Monday, February 20, 2017

U.S. History As Told Through the Eyes of an African American Ancestor

Cover image of Heart and Soul from the website of Eso Won Books.
In celebration of African American History Month, I present you with an opportunity to support black owned businesses and a review of a U.S. History book for children entitled: Heart and Soul- The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson.

For me, genealogy is the history of all of the people not just the rich and famous. Each of these individual stories must be aggregated to have a comprehensive understanding of U.S. history.  Mr. Nelson seems to agree by telling the "Story of America" through the eyes of a one-hundred year old African American woman whose family history is closely tied to the history of America.  The author uses the voices of people from his own family history like his grandmother, his mother, his aunts and uncles to create his narrator.

Mr. Nelson "wanted to hear the story of America as if it were just that, a story, so the narrator speaks to readers as if she were their grandmother.  It makes this incredibly expansive history very intimate...I first thought of my own family and began interviewing some to the eldest members who had lived through key moments in history.  I heard stories about the last slaves in my family and my great-great-grandmother who was a member of the Seminole Nation...Through the memories of my elders, the American story unfolded right before my eyes"

I emphatically agree with the author's statement!  I found his approach to be inspirational to me as a genealogist and a family story teller.

We acquired our copy of Heart and Soul on a recent visit to Los Angeles when we visited a bookstore in Leimert Park called Eso Won Books.  Here is how the store is described on their website:
We are an independent African-American bookstore in Los Angeles, California and have been serving this community since 1987. We carry an enormous collection of titles by and about the world in which black people exist. When you're in the Los Angeles area be sure you stop by. If you can't make it to the city we are more than happy to meet your book needs online.
We were immediately drawn to the children's section of Eso Won and found an abundance of titles appropriate for young readers including Heart and Soul by Kadir Nelson.  Mr. Nelson is both the writer and the illustrator of this award winning book.  One of his biggest challenges in producing this paperback was the sheer number of paintings that he had to create to tell the story.  The final tally was almost fifty paintings.

Chapter1 is entitled: Declarations of Independence and it begins by describing the artwork in the U.S Capitol. 
"The paintings tell the story of how America came to be. Strange though . . . nary a black face in all those pretty pictures.  There's plenty of white folks and a few Indians here and there, but none of us.  It's as if we never existed--stricken from the record, like Moses from the walls of Egypt. Of course, those fancy paintings ain't telling the truth."
Reading this book to yourself or your children or your grandchildren is an excellent way to begin to fill in the voids of our collective history of America which can be called the American "Ancestor Puzzle." Clearly we are missing many of the pieces of the puzzle which we need to give us a complete rendering of the true image.  The artwork and the stories in this book need to be added to the American historical iconography.

A section of the book that I found most intriguing was Chapter 10: Black Innovation.  In the voice of the female narrator, Mr. Nelson opens the chapter as follows:
"You may have heard folks say that black people invented shoes. But, chile, that is not true. Everybody invented shoes.  But it is true that in the 1880s a black man named Ernst Matzeliger invented a machine that made the process of making shoes a lot cheaper and faster. Matzeliger is one of many black folks whose ideas have made the lives of everyone in the world a lot better...Have you ever used an ironing board? Sat in a folding chair? Used a dustpan? Ridden in a convertible or on a horse saddle? Read an almanac? Used a fountain pen that did not require dipping into an inkwell? Sat at a traffic light? Seen a gas mask? Used a golf tee? Turned on an electric lightbulb? Eaten food delivered by a truck? Used an ice cream scooper? Gone to a blood bank? Used a batting helmet or shin guards, or enjoyed potato chips? I'll bet you have.  Most people don't know that all of these thing were invented by or improved by black folks."
I hope that this book is an inspiration to parents and children to explore the lives of these Black Innovators in greater depth.  This chapter on innovation will help you to learn the origin of the term the "real McCoy."

Our favorite illustration in the book is found on page 36 and is entitled Freedom Quilt but there are dozens more images that I recommend that you explore:

Freedom Quilt by Kadir Nelson
The artwork of Kadir Nelson is  available for sale at Hearne Fine Art Gallery at the following link: which is the source of this image. The website of Kadir Nelson has dozens more of his iconic images: which are also available for purchase.  The book is a bargain at $8.99, supports the Common Core State Standards and is highly recommended to my readers.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Archibald Coffman: Alaska Miner and Mare Island Fireman

Archibald Coffman is one of my most intriguing ancestors.  He was born near La Harpe, Illinois on the family farm.  His parents were William Fowler Coffman and Elizabeth Wilson.  He was a farmer and had a reputation for being very good with horses.  He went "North to Alaska" to mine for gold and came back to California and worked at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard.  He was a teamster and a a fireman until he retired from federal service about 1919.  Unfortunately, I have been unable to find a picture of him. However, I have collected some very interesting documents, photos related to his work and stories about my 2nd great grandfather and I share them with you in this continuing series on my Coffman ancestors.

Modified Register for Archibald Wilson Coffman

First Generation

      1. Archibald Wilson Coffman  was born on 3 Jun 1850 in McDonough, Illinois  to Elizabeth Wilson, age 34, and William Fowler Coffman, age 34. He was the eighth child among a family of nine children.  He died on 18 Sep 1935 in Oakland, Alameda, California. He was buried on 21 Sep 1935 in Mountain View Cemetery, Oakland, Alameda, California.
Archibald married Harriet Anne Ketcham  daughter of James Henry Ketcham and Mary Lucinda Fairbanks on 10 Feb 1871 in , Hancock, Illinois. Harriet was born on 5 Feb 1853 in Manchester, Dearborn, Indiana. She died on 3 Sep 1938 in Oakland, Alameda, California. She was buried on 5 Oct 1938 in Mountain View Cem, Oakland, Alameda, California.

