November 16, 2011

Coffey & Campbell in Nelson Co., VA

According to his Oct. 1, 1823 will*, Francis J. and Isabell Catlett Campbell had four children.
IN THE NAME OF GOD! AMEN.  I FRANCIS CAMPBELL in the County of Nelson.  Being weak in  body but sound in mind and memory, and considering the uncertainty of this mortal life, do make  and publish this my last will and testament in manner and form following (that is to say)  principally and first.
I recommend my soul into the hands of God who gave it, and my body to the Earth to be buried  in a Christian like manner, at the discretion of my Executors here and after named and first,  I request that all my just debts shall be paid; and as touching the residue of my worldly  estate as God hath blest me with.  I do leave in the manner and form following ______:
I leave and bequeath to my beloved wife Is(a)bell Campbell the third of my Estate during her  natural life at the discretion of my Executors.  The residue of my estate to be equally  divided between my two sons and two daughters viz. Francis Campbell; Polley Gregory, Joel  Campbell, and Rachel Gregory, share and share alike, only I give and bequeath to my son Joel  Campbell my house existing nary all which is to them and their heirs forever; - and further  it is my will and desire that the line made by myself and John Masters (between him and myself)  to stand forever.  And lastly I do appoint my sons Francis and Joel my sole Executors of this  my last will and Testament, hereby revoking and disannulling all former wills by me made and  declare this my last will and testament.  In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and  seal this first day of October eighteen hundred and twenty-three.
                                     Francis   X   Campbell (Seal)
Signed, sealed and delivered by the above named Francis Campbell to be his Last Will and Testament
Benjamin Hatter
John Coffey
Edmund F. Coffey
Francis J. Campbell II appears to be the eldest, born c1780 in VA, died 1855 in Nelson Co.  He married Nancy Coffey, said to be a daughter of Edmond S., Sr. and Nancy Barnett Coffey, on Feb. 26, 1806 in Amherst Co.**  He was followed by Mary "Polly" Campbell, Joel, born c1790, and Rachel.

Joel also married a Nancy Coffey, said to be a sister to Edmond S., Jr. whose parents were Edmond Sr. and Tildy Fitzgerald Coffey.

It gets more confusing!

Joel and Nancy had a number of children, believed to be as follows:

Rachel A., born c1821, died Dec. 1881, Nelson Co.
Reuben Lee, born c1828
Joel, also born c1828
Matilda, born c1830
Nancy, born c1832
Francis Vanvert, born c1836
Henry, born c1837
William, born c1841

The family appeared in the 1850 Nelson Co census as follows:
1850 Nelson Co., Page 560, dwelling/family 915, Joel Campbell, age 60, male, farmer, $700, born VA; Nancy, age 40, female, born VA; Joel, age 22, male, born VA; Lilly, age 17, female, born VA; Nancy, age 18, female, born VA; Rachel, age 25, female, born VA; Matilda, age 20, female, born VA; Reuben, age 18, male, born VA; Henry, age 16, male, born VA; Francis, age 14, male, born VA
The placement of children makes it appears to me, at least, that either Joel or Nancy had been previously married.  First clue is that Joel is 20+ years older than Nancy.  Further, the daughter Rachel is said to have married Washington "Wash" Coffey in 1842 yet she is still at home in 1850.  A marriage record for Wash names his wife as Rhoda.¹

Interesting to note that the marriage record for Francis J. Campbell names his bride as Nancy Campbell, not Nancy Coffey.***

The Nancy Coffey, daughter of Edmond, Jr. and Tildy, is said to have been born c1779; her spouse Joel in 1790.

Francis and his Nancy Coffey wife are said to have had a number of children, some of which were named Joel, and Rachel, born last in that family.  Two of the first three children born to Joel and his Nancy Coffey wife were named Rachel and Joel.

I am thinking that the two Nancy's might be the same people.  She may have first married a Campbell, perhaps Francis and, when he died she married his brother Joel.  Because dates are so inconclusive, we cannot be sure when any of the Campbell sons or either of their Coffey wives was born.  At least I cannot be certain!

In any event, there are enough inconsistencies and lack of source data about this Campbell-Coffey family for us to be suspicious of any genealogy that includes them with any implication that it is accurate.

*Lynn Vanderherchen,
**Virginia Marriages, 1785-1940, database, FamilySearch (, index entries derived from copies of originals housed in various repositories throughout Virginia. [n.b. According to another source Early American Marriages: Virginia to 1850 (Dodd, Jordan R.) the marriage too place on 28 Feb., 1806.  Perhaps 26 Feb. was the license date. This source names the bride as Nancy Campbell.
***Marriage Register, Nelson Co., VA - Part 1 is from Marriage Register, Book No. 2, 1854 - 1926 and and only includes entries for Coffey surnames thru 1899. See the files located at:, Part 2, Page 33, Line 2.
¹groom's name: Washington Coffey groom's birth date: groom's birthplace: groom's age: bride's name: Rhoda [sic] Campbell bride's birth date: bride's birthplace: bride's age: marriage date: 20 Nov 1842 marriage place: Nelson County, Virginia groom's father's name: groom's mother's name: bride's father's name: bride's mother's name: groom's race: groom's marital status: groom's previous wife's name: bride's race: bride's marital status: bride's previous husband's name: indexing project (batch) number:M86879-0 system origin: Virginia-EASy source film number:32734 reference number :p 44

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