I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Jack Coffee and his blog, The Edward Coffey Project, described as, “. . . A blog hopefully useful for other Edward Coffey researchers. Really, it’s an attempt to correct a lot of misinformation floating around on Ancestry and other websites.”
“People ask me why my surname is spelled Coffee and not Coffey. I have a theory that spelling of the surname changed sometimes because of movement out of the Carolinas and into KY, TN, GA and later into AL and on into AR and TX to other points west. For example, Coffee was and is a rather popular name in AL, GA and TN. Some officials in counties that had heard of the exploits of such men as Gen. John Coffee – of Mrs. Andrew (Rachel) Jackson kin – would spell the name of a new Coffey arrival the only way they had ever seen it spelled. A tenuous argument but no one has ever been able to convince me of a better way the spelling changed. Spelling varies even amongst siblings with some even spelling it Coffia.”
Jack, can you please tell us a little about yourself?
“My hometown and that of my wife is Baton Rouge, LA. We have been married nearly 56 years and we now live in a small rural area some few miles north of Lafayette, LA and on the outskirts of the town of Sunset, LA. My military service made us travelers. We lived for three years in France and a couple of years in Germany. In all, I served my country for eight and a half years before taking a discharge and a job with Exxon, now Exxon-Mobil Corp. During the 28 years I worked for them, we lived and worked in Saudi Arabia and in Singapore and Baton Rouge. I retired in 1995 and we left Baton Rouge and moved to some lake front property we owned in a remote and sparsely populated Parish in the NE part of Louisiana where we lived for 10 years before moving to Sunset where we have lived almost eight years. In 2012, believing I had appendicitis, I went to the emergency room of a local hospital and came home with a diagnosis of Lymphoma. After months of chemo I was finally declared in remission and have been now for nearly two years.”
How did you get started in genealogy?
“I never knew my paternal grandparents or any cousins from the three marriages of my grandfather. Really, I never knew my father while growing up. He was a real loser, married six times siring another child, a girl, with I believe his third wife. A co-worker was researching his European roots and knowing that I spoke German – not so much now – he asked if I would translate some letters for him. We both decided it might be good to take a basic course, me to help restore some vocabulary, him to learn the basics. That got me interested in my roots but not before reading a bio of John Coffey Hayes, the Texas Ranger.”
How long have you been researching your family history?
“I began to seriously do research in the early 80’s when I discovered Baton Rouge had one of the finest genealogy libraries in the SE. Since that time I have continued to do Coffee/y research even after learning that none of my Coffees are actually Coffee or Coffey. It appears that my 3G-grandfather was either adopted or illegitimate and DNA testing shows us to be Mills. Ironic that we are Coffey Mills. My research points to an unmarried Coffey woman in Burke Co., NC living in close proximity to a single young man named Hardy Mills. DNA shows my descent from Hardy’s father.”
When and why did you start or create your genealogy blog?
“I began the blog on Dec. 7, 2004 and wrote regularly for several years. I am rather slow to write and post because it has become difficult to find anything new and of interest to readers.”
Do you have any tips for new bloggers?
“Jump in and start. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. Well, not too much, anyway!”
Are there other genealogy blogs that may inspire you?
“I rely on Twitter a lot and the professionals who post there. When I find a topic that one has posted and stirs my interest I will jog on over to their blogsite to see what they have to offer in the way of advice.”
Jack, what is your favorite post on your blog?
“I would guess that my favorite was the one in which I discovered a bigamist and a murderer in my family. That was only recently (2014) and can be found here: William Noah Coffey, Bigamist & Murderer.”
How much time do you get to spend researching your family history?
“Being retired and having no other hobbies, I spent the greater part of the day working on both Coffee/y families as well as my wife’s Acadian ancestors.”
What family story or heirloom do you cherish most?
“The walking stick that I inherited from my maternal great-grandfather who died when I was 10.”
How has genealogy improved your life?
“Well, hard to say. I suspect it helped me forget all of the difficulties I had not only with the cancer but also with the chemo. I spent a lot of time in my easy chair with my tablet, researching, reading and the like, all the while sending what I found via e-mail to my desktop computer. On those days I felt like moving from the easy chair to the desk chair, they were waiting for me and occupied me for a few hours.”
What do you love most about doing genealogy?
“I love searching old newspapers and finding out who shot who, who went to jail for moonshining, illicit love affairs and divorces, stuff like that! I’m really not a voyeur but it’s kind of cool to find out that even though I am the ‘perfect father and husband’ (tongue in cheek), not everyone in my family even came close.”
If you wanted to leave a message for future generations, what would you say?
“If it was left to my own family, grandchildren for example, I would tell them to take what I have begun and fill in the blanks!”
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Please take a moment to head on over to Jack’s blog. Leave him a comment letting him know you stopped by. Welcome Jack, it’s great to have you here!
© 2015, copyright Gini Webb. All rights reserved.
Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her grandchildren! Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Gini Webb via e-mail.