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Alvin Coffey

Born on 7-14-1822. He was born in Mason County, Kentucky. He later died on 10-28-1902.
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Alvin Aaron Coffey was born a slave in Mason County, Kentucky on July 14, 1822 to Lewis Larkin Coffey and Nellie Cook. Alvin Coffey was determined to have a better life for himself and his family. When gold was discovered in California and the lure brought many to the mines of California, Alvin Coffey set out, on the 2nd of May 1849, with a wagon train from St. Louis, to the mines of California, arriving November 13, 1849. He wanted to amass enough money to purchase his freedom and the freedom of his family. The price of $1,000 was established to purchase his personal freedom. The journey was difficult for man and beast. Alvin related, in his memoirs, how people were dying by the hundreds in St. Louis and St. Joe due to an outbreak of cholera. It was imperative that as much distance as possible be put between their train and the illness. Alvin Coffey, by his own account worked for thirteen months saving $5,500 for his master and $616 in gold dust for himself. In 1851, when Alvin and his master were returning home, via New Orleans, his master kept all the money that had been earned and sold him, in Missouri, for a thousand more.

Alvin crossed the plains again, in 1854, to try to accumulate the require sum to purchase his freedom and the freedom of his family. Alvin was emancipated by his owner, Mary Tindall in July 24, 1856. By 1857, he had saved about $5,000 and returned to Missouri to bring out his wife, Mahala Tindall, who he married on October 9, 1842 and the elder children, leaving three of his younger children with their grandmother in Canada. Alvin's entire family was reunited by 1860, when they settled in Shasta County.

Alvin A. Coffey was the only Negro member of the California Society of Pioneers. He remained a member, in good standing, until his death on October 28, 1903. A comment made at this memorial was, "Alvin Coffey was a noble man, ever generous to his unfortunate neighbor. Perfectly honest, paid every debt he ever owned, and was brave." Additional information and Alvin A. Coffey's most prized possession, his Emancipation Papers, can be found at the California Society of Pioneers, in San Francisco. The "Deed of Emancipation" reads in part, "In the presence of Almighty God and of these witnesses this day and year above written, I herewith affix my hand and seal to liberate, emancipate, discharge and set free the said Alvin A. Coffey for the valid consideration of one thousand dollars the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged in full."

Coffey was in a position to be employed by the government when treaties were being established with the Modoc Indians. He owned the teams engaged by the Commissary Department.

Alvin Aaron Coffey is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Red Bluff, California with his wife and children.