William Martin Coffield

William Martin Coffield, deceased, formerly a well-known and well-to-do farmer of Center township, this county, proprietor of the attractive 'Twin Maples Farm" in that township and who for many years was one of the best-known school teachers n Hancock county was a native son of Hancock county and lived here all his life. His father, Barnabas Coffield, for many years one of the best-known and influential citizens of Hancock county, was born in North Carolina on January 12, 1825, and was but a child when his parents came to Indiana and settled in this county, where he grew to manhood on a pioneer farm and in his turn became a farmer, the owner of a quarter of a section of land in Center township. He was an ardent Democrat and for years took a prominent part in local political affairs, serving in various public capacities. He married Mary Jane Tyner, who was born in this county in 1833 and who lived here all her life. They were earnest members of the Baptist church, in which for many years Mr. Coffield served as a deacon. Barnabas Coffield lived to the great age of eighty-five years, his death occurring in 1910. His wife had long preceded him to the grave, her death having occurred in 1873, at the age of forty years. They were the parents of eight children, two of whom died in infancy, the others being as follow: William M., the subject of this biographical sketch; James, who is living in Texas; America, deceased, who married Perry Collins; Lucinda, deceased; Martha Ellen, wife of J. S. Thomas, of Greenfield, this county, and Flora, deceased, who was the wife of Charles Bailey.

William M. Coffield was reared on the paternal farm in Center township and obtained his elementary education in the district school in the neighborhood of his home, upon completing the course at which he began teaching school, his initial experience in the profession which for more than thirty years claimed his attention, having been in one of the district schools of Blue River township. He then attended the Indiana State Normal School at Terre Haute for four terms and thus admirably equipped for the profession to which he had devoted himself, entered seriously upon his career as a teacher. For three terms he conducted schools in Brandywine township; then for seven terms was engaged in teaching in Blue River township, and then, for twenty-one terms, his services were engaged by the trustees of Center township, four terms of which service were devoted to the schools at Maxwell, during which time he helped to organize the high school at that place. He then was employed for four of five years in the Greenfield city schools, as principal of ward schools, also at Longfellow school In 1878 Mr. Coffield married and after awhile bought home in Greenfield, where he lived for years, but in 1908 sold his home in this city and erected a new home on the farm of one hundred and ninety-three acres in Center township, "Twin Maples Farm," which his wife had inherited, and there made his home until his death. The lumber which entered into the construction of the Coffield home was sawed from timber cut on "Twin Maples Farm" and the residence is one of the most attractive and substantial in that neighborhood.

Mr. Coffield was a Democrat and ever gave earnest attention to local political affairs, but never was included in the office-seeking class.

It was on June 27, 1878, that William M. Coffield was united in marriage to Charlotte Catt, who was born on the farm in Center township on which she is now living, December 25, 1856, daughter of Jacob and Elsie (Cannon) Catt, both of whom were born in this county, and to this union three children were born, Rhoda may and Mabel, both of whom are at home, and Ira Guy, who died at the age of seven years. Mrs. Coffield is an active member of the Baptist church. Mr. Coffiield was an ardent lover of music and was prominent in all music circles throughout this section. He belonged to the "Old Missouri Harmony Singers," a musical association that met annually for the purpose of singing and perpetuating old time melodies. He also belonged to the 'Diapason Singing Class" at Morristown, Indiana. Before his marriage he taught a singing school.

William M. Coffield died on March 12, 1916, aged sixty-four years, two months and fourteen days. He was a worthy and useful member of the Shiloh Baptist church, which he joined on December 3, 1881. On May 2, 1885, he was unanimously elected clerk of this church, which position he filled continuously until called by death. He was singing clerk from the time he was united with the church until his death. He was very devoted to his family and his death was mourned by those, not only of his family, but by all who came with the touch of his splendid personality. He was a fine type of citizen, who knew his duty well and performed it at all times consistently and conscientiously.

Transcribed from History of Hancock County, Indiana, Its People, Industries and Institutions by George J. Richman, B. L., Federal Publishing Co., Indianapolis, Indiana, 1916. Pages 920-922.

Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI October 7, 2001.

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Tom & Carolyn Ward / Columbus, Kansas / tcward@columbus-ks.com

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