They had the following children:
               2 F         i.  Viola Nevada Coffman  was born on 9 Oct 1871 in Illinois, USA. She died on 3 Apr 1966 in Castro Valley, Alameda, California, USA. She was buried on 6 Apr 1966 in Chapel of Memories, Oakland, Alameda, California.
Viola married David Hughes  son of David Yyalid Hughes and Jane Lloyd on 9 Oct 1894 in Oakland, Alameda, California, USA. David was born on 17 May 1868 in West Derby, Lancaster, England, Uk. He died on 30 Aug 1952 in Oakland, Alameda, California. He was buried in Chapel of Memories, Oakland, Alameda, California.
               3 M        ii.  Otis Leslie Coffman  was born on 19 Nov 1876 in , Hancock, Illinois. He died on 11 Jan 1958 in Oakland, Alameda, California. He was buried on 14 Jan 1958 in Mountain View Cem, Oakland, Alameda, California.
Otis married Grace May King  in maryland. Grace was born on 27 May 1885 in , , New York. She died on 25 May 1968 in Napa, Napa, California. She was buried in Mountain View Cem, Oakland, Alameda, California.
               4 M       iii.  Ernest Ellsworth Coffman  was born on 22 Jul 1879 in La Harpe, Hancock, Illinois. He died on 17 Sep 1934 in Oakland, Alameda, California. He was buried on 28 Sep 1934 in Mountain View Cem, Oakland, Alameda, California.
Ernest married (1) Mae Blanche Moss  daughter of John Moss and Anne B. Lanstein on 5 Feb 1907 in Oakland, Alameda, California. Mae was born on 19 Feb 1882 in Galveston, Galveston, Texas. She died on 9 Nov 1963 in Oakland, Alameda, California. She was buried on 11 Nov 1963 in Sunset View Cemetery, El Cerrito, Contra Costa, California.
Ernest married (2) Mildred Jane Loveless  daughter of Joseph De Fayette Lovelace and Lenora Bozeman on 22 Oct 1931 in Alameda, California, USA. Mildred was born on 11 Aug 1898 in Fresno, California, USA. She died on 16 Apr 1989 in Hollister, , California.


!CENSUS: 1850 & 1860 with parents in McDonough County and Hancock County, Illinois.

!MARRIAGE: 1871 COFFMAN, ARCHIBALD  married KETCHUM, HATTIE  in HANCOCK County Illinois on 02/09/1871   Document reference numbers: 4/  67  3746  

Sometime before 1880 he came to California and farmed near where his uncle, Alfred Coffman, was farming near Elk Grove in Sacramento County, California:

!CENSUS:1880; Census Place: San Joaquin, Sacramento, California; Source:  FHL Film 1254071;  National Archives Film T9-0071;     Page 323B            
Relation Sex Marr Race Age Birthplace
A. W. COFFMAN Self M M W 29 IL  Occ: Farmer Fa: KY Mo: KY
Hattie COFFMAN Wife F M W 27 IN  Occ: House Keeping Fa: IN Mo: IN
Viola COFFMAN Dau F S W 7 IL  Occ: At School Fa: IL Mo: IN
Otis L. COFFMAN Son M S W 47 IL  Occ: At Home Fa: IL Mo: IN
Ernest E. COFFMAN Son M S W 11M IL  Occ: At Home Fa: IL Mo: IN
John GILMORE Other M S W 46 PA  Occ: Farmer Fa: PA Mo: PA
Hugh BATES Other M S W 48 IRE  Occ: Farm Laborer Fa: IRE Mo: IRE
A. B. COFFMAN Brother M S W 21 IL  Occ: Farm Laborer Fa: KY Mo: KY
O. W. ELEWINE Other M S W 26 VA  Occ: School Teacher Fa: VA Mo: VA

!RESIDENCE: 1882-1884 California, Sacramento Co., San Joaquin TWP; Great Register, pg. 17 1882 & pg. 23 1884

For some unknown reason, Archibald moved to Tehama County, California and purchased a farm of 279 acres.

!LAND: Deed Dated May 5th 1885, Tehama County, California, from John Bates of Tehama County to A.W. Coffman of Sacramento County in consideration of sum of $4,464, Gold Coin does sell parcel of land described as the NW quarter and the West half of the North East quarter and other pieces of Section 21 Twp 26 North, Range 5 West M.D.B.M containing Two hundred and seventy nine acres.

!RESIDENCE:1886 Great Register of Voters of Tehama County; Archibald W. COFFMAN, age 36; b. Illinois; farmer; Res: South Red Bluff; Reg. Date: 1886; SOURCE: TEHAMA COUNTY GENEALOGICAL & HISTORICAL SOCIETY R. Scott Sherman; P O Box 415, Red Bluff CA 96080-0415

!LAND: Deed Dated April 12, 1887, Tehama County, California from Bank of Tehama County to A.W. Coffman for $1 the land described as the West half of the NW quarter of Section 21, Twp 26 North, Range 5 West, M.D.M.

!RESIDENCE: 1888 Great Register of Voters of Tehama County; Archibald W. Coffman, age 36? (transcribed date); Birthplace: Illinois; Residence: South Red Bluff; Registration date: 23 Apr 1888; page 11.  Also listed in South Red Bluff is Pelham Howard Coffman, on page 11.  This information was gleaned from the California 1890 Index of the Great Register of Voters, 3 Vol. Set at Sacramento Root Cellar.

!RESIDENCE: 1892 Great Register of Voters of Tehama County; Archibald W. Coffman, age 42; Occupation: Farmer;  Birthplace: Illinois; Residence: Red Bluff; Precinct: Red Bluff No. 1; P.O.: Red Bluff; Registration date: 23 Aug 1892

!RESIDENCE: 1894 Great Register of Voters of Tehama County; Archibald W. Coffman, age 67? (transcribed date; actual age was 44); Height 5' 8 3/4"; Complexion: Light; Eyes: Brown; Hair: Brown; Occupation: Farmer;  Birthplace: Illinois; Residence: Red Bluff; Precinct: Red Bluff No. 1; P.O.: Red Bluff; Registration date: 23 Aug 1892

It appears that Archibald Coffman resided in Tehama County for nine or ten years and then moved to Oakland, California.  There was another family of Coffmans in Tehama County that appear to have followed a similar pattern but it is unknown whether there was a relationship between the two families.

