In Search of Alvin A. Coffey

Today my friend Josie and I went in search of Alvin Coffey‘s presence in Tehama County. I am working on a picture book biography of Coffey, an African American pioneer, and I wanted to see where he lived and where he is buried.

It was a beautiful day for a drive in the country. We drove along Paskenta Road, on the west side of Tehama County, until we came to Elder Creek. Alvin Coffey bought a farm here in 1872. He raised hay and turkeys, and a family of children, on the farm. It’s a lovely location — gently rolling land with a view of the Coast Range to the west and the foothills of the Cascades to the east. It’s summertime, so the grass is dry and the creek has barely any water in it, but in the spring I imagine the grass is lush, the flowers are blooming, and the creek is running with cold, clear water.

Alvin Coffey farm, from Paskenta Road.

I don’t know who the land belongs to now — not the Coffey family — and there is a gate, so I couldn’t get any closer. The old farmhouse is gone, but I still would have liked to get a closer look.

Elder Creek

We then drove into Red Bluff, to the Oak Hills Cemetery. The manager, Leland Owens, was very helpful. He not only looked up the location of the Coffey graves for us, but he led us to them.

The Coffey plot at Oak Hill Cemetery, Red Bluff

The middle marker is Alvin’s. Jeannette Molson tells me that there used to be a headstone, but that is gone, and there is only a marble marker flush with the soil to mark Alvin’s grave. His wife’s grave is to the left and their son John W. to the right. In the second row are the graves of sons Stephen Ware Coffey and Charles Oliver Coffey, and Charles’s wife Jennie Elenora (Scott) Coffey.

His wife Mahala has a headstone, with her maiden name – Mahala Tindall — engraved across the top.

Other Coffey family members are buried in this cemetery, including the youngest daughter, Ora Fina Coffey Williams.

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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