February 25, 2016

Thomas Jefferson Coffee (1805-1858)


Thomas was born Feb. 16, 1805 in Burke Co., NC.  He was the eighth of 11 children born to Ambrose and Mildred "Millie" Moore Coffey.  

Ambrose had wandered down from Blue Run in Orange Co., VA to Wayne Co., KY where Millie was born in 1770 to Jesse and Alley Johnson Moore. Ambrose and Millie married there sometime before 1788.¹  He descended from Edward Coffey through Edward's son John and John's son, Rev. James Coffey who married Elizabeth Cleveland.

Thomas spent his early life in North Carolina but eventually made his way to Mississippi where in 1827 he married Malinda Graves Haley in Hinds County.  All of their known children were born in that state; the last, Roxana in 1842.

By 1850 Thomas and Malinda were in Brazoria Co., TX with children Aaron, Ellen, Ambrose, Henry and Rosana [sic].

A daughter, Minerva, born in 1830 had married John Venable Lobdell in KY in 1848 which produced Henry Lee, born 1850 in Brazoria.  The child died there in 1852 and was buried in the Sandy Point cemetery. She and John soon moved back to MS but not before their daughter Bettie was born in Brazoria in 1854. Two other children, and overall a total of six were born to Minerva in two marriages.  John died in Bolivar in 1859.  In the 1860 census Minerva, a widow, claimed $130,000 in assets, or over $4 million in 2015 dollars.  

The Civil War would soon reduce that considerably!

In 1868, Minerva married the lawyer George Thomas Lightfoot in Bolivar Co. and by 1870 they were residing in Vicksburg, Warren Co., MS. George declared his assets to total $17,000.  In the household were two Lobdell children and one Lightfoot child.  Two unidentified Coffee children, one male age 2 mos., and one female, age 1, both born born in LA were also in the household. In 1900 she lived with her son, John Venable Lobdell, Jr. and was reported to have been the mother of six but only John survived.

I do not yet know when or where George Thomas Lightfoot died.  Minerva died on Jan. 23, 1907 in Rosedale, Bolivar Co. and was buried at the Beulah cemetery in Bolivar Co.

Col. Aaron Coffee was born in MS in Sep., 1832 and died in McKinney, Collin Co., TX on Feb. 28, 1912.  He married Mary Summerville Smith, born c1835 in VA, in Galvaston, TX on Mar. 28, 1860. They lived in Brazoria county in 1870 and in 1880 were in Collin Co., TX where he died in 1912 and is buried at the Pecan Grove cemetery in McKinney.  He and Mary had at least two children, Julia born in Galveston in 1864 and Cassie, born in 1878 at Collin Co.

Pre-Civil War, Aaron held 25 slaves. He was manager of the Halcyon plantation which held 132 slaves.  His total worth in 1860 was $267,000, almost $8 million in today's money.²

He served with Co. B, 13th Texas Infantry, CSA, during the Civil War.

Thomas died in Brazoria Co. in 1858; and Malinda, a year earlier.  Both are buried at Sandy Point in Brazoria.  They had other children but they are held for later.


¹Dr. Marvin D. Coffey, Author/Researcher, James Bluford Coffey: His ancestors and descendants in America, second printing (Medford, OR: n.p., 1994), Page 60. [That they returned to NC from KY might not be wholly accurate.  However, the next three children of Ambrose and Millie, George W., Holland and James Madison are said to have also been born in Burke Co. America, who married Samuel Lusk in 1822 Warren Co., TN is said to have been born in KY in 1801 and Lewis Moses, born 1798 is said to have been born in Stokes Co., NC.]

²Abigail Curlee Holbrook, "A Glimpse of Life on Antebellum Slave Plantations in Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 76 (April 1973). Ralph A. Wooster, "Wealthy Texans, 1860," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 71 (October 1967).


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