RICHARD COFFEY (1823-1897)

Richard (Uncle Rich) Coffey, pioneer rancher, Indian fighter, and teamster in the lower Concho River valley, was born in Georgia on February 14, 1823. He married Sarah Greathouse (Aunt Sallie) of Decatur County, Georgia, on October 5, 1849; the couple had six children. Coffey moved his family to Parker County, Texas, in 1855. While residing there he served in the Texas Rangers and assisted Capt. Lawrence Sullivan Ross in the rescue of Cynthia Ann Parker on December 18, 1860. Coffey moved to Elm Creek, near the site of present Ballinger, Runnels County, in 1862. He and several of his cowboys constructed Picketville, a picket fort known as the first white settlement in Runnels County.

Sometime between 1865 and 1869 Coffey and his family moved to a location near the confluence of the Concho and Colorado rivers. He established the Flat Top Ranch, which extended into Runnels, Concho, and Coleman counties. His house was in Concho County. Reportedly, the Coffeys were the first white family to settle in that county. Coffey became a successful rancher but lost over 1,000 cattle and fifty-four horses to a band of Comanche Indians who attacked a group of Coffey's cattle drivers in 1871. When he filed a claim for his losses, the federal government refused to reimburse him. He rebuilt his herd but never achieved great wealth. He also acquired fame as a teamster and was often attacked by Indians. He and his employees transported salt in ox-drawn wagons from the Pecos River in Crane County for sale to his neighbors. Although he resided in Concho County, he also paid taxes in Coleman County and served on that county's first grand jury. A small settlement, Rich Coffey, Texas, existed briefly on the Coffey properties in Coleman County and had a post office from 1879 to 1882.

Distinguished by his bearskin clothes, buffalo robe and cape, as well as his long hair, the husky Coffey was the inspiration for a minor character in John H. Culp's novel Born of the Sun (1959). Coffey was a Baptist and a charter member of Masonic lodges in Brownwood, Coleman, and Paint Rock. He died on February 7, 1897, and was buried in Paint Rock.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Hazie LeFevre, Concho County History: 1858-1958 (2 vols., Eden, Texas, 1959). Bishop Powell, "Pioneering in the Concho Country: Rich Coffey," West Texas Historical Association Year Book 50 (1974). San Angelo Standard Times, May 27, 1973. D. D. Tidwell, "Rich Coffey of the Concho," Texas Freemason, November 1971. Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.

Paul M. Lucko

Handbook of Texas Online, s.v. "COFFEY, RICHARD," http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/CC/fco89.html (accessed October 18, 2005).

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STATE OF TEXAS
CERTIFICATE OF DEATH
Name Coffey, William A. -County of Concho -widower- Age 64 - Occupation rancher- Born 8 Jul 1858 Parker County Texas - Father rich Coffey of Georgia - Mother - Sally Greathouse of Georgia -Place and Date of Death Coleman Texas Feb 1923 - Cause of Death Paralysis - Buried in Paint Rock
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Family of Richard Coffey
Richard Coffey born: 14 February 1823 Carroll County, Georgia
died: 7 February 1897
married: 5 October 1849
parents:
buried: Paint Rock Cemetery, Paint Rock, Concho County, Texas
Sarah Greathouse born: 22 December 1825 Decatur County, Georgia
died: 4 June 1910 Concho County, Texas
parents:
buried: Paint Rock Cemetery, Paint Rock, Concho County, Texas
Children
Elizabeth Panola Coffey born: 5 June 1850 Georgia
died: 6 May 1881 Runnels County, Texas
married:
spouse: Nathaniel T. Guest
buried: Walthall Cemetery, Walthall, Runnels County, Texas
Helen Coffey born: 29 April 1852
died:
married:
spouse: Adison Gordon
buried:
John Wright Coffey born: 21 June 1856 Hood County, Texas
died: 30 August 1934
married 1:
married 2:
spouse 1: Mary Adeline Brown
spouse 2: Libbie Rusk
buried:
William A. Coffey born: 8 July 1858 Coleman County, Texas
died:12 February 1928
married: 19 September 1881 Concho County, Texas
spouse: Mary M. Haley
buried:
Belle Coffey born: 10 July 1860 Concho County, Texas
died: 1878
married:
spouse: William Levin McAulay
buried:
Richard "Fogg" Coffey born: 6 March 1863 Weatherford, Parker County, Texas
died: 19 July 1939 Concho County, Texas
married: 18 August 1884 Concho County, Texas
spouse: Ella Jane Littlefield
buried: