Holland Coffee was born in 1807 to James Ambrose Coffee (1762-1818) and Mildred Moore Coffee (1770-1812). He was the youngest of twelve children. Both parents had died, apparently of natural causes, by the time he was eleven years old and Holland was taken in by his uncle Jesse Coffee in McMinnville, Tennessee. By 1829, Coffee had found his way to Fort Smith, Arkansas. There he, Silas Check Colville, James Mayberry Randolph other individuals founded Coffee, Colville and Company, to supply local settlers, local tribes and trappers with provisions. Around this time, Coffee is believed to have become acquainted with Sam Houston, an acquaintance that would be revisited later.
Coffee’s name is associated with early trading posts in the upper Red River region, first near the present location of Petersburg, Oklahoma and another one near the current town of Taylor, Oklahoma in the early to mid 1830s. Later locations that are noted include Walnut Bayou in what is now Love County, Oklahoma
Coffee earned a reputation for being respected by the various native tribes. He had learned some of their languages and customs and traded with them and Anglo settlers. Sam Houston is said to have appointed Coffee to be an Indian agent in 1837 and the following year, accounts mention him in connection with treaties between the Republic of Texas and the Kichai, Tawakoni, Waco and Tawchash tribes and was working out of a post near the current town of Denison, Texas.
As the numbers of settlers grew, Texas became formally organized in terms of governance. Coffee sought and was elected to the Texas House of Representatives, serving in 1838 and 1839. In 1839 he married Sophia Suttenfield Auginbaugh. The generally accepted story is that Sophia had married Jesse Auginbaugh but had been abandoned by him. Auginbaugh is said to have participated in the Gold Rush in the far western United States. He had never returned to Texas and Sophia and Coffee had helped Sophia obtain a divorce. Holland Coffee and Sophia had no children.
Coffee’s post in north Texas became a landmark for settlers. It was located in the vicinity of the Preston Road and the Shawnee Trail where they connected with the Red River. It was also said to have served early expeditions by William Cooke in 1840 – 1841, Edward Tarrant in 1841, Butler and Lewis in 1845-1846. It offered supplies and ferries across the river. Coffee’s Post or Coffee’s Station is mentioned in various accounts of early settlers of Dallas County and north Texas. One family, the John Neely Bryan family, named their son Holland Coffee Bryan after Holland Coffee. Another was named for Edward Tarrant. John Neely Bryan is noted as the founder of Dallas, Texas. He was the husband of Margaret Beeman Bryan.
Sophia and Holland Coffee established a plantation called Glen Eden in current Grayson County, Texas. Accounts vary, but in October of 1846, Coffee was stabbed to death by Charles Ashton Galloway, a merchant from Fort Washita. One account suggests that Coffee attacked Galloway over a disparaging remark made concerning Sophia, his wife. Another suggests that Coffee and Galloway had argued over a land deal. Regardless of the reason for the argument, Coffee died as a result of the altercation. He was first buried near his home in a crypt above ground. His remains were later removed to another location in 1942 with the construction of Denison Dam and Lake Texoma and were again moved in 1960 to its current location, Preston Bend Cemetery in Pottsboro, Grayson County, Texas.
Sophia survived him another fifty years and was married two additional times. Her next husband, George N. Butts whom she married in 1847 was thought to have been killed by one of Quantrill’s Raiders, a Confederate guerilla organization in 1863, though the couple was aligned with the Confederacy. Sophia then married a local judge named James Porter. The couple was married until Porter’s death in 1886. Sophia followed him in death in 1897. Sophia had resided at Glen Eden until her death and was initially buried there. As with Holland Coffee, her remains were relocated with the construction of Lake Texoma and she is now also buried at Preston Bend Cemetery.
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