March 31, 2015

The Story Behind The Cause of Death

William Riley Coffey, a descendant of William Wiley and Eliza Agnes Anderson Coffey, died on Jun. 2, 1943 in Maryville, Nodaway Co., MO.

His death certificate* reports that he died of a cerebral embolism due to a laceration of the neck, due to an accident caused when he was attacked by a cow.  The accident occurred on his farm but that's as far as the document takes us.

A few days before his death, he and Mrs. Coffey, Ocie Boston Coffey, were attempting to separate a cow from her calf.**  The cow being a new mother, attacked Mrs. Coffey and knocked her down three times, one of which broke the ankle of her left foot.

William went to her aid and the cow attacked him, knocking him to the ground.  It then trampled on him, one hoof opening a deep gash in William's throat.  It was this injury that became infected, resulting in his death.

When the cow finally returned to her calf, the couple crawled to the protection of a near-by corn cultivator.  From there, Mrs. Coffey was able to get to the family automobile and drive to get help. Both were admitted that day to the St. Francis Hospital in Maryville where William died a few days later.  He was 61 years old.

William is buried at the High Ridge Cemetery in Stanberry, Copper Twp., Gentry Co., MO.+


*William Riley Coffey, death certificate No. 25639 (1943), Missouri Digital Heritage,

**The Kansas City Star, Kansas City, MO, Wed., Jun. 9, 1943, Page 3

+Find A Grave, data and digital images ( : viewed 9 July 2014), memorial page for William Riley Coffey, Find A Grave Memorial # 85654631,

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