This data in the form presented here is 1998-2007 by Jack Coffee, and Coffey Cousins' Clearinghouse. It may not be copied or reproduced for presentation in any other form intended for sale, profit or for display at any location on the World Wide Web.


This information is from a xerox copy of a typed, and undated document provided to Coffey Cousins' by an unknown source. At the top of the first page, written by hand are the words "History of Watauga." At the end of the document is a label, much like that used on envelopes for return addresses. On the label is printed Mrs. Marie C. Ryals, 4401 N. Mizar Road, Richmond, Virginia 23231. I have not made any attempt to confirm the address, nor the accuracy of the information contained in this document.

Footnotes are provided by Coffey Cousins when information is available. As always, the accuracy of any information is subject to the user's independent confirmation.


Thomas Coffey was a son of John Coffey, and his wife Jane Graves, of the Church of England. His grandfather came from Ireland to America, where he died, leaving two sons and three daughters, as follows: John, Elizabeth, Patsy, Anister, and Edward. John married Jane Graves, whose parents came from England. They had six sons and two daughters, as follows: James, who married Elizabeth Cleveland; John who married Dorcas Carter; Edward, who married Nancy Shenaut; Thomas, who married, first, Eliza Smith, and, second, Sally Fields; Reuben, who married Sallie Scott; Benjamin, who married Polly Haues; William, who married Elizabeth Ashburn; Elizabeth, who married Thomas Fields, and Winifred, who married Nicholas Morrison.

The children of Thomas Coffey and his first wife, Eliza Smith, were Betsy, who married David Allen; John, who married Hannah Wilson; Thomas, who married ___ Coffey1; James, who married Delia Ferguson; Polly, who married William Coffey; Smith, who married Hannah Boone.

The children of Thomas Coffey and his wife, Sallie Fields, were: Martha, who married James Dowell; William, who married Annie Boone, niece of Daniel Boone; Reuben, who married Polly Dowell; Elijah, who married Polly Hull; Sally, who married Samuel Stewart; Jesse, who died unmarried; Lewis, who married Harriet Powell; Larkin, who married Catharine Wilson, and McCaleb, who married Elizabeth Collett.

McCaleb Coffey was born August 22, 1803, and married Elizabeth Collett, February 5, 1828. He died February 17, 1881. His wife was born March 8, 1809, and died July 6, 1887. Their children were Thomas Jefferson Coffey, who married Millie Greer; Charles L., who married Emily Coffey; Sarah A., who married John Steele; an infant who died unnamed; John E., drowned when a child; Mary L., who married George Nelson; Margaret, who died unmarried; W. Columbus, who married, first, Carrie Curtis, and, second, Mrs. Ada Penn; Martha E., unmarried; Henry C., who married Sophrinia Coffey; Carrie, who married David J. Farthing; James E., who died of diptheria at Petersburg, Va., in 1864; Rachel M., who married Thomas Coffey; Jennie, unmarried; Laura, died when four years old; Buddie, who died when two years old.

Smith Coffey, son of Thomas Coffey and Elizabeth Smith, his first wife, married Hannah Boone, a niece of Daniel Boone and a sister of Anna Boone. Their children were: Squire, who married Ella ___2; Morgan, who married ____; Athen, who married ____; Sallie, who married Wm. Puett; Leland, who married Myra Day; Isaac, who married Sallie Estes; Millie, who married, first, Wiley Stanley and then John Tritt.

Abram Collett came from Scotland and married Margaret Wakefield, by whom he had three children; Betsy, who married Thomas Church; Rachel, who married a Mr. Ingman; Charles, who married Amelia Parks, by whom he had ten children: Margaret, Rachel, Abram, Thomas, John, Mary, James, Elizabeth, Francis (sic), and McCoy. Of these, Rachel married William Wakefield; Abram married Mary Stewart; John married Margaret Murphy, who died, and then he married Eliza Jane Caldwell; James, who married Jane Stewart; Elizabeth, who married McCaleb Coffey, and Frances, who married Alfonso McGimpsey.

William Columbus Coffey. He was born near Patterson in Caldwell County April 3, 1839; went to Butler, Tenn., in April 1859, where he arrived with only three cents in his pocket. He went into business there, on the left back of Roan Creek and a little above the present residence of D. J. Farthing, where the store washed away in September, 1861. He waded waist-deep in the water trying to save the stock. In April, 1862, he went into the 26th North Carolina regiment, where he remained until 1863, when he got a transfer to the 58th North Carolina, Col. J. B. Palmer, in which he was elected third lieutenant in April, 1864, in which capacity he served till the 58th and 60th regiments were consolidated, when he became second lieutenant. He (sic) November, 1865, he came with his brother, Thomas Jefferson Coffey, to Boone and opened a store in the J. W. Councill store. In June, 1866, he left Boone and opened a branch store of Thos. J. Coffey & Bro. at what is now Zionville, near the head of Cove Creek, where he carried on business in a store room which is now gone, but which stoon on Reuben Farthing's land. He returned to Boone and assisted his brother to build the Coffey hotel and store in 1869, and moved into that hotel bfore it was completed, which was not until 1870. He married Carrie L. Curtis, daughter of Hezekiah Curtis, of Wilkesboro, in 1866. Their children were Edgar S., who married Anna Parks; Thomas Finley, who married, first, Jennie Councill, and, second, Blanche Wells, of Manning, S. C. After the death of his first wife, W. C. Coffey married Mrs. Ada Penn in July, 1908.

