Saturday, July 9, 2016

Surname Saturday - John Joseph Coffman

John Joseph Coffman is my third-great grandfather on my maternal side. He was born sometime in February 1857 in Rockingham County, Virginia to Joseph Coffman and Mary Miller. He was the first-born son of Joseph Coffman and Mary Miller.
His mother, Mary, died at age 31 in 1863, when John was just 6 years old. His father was remarried on October 19, 1865 to Ellenora Jones and the couple had 8 more children. If the dates on official documents are to be believed, their first son was born prior to their marriage. How risque!
Four of John Coffman's children are younger than his half siblings, that must have made for a unique family environment.

John married Elizabeth "Bettie" Knupp in Shenandoah County, Virginia on January 16, 1879 when they were both just 22-years-old. The couple had five children together.
The couple were many for nearly 8 years when Bettie committed suicide in 1887. She died November 3, 1887 just 8 months after her daughter Carrie was born. The story is sad and I imagine left an indelible mark on her daughter Florence, my great-great grandmother. This tragedy left John with five children under the age of 8.
A photo believed to be Elizabeth "Bettie" Knupp, John Coffman's first wife
Not surprisingly, John marries again soon, sometime prior to 1890, to Mary Garber. The couple have four children together.

John Joseph and Mary (Garber) Coffman
John's life was plagued with untimely deaths: his mother, his first wife and then his son, John Saylor Coffman died at just 15-years-old. There may be other children born to this union, but I find record of only four.

There is not much information on John Coffman outside of the basic data pulled from census records. He was a farmer working rented land throughout his life. He was too young to have served in the Civil War, though it doubtless was fought on his family's doorstep in Rockingham County, Virginia. I am blessed to have the above photo of John, but I wish that I knew more about his life.

He died at age 73 in Rockingham County, Virginia on April 9, 1930 and is buried in Timberville Cemetery, Timberville, Virginia.

This post is part of my on-going goal of 2013 to research each of my 32 3rd great-grandparents more in-depth. John Joseph Coffman is #31 on the list.


Wendy said...

Reading this is like going to my husband's family reunion. He grew up in Timberville and went to school with lots of Coffmans, Knupps, and Garbers. Those are solid Rockingham County names with a LONG history.

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Wendy, I noticed that when I was doing Google searches for this post, many "living" Coffmans came up in the results. We still have family there as well. Sounds like I need to visit!