Monday, May 1, 2017

Was Jacob Coffman a Mad Hatter?

Thank God for the transcribers!  I am truly grateful for all of the genealogists that have chosen to transcribe and abstract original records.  I say this because of the wonderful discoveries that I made at the Clayton Library in Houston this week.  I am especially thankful for a genealogist named Michael L. Cook.

Margaret Mathis saved to Top Hats!! on Pinterest; An American 19th c. painted cast iron trade sign in the form of a top hat with eye for hanging, the interior painted with a hat band. Kellogg Collection Sold: $4956 Saved from

In honor of genealogical transcribers everywhere I have assembled this compilation entitled:


extracted from:
Mercer County Court Order Books transcribed and published by Michael L. Cook, C.G. of Evansville, Indiana in 1987 in a book entitled "Mercer County Kentucky Records, Volume 1." Web links to the original records added by Nick Cimino of League City, Texas in April and May 2017.
The focus of these selected records are on the family of Christian Kauffman AKA Christopher Coffman, his wife Elizabeth Clark and their three sons, Jacob, Isaac and Christian AKA Christopher.


The death of Christian Kauffman AKA Christopher Coffman occurred prior to the date that his widow gave consent to marry.  We have not yet been able to find a more definitive date of his death. He may have been one of the early "Low Dutch" settlers that were encouraged to settle near present day Harrodsburg by James Harrod. SOURCE:

Elizabeth Clarke Coffman, the widow of Christian Kauffman gave her consent to marry William Veach on 10 June 1787 in Mercer County, Kentucky. Since his widow was married in Mercer County, the presumption would be that he died within the boundaries of that county as they existed in the last half of the decade of 1780. However, if he died prior to the formal creation of Mercer County on 17 October 1785, it is possible that some records related to his death might be found in Lincoln County which was the predecessor to Mercer.

Consent granted by Elizabeth Coffman is at the following URL:
Citation: Kentucky, County Marriages, 1797-1954 Microfilm # 004705523 ; Image 67 of 1177
[Transcription of permission to marry by Elizabeth Coffman, June 10, 1787]
This is to certify that you have my approbation in granting a license to Mr. Wm. Veitch the bearer hereof to Marry me. Given under my hand this 10th day of June 1787 signed Elizabeth Coffman 
[No mark so she was apparently able to write her signature.]

Seven years after the marriage of the widow, Elizabeth Coffman to William Veach, she binds out her sons in apprenticeship records found in the Mercer County Court Order Books.


Cook's page # 383
County Court Order Book 3 (1793-1801)
March 25, 1794
p. 91
COOK'S ABSTRACT: Ordered that THOMAS ALLIN, Clerk, with consent of the widow, bind out JACOB COFFMAN, orphan of Christopher Coffman, dec'd., to DAVID SUTTON, to learn the trade of a hatter.
Ordered that THOMAS ALLIN, Clerk of the Court, with consent of the widow, bind JACOB COFFMAN, orphan of CHRISTOPHER COFFMAN, Deceased, to DAVID SUTTON, to learn the trade of a hatter as the law directs.
also on p. 91
COOK'S ABSTRACT: Ordered that THOMAS ALLIN, with consent of ELIZABETH VEACH, bind out CHRISTOPHER COFFMAN, son of ELIZABETH COFFMAN and orphan of CHRISTOPHER COFFMAN, dec'd., to OSWALD THOMAS, to learn the trade of a tanner; also to bind out their son ISAAC COFFMAN to learn the trade of a sadler.

Cook's page 387
County Court Order Book 3 (1793-1801)
May 27, 1794
p. 103
COOK'S ABSTRACT: Indenture of Apprenticeship, THOMAS ALLIN, Clerk, for CHRISTOPHER COFFMAN to OSWALD THOMAS, was approved and ordered recorded.
also on p. 103 COOK'S ABSTRACT: Indenture of Apprenticeship, THOMAS ALLIN, Clerk, for JACOB COFFMAN to DAVID SUTTON, was approved and ordered recorded.

Cook's page 470
County Court Order Book 3 (1793-1801)
March 28, 1797
p. 318
COOK'S ABSTRACT: Ordered that the Indenture between BOSWELL THOMAS and CHRISTOPHER COFFMAN, by mutual consent, be set aside.

Cook's page 539
County Court Order Book 3 (1793-1801)
November 20, 1799
p. 466
COOK'S ABSTRACT: ISAAC COFFMAN made oath that ISAAC COFFMAN JR. is son and heir at law to CHRISTOPHER COFFMAN, dec'd; the same is ordered certified.

By conducting a web search, I found the following about "Hatter David Sutton Kentucky":
"TWENTY FIVE CENTS REWARD. Runaway from the subscriber, an apprentice boy, to the Hatter’s trade, named JACOB COFFMAN, about fifteen years old. Whoever delivers him to his master, near the mouth of Dick’s river, shall have the above reward, but no other charges paid.  DAVID SUTTON."
Source: Kentucky Gazette, 19 September 1798; Transcribed here:
Original image of the Kentucky Gazette of 19 Sept 1798 was found here:

I wondered why Jacob Coffman never followed the hatter trade and this runaway notice explains it. Again we give a big shout out to volunteer transcribers that contribute to RootsWeb and so many other websites.

The "mouth of Dick's river" is mentioned in several online sources:

Collins' Historical Sketches of Kentucky: History of Kentucky
Lewis Collins - 1878
**page 23 Irish Station, between Danville and mouth of Dick's river.
**page 24 Smith's Station was on the road from Danville to the mouth of Dick's river.
**page 514 a ferry was established by the Virginia Legislature in 1786 and granted to John Curd over the Kentucky River at the mouth of Dick's river.
Lewis Collins - 1882 - ?Kentucky
**page 542 - In 1786, across the Kentucky River, on the lands of John Curd, at the mouth of Dick's river; a town was established, called New-Market.

Dicks River is now known as Dix River and it flows into the Kentucky River.  A historic railroad bridge called High Bridge was built near the mouth of the Dix river.  The Jessamine County Kentucky River Task Force published a Kentucky River Guidebook that includes a historical marker at the mouth of the Dix River with the following text:
 Mouth of Dix (M-G) (RM 118.3)
The Dix River (originally called 'Dick’s River' after a Cherokee chief) is the location of Lake Herrington built in 1923-35 by the predecessor of Kentucky Utilities, Inc.  Because the Dix River flows through a narrow canyon, it was the site of several mills using this water power prior to the Dix Dam. 
John Curd, a Revolutionary War major, acquired a large tract of land near this point, as well as 16 acres in Jessamine County, established a warehouse, and operated a ferry  between the Mouth of Dix and Jessamine County beginning in 1786 under a license from Virginia.  
This Act of the Virginia Legislature also established the Town of New Market on twenty acres at this point.  In October 1788 the ware-house became a reality with James Hord, Edmund Mundy, and Bernard [sic]acting as official Inspectors of Tobacco.  The County Court of Mercer County was kept busy surveying potential new roads into the site from various locations.  By any standards, this was a tough job.
This warehouse was one of the inspection stations approved by James Wilkinson for tobacco shipped by flatboat to New Orleans on his second voyage.
SOURCE:  This site also includes a map of the marker location.

More on David Sutton:
The following reference to David Sutton was found in Kentucky Ancestors V42-4, 2007
excerpted from the The Life and Times of Robert B. McAfee, on page 199,  Recollections of the year 1793:
"My Cousin Samuel Walker Kerr was about this time put to the Trade of a Hatter in Harrodsburgh to Mr. David Sutton, very much against his inclination. My Father thought it his duty to give him a trade as he had no property to support himself. He went with as heavy a heart as I did to board from home and it was unfortunate that he did so as he had no capital to begin with. He, however, attempted to follow it but never succeeded at it and finally it was abandoned as his heart was never in the matter. This event always prejudiced my mind (and experience justifies the opinion) never to put a boy to any Trade or business which he does not freely select himself, as nine times out of ten it will turn out a failure. Almost every person has a genius for some kind of business if permitted to follow it, you cannot force nature or give boys inclination which they do not possess, and if any person does not possess talents to make a fortune, they would not keep it if made to their hand. If Parents or Guardians would oftener consult the natural temperament of their children and wards, they would save many heartaches & disappointments."

Clearly, Jacob Coffman was not inclined toward the trade of a hatter as evidenced by the fact that he had run away from David Sutton. The period of his apprenticeship lasted from May 1794 to September 1798 which is four years and four months.  He was probably "mad" that he had wasted four years of his life but we do not know if he was exposed to mercury poisoning long enough to contract the "mad hatter disease."

Christopher Coffman was bound out to Oswald Thomas on March 25, 1794, to learn the trade of a tanner.  Isaac Coffman was also bound out on the same date to learn the trade of a sadler.  The implication was that Isaac was also bound out to Oswald Thomas.  However, by March 28, 1797 the Indenture between "Boswell Thomas" and Christopher Coffman was set aside by mutual consent. Christopher Coffman served his apprenticeship three years and three days.  Whether his master's name was Oswald Thomas or Boswell Thomas, it is clear that he too was not well suited to his trade. Tanning the skins of the deer and the buffalo for the rough clothing of the time, was one of the earliest and most essential industries of Kentucky.

SOURCE: Some Early Industries of Mercer County read by Mary A. Stephenson before Harrodsburg Historical Society, March 6, 1914 and published in Register of Kentucky State Historical Society, Vol. 13, No. 38 (MAY, 1915), pp. 43,45-52 [PDF copy downloaded from available upon request]

The book of early court records by Michael L. Cook has many more Coffman treasures.  I insert a few of the images that I snapped to tantalize you and encourage you to find a copy of this wonderful book of abstracts for yourself.


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