Thomas Jefferson Coffey was born near Patterson, Caldwell County, in December, 1828, and died in June, 1901. He taught school at Valle Crucis before the Civil War, but soon went into business at what is now Butler, Tenn. He joined the Confederate army, finally becomming captain of Company E, 58th North Carolina infantry. He married Mollie Greer about 1866. She is still living in Statesville. Their children were Elizabeth, who married Judge W. B. Councill; Margaret, who married Stacy Rambo, of Mountain City, Tenn., and Stewart, who married, first, a Miss Sanborn, and then a Mrs. Roby, and lives at Statesville. Before his death he and brother, W. C., entered into an agreement that whichever survived the other should carry on the firm business as long as he thought fit, and then divide the property. Upon the death of Thos. J., in 1901, W. C. carried on the business as before for about two years and until T. J.'s youngest child became twenty-one years old. He then divided the property into two lots. Lot No. 1 contained the stock of merchandise on hand, the debts due the firm, cash on hand and part of the land. In lot No. 2 where the greater part of the land and the livestock principally. T. J. Coffey's heirs were given choice of the two lots, and chose lot No. 1. Thomas J. Coffey had most to do with the building of the turnpike from Blowing Rock to Boone. He got the charter through the legislature and took the contract to build the road, which contract was given to himself and brother, W. C. Coffey. The survey was made by S. T. Kelsey, the overseeing was done by Alexander McRae, the work was commenced in August, 1893, and the road was finished in October, 1894.

Four Coffey Brothers.--To go back a little, Keith Blalock's mother had married Austin Coffey, while Keith was a very little boy, and Coffey reared him to manhood. Austin Coffey lived almost in signt of the home of his brother, McCaleb Coffey, in the Coffey Gap of the Blue Ridge and on the old Morganton Road. McCaleb was rather a Confederate sympathizer, having a son, Jones, in the Confederate army. Austin was rather a Union man, though too old to be drafted into the service. Of course, he sheltered and fed Keith and his comrades whenever he or they came to his home. But William and Reuben Coffey were pronounced Southern men, and active in forcing out-lyers and others subject to conscription into the ranks of the Confederate army. Meantime, Blalock was taking recruits through the lines into the Union army in Tennessee. Thus, a natural antagonism sprang up between him and William and Reuben Coffey.

Death of William Coffey.--Kirk's raid in 1864 emboldened the Unionists in Watauga County, and Blalock went about in Federal uniform, fully armed. Between August, 1864, and February, 1865, the prople of this section were harassed beyond measure, for not only had the deserters and outlyers to be fed by submitting to their thefts and robberies, but a body of men calling themselves Vaughn's Cavalry, and claiming to be Confederates, came from Tennessee to Boone on their way to Newton for the purpose of recruiting their horses, it was alleged, but to keep out of danger also, most probably. These men were worse than Kirk's or Stoneman's men, according to old people still living, stealing horses and mules and everything else they fancied. What they did not like they destroyed, throwing out the doors many of the household goods of the defenceless (sic) women and children. Col. W. L. Bryan and J. W. Councill followed them to Newton and recovered two horses they had stolen from the latter in 1865. In these circumstances, there is no wonder that Blalock hunted out his enemies. Reuben Coffey was first sought, but he was not at home when Keith called. He and his aids then went to William Coffey's field, forced him to go half a mile with them to James Gragg's mill, and to sit astride a rude bench, where he was shot, Blalock turning over that act to a man named Perkins, because of the fact that William Coffey was the brother of Austin Coffey, Keith's step-father. In 1864 Keith also had what he called a "battle" with Jesse Moore in Carroll Moore's orchard, in which Jesse was wounded in the heel and Keith had an eye shot out. Pat, a son of Daniel Moore, had a thigh broken in same fight. This was in the Globe, in Caldwell, however.

The Murder of Austin Coffey (son of Jesse Coffey, born in 1818; died on the 27th of February, 1865).--These activities soon brought some of Colonel Avery's battalion on the scene, and a party of Captain Jame Marlow's company went to McCaleb Coffey's house in the Coffey Gap. There they found Austin Coffey, who was recognized by John B. Boyd, and arrested. Boyd left his prisoner with Marlow's men and went on home in the Globe. That was Sunday, February 26, 1865. Nothing was soon of Austin Coffey after that till his body was discovered a week later in the woods by searchers sent out by his widow. All sorts of stories have been circulated as to what really happened to Austin, and it is only recently that what is probably the true account was obtained from J. Filmore Coffey, of Foscoe. This gentleman is a son of Austin Coffey, having been born in 1858. When he became a man and had married he stopped on night in 1882 at the house of a man named John Walker, near Shelby. When Walker learned Coffey's name and that he was the youngest son of Austin Coffey, Walker told him that he, Walker, had been a member of Marlow's company when Austin was turned over to them; that they had taken him to a vacant house about half way between Shull's Mills and Blowing Rock, known then as the Tom Henley place, where Nelson Coffey now lives, one-half mile west of the Blowing Rock Road. There a fire was kindled and Coffey went to sleep on the floor before it. While he was sleeping this John Walker was detailed to kill Austin Coffey, but refused. It was then that a base-born fellow, named Robert Glass, or Anders, volunteered to do the act, and while the old man slept shot him through the head. The body was taken to a laurel and ivy thicket near by and hidden. One wek later a dog was seen with a human hand in his mouth. Search revealed the body. Glass, after suffering much mental torture, died long before 1882 in Rutherford County. J. F. Coffey acquits both John Boyd and Major A. C. Avery of all complicity in his father's death.

Other "Activities".--About this time Levi Coffey, a son of Elisha, threw in his fortunes with Blalock and his companions, and when Benjamin Green and his men tried to arrest Levi at Mrs. Fox's house, above what is now Foscoe, the latter ran out of the house and was shot in the shoulder, but he escaped. This was during the autum of 1864, as well as can now be determined. This caused the bushwhackers, as Blalock and his followers were called, when they were not called robbers outright, to turn against the Greens, and finding that Lott Green, a son of Amon, was at his home near Blowing Rock, they went there at night to arrest or kill him. Lott was expecting a phusician to visit him that night, and when someone knocked on his door, he, thinking that the doctor had arrived, unsuspectingly opened it. Finding who his visitors really were, he drew back, slamming the door to. It just so happened that there were at that time in the house with Lott his brother, Joseph; his brother-in-law, Henry Henly, the latter of the Home Guard, and L. L. Green, afterwards a jodge of the Superior Court, then but seventeen years old, but also a member of the Home Guard. The bushwhackers are said to have been Keith Blalock, Levi Coffey, Sampson Galloway, son of Larkin, Edmund Ivy, of Georgia, ____ Gardner, of Mitchell. Blalock demanded that all in the house surrender, whereupon Henly asked what treatment would be accorded them in case they surrendered, and Blalock is said to have answered: "As you deserve, damn you." Henly then slipped his gun through a crack of the door and firer, wounding Calloway in the side. The bushwhackers then retired, and the Green party, who followed, saw blood. Calloway was left at the house of John Walker, two miles above Shull's Mills. Henly led the party at Green's house, excepting L. L. Green, to Walker's, and surrounded it. Henly was at the read and shot Edmund Ivy as he ran out, killing him. Blalock called to a woman to open the gate, and Mrs. Medie Walker, born McHaarg, dod so. Through this gate Blalock and his company escaped. A little later on, February 26, 1865, Captain James Marlow's infantry, expection to unite with a detachment of cavalry under Nelson Miller at Valle Crucis, went to Austin Coffey's house and arrested Thomas Wright and Austin. Alex. Johnson, who claimed to be a recruiting officer for Kirk, having just left and gone to McCaleb Coffey's house. The infantry followed taking Wright with them, but Wright's wife and Blalock's mother, then Mrs. Austin Coffey, went a nigh-way and gave warning to the inmates of McCaleb's house before the infantry arrived by calling out in a loud voice that the "rebels" were coming. Thereupon, Johnson dashed out of the door, and although fired on, escaped unhurt. Most of the infantry followed Johnson, but John Boyd, in charge of four or five men, entered the house, where they found Sampson Calloway, he having been removed from the Walker house which Henly had attacked. Calloway got into bed and was not arrested, but Austin Coffey did not deserve his fate: that he was a big-hearted man, who had fed Confederates as well as Union man (sic) at his house. He was a Union man, but not active in arresting Southern sympathizers, and had tried to prevent the raids on Lott Green's and Carroll Moores' houses.

Two Michiganders Escape.--Reuben Coffey, sick of living in a turmoil with his neighbors, had left the Globe and moved to a house on Neat Camp, but needing some household articles he had left at his Globe home, returned during this winter, accompanied by his daughter, Millie, who was riding a white horse. The robgers had taken all of McCaleb Coffey's horses, and when the white horse appeared McCaleb threw a "grise" of corn over his back to be taken to Elisha Coffey's mill by Miss Millie. On their way down the mountain Reuben and his daughter met two men, who said they were from Michigan and had escaped from prison. They were not in uniform, neither were they armed. Reuben had a gun and arrested them, after which he tool them by McCaleb Coffey's house to David Miller's one mile away, hoping to get Miller to go with him and then to Camp Mast on Cove Creek, but Miller excused himself, and Reuben went on alone with his prisoners. When they got to the intersection of the turnpike with the old Morganton Road, about two miles above Shull's Mills, one of the prisoners called Reuben's attention to some rude benches standing on one side of the road, and when he looked in the direction indicated the other seized his gun, while his companion struck Reuben a blow on the back of his head with a heavy stick.


Footnotes:

1 Margaret Coffey

2 A marriage record for a Squire Coffey and Alley Webb is found in Burne Co., NC, 2 Oct., 1828, wit: Daniel Moore