in Lavaca on Jan. 2, 1926. Joseph is said to have been a fighter in the Texas Army of Independence. His brother, also named William, is said to have fought at San Jacinto. I have not researcher either.

Update May 25, 2013:  A William Lawrence autobiography found at Citizens of the Free State of Lavaca reads:

"I was born in North Carolina, June 15, 1800, came to Texas in 1835 and went to work as a farm hand. I came alone and was not married. Everything went along quietly until the spring of 1836, when I went with a Company of Volunteers to answer the call of Travis to relieve the Alamo. We started from Gonzales with twenty-five or thirty men under the leadership of Deaf Smith. We camped at the Powder House in sight of the city of San Antonio and waited for the signal gun to advance. Hearing that the Fort had been taken, we retreated to Gonzales followed by Santa Anna and army.  At Gonzales we spread the news, and together with Sam Houston retreated toward the Brazos, crossing the country (Lavaca County) where Mr. H. P. Smith now lives, and at Rocky Creek at the "Old Pine Tree Crossing," and the Navidad where the bridge on the Hallettsville and Schulenburg Road now stands. The retreat became general all over the Country, everybody leaving their homes and going east.
"Santa Anna came on, burning everything in his path. Houston, hearing from two Mexican prisoners that Santa Anna was cut off from the main army, resolved to crush him. The next day (April 20) we had several sharp skirmishes, and on the morning of the 2ist of April, Deaf Smith chopped and burned the bridge over the river, cutting off the enemy's retreat. We were camped about a quarter of a mile from the enemy in some large timbers. There was a ridge between us obscuring our view. About three o'clock in the evening we were ordered to parade. I was in the Cavalry on the right wing.  As we advanced they did not see us until we were within a hundred yards of them then they fired a terrific volley of small shot at us. But fortunately they shot over our heads. It seemed at one time that if one had held his hat two feet above his head, it would have caught twenty bullets or more. As we closed in and began the work of the two small cannons (The Twin Sisters) on them, they retreated in disorder towards the bridge. We followed the Cavalry. For the first six miles, they ran very even and kept out of reach; but after that, we gained on them and shot our carbines at them, dropping them off their horses. We then used our holster pistols and long knives. There was not one of our eighty men that did not get one or more of the Mexicans. At the end of twelve miles we all stopped to rest and let our horses rest. When we dismounted, we were so fatigued that we could not stand up and fell around like a company of drunken men. 
"The next day, three men, while out hunting, captured Santa Anna and brought him to Sam Houston, who was wounded and lying under an Elm Tree on the bank of the bayou. Santa Anna would have been killed, but he gave the Masonic sign and several men rushed up and defended him. On the same day, I was out reconnoitering and saw something crawling along, dragging in the grass. I halted it and, as it did not stop, I shot it. When I rode up to it, I found it to be a big, greasy Mexican. I had put a sinker under his ribs. The object he was draggin' proved to be a saddle and blanket of William B. Travis, who had been killed at the Alamo. The saddle sold for $20.00 and the blanket for $10.00. I got my discharge and returned to Washington-on-the-Brazos."
A biography found in A History of Texas and Texans* provides a little more information about William and Henrietta:
William Lawrence. A resident of Lavaca County most of his life, William Lawrence belongs to some of the oldest American stock in Texas, antedating the war for independence in which his father took part. Since the war between the states, in which he was a soldier, he has applied his energies to the staple industry of Lavaca County, farming and stock raising, and has a good estate near Hallettsville.

William Lawrence was born in old Washington County, Texas, December 13, 1839. His grandfather was named William, and among his children are recalled the names of William, Absalom, Jason, Joseph and Mrs. Barbara Beaver.

Joseph Lawrence was the pioneer Texan. Born in North Carolina, he left there at the age of fifteen, spent several years at Nashville, Tennessee, and in 1833 arrived in Texas, then a province of Mexico. He identified himself with the movement for Texan independence during .the years of 1835-36, and joined Houston's army in time to participate in the culminating battle at San Jacinto. This service entitled him to a land warrant, which was laid in Ellis County, and which his sons sold at $2.50 per acre, unconscious of the future value of acres now located in one of the richest agricultural sections of the state.

After independence Joseph Lawrence, who first lived in Washington County, moved to Dewitt County, but that locality was so exposed to Indian raids that he found a safer location in La Grange and spent about five years there. He then moved into Lavaca County, to a place two miles north of where his son William now lives, and there spent his active years in superintending his ranch and stock. When he died, in 1897, at the age of ninety-four, he was one of the oldest residents of Texas, and highly respected both as a soldier of the Revolution and as a man. Though without education, never having signed his name, he possessed the rugged virility of the pioneer, good judgment in business affairs, and had reared and provided home and other advantages for his family of some ten children. Though a Methodist, he was like many of the older settlers rather backward in church matters.

Joseph Lawrence was married at the old town of Washington, on the Brazos, to Mary E. McGary, an Irish lady who died in Lavaca County. Their children were: William; Bettie, who married S. G. McCown, and died in Yoakum, Texas; Cameron, of Goliad, Texas; Margaret, who married Wallace Chrisman, and died in Dallas; Mary, who became the wife of Henry Smith, and died in Floresville, Texas; Ellen, who married James A. Jameson, of Yoakum; Susan, who died in Lavaca County as the wife of Elijah Sewell; Martha, Mrs. James Brown, of Dallas County; Joseph, now deceased; and Jack, who died at Marlin, Texas.

