April 3, 2016

Baxter Coffey, 1856-1901

Purported to be Baxter Coffey
Not much is known of Baxter's life.  From news articles about his death in 1902, he appears to have been mentally abnormal.  He was born in May 1856 to Joel Coffey and his second wife, Mary Ann Mann and appeared in the 1860 census with them in Russell Co., KY.  He was with them in 1870 but in 1880 and 1900 he lived with his brother James, first in Russell Co. then in Green Co.  He is not known to have married.

The following is courtesy of Camila Coffey Lafaver and was found by her in The Green County Record:
"Last Friday Braxton Coffee [sic], of Camp Knox, came to town and started home with a barrell of coal oil and a barrell of salt on the wagon.  His wagon and one horse were found near Haskinsville with his shoes and coat in the wagon.  The other horse was found between the Christie's farm and Coburg, but no trace of him has yet been found up to Thursday night.  It is believed that he is mentally unbalanced."  [1]
 "Braxton Coffee [sic], the man who reported as leaving his wagon and one horse near Kaskinsville last week, was found Wednesday, frozen to death, in George Lee's field close to Griffin Springs, near Tampico, about four miles from where he left the wagon and horse.  The horse he took from the wagon was found Saturday morning near Coburg.
He has been slightly unbalanced for some time and what ever acted upon his disordered mind to induce him to commit the [act] which led to his death from exposure will never be known.  He was about 40 years of age and had never been married."[2] 
"The remains of Braxter Coffee [sic], who was found dead near Coburg last Wednesday, was interred at the family burial grounds near N. B. Loveall's last Thursday." [Source not given]
There are some reported "facts" in the articles that seem to me to be somewhat questionable:

The report that he drove a wagon alone, some 80 miles one way from Camp Knox to Coburg in Adair Co., seems unlikely. 

He was known to have been living with his brother James in Gresham, Green Co., KY in June of 1900 and to have been "slightly unbalanced."  It seems odd that his brother would have sent him traveling alone over such a distance from their home, requiring several days for the round trip.  I think it doubtful they were then living near present day Fort Knox, which is just south of Louisville.

Neither a town nor village of Kaskinsville is found near Coburg today.  Haskinsvills is not found either but county road 1913, known today as the Haskinsville Road, leads nearly due east out of Coburg. Gresham, KY is about 8 miles east of Coburg and CR1913 would have been a route that Baxter might be expected to take if he was returning to Gresham. This trip was one that Baxter might have made alone numerous times. 

Unless there existed at the time another "Camp Knox" near Coburg, the reference to that place seems to be in error. Not discounting typographical errors during transcription, the misspelling of Haskinsville and Baxter's given name give me reason to suspect the author of the articles did not investigate the facts more thoroughly before publication.

He is said to have been buried at the "Coffey Family burial ground" at Coburg.  A cemetery by that name has not been found.

Comments and corrections appreciated!

[1] Green County Death Records, Vol. 1, 1899-1905 & The Green County Record, Dec. 20, 1901
[2] The Green County Record, Dec. 27, 1901

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