May 13, 2014

Hardy Mills (perhaps) and what Coffey Woman?

Those of you who have followed this blog from the beginning know that I am not a direct descendant of any male descendant of Edward and Ann Powell Coffey.  Instead, DNA shows me to be a ggg-grandson of a man named Lilburn Jackson Coffee who was a descendant of William and Sarah Ellis Mills.  My 37-marker DNA test shows a perfect match to others who also descend from this Mills family. Additionally, the DNA test result for a descendant of a brother to my gg-grandfather matches mine.

While searching for whichever of William and Sarah's descendants might be my ancestor, I have more or less concluded their son Hardy is the most likely candidate.  He was born in Halifax Co., NC c1763 and died Mar. 6, 1841 in Greencastle, Putnam Co., IN.

Hardy was found on the Wilkes Co. 1787 tax rolls in Captain Ferguson's District and, again in 1830 Hawkins Co., TN.  Other names found on the 1787 list, and pertinent to this genealogy were:  John Coffee (owned stud horse), Thomas Coffee, Reuben Coffee (two, one with note "Estate of James Coffee, dec'd.), Elender Coffee, Benjamin Coffee (owned stud horse), Jane Coffee.

Except for Ellender, these Coffey names match children of John Coffey and Jane Graves.  John Coffey died in 1775 so Jane Coffee could be his widow.  The James Coffee, dec'd would also be a son of John and Jane, who died in Wilkes Co. in 1786.

In Captain Isbell's District I found Joel Coffee, and Colbey [sic] Rucker.  Hardy appeared in the 1784-1787 (enumerated in 1785) NC State Census as a white male, age 21-60, with a white female in the household.  Families adjacent to him were John Coffey, Thomas Coffee [sic], Reubin Coffey, Elizabeth Coffey, Stephen Carpenter and, Benjamin Coffey.  Stephen Carpenter was father of Hardy's wife, Frances Carpenter.

With an age spread as required at the time by the NC census, it is impossible to accurately determine the age of any person enumerated.  Elizabeth Coffey appears in the census as head of household and likely a widow.  I believe she would have been Elizabeth Cleveland, the widow of Rev. James Coffey.  There were no males 21-60 in the household but, there were two males under 21, 1 female and 3 blacks. I don't know how old Elizabeth was, but if she was James' widow, she would been in her 50's.

James and Elizabeth had only two daughters that I know of: Elizabeth, born c1751 and Martha, born c1758.  I believe Elizabeth would have been deceased in Wayne Co., KY before my GGG Coffey was born.  Martha died in Wayne Co. in 1826 but was married and believed to be in KY before the Rev. War began.

My GGG named his first daughter Mary Elizabeth, perhaps after his own mother.  His second daughter was Margaret, apparently named for his wife's mother, Margaret Lloyd Taylor.  He named his first two sons John Fielding; John perhaps for his father-in-law, whose middle name we do not know.  His second son was, James M. for perhaps Pres. James Madison (1751-1836) or, James Mills.  James M. Coffee was my paternal g-grandfather.  Lilburn then had a son whom he named for himself and later a daughter named Ellen.

John, another son of William and Sarah, John Mills, birth unknown but probably between 1770 and 1780, married Alice "Allie" Coffey in Wilkes Co., NC on Mar. 19, 1804.  Allie was a daughter of Ambrose and Mildred "Millie" Moore Coffey, born c1788 in Burke Co.  Ambrose was a grandson of John and Jane Graves Coffey.

These bits and pieces of circumstantial evidence gives me a bit of confidence that I am somewhat justified in considering Hardy, an older brother to John, as my ancestor.

The first problem that I have is the probability that Hardy left NC before 1820.  A Hardy Mills, and the only Mills,  was in Pulaski Co., GA in 1820 and in Hawkins Co., TN in 1830.  He was in Indiana from at least 1837 to death in 1841.  Of course, he could have learned in 1819 that he had impregnated a young woman - he would have been in his late 50's by 1820 - and decided to head to a safer place.  He had married Frances Carpenter in Wilkes Co. in 1785.  I do not know when she died, but the 1820 GA census does not list a woman of the right age to have been Frances.  There was such a female in the 1830 household in Hawkins Co. which might mean a second wife.  There were no Coffey families in Pulaski Co., GA in 1820.  There was a Thomas Coffee [sic] in Wilkes Co., GA that year.

Another problem, and perhaps the one most difficult to overcome at the moment is the possibility that one of Hardy's sons could have been my ancestor.  He had at least four, three of which would have been old enough to sire children by 1820.

One son, James, was born c1782 in Wilkes Co.; Henry and William followed James in 1798 and 1799-1800 respectively.  James married in before 1804 at Tazewell in Claiborne Co., TN.  Henry married in 1820 at Rockingham Co., NC and. William married in Jefferson Co., TN in 1819.  Based purely on birth years, of his other sone, there were likely more children born to Hardy between 1782 and 1798.  Another son, Hardy, Jr. was born c1808 and would have been only about 12-14 years old when my ancestor was born.

Clearly, more census work is needed to determine what Coffey and Mills families were living in TN counties other than Hawkins in c1820 and 1830.  That will help determine if any were living within spittin' distance of any Mills related to William and Sarah Ellis Mills.  Coffey families on the tax rolls and living adjacent to Hardy in 1787 need to be studied more and time lines developed.  I see no other way to eliminate the various Coffey females until I find the one who perhaps had a liaison with Hardy.

 Jack





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