!RESIDENCE: 1894-1899 Coffmans in Oakland‏ From:  Jane Risser ( Sent: Sun 8/02/09 1:24 AM To:  Nick Cimino ( Hi Nick, Hope all is well with you.  I was perusing some city directories recently and saw these.  Thought I'd cc you in the off-chance you don't have these.
From: Husted's Oakland, Alameda, Berkeley, and Alameda Co. Directory =
1894 p. 143
Hoffman, Archibald W., emp SP Co. r [resides] 1675 12Th            
Coffman, August L. emp Cal Door Co., r 1675 12th [should be Otis]            
Coffman, Ernest E. student, r 1675 12th            
Coffman, Viola N. Miss, teacher, r 1675 12th
1895 [sorry, forgot to get the page #]            
Coffman, A.W. rpr SP Co. r 1675 12th
     "      , A L emp Cal Door Co., r 1675 12th [should be "OL" for Otis]
     "      , U Miss teacher, r 1675 12th   [should be "V" for Viola]
1897 p. 152
Coffman, Archilbald W. repr SP Co. r[resides] 413 12th            
Coffman, Ernest, student [resides same]            
Coffman, Hattie Mrs. lodgings 413 12th            
Coffman, Otis L collr [ bill collector] Gas Consumers Assn., [1008 Broadway, Gas Appliances], r 413 12th
1899 p.142  
Coffman, Archibald rpr SP Co, r 413 12th            
Coffman, Ernest E., emp SP Co. r 413 12th            
Coffman, Hattie Mrs. furn rms 413 12th            
Coffman, Otis L, r 413 12th
Classified Section Furnished Rooms p. 664  Coffman, H. Mrs. 413 12th
Teachers Viola not listed, so she must have been working for a school, rather than teaching privately as a music teacher might do, for example. By 1916, Otis has moved out:
1916 Oakland Directory p. 230  
Coffman, Otis L mgr r 725 55th = NOTE: SP Co. Transportation-Rail offices located at Oakland Pier, foot of Broadway.  -Jane

!RESIDENCE: 1896, Great Register of Voters for Alameda County on Name: Coffman, Archibald Wilson Occupation: Car repairer Age: 46 Height: 5' 8" Complexion: Light Color of eyes: brown Color of hair: dark Country of nativity: Illinois Local Residence: 413 12th, Oakland Proprietor or head of house: Yes Floor: 2 Source Citation: California State Library, California History Section; Great Registers, 1866-1898; Collection Number: 4 - 2A; CSL Roll No.: 4; FHL Roll No.: 976450

!BIOGRAPHY: ----Original Message Follows---- From: Jane Risser To: Nick Cimino Subject: Viola at Normal School Date: Fri, 14 Jun 2002 09:06:05 -0700 Your theory of Archibald/Harriet moving to Chico for a time, and allowing Viola to go to school sounds plausible.  I'm wondering how this might fit in with a note my grandfather David Hughes left in the miner's scales he left me.  The note says [and I'll quote it in its entirety]:
     "Archibald Coffman, great-grandfather.  Born in Kentucky.  Came to Illinois [sic] and married a farmer's daughter, my great-grandmother. He was a farmer, and a good one, but he had an irresistible desire to go places.  All his life he greatly loved horses, and he knew a lot about them.
     After he married my great grandmother in Illinois, whose family had come there from the New England States, he moved to California to run a ranch.
     While he was in California the gold rush in the Yukon took place and he went there leaving his family in Tehama County.  He stayed there about 3 years and these scales are the ones he used up there."
     I once looked up the dates for the Yukon Gold Rush to try to verify the time frame.  The Klondike Gold Rush was in 1897-98.  I think that must be what he was referring to.
NOTES BY NICK CIMINO: Archibald Coffman was actually born in Illinois but his father was born in Kentucky and migrated to Illinois from Kentucky.

Property of Jane Risser

Weight and Approximate Cost of an Outfit                                    
 Weight     Cost
Clothing...............................  112 lbs.       $75.00
Groceries.............................  1249 lbs.     $75-$90.00
Footwear.............................  35 lbs.       $25.00
Hardware.............................  225 lbs.       $40.00
From Gold Fields of Alaska (NAT&T Co., Chicago, 1897).

!SOURCE FOR FOLLOWUP: Index to the Creeks and Tributaries: Series 10, Mining Recorders: record books for placer mining claims, 1896-1969 White Pass and Yukon Route Dalton Trail Series 10, Placer Mining Records, 1894-1972  

!MIGRATION: 1898-1899: A. Coffman-Second-class passenger on steamer Excelsior, departing Seattle, 2/27/98 for Valdez, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 2/28/98; NOTE: There is no birthplace information and with only a first initial it is difficult to confirm that this record applies to Archibald Coffman.

The Gold Rush begins: July 16-18, 1897 The Excelsior arrives in San Francisco with $400,000 in gold from the Klondike. On July 18th, the Portland docks in Seattle with $700,000 in Klondike gold. Newspapers spread the word rapidly across the country. The gold rush begins. Although most stampeders would go to the Canadian Klondike, about 3,500-4,000 listened to the newspaper reports of even greater amounts of gold waiting to be discovered in Alaska's Copper River area and chose to pursue the Valdez Glacier trail to the Copper River gold fields.

!HISTORICAL CONTEXT: H.W. McCurdy, Marine History of the Pacific Northwest, Superior Publishing Co., Seattle, WA Editor, Gordon Newell;    
      The wooden steam schooner Excelsior built by Peter Mathews at Eureka, Cal. in 1893 for C.A. Hooper of San Francisco and operated for many years by the Pacific Steam Whaling Co. (p. 143)
      The Pacific Coast maritime history of 1898 is predominantly that of the great Kondike gold rush launched the previous summer... (p. 27)
      The Pacific Steam Whaling Company of San Francisco had the steamers Valencia, Excelisor and Wolcott in service from SF via Puget Sound to Cook Inlet and Copper River. (p. 36)

