George W. Bridges is a son of John
and Jane T. Bridges, the former of whom was a native of Missouri, and his
mother a Virginian. He was born in that portion of Lawrence County, now
known as Randolph, in 1856. His parents settled in Arkansas when they were
children, about the year 1829, and were married when they reached the age
of maturity. They have always made Lawrence County their home, where the
father died in 1858, at the age of thirty eight years, with the proud consciousness
of having performed his duty to his country, having been a survivor of
the Mexican War, through which he served with the eulogium of his commanding
officers upon his bravery. The mother contracted a second marriage with
William Ferguson (now deceased), and had one child by her second husband,
who was a captain in the Confederate army. Mr. Ferguson died in June, 1865,
shortly after he returned home from the war. Mr. Bridges is the third child
of his parents, and was reared in Randolph and Sharp Counties, returning
to the former in 1869, where he remained until February 28, 1888, and then
moved to his present place of abode. He has upward of 100 acres of land
under cultivation, and has also turned his attention to cotton planting.
He was married to Miss Bettie A. Glenn, in 1879, a young lady of Ballard
County, Ky. They have had six children, one of them deceased. Those living
are: Charlie Emma, Mamie Ann, Sallie H., Andrew O. and George William.
Mr. Bridges is a member of the A. F. & A. M., of Ravenden, and is a
popular resident of Lawrence County. His wife is a member of the Methodist
Episcopal Church, South.
Thomas F. Buchanan, an enterprising farmer
and stock raiser, of Spring River Township, was born in Lawrence County,
Ark., November 14, 1854. He is the son of Thomas, and Eliza (Welthy) Buchanan,
of Missouri, who moved to Arkansas after their marriage and settled in
Lawrence County, where the older Buchanan died in 1854, in the prime and
vigor of his manhood. Thomas F. remained with his mother until he had attained
his maturity, and then commenced to take his own part in the world. He
has been farming the greater portion of his life, and the experience gained
during that time has made him one of the best farmers in his county. When
still a young man, he visited the city of Memphis, Tenn., with a view of
making it his future home, but after a residence of fourteen months, he
decided to come back to Lawrence Country, and has remained here ever since.
On August 20, 1876, he was married to Miss Sarah Huffman, daughter of John
Huffman, and two years after his marriage he bought the tract of land upon
which he now resides, and commenced cultivating the soil. He now owns 120
acres, with about thirty five acres cleared, and has built a large double
house upon it, besides giving his attention to a small but wells elected
orchard of two acres, with several different varieties ties of fruit. Mr.
Buchanan and his wife have four daughters: Effie, Ruby, Ella and Orlans,
and all four of the girls are members of the Missionary Baptist Church.
He takes great interest in education and is a member of the school board.
Benjamin R. Bush, farmer and stock
raiser, of Lawrence County, was born in Wilson County, Tenn., February
19, 1838. His parents were S. L. and Elizabeth (Tate) Bush, of the same
State, who im migrated to Arkansas in 1840, and settled in Lawrence County,
where the father practiced medicine up to the time of his death, about
the year 1852. He reared a family of three sons and one daughter, all of
whom lived until their maturity. Benjamin R. remained with his mother until
his twentieth year, when he married and purchased a farm of his own. His
bride was Miss Mary Orr, a young lady who was reared in this county, who
proved a useful helpmate and faithful wife. Mr. Bush farmed on his land
for several years, and then bought more and added to it from time to time,
until he now owns about 400 acres of the best land in Arkansas, with 150
acres cleared, and all of it situated four miles west of Minturn. There
is a good residence, two barns, two cribs, and all other necessaries upon
the land, besides a fine orchard of three acres, with peach and apple trees.
He had almost nothing he could call his own when he first started in life,
and has accumulated his fine property by shrewdness, good judgment and
industry, and has set a worthy example for others to follow. In 1862 he
enlisted in Col. Lindsay's company (afterward Col. Baber's), and served
one year. He then joined Col. Reeves' regiment, and remained with it until
the close of the war, when he surrendered, and was paroled June 5, 1865,
at Jackson port. He took part in the engagements at Cane Hill, Ark., and
Price's raids through Missouri, also the fight at Pilot Knob, besides numerous
other sharp encounters, bearing himself in a soldierly manner through the
entire campaign. Mr. Bush lost his first wife in 1880, and afterward married
Miss Ellen Guthry. Five children were born to him by his first wife: Joseph
W., George R., Sanford, Charles, and Mary Elizabeth, wife of William McClure;
also two children by his second wife, whose names are Clarence and Katie.
Both parents are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and Mr. Bush
is a member of the K. of H. and the Agricultural Wheel.
M. V. Camp, physician and surgeon of Walnut Ridge, has been a resident of Northeast Arkansas for the past twenty-one years. He was born in Bibb County, Ala, June 11, 1836, and is the son of James Camp, of South Carolina, who was one of the first to manufacture the ore into wire in the iron furnaces of Birmingham, Ala. He was married to Miss Mary Looney, of South Carolina, who died in Mississippi about the year 1870, aged eighty years. Eight girls and four boys were born to them, four of them still living. Martin Van Buren Camp was the youngest of this large family, and was reared on a farm. He had been given a liberal education at the city of Birmingham, principally at “Old Elyton,” and was the leader in Greek and Latin in his class. After his college days were over he embarked in the newspaper business at Butler, Choctaw County, Ala., and bought the plant of the Southern Democrat. This paper he edited from 1837 to 1860, and his ability pushed it to the first place among the newspapers of Alabama. It was the second paper in that State to advocate secession, and the Doctor still has copies of his first literary effort in his library at home. In 1861 he enlisted in Capt. Maner's regiment, and was created a sergeant (Mississippi troops) and then under Col. (afterwards Maj.-Gen.) Lowry, with whom he served three months. He afterward organized a company of volunteers, with Dr. R. B. Stephens, of Tupelo, Miss., of which he was captain, while Dr. Stephens was made surgeon. The company formed part of Col. W. M. Inges' Twelfth Regiment Mississippi Cavalry, in Gen. S. W. Ferguson's brigade, and did excellent service all through the war. Dr. Camp came to Jonesboro, Ark., after they had disbanded, and was engaged in teaching school in Craighead County. He then attended a course of lectures at the University of Louisville, and when through moved to Gainesville, where he practiced for fourteen years. In 1885 he located in Walnut Ridge, where he has succeeded in building up a fair practice. He has no desire to accumulate a large amount of property, but believes in giving his children a good education under his own supervision, so that his money will be judiciously expended. The Doctor is a member of the Masonic and Odd Fellows' fraternities, and of [p.778] the Cross Roads Baptist Church, near Portia. He is a Democrat in polities, but has never held any public office excepting that of county examiner of public instruction, in Greene County. He was married May 2, 1860, in Sumter County, Ala., to Miss Sarah C. Sheid. of that State, a daughter of Jesse G. Sheid. Her parents had three girls and two boys born to them. one of them deceased. Those living are Lizzie I., the wife of Rev. James F. Jernigan, a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and residing in Walnut Ridge; James Sheid, now studying medicine with his father; Mary Ann, who graduated in June, 1880, from the Bellevue Collegiate Institute, of Caledonia, Mo., and Alice E., at home. Mrs. Camp's mother died July 17, 1888, aged fifty-one years. She was a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, and came from what is known throughout South Carolina as the “Old Horseshoe Robinson Stock.”
John N. Campbell, treasurer of Lawrence County, Ark., is a native of Cumberland County, N. C., where he was born April 3, 1820. His father was Murdock Campbell, of Scotland, born of Scotch and Irish parentage, who was raised and married in North Carolina. After his marriage the eider Campbell moved to Lawrence County, Tenn., and settled on a farm, where he began the cultivation of the soil and rearing his children. From there he moved to the State of Arkansas in 1843, settling in what is now Lawrence County, where he resided up to the time of his death, about the year 1852. John N. Cambell reached his maturity in the State of Tennessee, and came to Arkansas in 1843, where he settled, in Lawrence County, on a farm, and tilled the soil for a number of years. In 1872 he was elected county treasurer and at the expiration of his term was re-elected, serving from 1872 to 1878. In 1888 his party, seeing the fitness of the man for the position and recognizing his abilities, once more elected him to office. He previously discharged the duties of justice of the peace for twelve years, and also served as deputy sheriff and constable. Mr. Campbell was married, in 1846, to Miss Mary J. Childers, of Virginia, and they are now the parents of three sons and one daughter, all of them having attained maturity and married. Their names are: William M., John D., Alex C., and Sarah A., wife of John C. Overstreet, the entire family residing in Lawrence County. Both Mr. and Mrs. Campbell are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and stand high in the regard of those surrounding them.
John Casper, farmer and blacksmith, whose work at the forge and anvil has placed him as an expert in his trade, was born in Rowan County, N. C., May 5, 1827. He is a son of George and Naney (Leonard) Casper, both of the same county and State, who died in their native place. Mr. Casper is one of a family of four sons and four daughters, of whom five are still living, three brothers and two sisters, the latter residing in North Carolina, and the former, David. Jacob Alexander and John, living in Lawrence County. John Casper is the oldest of the three brothers living, and was reared in Rowan County, N. C., where he remained with his father until his twenty-sixth year. He moved west in 1853 and settled in Lawrence County, Ark., where he bought a small section of land and commenced clearing and improving it. On March 8, 1854. he was married to Mrs. Sarah M. Blackwell, a widow lady, of North Carolina, who also possessed a small improvement on government land. Mr. Casper immediately set to work clearing his land, and they now have about seventy-five acres under cultivation. The home place comprises about 380 acres altogether, with a good log house and other buildings built upon it, and an orchard. He also owns 240 acres in other sections, and from the fact that he commenced on almost nothing at all, has done remarkably well. He owes it all to his own thrift and business tact, and is now considered as one of the substantial farmers of Lawrence County. Mr. Casper enlisted in the Confederate army in 1863, and was a member of the Seventh Missouri Cavalry, and afterward transferred to the Seventh Arkansas Infantry. He took part in many a hard fought battle—at Little Rock, Pilot Knob and in Gen. Price's raids through Missouri, besides several battles of lesser importance. He was paroled at Shreveport. La., at the close of the war, and [p.779] returned home to resume his labor upon the farm. In 1877 Mr. Casper lost his faithful wife, who died October 4, leaving him one child. George W. He again married, his second wife being Mrs. Harriet E. Harris, a widow, of North Carolina, and has one child by this marriage, Etter E. Mr. Casper is a member of the Old School Presbyterian Church, in which he is elder, and is also a member of the Agricultural Wheel, being vice president of the local Wheel. He has been unfortunate in the loss of his second wife, who died February 13, 1884, leaving behind her a record of usefulness and many virtues.
John A. Cathey, one of the oldest merchants in Lawrence County, was born in Shelby County, Tenn., in the year 1810. He is the son of John A. Cathey, of Maury County, Tenn., who was reared on a farm, and finally adopted the tailoring trade, which he followed until his death occurred, in 1851. at Jacksonport, Ark, in which place he had settled in 1848, for the purpose of working. He was married to Miss Narcissa Turnage, of Tennessee, who died shortly after the decease of her husband at Jacksonport. Five sons were born to them, two of them yet living: James H. and John A., both living in Arkansas. The children who have died are William T., David L. and an infant. David was killed by accidentally shooting himself during the war. John A. Cathey, for whom this sketch is intended, is the youngest member of the family living. He came to Arkansas with his parents, and remained with them. until he grew to manhood, in Jackson County. He enlisted in the Confederate army in 1861, and was enrolled in Company G. First Arkansas, and served until the close of the war, when he surrendered at Jacksonport. He participated in the battle of Bull Run, at Shiloh, and was so severely wounded in that engagement that he lay disabled for some two months. He also took part in the battles of Perryville (Ky.), Murfreesboro (Tenn.), Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and then a three mouths' campaign from Dalton to Atlanta. He was at Franklin, Tenn., during the lerrible slaughter (Hood's) at that place, and afterward in another hot campaign at Nashville. He has been wounded at different times, and bears a war record that few men can equal at the present day. When the war was over, it would naturally seem that after witnessing and taking part in the terrible carnage of his numerous battles, he would prefer a peaceful life, but, strange to say, his occupation was butchering while in Jacksonport, as though he had not yet been satiated by the sight and smell of blood. From Jacksonport he moved to Newport, and lived there for eight years, then settled down in Lawrence County, where he is now considered the oldest established merchant in that section. He carries a large stock of general merchandise, and is noted for his square dealing throughout the county. In fact, he is the founder of the town that bears his name. He was appointed postmaster from 1881 to 1885, and has held several local offices. His wife was Miss Sarah W. Roberts, of Alabama, who died in 1869. Mr. Cathey afterward married a sister of his first wife, Miss Eliza Roberts, and they have had two children by this union, Eliza I. and Bertha Lee. They are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and Mr. Cathey is a member of Dry Creek Lodge No. 453, F. & A. M.
