August 30, 2014

Wallace Lee Coffey (1917-2000)

Wallace Lee Coffey
Wallace, a member of America's "greatest generation," was born to Charles I. and Mary Ann Hendricks Coffey in Owen Co., IN on Aug. 12, 1917.

Charles Iomer Coffey was a son of the Rev. Cyrus V. and Elizabeth Ella Brown Coffey, both of whom were born and raised in Indiana.  Charles' parents were Jason, a native of North Carolina and Rachel Corder, an Indiana native.

Jason's father was Larkin Coffey (1800 Wilkes Co., NC-Jan. 12, 1881 Owen Co., IN); his mother Catherine H. Wilson (1802 Wilkes Co.-1857 Owen Co.), both natives of Wilkes Co., NC.  After their marriage in that county in 1826, they moved west, and in 1841 were found on the tax rolls in Morgan Co., IN.1

Jason was born in 1829 and accompanied his parents to Indiana where he married Rachel, born 1832 in that state, on Mar. 17, 1853.2

Cyrus and Elizabeth Ella Brown Coffey were parents of at least nine:  Orpha May; Charles Iomen; Flora Rachel; Ada Florence; Jason Ray; Nellie Mabel; Mary Esther; Wendell Holmes and Charlotte Virgie.

Charles Iomer and Mary Ann had at least seven children:  Edna May; Stella Murl; Dorothy M; Bernice L; Wallace Lee; Arthur E. and Verlin M.

Coffey-Klar Marriage Record
Having been born near the end of WW1, Wallace Lee missed an opportunity to serve his country.  Not so in WW2.  He apparently had a normal farm life in Indiana until he enlisted in the US Army at Fort Benjamin Harrison, IN on Feb. 26, 1944.  He may have received his basic military training at Fort Ben and later that year was sent as an infantry soldier to Germany to fight NAZIs.  Unfortunately, he was captured shortly after his arrival.  He was taken prisoner on Oct. 14, 1944 and assigned to Stalag VII A at Moosburg, in Bavaria.  This prison was originally built to hold about 10,000 prisoners but, source reports at least 80,000 allied troops were held there by the end of the war.

Wallace was repatriated on Feb. 21, 1945 and the war in Europe was over some two months later.  He returned to Indiana where on Dec. 24, 1948 he married Minnie M. Klar in Spencer Co., IN.3   His memorial at Find-A-Grave reports that he was married once prior to Minnie but does not give her name.  A 1940 census entry for Clay Co., IN shows Wallace Coffey, age 22, married to Ruth, age 29 and one son, Edward Lee Coffey, born Apr. 20, 1937 in Owen Co.  Edward married a lady named Phyllis A. c1957.  She was born on Jan. 2, 1940 and died on Dec. 3, 2007.  Edward preceded her in death on Jul. 20, 1979.  Both died in Indiana and are buried at Riverside Cemetery in Spencer.

Additions and corrections welcomed!


1Charles Blanchard, Editor, Counties of Morgan, Monroe and Brown, Indiana. Historical and Biographical (Chicago, IL: F. A. Battey & Co. Publishers, 1884), Page 502. Indiana Marriage Records Index, 1845-1920. Provo, UT:, 2000. Original Data: Works Progress Administration. Index to Marriage Records Indiana: Indiana Works Progress Administration, 1938-1940., Marriage Book 3, Page 20. [This source does not provide county where marriage was celebrated]

3"Indiana, Marriages, 1811-1959" index and images,  FamilySearch  ( accessed 30 Aug 2014), Wallace L Coffey and Minnie M Watkins, 24 Dec 1948; citing Daviess County; FHL microfilm 001939654.

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