December 13, 2012

Elijah Melvin & Elizabeth Quinn Coffey

One of our Coffey cousins, born and raised and who had lived in Gentry Co., MO since birth, somehow decided it would be nicer if he and his family moved to North Dakota,  Now, I know winters are cold in MO with highs in the mid-40s and lows in the mid-20s but, in ND winter temps typically drop out the bottom of the thermometer!

Elijah Melvin Coffey was the 17th child and 10th son of Jesse H. Buchanan and Dorcas Lucinda Burpo Coffey.  He was born Apr. 22, 1867 in Alanthus Grove, Gentry Co., MO and married Elizabeth Quinn of that county on Mar. 27, 1891.  He was 23, she was 18.

Their first two children, Ves B. and Seth Rastus were born in Gentry Co.  Ves was born in Dec., 1892 and Seth in May, 1896.  Melvin, their third child was not born until 1909 after the family arrived in ND.  The family lived and farmed in Burt Township, near Minot from c1908-09 until at least 1940.

Ves Coffey Death Certificate
Their son Ves lived with them at least through 1917 when he registered for the WW1 draft.  He was described on the registration as being tall with a medium build, gray eyes and black hair.  At the time he was already a private in the state National Guard at Minot.  By 1923 he was unmarried and living in Williams, Coconino Co., AZ where he was employed as Chief Clerk for the US Forest Service.  He was struck by the Santa Fe Train on Apr. 7, 1923 and died on Apr. 25 at the Williams Hospital. His body was returned to Stanberry in Gentry Co. for burial.

Seth registered for the draft in Ward Co., ND on Jun. 5, 1917. He was described then as being tall with medium build, blue eyes and black hair. He was 21 yrs. old, born May 9, 1896 at Alanthus [sic] Mo.  He was single and a farmer employed by E. M. Coffey of Burlington, Ward Co., ND.  Seth eventually married twice.  His first wife was Cora B. [LNU] and they were wed in about 1920.  At least two children were born to this marriage: Dorothy born c1922 and Betty Jean, born c1931.  Cora apparently died before the Apr., 1940 census because only Seth and Betty Jean were enumerated as family.  Their housekeeper was a 21 year old Theda G. Olson.  She and Seth would be married later that year or, perhaps not until 1941.

This seems to be a bit odd to me:  On Dec. 9, 1942[1], Mrs. Theda O. Coffey enlisted in the Womens Army Corps, branch code:  Inactive Reserve as an Aviation Cadet.  Place of enlistment was Minneapolis, MN.  Minneapolis is 500 miles from Minot and, she reported that she was a housekeeper for a private family.  Could she and Seth been separated or divorced?  I also wonder if she ever learned to fly and what her role was in the WAC during WW2.   Theda died on Feb. 8, 1999 and was buried at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Minot.  Seth died about 32 years before her, in Sep.,1967.  He is also buried at Sunset.  I do not know if they had children.

The third son, Melvin, born c1909 after the family moved to ND.  He married a young lady by the name of Vivian, born c1921 in ND.  They appeared in the 1940 census in Minot as a newly wed couple. Melvin worked on road construction with the WPA and they had no children at the time.  I have not found any additional information on this family.

Additions and corrections welcomed, especially the burial location of Elijah, Elizabeth, Ves and Melvin.


[1]Name: Theda O Coffey Birth Year: 1919 Race: White, citizen (White) Nativity State or Country: North Dakota State of Residence: North Dakota Enlistment Date: 9 Dec 1942 Enlistment State: Minnesota Enlistment City: Minneapolis Branch: Womens Army Corps Branch Code: Inactive Reserve Grade Code: Aviation Cadet Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law Component: Womens Army Corps Source: Civil Life   Education: 4 years of high school Civil Occupation: Housekeepers, private family Marital Status: Married Height: 65 Weight: 181

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