Burrel M. Childers, a well-known and
popular farmer and stock raiser, was born in Madison County, Ala., October
9, 1821. His father, John Childers, was a native of Georgia, who moved
to the State of Alabama when a young man, and was there married to Miss
Rutha Cown. The parents remained in Alabama until the year 1824, and then
settled in Tennessee, where they resided up to 1838, when they selected
Arkansas as their future home, and located in Lawrence County. The elder
Childers had an eventful history in his younger days, and was a soldier
in the Black Hawk War. He reared a family of
eleven children, five sons and six daughters, of whom Burrel M. Childers is the only survivor. Burrel remained with his father until he was of mature age, and then enlisted in the Mexican War of 1846. After the war was over and the treaty had been made, he received his discharge, and returned to Lawrence County. He settled on his present place in 1849, when this portion of Arkansas was nothing more than a wilderness, and has lived to see it grow up [p.780] into a populous and thriving community. Mr. Childers has since then cleared up about seventy-five acres, and put them under cultivation, besides owning 160 acres adjoining. He did, at one time, own over 1,000 acres, but has divided up with his children. When war was announced between the North and South he gave his services to the Confederacy, and joined Col. Shaver's regiment. He was elected lieutenant, and held that rank until the close of hostilities. During that time he took part in the fights at Pilot Knob, Independence, Kansas City, Big Blue and Miner's Creek, where Gen. Marmaduke was taken prisoner. After the war he returned to Lawrence County, and has since then been occupied in farming. His first marriage was to Miss Narcissa Beavers, of Illinois, who died in 1856. This wife left two children, who grew to maturity, were married, and left children of their own. Mr. Childers next married, in this county, Mrs. Hopkins, a widow lady, of Indiana, who died in 1883. There are three children living by this wife, whose names are: C. F., wife of Joseph Lollar; Julis, widow of A. B. Hogard, and Hezekiah. His present wife was united to him in 1884, her former name being Aveline Grider, a daughter of Martin Grider, one of the pioneers of Randolph County. There are three children by this marriage: Maxie, Stonewall Jackson and Chaldon. Mr. Childers is a member of the Masonic order, and is a Royal Arch Mason, belonging to the Eastern Star. He attends the Christian Church, while his wife is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and also of the Eastern Star. In the early days of his settlement in Arkansas, Mr. Childers was a hunter of no mean pretenses. He made a regular business of hunting for ten years, and together with his brother, killed thirty-six bears, six panthers and a great number of wild cats, in one spring, besides a quantity of deer. He has a record of killing eleven deer in one day, while a companion of his, a Frenchman, killed eleven deer and two bears the same day. Mr. Childers is a genial and active gentleman, though well advanced in life, and is very much thought of by his neighbors. He is full of anecdote, and it is a pleasure to listen to the reminiscences of his early days, which none can tell so well as an old settler.
William Childers, a well-known boniface and liveryman of Imboden, was born in this county in the year 1844. His parents came to Arkansas in childhood, and were located in the southwestern part of Lawrence County. He is descended from an old family of Virginians; his grandfather, Isam Childers, moving from that State to Arkansas, with his family, in 1824, where he reared his family of four boys and two girls, Alexander C. Childers, his third son, being the father of William Childers. Isam Childers was a veteran of the War of 1812, and died in 1858 at an advanced age. Alexander C. Childers was born in Virginia, in 1815, and moved to the State of Arkansas, with his father, when in his childhood. When war was declared between this country and Mexico, he was one of the first to follow the lead of Gens. Scott and Taylor in the land of cactus, and distinguished himself on many a battlefield. He died in 1860 while in the very prime of life, and left a shining example behind him for his sons to follow. James Childers, one of his brothers, represented this county in the legislature for several terms, and was one of the prominent men of Arkansas. The mother of Mr. William Childors was a daughter of Jacob Fortenberry; her name was Matilda, and she was born in Virginia in 1819, and died in 1844, when he was an infant. She left four children: Elisabeth, the wife of D. Christian; Nancy, the wife of Lee Holt, now residing in Texas; Absalom F., a Baptist minister in Alabama, and William Childers, of Lawrence County. Mr. Childers commenced to make a career of his own at the age of sixteen years, and entered the army during the war. He was a member of Company E, First Arkansas, and gallantly upheld the reputation of his forefathers as model soldiers. On August 10, 1861, he was dangerously wounded and forced to desist from fighting. He lay idle for three months, but the old fighting instinct compelled him to enter the ranks again, and he joined McCorvess' regiment, Fourteenth Arkansas, in which he fought until his capture at Port Gibson. He regained his liberty three months later, and after the fall of Vicksburg [p.781] re-joined the army at Washington, Ark. He was again made prisoner and taken to Little Rock, Ark., and transferred from there to Rock Island, Ill., where he was kept until Lee's surrender. After his release he went to Leavenworth, Kas., and made a trip across, the plains to Denver City, Col., remaining in that place six months before his return home. He has, since that time, resided in Lawrence County, where he is engaged in farming, stock raising, and as a hotel keeper and liveryman he enjoys a well-deserved reputation. He is one of the most extensive stock dealers in the county, an occupation to which he has given much attention since the war, and his was the first shipment made over the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Railroad. He has devoted himself largely to trading in horses, mules, cattle, hogs and sheep. Mr. Childers is prominent in all political matters, and was twice elected treasurer of Lawrence County by the Democrats. He was also nominated for sheriff, but was beaten by his opponent. His first business venture in this county was with W. Childers & Co., at Smithville, Ark., and the second with a firm composed of W. C. Sloan, Q. C. Jones and himself, dealers in merchandise, of which Mr. Childers was the manager. He sold his interest to W. C. Sloan two years later, and since that time has had charge of the widely known Delmonico Hotel and a well-equipped livery stable attached. He was married, January 15, 1865, to Miss Clara A. Wells, a lady of Lawrence County, Ark., and daughter of John Wells, of Virginia, who was one of the principal stock dealers in Arkansas, before his death in 1858. Mrs. Childers' mother was Eliza A. Grayson, of Louisiana, before her marriage. She died in Imboden in the year 1886, aged sixty years. Nine children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Wells, all of them deceased excepting the wife of William Childers. Mr. Childers and his wife have had eight children, three of whom are dead, namely: Robert E. L., Nancy S. and Doney Belle. Those living are: Charles O., Mollie May, William Sloan, John Crockett and Grover Cleveland. Mrs. Childers is a charming lady and universally beloved for her kindness of heart and gentle disposition. Her husband is a Master Mason and a leader in the affairs of his county. They are generous and liberal in all their undertakings, and respected by everyone.
Hon. Charles Coffin is one of the principal Democrats of Northeast Arkansas, and a man well known over the entire State. He has all the antecedents which combine to produce a man stanch and true to the real Democracy, and for several years past has been an earnest advocate of Democratic principles in this State. He was born at Rogersville, Hawkins County, Tenn., on the 23d of April, 1842, and, with his parents, removed to Knoxville, Tenn., when but five years of age. He there remained until December, 1865, when he removed with his mother and brothers to Memphis, and resided there until July, 1869, when the family came to Lawrence County, his present home. The ancestry of Mr. Coffin goes back over 200 years to Tristam Coffin, an English yeoman, who came to Newberryport, Mass., in 1642, but being driven from there on account of his religious belief – a sympathy for persecuted Quakers went and settled the Island of Nantucket. He is the ancestor of all of that name in America. The family celebrated the two hundredth anniversary of his death in 1881. Mr. Coffin, with a brother and two cousins