January 23, 2015

Willard Duane Coffey

Jasper Pink Coffey*
George Alexander Coffey was a son of Jasper Pink¹ and Mary Jane Minton Coffey.  George left Caldwell Co., NC sometime in early 1900 and relocated to Kenesaw, Adams Co. in Nebraska.  He was 26 years old, having been born on May. 27, 1874.  For a while, he resided with the Alvin B. Mechan family but, by August he was married to Grace Percy Armitage.

Census records of 1910 and 1920 (George died in Dec., 1928) show that they had but one child, a son named Willard Duane Coffey, born in 1903.  On Christmas Day, 1906, Willard Duane was alleged to have been kidnapped by his Uncle Enoch Coffey.

Apparently Uncle Enoch, thought then to be a resident of Kansas², wanted to take the child for a Christmas ride on the train.  Or, at least that was the excuse for taking the child.  Apparently, Duane's parents knew nothing of that plan.

At almost the same time Uncle Enoch was absconding with the child, Grace began to search for help in preventing the kidnap. 

The Evening Statesman of Walla Walla, WA³ carried a short piece on the attempted kidnap with dateline of Jan., 6, 1906 at Hastings, NE in which Dr. J. S. Latta of Kenesaw was credited with rescuing the child.

I'm certain many readers have seen movies in which an automobile is racing to cut off a train.  This was one of those scenes.  Dr. Latta began chasing the train as it left the Kenesaw Depot on Christmas afternoon of 1905.  The touring car that Dr. Latta was driving kept up pretty much with the train but fell behind a little and the rescue was not successful at the first train stop.  But they each arrived at the Hastings depot at the same time and the child was removed from the train.

Uncle Enoch insisted that he "merely meant to take the child down the road a short distance and return with him on a later train."  Lending some credence to Uncle Enoch's story is the distance covered by the chase was about 15 miles.

Enoch is not known to have married and died at age 35 on Apr. 15,1921 at Geary Co., KS.  He is buried near his parents at Highland Cemetery in Junction City.

Willard, in his early 20's, relocated to Los Angeles Co., CA where he met and married Rosalie F. Markovetz, a Minnesota girl born to parents from Bohemia.  They apparently divorced sometime after 1930 and he married Winifred M. Bussler, born in IA, in Los Angeles.  Rosalie later married a Mr. Norgard and died in 1987 at San Mateo, CA.  Willard, who was a long time US Postal employee died in Orange Co., CA in 1988.


¹Jasper, born Sep. 16, 1851 in Mortimer Twp., Caldwell Co., NC, died Apr. 3, 1928 in Topeka, Shawnee Co., KS, was a son of Lucinda and a previously supposed spouse, Joseph Coffey.  That Joseph Coffey has not been found has made Jasper's ancestry somewhat suspicious.

Jasper married Mary Jane Minton on Apr. 21, 1873 in Boone Twp., Watauga Co., NC and by 1900 was in Geary Co., KS with his family.  They did not leave for Kansas until after Jul., 1888 (and probably not before 1900) when their seventh child of nine, Ellis La Fayette Coffey was born in Caldwell Co.  This birth is confirmed by record found in Caldwell Co. birth index, Vol. 12, Page 62.  The 1900 census for Geary Co. lists the whole family, except for eldest son George who was already married.  All of the children are shown with birth place in North Carolina.

Just recently, through DNA testing of a descendant of Jasper, it has been determined that Jasper's father was an Estes.

Anyone familiar with North Carolina Coffey families knows that there has been a long relationship between these two families.  It is sort of like some have told me: "scratch a Gragg, find a Coffey."  That could also be said for the Estes families in that state.

If the researcher looks at the 1850 census for the Johns River district in Caldwell county, the Enoch Coffey family (Lucinda was his daughter) will be found on Page 8, dwelling/family 111.  Langston Estes, age 64 is found at family 113.  Family 114 is Joseph Estes, married to Dicey with one child, Loretta age 1.

Could this Joseph Estes be the "Joseph Coffey" who fathered Jasper?  Very likely!

²Except for a short period when Jasper and Mary Jane lived in Macon Co., MO, Jasper and Mary Minton Coffey resided from at least 1900 through about 1928, in Geary and Shawnee Counties, KS.  Sometime just prior to Mary Jane's death, she and Jasper relocated to Macon Co., MO where she died.  Her Missouri death certificate names her as her own mother and Jasper as her father.

³http://1.usa.gov/1GHdJn4, Page 4, Col. 4

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