Texas County, Missouri Genealogy Trails

 


Biography of

James Coats


Written by: Mansel Coats for one of the Coats/Crawford reunions.
He was the grandson of James and Cammaliza Forrester Crawford Coats.
Cammaliza was the second wife of James Coats.
His first wife, Elizabeth Hart Coats is my gg grandmother.
Thanks to Marguerette Powell

In the history of the Coats family there are many by the name of James Coats. The first record of one James Coats, b. 1807 in North Carolina, was from the records of Mount Herman Baptist Church near Shelbyville, TN. The first minutes were recorded Jan. 9, 1830, and gave the names of James Coats and wife, Elizabeth (Hart) Coats, as charter members. Nothing is known of his parents. It is known he had a sister, Sally who married a Howard.

James Coats and wife Elizabeth with their ten children migrated by wagon train to Texas County, MO, from Tennessee in 1846. William Jasper Morris, brother-in-law to James Coats, was in this train. Morris had married Agnes R. Hart, a sister to Elizabeth (Hart) Coats.

James Coats homesteaded on S30, Tn30, R10 in the SW corner of Piney Township at Hamilton Creek and Little Piney River. James and his family arrived in Missouri too late in the year to raise anything. They had to live on the little food they brought with them and wild game, which was plentiful at that time. The nearest place to buy anything was Rolla, MO. James rode horseback to Rolla to buy a little gun powder and salt.

He was an expert with an axe. With good timber he could hew a log almost as smooth as if it had been sawed. Soon after they arrived and decided where they wanted to live, he hewed logs to build a cabin and a barn. In 1863, a cyclone blew the top off the cabin; that year he built a two room fame (frame?) house. This house stood until 1903, when his son Asa built a large two story frame house which still stands. Mansel Coats, grandson of James, and his wife Edna presently live in this house.

James Coats could not read or write and realized his handicap. He wanted his children to have an education, so he built a little log house, located near the center of the now Union Cemetery. In 1850 James helped organize the first Baptist Church in Texas County. It was named Union Baptist Church. Church and school were both held in this log house until 1882 when a frame building was built for a church and still stands.

The farming tools the Coats family had to use when they came to Texas County were: a wooden mould board plow, this was a turning plow, which was in later years made of steel; homemade hoes; a scythe; a pitchfork made of a tree limb with three prongs; and an axe. Later years, James Coats bought cattle, some from as far south as Arkansas, and drove them to market in Rolla.

The Civil War years were trying times for people in this area as it was overrun with both Southern and Northern troops, also bushwhackers. James Coats was too old to go to war. He hid out from bushwhackers. A troop of Union Soldiers caught him one day; they made him get on his horse and show them the way to Hartville, MO, where they camped that night. James, being a Southern sympathizer, figured they would kill him the next morning. After they had breakfast, the Captain asked James how he felt that morning. He told the Captain, "You know, I feel just like I did when I left home." The Captain said, "Well get on your horse and go back home."

The bushwhackers killed Ab Hughes, the husband of Polly Ann Coats. They also burned their house and everything they had. James had to get his daughter and children and take care of them.

By two marriages James Coats was the father of twenty children. Sixteen of them lived to have children of their own. At the present time (Dec. 1987) there are well over 1,250 known descendants of James Coats. His second wife was Camaliza (Forrester) (Crawford) Coats, b. Apr. 19, 1827, d. Sept. 28, 1921.

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