Coffee, John, 1772-1833Variant names
Army officer and surveyor-general of Alabama. Coffee (Coffey) family.
From the description of John Coffee family papers, 1781-circa 1883. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79453531
Frontier merchant, Indian fighter, land agent, surveyor, and speculator of Tennessee and Alabama.
From the description of John Coffee order books, 1812-1815 [manuscript]. WorldCat record id: 24111763
John Coffee was a frontier merchant, Indian fighter, land agent, surveyor, and speculator of Tennessee and Alabama.
From the guide to the John Coffee Order Books, ., 1812-1815, (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.)
John Coffee was born 1772 June 2 in Prince Edward Co., Va., the son of Joshua Coffee, a farmer. After the Revolutionary War the family moved to N.C. where John grew to manhood and learned about farming, raising and marketing cotton, tobacco, and buying and selling slaves. He evidently received some formal schooling as his letters reflect an educated man.
After his father died in 1797, John Coffee purchased land in Davidson Co., Tenn. where he expanded his business holdings to include a mercantile company and a partnership in a river boat venture, as well as a cotton gin and an occasional real estate investment. With Andrew Jackson, a neighbor and intimate friend, he attempted to buy a salt business in Ill., but was unsuccessful in raising the necessary cash. In 1805 John Hutchings joined Coffee and Jackson in a mercantile and boat yard partnership but the 1807 embargo sunk the business, and Coffee became a surveyor and locator of lands.
For the next five years, Coffee, John Drake, William P. Anderson, and John Strother worked together surveying and locating unoccupied lands for settlers and speculators (including themselves). By 1808 Coffee had served as an land agent for leading men of Tenn., including Andrew Jackson, with whom the existing bond had strengthened by the marriage of Coffee to Mary Donelson, niece of Mrs. Jackson.
During the 1812 war against England, Coffee raised a cavalry company and, in 1813, was called to defend the frontier against the Creek Indians. Called again into service in 1815, Coffee led troops at the Battle of New Orleans (La.) where he joined General Jackson. After the fighting he was eager to settle in the new lands opening up in the southwest frontier. His offer to "run the boundaries" of the Creek Nation led to his appointment by the President to the surveying commission. Two years later Coffee was appointed Surveyor General of the northern section of the Miss. Territory, and once again he combined surveying and land speculation. He was to hold the appointed position for the rest of his life. Through his office in Huntsville (Ala.) he formed partnerships with James Jackson and Andrew Jackson, and created several land companies in the Huntsville and Florence (Ala.) areas.
In 1819 he farmed a large estate near Florence, and at the time of his death in 1833 July 7, Hickory Hill was considered one of the best plantations in the state.
Respected and trusted, Coffee was often given legal powers to transact personal business for others, including assisting with the financial affairs of Andrew Jackson Hutchings, ward of President Jackson. A brief stint as a justice of the court of Lauderdale Co., Ala. in 1820 appears to be his only public office; he evidently had no interest in public life.
In the Summer and Fall of 1830 he served with John H. Eaton in negotiating treaties with the Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians for their removal to lands west of the Mississippi River.
From the description of Papers, 1796-1887. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 77893558
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|Cotton Port (Ala.)|
|Autauga County (Ala.)|
|Lauderdale County (Ala.)|
|Muscle Shoal (Ala.)|
|Nullification (States' rights)|
|Indians of North America--History--19th century|
|Slavery in the United States|
|Banks and banking|
|Slavery in the United States--Emancipation|
|African Americans--Alabama--History--To 1863|