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Milam County, Texas

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C. H. Coffield

SOURCE: History of Texas, Together with a Biographical History of Milam, Williamson, Bastrop, Travis, Lee and Burleson Counties. (Chicago, IL: Lewis, 1893), p. 824-826.

C. H. COFFIELD -- The claim is sometimes made by the citizens of Rockdale, and it seems to be well founded in fact, that theirs is a town of young men. A hasty glance at the personnel of the businessmen of the place certainly reveals the fact that very few of them are men of advanced age, while a large number are actually as yet young in years. Young blood counts for a great deal in the affairs of this life, and the youthful energy and enthusiasm that have been infused into the currents of traffic and development in the little town of Rockdale during the twenty years of its existence, have told wonderfully in its history.

C. H. Coffield is now but little past his forty-fifth year, and of his life eighteen years have been spent in Rockdale. He is one who has had much to do with the making of its history, and one whose name should receive mention in a review of its growth and development.

Mr. Coffield's life, like the lives of most of the successful businessmen of this place has very little in it of the romantic or unusual. Romantic careers are not, as a rule, successful ones from a business standpoint.

Born in Martin county, North Carolina, in 1847, he was brought by his parents, in 1859, to this State and for two years resided on a farm, where his time was divided between his duties as a farm hand and his attendance at the then well known school of Soule University, at Chapel Hill. He was in this school at the time of the breaking out of the Civil war, and, with the ardor of youth, ran away from the institution and entered the Confederate army, enlisting in Border's regiment, composed of cadets and youths like himself, whose chief recommendation as soldiers was their ardor for the cause which they had espoused, and the fact that Texas having a vast stretch of Gulf coast to be defended, was willing to accept boy soldiers for this service. From the date of his enlistment until the close of hostilities between the two sections, young Coffield carried a musket, discharging his duties acceptably in field and camp, and having had the good fortune to escape wounds and imprisonment, laid down his arms at the general armistice, happy in the thought that he borne himself as became a true Southern boy.

He returned home and went to work for wages driving cattle and doing whatever else of honest labor that came to hand, being variously engaged for ten years after the close of the war, when, in August 1875, he took up his residence in Rockdale. His first employment there was as bookkeeper in the drug store, which occupation he followed for three or four years. He than formed a partnership with Hugh L. Witcher under the firm name of Witcher & Coffield, and engaged in business for himself. There are several mercantile establishments in Rockdale that seem to an outside person marvels of growth when told of their history, and their enterprise noted is not the least of this number. From a small line of common hardware and cheap farming implements with which it began fifteen years ago, it has come to embrace a stock carrying all lines of hardware, implements, vehicles of one kind and another, harness and saddles, furniture and so on, representing an annual business of $90,000.

Mr. Coffield has given this business close attention since it was started and has helped to build it up to what it is. In January 1890, associated with other gentlemen of Rockdale, he organized the First National Bank of that place, and he was elected president, which position he has since held. He is also a stockholder in the Rockdale Improvement Company, owners and operators of the water works and electric-light plant; in the Cotton Oil Mill, the Cotton Platform company, the coal mines and other representative enterprises, standing ready at all times to contribute of his means to anything looking to the development of his town and county.

For three or four years past he has given particular attention to the real-estate interest of Rockdale and vicinity, and has done a great deal toward calling attention to the advantages of this locality for farming, stock-raising, fruit-growing, mining, manufacturing, etc.

Mr. Coffield is one of those men who keeps things about him moving, not being content to plod along and make a living, but wishing to see everybody at something and everybody doing well, and particularly desirous of seeing his own town and county develop to their full capacity, their waste' places filled with happy homes and their thoroughfares and markets crowded with trade. To this end he has bent his energies since he began four years ago to direct attention to the possibilities of this section for capitalists and home-seekers, and he is enjoying the satisfaction now of seeing his efforts crowned with at least partial success. His epitomizing of the claims of Rockdale and vicinity are so clear and succinct that it will bear repetition. He says: "Rockdale is the best town of 2,000 people in Texas; it has railroad connection North, South, East, and West; $1,000,000 taxable values; low rate of taxation; Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Christian and Catholic churches; best free school in the State; good banking facilities; efficient system of water works and electric lights; ample hotel accommodations; brick kiln making 2,000,000 brick of superior quality annually; cheap lumber; and unsurpassed fruit, vegetable and melon district; average cotton crop, one-half bale to the acre; best weekly newspaper in the State; and inexhaustible mines of lignite coal."

Mr. Coffield ha been too busy in the past fifteen or twenty years to develop his claims as a politician. He has held but few offices - none except local positions. He is a Democrat in faith and in works when there is need of his working for the success of his party. He is a member of the Masonic fraternity and of the Knights of Honor.

On September 14, 1871, he married at Salado, in Bell county, Miss Mary E. Bonner, daughter of J. C. Bonner, of that place, and old Texan whose residence in this State dates from 1851.

We must say a special thank you to Sylvia Thomas of Georgetown, Texas, for typing the above biographical sketch for use on the Milam County TXGenWeb site.

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