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Elijah Coffey

Birthdate: (53)
Birthplace: Yadkin Valley, Caldwell County, North Carolina, United States
Death: Died in Patterson, Caldwell County, North Carolina, United States
Place of Burial: Lenoir, Caldwell County, North Carolina, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of William Coffey, Jr. and Margaret Coffey, Jr
Husband of Mary Ann Coffey
Father of Lee T Coffey; John W Coffey; Harriet E Coffey; Mary Coffey and George N Coffey
Brother of Elbert Coffey; Pvt Larkin Coffey; Bartlett Coffey; Cornelius Coffey; Elizabeth Robbins and 4 others

Managed by: Lee Beasley Garvey
Last Updated:

About Elijah Coffey

Elijah Coffey was the second of eleven children born to William Coffey (1812-93) and his wife Margaret Robbins Coffey (1816-82). Since the late 18th century, the Coffey and Robbins families were widely settled in the upper Yadkin River Valley, known also as Happy Valley. Elijah grew up on his father's farm in the Buffalo area of the Valley.

The secession of North Carolina from the Union on May 20, 1861 was likely not a cause for celebration in William Coffey's family. For the most part, Caldwell County and the rest of the mountain region of the state were strongly Unionist and remained so throughout the ensuing civil war. Of the sons of William Coffey, none raced to volunteer for the Confederate Army. Only Larkin enlisted before the draconian Conscription Act of April 1862 offered young men the stark choice of enlistment in the Confederate Army or flight to the Union side. Elijah and brothers Elbert and Bartlett elected to join the rebel army. They enlisted together on July 5, 1862--more than a year after the outbreak of hostilities--and served together in the same unit. Of the four Coffey brothers who went off to war, only Elijah and Bartlett returned.

Civil War Service: Elijah Coffey served as private in Company E, 58th Regiment North Carolina Troops. According to North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster, Vol. 14 (1998) he "resided as a farmer prior to enlisting in Caldwell County at age 23, July 5, 1862, for the war. Reported present in January-June, 1863. Reported in duty as a cooper at Loudon, Tennessee, in September-October, 1863. Reported present in January-April, 1864. Wounded in left hand ("loosing [sic] one finger") at Resaca, Georgia, May 14-15, 1864. Returned to duty prior to September 1, 1864. No further records. Survived the war. [Previously served as 2nd Lieutenant in the 95th Regiment N.C. Militia. North Carolina pension records indicate that he was wounded in the right hip at Chickamauga, Georgia, September 19-20, 1863.]" [p. 328] [NOTE: In his daybook (see below), Elijah does not mention any participation at Chickamauga, much less receiving a hip wound.]

Elijah kept a daybook of his service in the Civil War. The small, leather bound book was originally owned by his older brother Elbert. After Elbert's death from measles in May 1862, Elijah continued the record, noting the movements of his unit until the last days of the war. The book has descended in the family.

As the Confederate Army disintegrated during its retreat after the Battle of Bentonville (March 19-22, 1865), Elijah apparently joined the thousands of exhausted soldiers who abandoned their units and made their way home. Signing the Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. Constitution on August 19, 1865, Elijah resumed his life as a farmer and millwright. Soon he began courting Mary Ann Nelson (1843-1929), the daughter of a neighboring farmer and sister of a regimental comrade. The couple were married on June 20, 1867. Elijah built a house in the valley near Patterson where he and Mary Ann raised five children: Harriet "Hattie" E. (b. 1868), John William (b. 1869), Lee Thomas (b.1871), George Nelson (b. 1875), and Mary Ellen (b.1880).

Though his own education was limited, Elijah and Mary Ann made sure that all of their children received as good an education as was available in that remote valley. His older son John attended the Globe Academy, a respected private school in the neighboring Globe community. Son George attended the University of North Carolina and received a Ph.D. in geology from George Washington University. Elder daughter Hattie married a school teacher and younger daughter Mary was a much beloved teacher and principal in Lenoir.

Elijah was a devoutly religious man who took theology seriously. He was raised in the Baptist faith but later transferred allegiance to the Adventist Church which had gained converts throughout the mountains. He was also an early and devoted member of Hibritten Lodge, A.F. & A.M.

In his later years, Elijah was plagued by chronic ill health. In August 1891 the Lenoir Topic reported him "very sick with neuralgia and bronchial affection." [Lenoir Topic (Lenoir, N.C.), August 19, 1891.] He died only a few weeks later at the age of fifty-three.


_________________________________

Obituary Notices

After a lingering illness of many months Mr. Elijah Coffey passed away, at his residence on the Yadkin, on Tuesday evening of last week. He was a good, christian man and is mourned by many friends. He leaves behind him a wife and five children. Mr. Coffey was about 50 years of age. He was buried at Harper's Chapel on Thursday, Rev. G.D. Sherrill officiating. The funeral was attended by a large concourse of friends and relatives. [Lenoir Topic (Lenoir, NC), October 14, 1891, p.3.]


At his home in Caldwell Co., N.C., Oct. 6, 1891. Bro. Elijah Coffey, aged fifty-three years, one month, and sixteen days.

Bro. Coffey leaves in this sorrowing world a wife, three sons and two daughters, all of whom love the doctrine of the soon coming King and kingdom. The deceased was a deacon in the Advent church at Yadkin Grove since its organization; a zealous worker in the cause, a bright example of meekness, and much loved and respected even by those who refused to assent to the doctrines so dear to him. He will be greatly missed by the church, the Sunday School and society, as well as at home. In his farewell words he said, 'The parting will not be long.' Many attended the funeral. Address by the writer.

G.D. Sherrill.

[Obituary, unknown newspaper (Caldwell Co.), October 1891. Clipping in Coffey Family Archive]


To the Editor of the Lenoir Topic:

A large congregation of kinfolks, neighbors and friends gathered on the 8th of October to witness the burial of Mr. Elijah Coffey, of Patterson township.

He was born on the 20th of August, 1838, and died at his home in Yadkin Valley on the 6th of October, 1891, aged 53 years, 2 months and 16 days. He was buried at Harper's Chapel, where the funeral service took place. What St. Luke said of Barnabas may be said of Bro. Coffey, "he was a good man.["]

As a man of business he was very persevering and industrious, and his good success proved him a man of good judgment. He left his family well provided for, and his business affairs in good shape. As a citizen and neighbor he was kind, true and loyal, firm in his convictions of right and duty. Some of his neighbors say he moved on so quietly they hardly knew his real worth till he was gone. He was a faithful soldier and suffered the hardships with us while we contended for the "lost cause."

Bro. Coffey possessed the good qualities of a true man, but it was as a Christian that his character was most conspicuous. In his early life he joined the Baptist church and remained so till he was convinced that man has no eternal life, or inherent immortality, and being a man who had the courage of his honest convictions, and believing it a matter of too much importance to be held in silence he boldly maintained his views. For this he was excluded from the church and was one of the members in the organization of the Second Adventist church near his home. He believed the time is near when a personal Savior, the Lord Jesus, will come to raise the dead and judge the world, and establish his long foretold kingdom upon the earth made new, cleansed from sin and all its effects.

In his last severe sickness he often told his family and friends that this hope was his strong support, that the separation would be of short duration, and the meeting joyous.

His dear wife and children, two daughters and three sons have the sympathy of many friends.

His own father and father-in-law were present at the burying[.]

       G.D. SHERRILL.

[Lenoir Topic (Lenoir, NC), November 11, 1891, p.2.]


In Memory of Elijah Coffey. To the Editor of the Lenoir Topic: Many hearts were made sad by the announcement of the death of Elijah Coffey near Patterson, Caldwell county, N.C., October the 6th 1892 [sic], I have been waiting for some one of his many friends to write a more extensive sketch of his moral and christian life, but perhaps a feeling of incompetency to do justice has deterred them as it has the present writer. I read my church and country papers in which I scarcely ever put my name, but I am unwilling that the friend and brother I loved so much should not have a more extended notice from the press. I lived a near neighbor to him for over fifteen years, was at his home frequently, was intimate with him both in moral and spiritual affairs of life, always finding him manifesting that grand and noble Christian character which becometh no other than the true follower of the blessed master. He was an attentive bible reader and delighted to converse upon the subject of religion. Many times have I seen and heard him express himself in our class and prayer meetings as being ready for the summons of the master's call, and while we sorrow it is not as those that are without hope, for we are fully persuaded that his gentle spirit was borne by the holy angels to the paradise of God. He professed faith in Christ in early life, the date of which I am not prepared to give, joined the Baptist church, filling the place of deacon for many years with other important trusts of the same. He was loyal to our blessed Lord, living the greater part of his days a devout member of the Christian church. In later years he joined the Adventist church, but this changing relationship of churches did not mar nor lessen his faith in Christ which he plainly showed to the world. He carried his religion into the minute transactions of life, always leaning upon the strong arm of his God. Gentle and kind in all his dealings with his fellow man honest and upright in all things, letting his light shine out before the world which is the only true testimony of a Christian life. He erected a family altar [i.e. family Bible study] in his home (God bless the family altar) around which he brought his wife and children consecrating themselves unto the Lord.

He married the eldest daughter of John and Elizabeth Nelson. The Lord blessed them with five children, three sons and two daughters, all of which survive him. He lived to see them all happily converted connecting themselves with the Church, save one little daughter; may that gentle hand of mercy soon lead her into the fold.

He served as a soldier through the late war, being in a number of engagements, Missionary ridge, Dalton and on down to Resaca, Ga. There on Sunday the 14th day of May, 1864, as many of our Caldwell soldiers will remember, after a long and sharp engagement, we were called to cross the works. He being one of the first to scale them received a serious wound in the right hand, the marks of which he carried to his grave. He was with his regiment to the last, being at Bentonville, last battle of the war.

But alas, I must close. His disease had been preying upon his system for more than two long years, gradually growing worse. At length seeing his dangerous condition, Dr. A. F. Houck, his family physician, was called in, attending on him with all the faithfulness and skill of a most noble and kind hearted doctor. His disease ran on until it was soon seen that his case was almost a hopeless one. But still he bore it with Christian fortitude almost without a murmur, till at length being fully apprised of his condition, feeling assured that he must soon go; it being about the hour of 4 a.m., while watching at his bedside, he turned his face toward me and said calmly and coolly, "Why all this suffering? Why not I go and be at rest?" I talked with him in as comforting words as I knew how. Then a gentle smile seemed to steal over his face, "If I fall asleep it will not be long until the master comes." How appropriate was this to him!

"Asleep in Jesus! blessed sleep, From which none ever wake to weep."

Farewell, brother! How true is the saying of the wise man, "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches; mark the perfect man and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace."

   W.R. NELSON

[Lenoir Topic (Lenoir, NC), March 23, 1892, p.4.]

Elijah Coffey was the second of eleven children born to William Coffey (1812-93) and his wife Margaret Robbins Coffey (1816-82). Since the late 18th century, the Coffey and Robbins families were widely settled in the upper Yadkin River Valley, known also as Happy Valley. Elijah grew up on his father's farm in the Buffalo area of the Valley.

The secession of North Carolina from the Union on May 20, 1861 was likely not a cause for celebration in William Coffey's family. For the most part, Caldwell County and the rest of the mountain region of the state were strongly Unionist and remained so throughout the ensuing civil war. Of the sons of William Coffey, none raced to volunteer for the Confederate Army. Only Larkin enlisted before the draconian Conscription Act of April 1862 offered young men the stark choice of enlistment in the Confederate Army or flight to the Union side. Elijah and brothers Elbert and Bartlett elected to join the rebel army. They enlisted together on July 5, 1862--more than a year after the outbreak of hostilities--and served together in the same unit. Of the four Coffey brothers who went off to war, only Elijah and Bartlett returned.

Civil War Service: Elijah Coffey served as private in Company E, 58th Regiment North Carolina Troops. According to North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster, Vol. 14 (1998) he "resided as a farmer prior to enlisting in Caldwell County at age 23, July 5, 1862, for the war. Reported present in January-June, 1863. Reported in duty as a cooper at Loudon, Tennessee, in September-October, 1863. Reported present in January-April, 1864. Wounded in left hand ("loosing [sic] one finger") at Resaca, Georgia, May 14-15, 1864. Returned to duty prior to September 1, 1864. No further records. Survived the war. [Previously served as 2nd Lieutenant in the 95th Regiment N.C. Militia. North Carolina pension records indicate that he was wounded in the right hip at Chickamauga, Georgia, September 19-20, 1863.]" [p. 328] [NOTE: In his daybook (see below), Elijah does not mention any participation at Chickamauga, much less receiving a hip wound.]

Elijah kept a daybook of his service in the Civil War. The small, leather bound book was originally owned by his older brother Elbert. After Elbert's death from measles in May 1862, Elijah continued the record, noting the movements of his unit until the last days of the war. The book has descended in the family.

As the Confederate Army disintegrated during its retreat after the Battle of Bentonville (March 19-22, 1865), Elijah apparently joined the thousands of exhausted soldiers who abandoned their units and made their way home. Signing the Oath of Allegiance to the U.S. Constitution on August 19, 1865, Elijah resumed his life as a farmer and millwright. Soon he began courting Mary Ann Nelson (1843-1929), the daughter of a neighboring farmer and sister of a regimental comrade. The couple were married on June 20, 1867. Elijah built a house in the valley near Patterson where he and Mary Ann raised five children: Harriet "Hattie" E. (b. 1868), John William (b. 1869), Lee Thomas (b.1871), George Nelson (b. 1875), and Mary Ellen (b.1880).

Though his own education was limited, Elijah and Mary Ann made sure that all of their children received as good an education as was available in that remote valley. His older son John attended the Globe Academy, a respected private school in the neighboring Globe community. Son George attended the University of North Carolina and received a Ph.D. in geology from George Washington University. Elder daughter Hattie married a school teacher and younger daughter Mary was a much beloved teacher and principal in Lenoir.

Elijah was a devoutly religious man who took theology seriously. He was raised in the Baptist faith but later transferred allegiance to the Adventist Church which had gained converts throughout the mountains. He was also an early and devoted member of Hibritten Lodge, A.F. & A.M.

In his later years, Elijah was plagued by chronic ill health. In August 1891 the Lenoir Topic reported him "very sick with neuralgia and bronchial affection." [Lenoir Topic (Lenoir, N.C.), August 19, 1891.] He died only a few weeks later at the age of fifty-three.


_________________________________

Obituary Notices

After a lingering illness of many months Mr. Elijah Coffey passed away, at his residence on the Yadkin, on Tuesday evening of last week. He was a good, christian man and is mourned by many friends. He leaves behind him a wife and five children. Mr. Coffey was about 50 years of age. He was buried at Harper's Chapel on Thursday, Rev. G.D. Sherrill officiating. The funeral was attended by a large concourse of friends and relatives. [Lenoir Topic (Lenoir, NC), October 14, 1891, p.3.]


At his home in Caldwell Co., N.C., Oct. 6, 1891. Bro. Elijah Coffey, aged fifty-three years, one month, and sixteen days.

Bro. Coffey leaves in this sorrowing world a wife, three sons and two daughters, all of whom love the doctrine of the soon coming King and kingdom. The deceased was a deacon in the Advent church at Yadkin Grove since its organization; a zealous worker in the cause, a bright example of meekness, and much loved and respected even by those who refused to assent to the doctrines so dear to him. He will be greatly missed by the church, the Sunday School and society, as well as at home. In his farewell words he said, 'The parting will not be long.' Many attended the funeral. Address by the writer.

G.D. Sherrill.

[Obituary, unknown newspaper (Caldwell Co.), October 1891. Clipping in Coffey Family Archive]


To the Editor of the Lenoir Topic:

A large congregation of kinfolks, neighbors and friends gathered on the 8th of October to witness the burial of Mr. Elijah Coffey, of Patterson township.

He was born on the 20th of August, 1838, and died at his home in Yadkin Valley on the 6th of October, 1891, aged 53 years, 2 months and 16 days. He was buried at Harper's Chapel, where the funeral service took place. What St. Luke said of Barnabas may be said of Bro. Coffey, "he was a good man.["]

As a man of business he was very persevering and industrious, and his good success proved him a man of good judgment. He left his family well provided for, and his business affairs in good shape. As a citizen and neighbor he was kind, true and loyal, firm in his convictions of right and duty. Some of his neighbors say he moved on so quietly they hardly knew his real worth till he was gone. He was a faithful soldier and suffered the hardships with us while we contended for the "lost cause."

Bro. Coffey possessed the good qualities of a true man, but it was as a Christian that his character was most conspicuous. In his early life he joined the Baptist church and remained so till he was convinced that man has no eternal life, or inherent immortality, and being a man who had the courage of his honest convictions, and believing it a matter of too much importance to be held in silence he boldly maintained his views. For this he was excluded from the church and was one of the members in the organization of the Second Adventist church near his home. He believed the time is near when a personal Savior, the Lord Jesus, will come to raise the dead and judge the world, and establish his long foretold kingdom upon the earth made new, cleansed from sin and all its effects.

In his last severe sickness he often told his family and friends that this hope was his strong support, that the separation would be of short duration, and the meeting joyous.

His dear wife and children, two daughters and three sons have the sympathy of many friends.

His own father and father-in-law were present at the burying[.]

       G.D. SHERRILL.

[Lenoir Topic (Lenoir, NC), November 11, 1891, p.2.]


In Memory of Elijah Coffey. To the Editor of the Lenoir Topic: Many hearts were made sad by the announcement of the death of Elijah Coffey near Patterson, Caldwell county, N.C., October the 6th 1892 [sic], I have been waiting for some one of his many friends to write a more extensive sketch of his moral and christian life, but perhaps a feeling of incompetency to do justice has deterred them as it has the present writer. I read my church and country papers in which I scarcely ever put my name, but I am unwilling that the friend and brother I loved so much should not have a more extended notice from the press. I lived a near neighbor to him for over fifteen years, was at his home frequently, was intimate with him both in moral and spiritual affairs of life, always finding him manifesting that grand and noble Christian character which becometh no other than the true follower of the blessed master. He was an attentive bible reader and delighted to converse upon the subject of religion. Many times have I seen and heard him express himself in our class and prayer meetings as being ready for the summons of the master's call, and while we sorrow it is not as those that are without hope, for we are fully persuaded that his gentle spirit was borne by the holy angels to the paradise of God. He professed faith in Christ in early life, the date of which I am not prepared to give, joined the Baptist church, filling the place of deacon for many years with other important trusts of the same. He was loyal to our blessed Lord, living the greater part of his days a devout member of the Christian church. In later years he joined the Adventist church, but this changing relationship of churches did not mar nor lessen his faith in Christ which he plainly showed to the world. He carried his religion into the minute transactions of life, always leaning upon the strong arm of his God. Gentle and kind in all his dealings with his fellow man honest and upright in all things, letting his light shine out before the world which is the only true testimony of a Christian life. He erected a family altar [i.e. family Bible study] in his home (God bless the family altar) around which he brought his wife and children consecrating themselves unto the Lord.

He married the eldest daughter of John and Elizabeth Nelson. The Lord blessed them with five children, three sons and two daughters, all of which survive him. He lived to see them all happily converted connecting themselves with the Church, save one little daughter; may that gentle hand of mercy soon lead her into the fold.

He served as a soldier through the late war, being in a number of engagements, Missionary ridge, Dalton and on down to Resaca, Ga. There on Sunday the 14th day of May, 1864, as many of our Caldwell soldiers will remember, after a long and sharp engagement, we were called to cross the works. He being one of the first to scale them received a serious wound in the right hand, the marks of which he carried to his grave. He was with his regiment to the last, being at Bentonville, last battle of the war.

But alas, I must close. His disease had been preying upon his system for more than two long years, gradually growing worse. At length seeing his dangerous condition, Dr. A. F. Houck, his family physician, was called in, attending on him with all the faithfulness and skill of a most noble and kind hearted doctor. His disease ran on until it was soon seen that his case was almost a hopeless one. But still he bore it with Christian fortitude almost without a murmur, till at length being fully apprised of his condition, feeling assured that he must soon go; it being about the hour of 4 a.m., while watching at his bedside, he turned his face toward me and said calmly and coolly, "Why all this suffering? Why not I go and be at rest?" I talked with him in as comforting words as I knew how. Then a gentle smile seemed to steal over his face, "If I fall asleep it will not be long until the master comes." How appropriate was this to him!

"Asleep in Jesus! blessed sleep, From which none ever wake to weep."

Farewell, brother! How true is the saying of the wise man, "A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches; mark the perfect man and behold the upright, for the end of that man is peace."

   W.R. NELSON

[Lenoir Topic (Lenoir, NC), March 23, 1892, p.4.]

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Elijah Coffey's Timeline

1838
August 20, 1838
Yadkin Valley, Caldwell County, North Carolina, United States
1868
1868
Age 29
North Carolina, United States
1870
1870
Age 31
1872
1872
Age 33
1880
1880
Age 41
1891
October 6, 1891
Age 53
Patterson, Caldwell County, North Carolina, United States
1891
Age 52
Lenoir, Caldwell County, North Carolina, United States
????