from Tennessee, were the only representatives present from the Southern branches of the family, and there were nearly 600 present. Mr. Coffin's grandfather, the Rev. Charles Coffin, D. D., a Presbyterian minister, and a graduate of Harvard, emigrated from Newberryport, in 1804, to Greeneville, Tenn., where he founded and was president of Greeneville College until 1827. He held the same position in the East Tennessee University, at Knoxville, from 1827 until 1836, and died at Greeneville, in 1852. He was the educator of many of the most prominent, influential and distinguished men of the South, of the last generation, one of whom was the late Gen. Grandison D. Royston, of this State. His portrait is frescoed in the ceiling of the library room in the capitol at Nashville, as one of the pioneer literati of Tennessee. Mr. Coffin's father, Charles Hector Coffin, was born on the 24th of April, 1804, at Newberryport, Mass., and was a [p.782] merchant of Knoxville, an active railroad man, and under Gov. Campbell's administration was president of the branch Bank of Tennessee, at Rogersville. He died at Columbia, Tenn., on the 19th of June, 1854. He had married Miss Eliza Park, a native of Knoxville, Tenn., born on the 22d day of September, 1811, and the daughter of James Park, who was of Irish birth, and a merchant by trade. Mr. Park died in 1853, at the age of eighty four years. His wife, who was formerly Sophia Moody, of Wilmington, Del., died in 1862, when over eighty years of age. She was the mother of twelve children, of whom Rev. James Park, D. D., a distinguished Presbyterian minister at Knoxville, is one. Mrs. Coffin (mother of the subject of this sketch) died in this county, in 1874, and lies buried at Knoxville, Tenn. Charles Coffin has been not so much a student of books as an independent thinker. He went through the freshman and sophmore years in the Tennessee University, at Knoxville, and the junior year at Princeton, N. J., but the war closed his school life. He was a Southerner by birth, his home was there, all his interests and his heart were with “his people.” He believed neither in secession nor coercion, but seeing his people in trouble and danger, his warm heart went out in sympathy for them, and he left the college, gave up all that promised to be a brilliant literary career, for he had all the requisites which only needed to be molded, cultured and trained, and resolutely set his face homeward, where he was eagerly welcomed. He enlisted as a private on the 10th of August, 1861, when but nineteen years of age, in Capt. Ben M. Branner's cavalry company (at Cumberland Gap), afterwards Company I, Second Tennessee Cavalry, under Col. Henry M. Ashby. Mr. Coffin was in Gen. Zollicoffer's command, and participated in all his engagements until the latter's death at Mill Springs, Ky., on the 19th of January, 1862. Mr. Coffin was afterwards in the campaigns in Kentucky, under Gen. Kirby Smith, participating in the battle of Murfreesboro, December 31, 1862, and North Carolina, January 1, 1863, and on the 19th, 20th and 21st of March, 1865, he was at Bentonville, N. C., where Gens. Joseph E. Johnston and Sherman fought their last great battle. He was in the fight between Wheeler and Kilpatrick, February 11, 1865, at Aikin, S. C., and with Johnston in Wheeler's cavalry corps during the campaigns of the Carolinas in the last mentioned year. He was captured at Somerset, Ky., under Brig. Gen. John Pegram, March 31, 1863, and exchanged at City Point, Va., on the 22d of April; was captured again at Lancaster, Ky., on the 31st of August, 1863, while under Col. John S. Scott, of Louisiana, and was a prisoner at Camp Chase, Ohio, for seven months, and the eight months following at Fort Delaware. He was exchanged at Savannsh, Ga., on the 12th day of November, 1864. He was sergeant major of his regiment, but surrendered and was paroled at Charlotte, N. C., under the cartel between Johnston and Sherman, May 11, 1865, as adjutant, in which position he was then acting. Mr. Coffin was a grocery merchant at Memphis, Tenn., from March, 1867, to July, 1869, and was engaged in mercantile pursuits at Clover Bend, in this county, from July, 1869, to March, 1871. In 1873 he edited the Observer, at Pocahontas, Ark., until August, 1874, and also taught school in that time. In September, 1874, he was licensed to practice law and located at Walnut Ridge, where he has since resided. In 1876 he was co-editor of the Little Rock Gazette, but one year later he resumed the practice of his profession, at Walnut Ridge. Mr. Coffin is a Democrat, of Whig antecedents, having been reared by Whig parents. He became a Democrat after the war, and in 1873 was elected from Randolph County, as a Democrat, to the extraordinary session of the legislature, and served eighteen days during the Brooks-Baxter war, at the call of Governor Baxter. In 1878 he was elected prosecuting attorney, and re-elected in 1880 for the Third judicial district. In the summer of 1888 he was a candidate for the Democratic nomination to Congress for the First Arkansas district, against Hon. W. H. Cate, of Jonesboro, and gave the latter a close and exciting race. He was afterwards given an unsolicited and unanimous nomination as representative to the State legislature (being not even a candidate) by the Democratic convention of his [p.783] county, and won the fight by a good majority. He made the canvass as a “straight Democrat,” against the combined Republican, Union Labor and Wheeler opposition, and wears the laurels of a hard earned victory. In the legislative session following (1888-89) he was a strong advocate and leader of the effort to organize the Democratic members of the legislature for Democratic purposes. His heart was in the work and he labored indefatigably and gallantly for the sake of all the principles he holds most dear. He was chairman of the house committee on penitentiary, also a member of the house committee on railroads, ways and means and education. Mr. Coffin introduced several important bills, among them the following: To regulate the practice of pharmacy; to inspect cattle for butchering purposes in cities of first and second class; to repeal features of the labor contract law (Mansfield's Digest, Section 4441), which makes valid contracts for labor made beyond the limits of State. He also had the honor of framing the State Democratic platform of 1888, in which the State canvass and victory were won from the Union Labor and Republican parties combined. Mr. Coffin owns a farm of eighty acres near Walnut Ridge, and is a strong advocate of grass farming, being one of the first to introduce clover into this section of the State. He was baptized in infancy, but is not a member of the Church, though a Presbyterian in his views, and assists in maintaining ministers and church enterprises. Mr. Coffin is a member of that large class of mankind who have never seen fit, from various causes, to enter the “conjugal state of felicity,” although a previous biographer has dryly remarked that “he is young enough to reform.” He has been known to say, in reference to his loneliness and absence of a life companion, that “a Coffin is the last thing on earth a woman wants.” Mr. Coffin has for his motto: “Never do anything to be ashamed of.” His style of oratory is earnest, fluent and pointed, speaks impromptu and gets at the “meat” of the question. He is an honorable, upright citizen in all that the terms imply.
Joseph W. Coffman, a prominent farmer of Duty Township, was born in McLean County, Ky., in 1833. His parents, Benjamin and Elizabeth (Gossett) Coffman, are natives of Virginia, and of German descent. Some of the family were extensive farmers in Virginia, while others had various occupations. The father was born in the year 1802, and came to Kentucky with his parents in 1804, where he grew to maturity, and was married. He died in 1856, from a very painful accident, having his head mashed while moving a hogshead of tobacco. He was a firm adherent of the Universalist Church, and a member of the A. F. & A. M., while his death was a source of sincere regret among a large circle of friends. The mother, who was some ten years younger than her husband, died in 1844. Benjamin Coffman and Elizabeth (Gossett) Coffman were the parents of eight children: William A., Nancy, Ephraim A., Benjamin F., Daniel M., Elisha, Elizabeth, and Joseph W., of whom William A. and Elisha are deceased. Joseph W. Coffman was the third child, and remained on the farm in Kentucky with his parents until his twenty-first year, when he accepted a lucrative position with a large tobacco firm, and commenced his own career. On October 19, 1856, he was married, and moved to the State of Arkansas, where he settled in Hempstead County, on a farm which he rented the first year, but at the expiration of that time was able to purchase a farm of his own. A few years later, that announcement of war, which broke up so many happy homes, also filled him with the desire to aid the Confederacy, and he enlisted in W. H. Prescott's company, and served for three years. He took part in a great number of engagements, and carried himself through that bloody epoch in history in a manner that won the admiration and respects of his comrades. After the war had ended, he returned to Lawrence County, in 1866, and settled at a point within one mile and a half of where he now resides, and, in 1878, moved to the present place, where he has been employed in agricultural pursuits ever since. Mr. Coffman was married to Miss Rebecca Bowen, a daughter of John W. and Ann (Kenerly) Bowen, natives of South Carolina and Virginia, respectively, who were prominent farmers and large slave-owners [p.784] before the war. The father was born in 1805, of English descent, and died in the year 1869. while the mother, who was of Dutch origin, was born in 1804, and died in 1864. They were the parents of five sons and three daughters, three of them yet living, and Mrs. Coffman is the sixth child of that number. Ten children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Coffman, of whom seven are still living. Their names are: F. Warren, Mary C., wife of B. A. Welbon, living in the State of Washington; John B., Elizabeth, who died in her thirteenth year: Benjamin A., at home; William M., who died at thirteen years of age; Jennie, also dead: Flora, Lena and Josie at home. Mr. and Mrs. Coffman are both members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in which they are active workers, while Mr. Coffman is a trustee, steward, and also superintendent of the Sunday-school, and has represented the church in several conferences. He is a prominent man, and a leader in all enterprises concerning the welfare of his county, and one whose advice and judgment are sought for on many occasions. He is a member of Lodge No. 450, and has belonged to that organization for over thirty years. Mr. Coffman's father contracted a second marriage after the death of his first wife, and by this wife had nine children: John T., Jacob B., Samuel R., Solomon E., George P. (who met his death at the hands of an assassin), Frank P., Susan F., James Lewis, Ezekiel. Ezekiel, George, Frank, James and Samuel are deceased.
