Pages 131-134, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.


Isaac S. Coe


ISAAC S. COE—The subject of this review is one of the characters in the settlement and development of Allen County, where he has maintained his residence for a third of a century, and is the Republican postmaster of LaHarpe. He arrived in the county June 28, 1868, and has led a varied life of farming, trading, breeding, and the like, and his home has been


maintained either in Marmaton or Elm townships during all these years. The record of Isaac S. Coe is not a brief one. His life spans a mighty space of time—a record breaking era—and to undertake to present in detail his successes and reverses and the innumerable incidents which have occurred to influence his life is a task not the province of this article to accomplish. To note such events as serve as milestones in his career and to present such facts of family history as are necessary to identify the American race of Coes is all that is contemplated and attempted herein.

Isaac S. Coe was born August 16, 1822, in the township of Hempstead, Rockland County, New York. He was a son of Samuel I. and Mary (Conklin) Coe, both natives of that County, who were the parents of twelve children, viz.: Ann, Sarah, Elizabeth, Martha, George S., Mary, Samuel S., John S., Charlotte, Harriet, Isaac S., and Jesse S., all of whom married and reared families except Charlotte. In January 1827, the mother died and fifteen years later the father was removed unto the beyond.

Our subject resided with his married sisters during his boyhood and, at times, worked with their husbands at their business as "roust-about" in a store or what not, and was deprived in a large measure of the youthful privilege of obtaining a good school training. At fifteen years of age, having tried various occupations and with no special liking for any of them, his father put him to trade with the firm of Gale, Wood & Hughes, New York City, and he was later bound to John C. Moore, a carpenter and builder, with whom he became a skilled workman. His promise of the pittance of twenty-five dollars per year for five years, the term for which he was bound, not being forthcoming, and suffering the further neglect of poor clothing and insufficient food, he terminated the agreement by summarily quitting his master. His father then gave him the remainder of his time and he engaged with the great cab and coach maker of Newark, New Jersey, Gilbert and Van Derwurken. Wood & Hughes were his next employers and with this important firm he remained many months. Work growing scarce he went back to his old home near Haverstraw, New York, and set up his first independent business—at wagonmaking—on the Nyack turnpike. This shop he opened in 1840 and an era of prosperity opened up for the young mechanic. In the spring of 1841 he married Sarah E. Felter, of Bergen County, New Jersey, a daughter of an Englishman, Alexander Felter. Selling his shop and business Mr. Coe engaged in improving a new home nearby and following market gardening and poultry raising for the New York market. In ten years he had accumulated a few hundred dollars; and, with his family, emigrated to DuPage County, Illinois. In the town of Fullersburg he associated himself with his brother, John S. Coe, a fine blacksmith, and the two built up an immense business. It was soon necessary to enlarge their shop and many men were required to do their work instead of two. In August, 1854, his wife died and our subject sold his business and, after exploring Minnesota somewhat he settled at Faribault and set up business. Again he found things to his hand and prospered for the two years he occupied the shop. Selling out he took a claim near town and undertook to farm. This venture was disastrous and


he spent much of his accumulations before he could stop the drift. In 1859 he left Minnesota with the remnant of his family and in June, 1859, stopped at Syracuse, Missouri. He bought the Overland Stage Company's shops and immediately stepped into a large business. He prospered there and remained at the helm of a growing business till the war cloud of the Rebellion lowered upon him and forced his retirement.

The period of the Civil war now being on Mr. Coe's first service rendered was for the telegraph company, repairing their line from Syracuse to Springfield, Missouri. This was a trying and dangerous job and was accomplished by himself and an assistant. This completed he was ordered to take down and coil the wire from Jefferson City to Boonville which he did without injury from the enemy and on October 4th, 1861, he enlisted in the Sigel Scouts under Captain William Smallwood and was appointed 2nd sergeant. He was detached on the 15th and made Gen. Sigel's chief scout. In this capacity he rendered much valuable service to the Federal commanders, Lane and Lyons, in Missouri, and experienced many hardships and privations incident to this peculiar branch of service. Being under the orders of General Osterhaus and once chafing under a stretch of idleness he asked for some duty and was ordered to report to Captain Phil Sheridan. Sheridan appointed him to be inspector of mills for a radius of twenty miles; to learn their condition, their capacity, needed repairs and the amount of grain in store. Coe's last service as a scout was about Clinton, Missouri, in the interest of the 1st Iowa cavalry and as an independent scout. August 13, 1862, he enlisted in the 33rd Missouri infantry, commanded by Clinton B. Fiske. He was appointed drill-master of the awkward squad and later made head quartermaster-sergeant for Adjutant Halloway and was still later promoted to sergeant major of the regiment. He was promoted in the spring of 1863 to 2nd Lieutenant of Company C and after the battle of Helena was raised to 1st lieutenant for gallant and conspicuous service as gunner. He was ordered to the command of Company I of the 33rd regiment and remained in that position till near the end of the war. In the regular service Mr. Coe was in the following battles and expeditions: Yazoo Pass, Helena, Ark.; While River Expedition, Mississippi Expedition, storming of Ft. De Russy, La.; destruction of Ft. Rollins, battle of Pleasant Hill, Cane River, Old River Lake, West Tennessee Expedition, battle of Tupelo, Nashville, and march to East Port, Mississippi, where he was detached by General McArthur to organize the ambulance corps of the western division. With all his equipment and paraphernalia in readiness, in three days he was ordered to Vicksburg to reorganize the corps there, but finding no purveyor there he was ordered to take his command to New Orleans, where it was fully organized and taken on to Dauphin Island in Mobile Bay. In pursuance of orders he finally found his command in front of Ft. Spanish in time to take care of the first wounded man from the field. At the close of the incidents around Ft. Blakely the hospital corps was ordered to Selma, Alabama, and there our subject established his headquarters. His final orders were to turn over certain property to the proper officer at Selma and still other property at


Vicksburg to the purveyor of the department and report at Benton Barracks to be mustered out.

Returning home to Syracuse, Missouri, sick, he recuperated some time before engaging again in civil pursuits. He repaired his property, run down by destructive usage by the military forces, and undertook to rebuild and re-establish himself in his old home. In 1868 he disposed of his Missouri interests and became a settler on the prairies of Allen County, Kansas.

Mr. Coe has been four times married and is now a widower. His first marriage occurred before he was twenty years of age, as has been stated, and the children of this union were: Sarah P., Mary A., Arlena B., Ann, Jesse and Harriet E. In September, 1855, Mr. Coe married Mrs. Mary (Knapp) Bell, from whom he separated in Minnesota. In the year 1866 he married Nannie B. Tease, of Syracuse, Missouri, who died in 1868. In 1872 he married Mary Miller. She lived something more than ten years and again left him a widower. As a result of this sad incident Mr. