THE LEADING CITIZENS OF MADISON COUNTY

CONTENTS
Preface
Names Index
Portrait Index


   JOHN WESLEY COE. This gentleman, an exceedingly popular and prominent farmer, residing near Wampsville, Madison County, N.Y., was born in Smithfield, this county, May 20, 1 828. His grandfather, David Coe, of Middletown, Conn., went to Kirkland, Oneida County, in 1796, taking with him his son, also David Coe, who was born in Middletown, Conn., in 1784, and was then but twelve years of age. The family, consisting of the parents and four children, travelled, as had all the other pioneers of that region, with an ox-team and large covered wagon, in which they lived until the timber was cut out of the dense forests and the log cabin with its earthen floor constructed, to shelter them and make their first home in the wilderness. This was in the region near where the beautiful city of Utica, N.Y., now stands; and one lonely log house occupied the site where Bagg's Hotel now opens its hospitable doors to the weary traveller. At that time even the turnpike from Albany to Buffalo, which is ninety years old, was not even projected. In 18o6 the father of our subject was married to Orra Ellenwood, daughter of Reuben Ellenwood, who came from Brimfield, Hampden County, Mass., about 1797. He became a wealthy farmer of Smithfield; in fact, the wealthiest in Madison County.
Our subject's parents went to Peterboro when there was but one white family (the Greggs) within ten miles east of where they located. Mr. Coe made a permanent home in this place, buying one hundred and fifty-six acres in the midst of heavy forest land, having many large trees of white pine and hard wood. He built a saw-mill, and turned out quantities of lumber, becoming, as the town increased, a prominent factor, loaning money to the settlers, from whom he would only take the legal interest. He was a leading man also in the county, holding several offices. He was not a church member, but was upright in all things, taking the Golden Rule as his guide. His wife was a consistent and true believer in the Baptist faith. They reared six sons and three daughters, of whom John Wesley was the sixth son and eighth child. All arrived at adult age, the first to die being the youngest daughter, Henrietta, a lovely girl of twenty-one years. Of that large family, only three sons and one daughter are now living, namely: Eli A., a farmer residing at Kirkville, Onondaga County, aged seventy-three years; Mary C., widow of Seth Roberts, living at Oneida, aged seventy years; George Whitfield, a retired farmer of Peterboro, sixty-eight years old; and John W.
  John W. Coe received his education at the Clinton Liberal Institute at Clinton, Oneida County, from which he was graduated at the age of nineteen. He began his mercantile life as a clerk in Oneida with S. H. Goodwin & Co., at a salary of fifty dollars per year and board in the family of his employer; and that year he considered the best in his life, because of the good precepts and example given him by Mr. Goodwin. He then embarked in trade for himself, starting in Stockbridge, N.Y., where he remained for four years. In 1860 he went to Hiram, Portage County, Ohio, where for one year he conducted a dry goods store, and was an intimate and cherished companion of the late President James A. Garfield, with whom he was for a time partner in oil-well enterprises. He next went to Tidioute, Pa., where he engaged in the oil business and also dealt in hardware, having a large trade and being very successful in both branches. In March, 1875, he moved to his present home near Wampsville, retaining his interest in the oil lands at Tidioute.
  Mr. Coe was married to his first wife July 2, 1852. She was Miss Charlotte R. Northrup, of Clinton, N.Y. Of this union there were three children, namely: John W., Jr., born in 1855, now of Chicago, Ill., a manufacturer of electric dynamos; Charlotte Alice, unmarried, and residing at home; and George Monroe, born in 1860, living on a farm near the old homestead, and a natural and ingenious mechanic. The mother died March 5, 1860, at the age of thirty-three years. Four years later Mr. Coe contracted a second alliance, marrying Miss Albertina W. Coleman, of New Bedford, Mass. There were five sons born to this marriage; but all died young, none. of them reaching their third year.
  Mr. Coe is an unflinching and active member of the Republican party; was a delegate at the first Republican State Convention in New York, in 1856, and has always been prominent in campaigns, having voted in three different States --New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Fraternally, he is a Master Mason. Time seems to have dealt kindly with Mr. Coe, as he is still a fresh and vigorous gentleman, enjoying ease and comfort in the fine property which he has acquired mainly by his own efforts and sagacious speculations, one of these being the purchase of thirty-three thousand five hundred and fifty-six acres of mineral and timber land in Virginia. Altogether his landed property embraces forty thousand acres. He is to be congratulated that the passing years have left so few marks upon him, and that his nature has remained unspoiled with his accumulated wealth. Among the many souvenirs of his life he counts among the most treasured an autograph album, which was dedicated to him by his most beloved friend, James A. Garfield, who expressed in a  characteristic, warm, and friendly manner his appreciation of the man he was proud to call his comrade.
  In the light of Mr. Coe's past career and high standing in his community as a man and citizen, the publication of his portrait in connection with this sketch is peculiarly appropriate, and will be viewed with pleasure and interest by his many friends and acquaintances as that of one who has well earned the respect, esteem, and admiration of his fellow-townsmen, and deservedly ranks among the noble, high-minded, and prominent citizens of his county.

1999- MadisonCountyNewYork.com All rights reserved.