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Home of David Harmon Coffman

(Article Provided by Sue Coffman Brown)

In a memorandum from an old Bible found in the home of  John A. Coffman,
a grandson of Andrew Jackson Coffman, Russellville, Tennessee,
David Harmon Coffman went from Lancaster, Pennsylvania to the
Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. David lived on Walker Creek, Montgomery County,
Virginia in 1775. He settled in Tennessee in 1783. Through land grants issued
by North Carolina, he was surveyed 200 acres of land on February 1, 1785,
on an order dated October 23, 1783 for a tract situated in Greene Country
on the south side of Lick Creek. This part of North Carolina became Greene County,
Tennessee when the state was formed in 1796. Later this county was
subdivided and this land became part of Jefferson County in 1792.

David purchased an additional 200 acres from William Lovell.
Also in 1795, he received a 200 acre grant in Hawkins County, Tennessee.
He gave to his sons Lovell and Jacob 450 acres in Jefferson County
and 200 acres in Hawkins County (1800). David entered land in
Limestone County, Alabama February 11, 1818. He evidently did not move
to Alabama until after 1823 as the deed dated June 23, 1823 gave his
residence as Jefferson County, Tennessee. His will was filed in
Limestone County, Alabama, Will Book 4, page 477.
The will was dated June 12, 1833 and filed March 31, 1835
shortly after his death. His children were named in his will. He served in the
American Revolution as an officer, and was granted the above
stated land for his services during the war.

The family is believed to have been of Mennonite belief, but later
changed to Primitive Baptist. Records of the Bent Creek Baptist Church
in what is now Hamblen County, Tennessee show the names of several
of David's children. However, his name is not on the rolls of the church.

In the memorandum from the old Bible referred to above, it also
states that David built a rambling two-story log dwelling and raised a family.
So well was this house built that it still stands. It is in what is now
Hamblen County, Tennessee, about a mile above Russellville and is listed as
a historical site. An article printed in Old Homes of Hamblen
several years ago had this to say of David's home in Tennessee:

"Coffman liked the quiet serenity of this section and despite the
fact  that the land was infested with Indians, decided
to erect a  home. He chose for the site a plot of ground near
Russellville surrounded by primeval forest and in the distance
could be seen great mountains looming against the sky.
Here, after months of wary toil, he built a rambling two-story
log dwelling and reared a family of noble sons and daughters."
His house, built of hewn logs more than a century and a half ago, still
stands one mile above the village by the old stagecoach road.

Click to enlarge

Nearby stood the old log church house which was the second Baptist
church to be organized in what is now Tennessee, and was pastored
by Tydence Lane in 1785. This sturdy old church has long since been
torn down. There was a gallery built in the back of the house for
the benefit of the slaves of that day. This house was built in 1783
and is now open to the public as an historical site.

Click to enlarge

       One of the sons of the builder (David Harmon Coffman) of this  home
was Andrew Jackson Coffman. He was born, reared and died in this home,
passing away in 1864, and his grave is in Bent Creek Cemetery.
This descendant married an English girl in 1812 and they too gave
to the section a number of noble sons and daughters.

Click to enlarge

Andrew Coffman was a man of considerable influence in his community,
prominent in church and civic affairs. He was licensed to preach and
frequently would walk many miles through the wild section to
preach the gospel and to conduct funerals. He was likewise a soldier,
and when Andrew Jackson called for an army to settle the English,
Andrew Coffman walked to Nashville to join Jackson's forces.
He was with Jackson at New Orleans where he learned to love
and respect this old warrior. Jackson came to visit Coffman and
spent a day and night with him at the old home near Russellville.

Equally as interesting and historic as the old Coffman home is the
building now used by the Coffman family as a barn. This was
at one time the church of the community, and in it Andrew Coffman
preached many a sermon. The church was founded in 1785, is built of
logs like the old home, and is in perfect condition. It was used as the
community church until it became too small for the growing community,
and it was then laboriously moved to the rear of the Coffman home where it still stands.

Click to enlarge

Here can be found many interesting antiques, sufficient to start a real museum.
There are, of course, old spinning wheels, early tools used in the erection of the
home and church, but he most interesting and historic is an old iron chest which
belonged to General Longstreet, Confederate Lieutenant General, who abandoned
it after taking out the contents following his encounter with federal troops in
a skirmish between Bulls Gap and Russellville, and in direct line of the Coffman house.
General Longstreet spent the night at the Coffman home after the battle.

After the battle, James Edward Coffman, owner of the home at the time,
and his daughter Nannie (then a small child), discovered a wounded soldier
near the scene of the battle, took him to their home and cared for him
until he died. Later through a blue homespun coverlet, they located his relatives
in North Carolina. This soldier was buried in the Coffman plot and his grave
is still cared for by members of the family. Other relics to be found there
is a compass used by Andrew Coffman in surveying plots of land
in the surrounding country. It is more than 125 years old. There is also
an old threshing machine, the first brought to this section, and it is still suitable for use.

Many interesting stories could be related about the old home and the
former church building. Both have stood the tests of time, both have
gone though many severe winters and blasts of hot weather, served as
shelter and protection against hostile Indians and enemies of war, but
with it all they still stand a monument and interesting addition to historic
Hamblen County and East Tennessee. Sources of Information:

North Carolina Land Grant within the State of Tennessee
Warrant #331 dated September 23, 1781, Book 65,
page 451, Grant #278, Greene County;
North Carolina Land Grant within the State of Tennessee Warrant #1069
dated November 18, 1795, Book 89, page 140, Grant # 162,
Greene County; Virginia Military Records - Montgomery County, Virginia;
Deed of Gift to Andrew, Jefferson County, Tennessee,
Vol. Q. p. 341-342, dated October 2, 1823;
Deed to Jacob Coffman, Hawkins County, Tennessee, Book 3, p. 488-489,
dated December 24, 1808;
David's will, Limestone County, Alabama Will Book 4,
p. 475, July 12, 1833;
Old Huntsville Land Office Records and Military Warrants - Alabama Land;
Alabama Archives Book - Alabama Soldiers vol. 1 1975;
Book "From Across the River";
Virginia Historical Magazine Vol. 12, p. 332-333;
Citizen Tribune Newspaper, July 11, 1986, Russellville Article;
Boddie Historical Southern Families, Vol. 1 (Lovell Family of Westmoreland).
Photographs courtesy of Jerry T. McDaniel

 

           

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