!The following could be a contemporary visitor to the Valdez Glacier: Hazelet, Cheever George. (Also Hazlett, Powell; Hazlet, George C., C1900); Born: OH, Oct. 11, 1861, Hazelet Diary; Oct. 14,1861, C1900; Hometown: Omaha, NE; Wrote excellent Diary of his party's crossing Valdez Glacier, trip down Klutina, up to Chisna area from 1898-1901; Second-class passenger on steamer Excelsior, departing Seattle, 2/27/98 for Valdez, Seattle P-I 2/28/98; Arrived in Valdez on Excelsior, 3/17/1898, Hazelet Diary, p. 31; crossed Valdez Glacier, wintered in Copper Center; "quits" in 1899, but after 4 months at home returns; etc. Hazelet Diary, p. 31; Powell visits claim on Chistochina, Powell, in Abercrombie, Abercrombie 1900, pp. 133-134; Power of Attorney, ML, Bk. 3 (F&J) pp. 170 ff; Agreement for Hazelet Mining Association, ML, Bk. 3 (Bks. J&F), pp. 176-177; Notices of Location by Power of Attorney, ML, Bk. 3 (Bks. J&F), pp. 187-190; Address: 1920 Capital Ave. Omaha, NE, names and addresses section, Dooley Diary
SOURCE:   This site provides excerpts of several books about the Valdez Gold Rush of 1898-99.

!SOURCE TO SEARCH FURTHER: Passenger and crew lists of vessels arriving at Seattle, Washington, 1890-1921. (M1383) Film #1454937 Customs records of passenger manifests inbound, 1894-1909 : Port Townsend, Tacoma, and Seattle.( M1484) Film # 1445995 Fortunately, almost all Immigrant Passenger Lists (post 1891) have been indexed. The exceptions are the Seattle lists, which were only found in the last twenty years or so, and some smaller ports that only had a handful of lists.  
!CENSUS: 1900 Database: 1900 United States Federal Census December 31, 2005 11:15 AM
Name: A Coffman; Home in 1900: Nome City, Northern Supervisors District, Alaska;
Age: Not listed; Estimated birth year: Not listed;
Date of locating in Alaska: June 1900; Race: White Occupation: Not listed
Source: Passenger List of Steamer Cleveland of Seattle
Also in Nome at the same time is Jesse M. Coffman b-Mar 1868 in IL, home post office address was Sacramento, California.
On the steamer Victory of Seattle there is a T. Coffman and  on the steamer Sealandia (sp?) of San Francisco there is a W. Coffman.

Los Angeles Herald, 27 June 1900; SOURCE: California Digital Newspaper Collection;
Glad to Get Into Port at Seattle
The Latest Big Strike at Topkuk,
Where Six-Foot Claims Have Yielded Fortunes
Seattle, June 26—The steamer Cleveland arrived from Cape Nome at 1:30 this morning with 15 passengers and a nominal amount of gold. She reports a severe storm at Nome on June 5, in which the schooner Alaskan, from San Francisco, was beached and is a total loss. Her passengers were saved by the revenue cutter Bear. She also has news of the wreck of the small sloop Gypsy in the same storm, and two of her crew were drowned. One was named Scotty Stewart. The Cleveland arrived at Nome on June 3, sailing nine days later. She was compelled, with all the other steamers, to stand out to sea till the gale moderated. She reports seeing safe at Nome the Corwin and her tow, the Catherine Sudden, Robert Dollar, Aloha, San Bias, Dora, Albion, Thrasher and Mary D. Hume. At Dutch Harbor —C. D.Lane, Charles Nelson, schooner Hera, transport Lawton, McCulloch, gunboat Wheeling, Dispatch, Perry, Homer, Edith, Sunol, Rube Cousins and Martha Tuff. The other vessels not reported are supposed to be beating their way through the ice to Nome. The Senator had a few plates dented by the ice and had to return to Dutch Harbori for repairs. The Robert Dollar arrived at DutchHarbor Just as the Cleveland was leaving for Seattle and will be due here in about a day. All the vessels at Nome are safe with the exception of the Alaskan, which ran on the beach and is a total loss with her 660 tons of cargo. Her passengers are safe. Her cargo went adrift and became the prey of beach people. Several lighters want ashore In the storm, but nothing was lost. The Catherine Sudden, which was in the tow of the Corwin, was in trouble on the way up, being dismasted and crushed slightly by ice. Clam Jumping was still in vogue when the Cleveland left. As a result of thisthere ware scores of personal encounters almost dally, but nothing more serious than'flsticuffs had resulted. The Second Steamer The steamer Cottage City arrived here today from Skaguway with $200,000 in dust and drafts and a number of passengers from Dawson. The latter left Dawson June 6, and confirm the reports of the finding of young Relfe's body near Mlnto. Among the interior passengers are George Avery and John Anderson. who are said to have $50,000 each with them. News of two sudden deaths in the interior is brought down by the steamer. Robert Hall of Victoria, of the Klondike corporation, dropped dead at White Horse. Dominick Stofolimo of Pennsylvania, a grade foreman, was killed at White Horse by a falling rock.

!RESIDENCE: About 1900 Index to Precinct Register, Fifth Precinct, First Supervisor District, Sacramento, Cal.
Name Age Residence No.
Coffman, Archibald William (sic) 49 5th Avenue Hotel 18
Coffman, Ernest Ellsworth 21 5th Avenue Hotel 19
The index says that he was registered there from 1900-1910.  

!RESIDENCE: 1901 Sacramento City Dir: Coffman A W, emp SP Co , r Fifth Av Hotel.

!RESIDENCE: 1905 Oakland per father, William's obituary.

!RESIDENCE: 1909 Oakland City Directory, Coffman Arch W., teamster, boarding at 798 46th.

