June 6, 2016

Charles Shelby Coffey, Sr.

Among the well known and able representatives of the bar of Hamilton county is Charles S. Coffey*, a resident of this city, for the most part, since 1900.  Mr. Coffey is a native son of Kentucky, being born on the old home place of his parents near Monticello, in Wayne county, on the 18th day of June, 1882.  He comes of old and honored families of the Bluegrass state, and his parents being Lewis and Sophia (Buster) Coffey.  His father is now living retired in Danville, Kentucky.  His mother passed away on January 1, 1894.  Lewis Coffey was long numbered among the representative farming men of Wayne county, Kentucky, and was successful in his lifework, and so conducted himself as to win and hold the unqualified confidence and esteem of his fellow men.

Charles S. Coffey gained his early education in the public schools of Monticello, Kentucky, and was graduated from the high school of that place as a member of the class of 1898.  Thereafter he held a position as bookkeeper in a bank in Monticello for two years, at the expiration of which time, in 1900, he came to Chattanooga, where he was for some little time in the employ of the D. B. Loveman Company, one of the largest department stores in the city.  In January, 1902, Mr. Coffey entered the University of Tennessee, and in 1905 was duly graduated from the institution with the degree of Bachelor of Science.  the following year he was graduated from the law department of the same institution with the degree of Bachelor of Laws.

After his graduation Mr. Coffey returned to Chattanooga, and for some time he was supervisor at the real estate loan department of the Chattanooga Savings Bank, a position that was placed at his disposal soon after he returned to the city, and he continued in that position until September, 1910, when he resigned the same to engage in the practices of his profession.  About one year later he formed a partnership with Mr. Paul Campbell, under the firm name of Campbell & Coffey, and this alliance continued in effect for a year, at the expiration of which time Mr. James F. Finlay was admitted to partnership, and the title changed to its present form - Finlay, Campbell & Coffey.  this is known as one of the strong and successful law firms of Hamilton county, and Mr. Coffey, as one of its principals, has met with a pleasing degree of success in his profession, the branch which claims his chief attention being that of civil practice.

Mr. Coffey is unmarried.  He is a member of the Chattanooga Bar & Law Library Association, the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, and the Commercial Club, and he is affiliated with the Theta Lamda Phi and the Pi Kappa Alpha college fraternities.  Mr. Coffey is a Democrat, and while he is enthusiastic in the cause of the party, he has no desire for political preferment.  He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and has served for a number of years as a member of the board of the church of this denomination in his home city.

It may be mentioned here with all propriety that the father of Mr. Coffey was a valiant soldier of the Confederacy in the Civil war, and served in the command of General John H. Morgan.  Under this noted leader he participated in the famous Ohio raid, and was captured at that time by the Federal forces.  Thereafter he was held a prisoner at Camp Douglas, in the city of Chicago, until the close of the war.

Charles married on Nov. 21, 1916 to Mary Margaret Anderson in Chattanooga, Hamilton Co., TN.[1] Their first born was Charles, Jr. on Dec. 29, 1917 in Chattanooga.

Charles, Jr. was married to Mary Helen Stewart on Jul. 23, 1942 in Franklin Co., TN.  She was born Jul. 22, 1920 in Winchester, Johnson Co., TN and died Mar. 6, 2004 in Chattanooga and was buried at Forest Hills Cemetery in that city.  Charles died in Jun. 1974 and was also buried at Forest Hills.

Mary Helen Stewart was a daughter of Arthur Thomas Stewart (1892-1972).  Mr. Stewart was the prosecuting attorney in the 1925 "Scopes Monkey Trial" in which Clarence Darrow unsuccessfully defended John T. Scopes, a biology teacher at Dayton, TN. Mr. Scopes was found guilty and fined $100, which was never paid. Stewart died Oct. 10, 1972 in Nashville, TN and was buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in Winchester, Franklin Co., TN.[2]

Other children of Charles, Sr. and Mary were: Mary Catherine "Bitsy", 1920-2010, married James Garland Rawlings; Episcopal priest, Jonathan Bachman Coffey, 1921-2012, married Mary Elizabeth Corey; William Milton Coffey, 1924-2007, married Ruth Ann Pojman; an Robert Lewis Coffey, 1926-2010, married Frances Sue Davidson.


*Will Thomas Hale & Dixon L. Merritt, Authors, A History of Tennessee and Tennesseans: The Leaders and Representative Men in Commerce, Industry and Modern Activities, 8 Volumes (Chicago and New York: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1913), .

[1]"Tennessee Marriages, 1796-1950", index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/X8Y9-RVZ : accessed 04 Mar 2013), Chas. Shelby Coffey and Mary Margaret Anderson, 21 Nov 1916.
[2]"The Mobile Register, Mobile, AL", http://tinyurl.com/z2tdcst, Thu., Oct. 12, 1972 : accessed 6 Jun 2016.

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