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Coffey (Alvin Aaron) Papers
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This file contains two hand written letters from A. A. Coffey and one photocopied excerpt from his Autobiography and Reminiscence which was created as an institutional record for the Society of California Pioneers. The two letters where both written from "Red Bluff" and are dated the 9th and the 19th of April, 1892. One of the letters discusses his donation of a "Stuffed badger hide" and details his ordeal in obtaining it. The second letter is a response to the Society of Pioneers regarding a reunion and his attendance. The 6 pages of Photocopies detail Mr. Coffey's early life, his time as a slave in Tennessee, and his travels to California.
Mr. Coffey's father was named Larkin Coffey and they were both raised on the "Coffey Plantation in Tennessee". Mr Coffey was sold in 1846 by Henry H. Duvall to Dr. Bassett "for $600" and "then in '49 I came to California with him". Mr Coffey would work for Dr. Bassett in California for 13 months and "saved him $5,500 in gold dust. I saved $616 of my own money (in gold dust)". The two men would return to Tennessee in 1851 where he was sold once more for $1000. Mr. Coffey left St. Louis Missouri on April 2nd, 1849 in a 20 wagon team across the plains. Along his journey he encountered many cholera victims, particularly in St. Joseph and St Louis, but had no more run-in's with the diseases in route, eventually reaching Fort Laramie on the 16th of June. By mid-November he and his team had "went to dry-digging mining" and then the rain and snow began and kept them in doors. He would eventually save enough money to buy his own freedom, becoming a member of the Society of California Pioneers and one of California's first and few African-American pioneers. The Society also has institutional records on him which give further information on Mr. Coffey.
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