William Lawrence has lived in Lavaca County since 1849. In his youth schools were not held so important factors in training the younger generation as they are now, and his education rather practical than bookish. Just about the time he was getting ready for life on his own responsibilities, the war came on and in August, 1861, his name was enrolled in the Confederate service. Captain Whitfield's company, which he joined, reported for duty to Gen. Ben McCulloch, in Northern Arkansas, and there Whitfield's legion was organized. He fought at the Battle of Elkhorn, armed with a Mississippi rifle, which he had brought from Hallettsville, and after that engagement his command was sent to Des Arc, Arkansas, and there dismounted and sent to Memphis as infantry. It was in the operations about Corinth, fell back to Tupelo, and there rested and recuperated from the epidemic of measles which was making havoc among the soldiers. After the battle at luka, in which they participated, the legion was again mounted and resumed rank as cavalry. They went into Tennessee, fought at Thompson's Station, and were in the raid of Gen. Van Dorn against Grant's supply train at Holly Springs and helped capture a number of Federal prisoners there. They were then attached to Johnston's army for the relief of Vicksburg. The fall of Vicksburg Mr. Lawrence regarded as the death blow to the hopes of a victorious Confederacy, and after that he fought only as a soldier's duty and not with the spirit which he had begun. He was always present for any service, and as orderly sergeant called the roll of his company every day, but he realized that it was a loss of time and waste of men to continue the struggle against the overwhelming odds on the side of the North. In April, 1864, an order directed that one man from each company should be furloughed home. When the captain presented him the hat containing the lots of those who should go and those who should remain, he scratched down to the bottom of the hat and pulled out a '' furlough.'' When he left the army for sixty days he bade his comrades farewell, for he had determined never again to engage in the war east of the Mississippi. A month after he reached home he married, and a little later joined a company that was organizing in Horton County for duty on the frontier. Capt. William Townsend was in command of this company, with headquarters near San Patricio, but they patrolled a large part of the Rio Grande district, from San Antonio to Laredo and Eagle Pass, and he had returned from one of these long rounds when the news came of Lee's surrender and the end of the war.

Once more free to take up the duties of civil life, Mr. Lawrence resumed his old vocation, farm and stock. His present estate, containing some 560 acres, is on the Woodard and Fuller leagues, and he and his good wife have labored wisely and well to accumulate and improve this substantial homestead. They have fenced it and have brought 250 acres under cultivation, have set up six sets of buildings, and have directed the work of the tenants chiefly to producing cotton.

Mr. Lawrence was married May 11, 1864, to Miss Henrietta Coffey, who represents another family of early Texas. Her father, William Saunders Coffey, was born and reared in Kentucky, but came from Jackson County, Alabama, to Texas in 1844, and settled first in Titus County, and in 1859 came to Lavaca County, where he was a slave-holding farmer until the war. He died in November, 1875, at the age of eighty. He married Elizabeth Schooler, who died in 1871, and their children were as follows: Milton, of Morris County, Texas; Mary J., who married Millis Higginbotham, and died in Titus County; Eliza, who married William Riley, and died in Lavaca County; Emeline, who died unmarried; Catherine, the wife of John Williams, lives near Mrs. Lawrence, who is the next in the family; Margaret, who married Steve Pool, of San Angelo; and John Nathan, of Brown County.

To Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence were born five children: Ellen is the wife of Jep Griffith, of Uvalde, Texas; Willie is the wife of Allen English, and they live on the Lawrence farm; Lulu married Laughlin Simpson, a farmer in this neighborhood; Leon died in young manhood, and his twin brother died at the age of eleven years.
There are some inconsistencies in that blurb, especially as pertains to their children.  With the exception of Ellen who died in San Antonio, all were born and died in Lavaca Co.

Three of their seven children died very young.  The first two were Mary Ellen, born Jun. 10, 1865, died Jun. 24, 1864, and Annie, born Sep. 30, 1866, died Sep. 24, 1879.

The next four all lived to become adults, to marry and have families of their own:

Ellen was born Nov. 9, 1869 and died Aug. 28, 1957 in San Antonio.  Her spouse was Jeptha William Griffith, a son of Lewis and Anna McKay Griffith, born Dec. 25, 1866 in TX, died in San Antonio on Feb. 27. 1954.  He and Ellen were married in Lavaca Co. on Nov. 28, 1888.  Both are buried at Sunset Memorial Park in San Antonio.  Their children (at least through 1900) were Lula, Etta, Raymond and Bessie.

Willie Lenora was next born on Jul. 7, 1872.  She married Allen English on Jul. 14, 1890 in Lavaca Co.  Allen, a son of William and Addie Esterling English, was born Jul. 30, 1865 in Lavaca and died there on Oct. 7, 1925.  They are buried at Andrews Chapel Cemetery in Hallettsville, Lavaca Co.  Their children, as known to me, were Ford L., born 1893 died 1955 and Ivy, born 1895, died 1969 in Schulenburg, Fayette Co., TX.

Lula Avazine was born Jan. 8, 1875 at Hallettsville and died there on Jul. 26, 1962.  She married Laughlin William Simpson, born Jan. 16, 1876 in TX and died there on Oct. 30, 1927.  Their marriage date is recorded as Jan. 4, 1900 in Lavaca Co.  They are also buried at Andrews Chapel.  Children:  Lawrence Joseph, Leon Laughlin, Fannie Josephine and Samuel Aubrey.

The last two were William Leonard who also died young, and his twin, Joseph Leon, were born Feb. 14, 1877.  William died Sep. 19, 1888.  Joseph lived to age 25 and died on Aug. 15, 1902 in Lavaca Co.  They too are buried at Andrews Chapel.

*Frank W. Johnson, Author, A History of Texas and Texans, Eugene C. Barker Ph. D., Editor, vol. iii (Chicago, IL and New York: The American Historical Society, 1916), Pages 1325-1326.

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