!OCCUPATION: 1909-1919 Teamster at the Navy Yard, Mare Island, CA; U.S. Civil Service Commission Official Register of the United States; Univ. Nev. Reno mfm G252

Pay Wagon 1906; Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, California;  Pay wagon in the early days Mare Island employees were paid from a pay wagon drawn by two horses. The wagon was always accompanied by an armed and mounted marine. When the pay wagon stopped at selected spots, the master of each shop would cause a whistle or bell to sound, and employees would rush out and line up according to pay number. All wages were paid in either gold or silver coins. Paper money did not come to mare island until 1917. ) i this pay scene took place in 1906, on california avenue in front of building 99a. SOURCE: Mare Island Historic Museum, Sue Lemmon

Pay Wagon 1909; Archibald Coffman probably received his pay from Mare Island at this pay wagon. In 1909, the treasury moved on wheels. The pay cart made semi-monthly tours of the Yard and paid employees at the shops and offices. Workers were paid in" gold and silver coins then, and "take home pay" meant the same as tfgross pay." The last fourfooted workers were replace~ by cars and trucks in 1930. SOURCE: Mare Island Historic Museum, Sue Lemmon

!RESIDENCE:  The census and city directory listings below indicated that Archibald resided at Mare Island and at 330 Santa Clara in Vallejo.  He did not register to vote there however.  I checked the Voter Registers for Vallejo from 1904 to 1916 and did not find his name listed.  He was also not registered in Oakland in 1910 or 1920.  He was registered in 1924 at David and Viola's residence.  He is listed as retired and as a Democrat.   The rest of the family were Republican except Otis and Grace Coffman who were Democrats.

!RESIDENCE: has him registered to vote as follows: Solano County 1918-1928 The attached image lists him in Vallejo as a Teamster in Vallejo Precinct No. 2.  The document image is from the California State Library accession No. 41521 Call No. qc929.3 1920 and is entitled Index of Registration, Solano County, 1920.

!CENSUS:1910 Solano County, CA; VOL 117, ED 194, SH 3, FAM 62;NA Soundex film# 149;
Coffman Archibald partner 53 B-IL profession= teamster at Navy Yard out of work 8 months Enumerated with David H. VanBuskirk who may be the husband of a cousin.

!RESIDENCE-OCCUPATION: 1911 Vallejo, Benicia, Fairfield & Suisun Directory; Coffman, AW, driver fire engine, resides Mare Island

SOURCE: Mare Island Historic Museum, Sue Lemmon
SOURCE: Mare Island Historic Museum, Sue Lemmon
!RESIDENCE-OCCUPATION: 1915 Vallejo, Benicia, Fairfield & Suisun Directory; Coffman, AW, teamster Navy Yd.
Mare Island Naval Shipyard 1919: Building 99 the Fire Engine Garage and 99A Fire Department Office and Residence SOURCE: Mare Island Historic Museum, Sue Lemmon

Building 99 Interview View 1919 SOURCE: Mare Island Historic Museum, Sue Lemmon

Building 99 Interior View SOURCE: Mare Island Historic Museum, Sue Lemmon

!CENSUS:1920 Solano County, CA; VOL 126, ED 210, SH 17, LN 58;NA Soundex film# T1261-35; profession= teamster at Navy Yard; Roomer at 330 Santa Clara, Vallejo; marital status=single;parents Born-KY  !LAND: Date unknown. Reported by my grandmother to have owned a rooming house in lower part of Oakland near 6th and over towards the bay but was not able to find his name in the land record index at the Alameda County courthouse.

!RESIDENCE: 1921 Oakland City Directory; Coffman, Archibald W.  r. 742 46th; this was the residence of his daughter Viola and her husband David Hughes.

!RESIDENCE: 1920-1935: Oakland per remembrance of Otis Coffman below.

!RESIDENCE: 1923 Not listed in Oakland City Directory

!CENSUS: 1930; Coffman, Archibald; Age: 79; Birthplace: Illinois; Enumerated with David and Viola Hughes; Relationship: Father-in-law;  Race: White; Roll: T626_102; State: California; County: Alameda; Township: Oakland; ED: 33; Page: 17A; Image: 0412

!BIOGRAPHY: Family narrative by Otis (Bud) Coffman, Felton, CA, Jan 1992; "What little I know of my Coffman grandparents seems almost inconsequential. They along with my Uncle Ernest and Aunt Viola and my father and mother all lived in North Oakland, California within a radius of three miles from my boyhood until their demise.  I have heard tell that grandfather worked as a fireman for the city of Vallejo, California.  He took me to my first circus on San Pablo Ave., Oakland next to the Oakland Baseball team park when I was a young teenager.  My grandfather lived with his daughter, Viola for several years and a short time with my parents."

!BIOGRAPHY: Interview with Elaine Coffman Kelly by Nick Cimino, 4 Nov 1989      My grandfather owned a rooming house in Oakland.  My dad lived there after after he divorced my mother.  I remember that he chewed tobacco and he had a spittoon and he was spitting the brown juice into it.  I used to take the street car down there.  I do not remember if I ever stayed the night.  He worked for the Mare Island Fire Department.  They had horses.  He bought this property down in the lower part of Oakland about 6th or 7th and over from Grove.  It was walking distance because I remember walking down there to see my dad before I was married about 1925.  My dad and uncle had the tire company about that time.

!BIOGRAPHY: Interview with Vivian Coffman McGrath by Nick Cimino, 10 Nov 1989      Grandpa Coffman lived at Aunt Viola's house for a time.

!DEATH:1935 CA Death Certificate #35-050041; Copy issued 24 Sep 1990 #336711 Mountain View Cemetery records transcribed 11 Nov 1989; Native: Illinois; Age at death: 85 yrs. 3 mos. 15 days; Mortuary: N. Gray & Co. San Francisco; Place of death: Fairmont Hospital; Cause of death: Carcinoma of lip.

!BURIAL: 1935 Mountain View Columbarium, Section 107, Niche 5D, Tier 6.  Date of inurnment 9 Dec 1935.

!OBITUARY: 1935 Oakland Tribune September 20, 1935 Vital Statistics- Deaths; COFFMAN- In Oakland, September 19, 1935. Archibald Wilson Coffman, father of Mrs. David Hughes, Otis L. and the late Ernest E. Coffman.      Friends are invited to attend the funeral service at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at the Cathedral Chapel, 2850 Telegraph Avenue.

My grandfather, Engel True Mayne was a funeral director for N. Gray & Co.
and arranged the funeral for his wife's grandfather.
There is a conflict in the cause of death from the death certificate and the funeral home record.  It appears that he had a carcinoma of the lip perhaps caused by his chewing tobacco habit.  The pneumonia may have actually been the cause of death according to the medical certification on the death certificate.

Monday, January 30, 2017

An Unknown Father: Ernest Coffman 1879-1934

Ernest Ellsworth Coffman, Sr. 1879-1934

One of the things that haunts me about my Uncle Ernie Coffman's memories of growing up is the fact that he did not really have a father.
Was that hard not really knowing your Dad very long? Did you have a surrogate Dad? =      Hell's bells, Nick! I didn't know my dad at all. I was too young to know him. My mother re-married somewhere along the line and I had a step-dad, who tried to be a male influence on me, but he and I had our squabbles, etc. 
My own experience contrasts sharply with Ernie's.  My father is still living and despite the fact that he is on the Left Coast and I am on the Third Coast, we are very close.  I love him dearly and I know that he loves me too.  To not have that in your life has to have been hard.  I am really looking forward to my next visit with my father.

Anyone who has any love for genealogy knows that life is unpredictable and missed opportunities to have learned from our elders abound.  I wish that I could have known both of my grandfathers better. I never got to meet my paternal grandmother.  Perhaps that is a bit of what inspires me to search their ancestry.  It is also what motivates my wife and I to be as close as possible to our grandchildren.

One of the beautiful things about DNA is that whether you knew your father or your paternal grandfather well or not, you carry their genetic inheritance in your chromosomes. Both your autosomal-DNA and y-DNA carry the essence of your paternal lineage.  The y-DNA is especially significant:
The Y chromosome is transmitted from father to son. Testing the Y chromosome provides information about the direct male line, meaning the father to his father and so on. The locations tested on the Y chromosome are called markers. Occasionally a mutation occurs at one of the markers in the Y chromosome. Mutations are simply small changes in the DNA sequence. They are natural occurrences and take place at random intervals. Overall, they are estimated to occur once every 500 generations per marker. Mutations can sometimes be valuable in identifying branches of a family tree.
Each marker has a name assigned to it by the scientific community, such as DYS#391, DYS#439 or GATA H4. The scientists classify these markers as Short Tandem Repeats.

 While we await the test results from Ernie's y-DNA test, we will step back one generation each week on the Coffman Family Tree. Today we feature Ernie's father and namesake, Ernest Ellsworth Coffman, Sr. 1879-1934.  It is somewhat ironic that Ernie's father died in 1934 and my father was born that same year.

Modified Register for Ernest Ellsworth Coffman

First Generation

      1. Ernest Ellsworth Coffman  was born on 22 Jul 1879 in La Harpe, Hancock, Illinois. He died on 17 Sep 1934 in Oakland, Alameda, California. He was buried on 28 Sep 1934 in Mountain View Cem, Oakland, Alameda, California.
Ernest married (1) Mae Blanche Moss  daughter of John Moss and Anne B. Lanstein on 5 Feb 1907 in Oakland, Alameda, California. Mae was born on 19 Feb 1882 in Galveston, Galveston, Texas. She died on 9 Nov 1963 in Oakland, Alameda, California. She was buried on 11 Nov 1963 in Sunset View Cemetery, El Cerrito, Contra Costa, California.

They had the following children:
               2 F         i.  Elaine Blanche Coffman  was born on 29 Aug 1910 in New York, New York. She died on 7 Jun 2010 in Concord, Contra Costa, California. She was buried on 25 Jun 2010 in Sunset View Cemetery, El Cerrito, California.
Elaine married (1) Engel True Mayne  son of Joseph Hanson Mayne Rev. and Anna Elizabeth Banford on 16 Jun 1928 in Oakland, Alameda, California, USA. Engel was born on 18 Mar 1899 in Verona, Preble, Ohio. He died on 11 Feb 1967 in Santa Rosa, Sonoma, California. He was buried on 17 Feb 1967 in Colma, San Mateo, California.
Elaine married (2) George William Kelly  son of John Caesar Kelly and Annie Marie White on 24 Oct 1937 in Reno, Washoe, Nevada. George was born on 21 Jul 1911 in Tacoma, Pierce, Washington. He died on 8 Oct 1991 in South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado, California.
Elaine married (3) Warren Campbell De Guire  son of Arthur Henry Deguire and Irene Anna Campbell on 4 Jun 1994 in South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado, California. Warren was born on 23 Jun 1911 in San Francisco, California. He died on 19 May 1997 in South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado, California.
Elaine married (4) Richard Thomas Gross  son of Paul Joseph Gross and Gladys Martha Cody Burcha on 9 Sep 1999 in Zephyr Cove, Douglas, Nevada. Richard was born on 22 Oct 1933 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He died on 11 Sep 2003 in Arizona, USA.
               3 M        ii.  Male Coffman  was born in 1912/1914 in , , New York or New Jersey.
               4 F        iii.  Vivian Lucile Coffman  was born on 24 Jan 1916 in Edgewater, Bergen, New Jersey. She died on 12 Oct 2011 in El Cerrito, Contra Costa, California. She was buried in Sunset View Cemetery, El Cerrito, California.
Vivian married Louis Henry McGrath  son of Walter James McGrath and Stella Johanna Swedberg on 4 Jul 1937 in , , California. Louis was born on 11 May 1916 in , Alameda Co., California. He died on 30 Apr 2002 in ,

Alameda Co., California.

Ernest married (2) Mildred Jane Loveless  daughter of Joseph De Fayette Lovelace and Lenora Bozeman on 22 Oct 1931 in Alameda, California, USA. Mildred was born on 11 Aug 1898 in Fresno, California, USA. She died on 16 Apr 1989 in Hollister, , California.

They had the following children:
               5 M      iv.  Ernest Ellsworth Coffman Jr.  was born on 24 Dec 1932 in San Francisco, San Francisco, California.
Ernest married Joanne Carol Larson  daughter of George Gustave Larson and Alma Ethel Zwicker on 19 Dec 1958. Joanne was born in 1935 in California.

Despite the fact that Ernest died in 1934 we can trace his life through the following genealogical records:

!CENSUS:1880 San Joaquin Township, Sacramento Co., CA;Vol 8, E.D. 112,Sheet 14, Line 39  !