James W. Coffman, M. D., a gentleman
well known throughout Northeastern Arkansas as one of its leading physicians,
and a fruit grower of well-deserved reputation, was born in 1847 on a farm
in what is now known as McLean County, Ky. He is the son of Jacob N. and
Nancy (Gish) Coffman, both natives of Pennsylvania, who removed to the
State of Kentucky in 1808, when they were children. In 1857 Mr. Coffman
and his family removed to Arkansas, and settled in Lawrence County, where
he entered into the cultivation of cotton on an extensive scale. His death
occurred in 1879, at the age of sixty-seven years, fourteen years after
the demise of his wife. Ten children were born to them, of whom two only
are living, one of them being a daughter. Mrs. Mary S. Bennefield. and
James W. Coffman. Mr. Coffman resided in Lawrence County until the age
of sixteen years. when he enlisted in the Confederate army under Gen. Price
during the declining years of the late war. participating in some of the
daring raids through Missouri and Kansas. At the close of that conflict
he returned home, and engaged in the more peaceful avocation of cotton
planting. In 1868 he commenced the study of medicine, with his brother
(now deceased), who was a graduate of the University of Louisville, Ky.,
as his preceptor. He entered the same university in the fall of 1869, from
which he graduated in 1871, and later on entered the Jefferson Medical
College, of Philadelphia, graduating in 1883. He commenced the practice
of medicine at Powhatan in 1871, and removed to Black Rock in 1883, where
his personal popularity and large practice attest to his efficiency as
a skillful physician. His wife, a pleasant and attractive lady, was formerly
Miss Mollie F. Warner. The Doctor embarked in general merchandising in
1883-84 at Black Rock, and has been deservedly fortunate, being the owner
of considerable property in that town and the outlying district. He has
one of the finest fruit orchards in the northeastern portion of this State,
comprising twenty-five acres of young trees just producing fruit, which
he planted in the fall of 1885 as an experiment, and which have proven
a success beyond his most sanguine expectations. They will yield on an
average one and one-half bushels to the tree this year. Besides this, he
has planted out small fruits in proportion, and has been equally successful
with them. He is a strong Democrat; one of the most industrious and energetic
citizens of Black Rock, and takes a active part in all public and private
enterprises that tend toward the advancement of his county.
J. Bowen Coffman, deputy clerk of Lawrence County, for the Eastern District, was born in Hempstead County, Ark., November 17, 1861. He is a son of Joseph W. Coffman, of McLean County, Ky., who came to Arkansas in 1856, and located in Hempstead County, where he resided until the war was ended, and then settled in Lawrence [p.785] County, his present residence. The elder Coffman was married to Miss Rebecca Bowen. of Alabama, and this union gave them ten children. Seven of them are now living. six of them in this county. J. Bowen Coffman was five years old when be came to Lawrence County. He received a good district school education. and also attended school at Powhatan. He then taught school in Lawrence County for three terms, and in Fulton County for the same length of time. He was appointed deputy clerk under Clay Sloan. February 14. 1887, and when the district was divided he came over to Walnut Ridge, in April. 1887. to take charge of the Eastern District. He fills the position in a highly creditable manner, and enjoys the confidence of his fellow citizens. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. and also of the Walnut Ridge Silver Cornet Band. Mr. Coffman has hosts of friends. and well merits the respect and esteem accorded him.