My Coffin Roots
1850, Oneida Co., NY
1850, Herkimer Co., NY
1860, Oneida Co., NY
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In 1845, 45 year old Jacob Coffin, with his pregnant wife Mary Ann and their 8 children, ages 2 to 15, left their upstate New York home and relatives, and made their way through the Erie Canal and across land and lakes to settle in Boone County in northern Illinois.
This pioneering spirit evidently made its way into the hearts of Jacob's children, for as they grew into adulthood, several of them uprooted from Illinois to the wild lands of Colorado. Those who moved to Colorado were Jacob's sons Morse, Reuben, and George, and daughters Ellen and Emma. They settled in the St. Vrain valley near the line between Boulder and Weld counties, near what would later become the city of Longmont, Colorado.
+Julia Ann Dunbar
--Merton Dunbar Coffin
--A(delbert) Byron Coffin
--Morse Harry Coffin Jr.
--Julia Etta Shaw
|George Wesley Coffin
+Emiline M. Ainsworth
--Mark Ainsworth Coffin
--Lewis Alfred Coffin
--William Holt Coffin
--George Emil Coffin
|Sabra Ellen Coffin
+Porter Russell Pennock
--Carrie June Sanborn
--Vivian Russell Pennock
--Porter Pennock Jr.
--Lou Ellen Large
|Reuben Fryer Coffin
+Lydia Evangeline Gregg
--Roy Gregg Coffin
--Stanley Dick Coffin
--Claude Carleton Coffin
--Reuben Claire Coffin
--Vinton Orville Coffin
--Ruby Leone Harrington
|Emiline Darby Coffin
+Joseph Warren Daniels
--Walter Warren Daniels
--(Baby Girl) Daniels
--Alice Marie Jones
--Florence Emma Broughton, Huppe
Timeline of Morse Coffin's Life
Morse, at age 22, was the first of this family to travel to Colorado. He made the trek in May of 1859, with a couple of friends. It was rumored that there was gold in the Colorado hills, and so Morse Coffin headed out toward Pikes Peak to make his fortune. Gold mining didn't work out for Morse, so he did various jobs, including whip-sawing lumber for the new houses being erected in the area. He finally settled in the St. Vrain valley, farming, ranching, and supplying sandstone from his quarry to Denver and other parts of the state.
Later in life Morse wrote several articles which he submitted to local newspapers, reminiscing about the early pioneering days. 18 of those articles are transcribed here, which tell not only of Mr. Coffin and his adventures, but give a good picture of pioneer life in that part of Colorado.
|Longmont Ledger, July 12, 1907|
|Longmont Ledger, July 19, 1907|
|Longmont Ledger, July 26, 1907|
|Longmont Ledger, August 2, 1907|
|Longmont Ledger, August 9, 1907|
|Longmont Ledger, August 16, 1907|
|Longmont Ledger, June 18, 1909|
|Longmont Ledger, June 25, 1909|
|Longmont Ledger, July 2, 1909|
|Longmont Ledger, July 9, 1909|
|Longmont Ledger, February 17, 1911|
|Longmont Ledger, August 4, 1911|
|Longmont Ledger, September 3, 1911|
|Boulder County Miner, December 25, 1913|
|Boulder County Miner, January 1, 1914|
|Boulder County Miner, January 8, 1914|
|Boulder County Miner, January 15, 1914|
|Boulder County Miner, January 22, 1914||
From Sandstone Ranch Park website: "Morse Coffin, a St.Vrain Valley pioneer, first homesteaded the Sandstone Ranch site in 1860. Coffin came to the St.Vrain Valley when he was 22 in 1859, from Boon's County, Illinois as part of the Gold Rush. He built the house that currently stands on the site in the early 1880s. The house has been added to over the years, but the original structure still remains. Coffin also founded the first rural public school with David Irwin and Robert Hauck. The house (current Visitors Center) and property are on State and National Historic Registers. Longmont also designated the house as a local landmark in September 2000."
The good folks over at the Sandstone Ranch are doing a great job preserving history and providing a learning experience for local children and families through various events and activities. If you are in the area or passing through, you owe it to yourself to visit this historical landmark.
Visit the Sandstone Ranch Visitor Center
Morse Coffin may be best known for his first hand account of the Battle of Sand Creek, popularly known as the Sand Creek Massacre. He wrote his account in a series of articles submitted to the Colorado Sun in 1878-1879. In 1965, Alan W. Farley transcribed these articles into a book, and added a preface, pictures, and footnotes. I have copied only the original material as written by Mr. Coffin, and put it into a pdf document.
The "Portrait and biographical record of Denver and vicinity, Colorado : containing portraits and biographies of many well known citizens of the past and present, together with biographies and portraits of all the presidents of the United States (1898)" contains a biography of Morse Coffin. The information for the biography was submitted by Morse himself. As he states in a letter to his sister Elizabeth Patten, "Men are also at work on a history of the people of Colorado & a dapper young man has been here pumping us a couple days ago for history of our ancestry."
Biography of Morse Coffin
Letter from Morse Coffin to his sister Libby Patten, 1898
Morse Coffin was a practical man. An article from the Colorado Springs Gazette, dated Sunday, September 7, 1913, speaks of this:
Has Only Two Months to Live; Arranges His Affairs Accordingly
Longmont, Colo., Sept. 6 – Two months ago today physicians told Morse Coffin, a pioneer of this district, that he could not live more than two months. Today he died, but before death he had selected his coffin, purchased his burial shroud, bought a site in the graveyard and superintended the inscription on a monument to mark his final resting place.
Coffin began to suffer from liver trouble two months ago and when he visited physicians they told him his disease was incurable. He asked how long he would live and was told two months.
“Well”, said he, turning away from the doctor’s office, “that is more time than I need, and when the end comes you will find that I will have saved you much trouble.”
A friend of Morse, W. M. Ash, gives some insight into Morse's character. In "Pioneering the Desert", contained in a book by Henry Ripley called "Hand-Clasp of the East and West", Mr. Ash states:
It was while rusticating with friends and relatives in that lovely mountain resort known as Estes Park that I received word I was wanted to assist in making up a party to go to the Uncompahgre and locate land and water for a colony. The "urge" to "move on" took hold of me at once, and I lost no time in getting in touch with the promoter of the scheme.
The late M. H. Coffin, one of the earliest settlers of the St. Vrain, a man of sterling character and a personal friend of mine, was backing the proposition. He had just returned from a tour of investigation of the promised land, and water, and the data he had gathered would make a large book. He was a veritable walking encyclopedia of useful knowledge on the subject. He and his companions had made the trip over the range in June by team and knew all the details. On his way back he had developed a complete program. Nothing could be thought of that he had not already considered.