!RESIDENCE: 1901 Sacramento City Directory: Coffman E E employed Southern Pacific Co., resides
Fifth Ave. Hotel, his father is also listed at the same address and same employer.  

!RESIDENCE: 1902; Oakland City Dir. Ernest E employed O G L & H Co (Oakland Gas, Light and Heat Co.), resides 304
24th p. 311 GAS COMPANIES, Oakland Gas Light and Heat Co., John A. Britton, President, A.T.
Eastland, Secretary and General Manager, office 13th nw cor Clay, Tel Private Exchange 1, Works cor
2d and Washington, 2d and Grove and 1st and Grove.  

!RESIDENCE: 1903-1907 Oakland City Dir.
Ernest E , residing at 798 46th. Occupations listed as follows: 1903 collector, 1904 not listed, 1905 clerk
1906 bookkeeper, 1907 collector.  

!MARRIAGE:1907 Alameda Recorder's Office, Book 38, Pg. 439.
Witnesses: Mr. J.E. Hughes of Oakland (Uncle Jim, David's brother) and Miss Norma Roebles of
Alameda City. Service performed by Henry H. Wintler, Clergyman.  

!MARRIAGE: 1907; Oakland Tribune5 Feb 1907; Marriage Licenses That Were Issued: Ernest E. Coffman, 27, Oakland, and Mae B. Moss, 23 San Francisco  

!RESIDENCE: 1908 NY City Dir. Ernest E manager 67 W 125th Room 22, home 538
Lenox Ave.  

!CENSUS:1910;110 W. 138th Street;Manhattan Borough, NY, NY;16 April 1910;E.D. 528, p.
225;film#1?75034. 1910 United States Federal Census about Ernest E Coffman Name: Ernest E
Coffman Occupation: Manager of Gas Governor Company Age in 1910: 30 Estimated Birth Year: abt
1880 Birthplace: Illinois Relation to Head of House: Head Father's Birth Place: Illinois Mother's Name:
Harriet Mother's Birth Place: Indiana Spouse's Name: Mae Home in 1910: Manhattan Ward 12, New
York, New York Marital Status: Married Race: White Gender: Male Neighbors: View others on page
Household Members: Name Age Ernest E Coffman 30 Mae Coffman 26 Harriet Coffman 57  Source
Citation: Year: 1910; Census Place: Manhattan Ward 12, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1021; Page:
7A; Enumeration District: 528; Image: 1046.   

!RESIDENCE: 1911-12 NY City Dir. Ernest E manager 17
E 125th. 

!RESIDENCE: 1913 NY City Dir. Ernest E manager 17 E 125th home Edgewater NJ. !

!RESIDENCE: 1915 NY City Dir. Ernest E branch manager Gas Consumers Assn. h Edgewater NJ
(Bergen County). 

!RESIDENCE: 1918 NY City Dir.  no listing for Ernest E.  1916 and 1917 not on the shelf at Sutro.  Database: World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918  December 25, 2005 5:36 PM Name: Ernest Elsworth Coffman Residence: 742 46th Street City: Oakland County: Alameda State: California Birth Date: 22 Jul 1879 Race: White Roll: 1531208 DraftBoard: 2 Registration Date: Sept. 12,1918 Age: 39 Occupation: Salesman Nearest Relative: Wife, Mae Coffman Registration Place: Oakland Height: Medium Build: Medium Color of Eyes: Brown Color of Hair: Brown  Source Information: Ancestry.

!CENSUS:1920 CA VOL 4, ED 52, SH 19B, LN 64; Resided with David Hughes 742 46th St
Oakland; OCCUPATION: Salesman Automotive Tires.  

!RESIDENCE:  Before Ernest and Mae purchased the Aileen Street house they rented a little duplex on 46th Street three doors from West.  

!OCCUPATION-RESIDENCE: 1921 Oakland City Directory; Coffman Bros. (E E and O L) auto tires 278
12th; Coffman Ernest h 814 46th; also listed is Ernest E (Coffman Bros) r 742 46th which was his sister
Viola's residence; also listed is E. E. h 716 Castro  

!LAND: Date Filed: Dec 28 1922; Series Number: 247640; Grantees: Coffman, Ernest E.; Grantors: Elias Berger; Title: Deed; Vol 313; Book: Official Records; Page 365; For Sum of Ten dollars, Being all of lot # 3 in Block E Map of Kenwood Park Oakland, California.  This property is 885 Aileen Street.  

!OCCUPATION-RESIDENCE: 1923 Oakland City Directory; Coffman Bros. (E E and O L) auto tires 285 12th; Coffman Ernest E (Coffman Bros) h 716 Castro; he is no longer residing with Mae.  

!RESIDENCE: 1924 Ernest & May(sic) 885 Aileen; Oakland City Directory;  the Great Register of Voters for the same year lists Ernest as a salesman and a Republican.  Mae is not listed.  

!OCCUPATION-RESIDENCE: 1925 Oakland City Directory; Coffman, EE imp (did not look up this abbreviation) Brask Bros, resides 682 19th.  Harriet Coffman was also at this address.  Brask Bros. is listed as Automobiles & Repairs; Chevrolet Motor Car Dealers with locations at 2264 E. 12th and 2905 E. 14th.  

!DIVORCE: 1925 Alameda County Judgement Book 152 page 291; Blanche Coffman vs. Ernest E. Coffman Copy #80250 Dept. #8 Superior Court of the State of California in and for the County of Alameda.  Final Judgement of Divorce; Rudolph Hatfield, 288-289 Bacon Building, Attorney for the Plaintiff.  Entered on the 20th day of January 1925.  Divorce granted on the grounds of extreme cruelty.  Custody care and support of the minor child, Elaine Coffman be awarded to the plaintiff and the custody care and support of the minor child, Vivian Coffman be awarded to the defendant.  Defendant is to keep Vivian Coffman in the care of Mrs. Viola Hughes or if Mrs. Hughes fails to care for Vivian then she should be placed in the care of some party mutually agreeable to plaintiff and defendant.  done in open court this 25th day of January 1926. James G. Himm (sp?) Judge of the Superior court of California. Document in the possession of Vivian McGrath, El Cerrito, CA  

!OCCUPATION: about 1926-???? Worked for Cochran and Celli, Chevrolet dealers in Oakland selling
cars.  Confirmed by Oakland City Directory for 1926 however there is no listing for Ernest.  He is listed
incorrectly as C. E. Coffman with Cochran Celli, resides 682 19th Street.  

