My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in The Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, Illinois published by Biographical Publishing Co. in 1894.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

* * * *

GEORGE T. COFFER, a successful farmer and stock-raiser of Jackson County, and the owner of a well improved tract of land situated on section 6, Somerset Township, was born in this county March 25, 1841. Little is known concerning his ancestral history, although it is thought that his parents, Joshua and Elizabeth (Wilkison) Coffer, were natives respectively of Missouri and Tennessee. Tradition says that his paternal ancestors emigrated to America from France, while on his mother’s side he traces his lineage to Scotland. At an early day in the history of Jackson County Joshua Coffer came hither and for a short time sojourned near the Mississippi River. Going back to Missouri, he remained in that state for some time and then returned to Jackson County, settling in the northern part. A few years afterward he was drowned in Galum Creek. His accidental death was mourned by his large circle of acquaintances, whose high regard he held to an unusual degree. Of his children the following survive: Marena A., wife of William Zimmerman; George T. and Elliott B. One of the sons, Joshua P., enlisted in the Union army, and died at Nashville, Tenn., in 1864.

At the age of about thirteen years our subject accompanied his widowed mother to Monroe County, Ill., where one year later she passed away. He was therefore thrown entirely upon his own resources and obliged to earn his own livelihood from an early age. For a number of years he continued to reside in Monroe County, whence he returned to Jackson County, and subsequently located in Franklin County, Ill. At the opening of the Civil War he enlisted, August 10, 1861, in the Fifteenth Illinois Cavalry, which was incorporated with the Army of the Cumberland. With his regiment, he participated in the battles of Ft. Henry and Ft. Donelson and the siege of Corinth, in addition to many other engagements of minor importance in which the cavalry engaged. Ordered to Arkansas, he took part in the battle of Big Creek, in that state, and performed faithfully and with the utmost efficiency his duties as a defender of the Old Flag. At the expiration of his term of enlistment he was honorably discharged, August 25, 1864. He now receives a pension of $6 per month.

About one year after his return from the army Mr. Coffer was united in marriage, August 16, 1865, with Miss Serenia J. Holliday, who was born October 17, 1849. Mrs. Coffer is the daughter of the late George W. and Johanna (Whipkey) Holliday, natives of North Carolina and Pennsylvania, respectively. Her grandfather, David Holliday, was an early settler of Jackson County, and located in Somerset Township when this now highly improved township was a wild waste of timber land. George Holliday passed away in 1881, and his widow, now (1894) in her sixty-eighth year, is making her home in Oraville, Ill. Of their children six survive, namely: David, who lives in Oraville, Ill.; Serenia J., Mrs. Coffer; Desdemonia, wife of Benjamin Coffer, a resident of Vergennes Township, this county; Turner, whose home is in Levan Township, this county; Imri, residing in Oraville; and Susan, who is the wife of Henry Nausley, of Vergennes Township, this county. Elbridge G. Holliday, brother of Mrs. Coffer, enlisted in the Twenty-seventh Illinois Infantry and was killed in the battle of Belmont, Mo., November 7, 1861. Another brother, Henry L., took the place in the regiment made vacant by the death of Elbridge G. and served through the entire war, participating in the battles of Chickamauga and Stone River, the march to the sea, and many other important engagements and campaigns. In 1865 he was honorably discharged from the army.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Coffer there were born eleven children, nine now living, as follows: William; Ellen, wife of Henry Doty; Esmaralda; Annie; Edgar; David; Franklin; Frederick and Elizabeth. Those deceased are Charles and Thomas Marion. At the time Mr. Coffer settled upon his present farm, in 1872, the land had not been cleared, and it was only after arduous and untiring labor that he succeeded in bringing the soil under good cultivation. His farm is not one of the largest in the township, containing but ninety-three acres, but it has first-class improvements, and every acre is so utilized as to produce the most profitable results.

While the duties connected with farming occupy much of Mr. Coffer’s attention, he nevertheless finds sufficient time to devote to public affairs and maintains a warm interest in everything pertaining to the welfare of the community. In his political affiliations he adopts the principles of the Republican party and supports its candidates with his ballot and influence. He is identified with the Grand Army of the Republic, holding membership with the post at Murphysboro. One of the leading citizens in Somerset Township, he justly occupies a high place in the regard of all who know him.

* * * *

This family biography is one of 679 biographies included in The Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, Illinois published in 1894.  View the complete description here: The Portrait and Biographical Record of Randolph, Jackson, Perry and Monroe Counties, Illinois

View additional Jackson County, Illinois family biographies here: Jackson County, Illinois Biographies

Use the links at the top right of this page to search or browse thousands of other family biographies.