!BIOGRAPHY: 1927 Interview with Elaine Coffman Kelly by Nick Cimino 4 Nov 1989 Ernest used to meet Elaine occasionally in San Francisco near where she worked for lunch.  She was 17 at the time and working for Gorman-Kayser.  

!RESIDENCE-OCCUPATION: 1928 Coffman, E E h 885 Aileen ???? did he move back in with Mae? 

!CENSUS: 1930; Coffman, Ernest; Age: 51; Birthplace: Illinois;  Enumerated with his mother, Harriett;
Relationship: Son;  Race: White; Roll: T626_102; State: California; County: Alameda; Township:
Oakland; ED: 33; Page: 19A; Image: 0416; Place of Abode 700 block of 45th Street; rented for $15
month; marital status: divorced; occupation: adjuster with the gas company  

!OCCUPATION-RESIDENCE: 1930 Coffman, Ernest E collector Gas Consumers Assn r 730 1/2 45th  

!BIOGRAPHY: Interview with Vivian McGrath by Nick Cimino 10 Nov 1989;  Ernest and Otis Coffman had their
business at 616 55th and they bought the house at 614 55th.  They had a community driveway going up. 
These houses were right next door to the Masonic Temple where Vivian went to Job's Daughters.  The
houses still stand today.  

!RESIDENCE: 1932 at Ernie Jr.'s birth 511 Waller Street. 

!DEATH: 1934 CA Death Certificate;Local Registered No. 2311;Place of Death Alameda Co. Hospital; Residence 730 46th
St., Oakland; Mountain View Cemetery Records transcribed 11 Nov 1989; Cause of death: pneumonia.  

!OBITUARY: Oakland Tribune Tuesday, Sept. 18, 1934 page C 35 Vital Statistics COFFMAN-In Oakland,
September 17, 1934, Ernest E. Coffman, beloved husband of Millie J. Coffman, loving father of Mrs.
Engel Mayne, Vivian and Ernest Coffman; son of Archibald and Harriet Coffman, brother of Viola N.
Hughes and Otis L. Coffman; a native of Illinois, aged 55 years, 1 month, 25 days.  A member of
Oakland Lodge No. 171, B.P.O.E.      Friends are invited to attend the funeral at the Cathedral Chapel of 
the Grant D. Miller Mortuary, 2850 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, Wednesday, September 19, 1934, at 2
o'clock p.m. Inurnment.  

!BIOGRAPHY:  From Ernest Coffman, Jr. April 2000- My dad-Ernest Sr. passed away when I was a toddler, so I don't remember him at all. From my calculations, I was 1 yr. 8 mos. and 13 days old, give or take an hour or so. The death certificate says that his trade was a Collector & Adjuster, but I heard from his brother-my Uncle Otis Coffman Sr., that he was also in the tire business, with him, down on Broadway, in Oakland. It was near the big Presbyterian church, if I recall, for I remember stopping there to see Uncle Otis, when I was a little sprout. On his death certificate, it indicates that he died of "pyelitic uremia 133." Whatever that is. Also, other contributory causes were: "Acute bilateral pyelitia suppurative 133," and the doctor Theldore E. Schwarz, treated him from 9/11/34 until his demise 9/17/34, which in today's modern medicine, they probably would have given him some antibotics and sent him home. There was no operation and there was no autopsy.      

My folks, and me, too-I guess-lived just up the street from Aunt Viola-his sister-and Uncle Dave. As I read further in this
death certificate, it indicates that the above job ended in 1931, before my birth, so...the tire industry does make sense. It also states that he worked there for 24 years, being a collector and adjuster. Wonders of wonder. No 401-K or Soc. Sec. back then. sad Our friend, down in San Jose, is a teaching-nurse and indicated that the above diagnosis was "a problem with his kidneys, possibly a severe kidney infection, abscess, or similar condtion, which did, or ultimately would have, led to renal (kidney) failure. An added " P.S. was 'bilateral indicates both kidneys were affected. the number 133 may have been a medical record number or diagnosis category, but probably isn't significant to the cause of death.'" It's also noted that he died at the Alameda County Hospital, so...that to me, is Highland and was there because of the cash situation, I guess, seeing that that was the depression era.       

As for things my mother shared. Ha! Nada! At least not much of anything super-duper. She was a very quiet person when it came to sharing things of personal nature. Right up until the end. I do recall that she said that my Dad drove her to a park in lower Alameda County, which was quite popular back then. I believe that was near Sunol, but I couldn't prove it.   I do have a couple of neat pictures of Dad. One, when he was a dapper 21, I guess. And, the other is of him with a duster and his automobile, which I guess he took pride in. End of history lesson for now.  

Family pictures From: Ernie and Jo ( Sent: Fri 4/16/10 3:41 AM
To:  Nick Cimino ( Hi Nick, I didn't go to Mountain View cemetery as a child, but
did go when I was about when I was 17, 18, or 19 I believe it was. Maybe before, since I used to go over
to Alice and Wesley's to mow their two lawns--front and back yards. Maybe I was in my mid-teens. Most
difficult to recall. No one took me there! I went on my own and asked at the office where my dad was, I
believe. Something rings a bell that Aunt Viola--dad's sister--told me where he was, but not the exact

place so that's why I went to the office. Regards, Ernie

Here are a few images related to Ernest Coffman Sr.:

Marriage Index page for Ernest and Mae in 1907 toward bottom of this cropped page
Ernest Coffman dusting off his 1928 Dodge
Marriage Certificate for Ernest and Millie 1931
Death Certificate of Ernest Ellsworth Coffman; cause of death was kidney failure

Next week we will feature Ernest Sr.'s father, Archibald Wilson Coffman 1850-1935.

Related posts: Uncle Ernie Coffman- His Story and his DNA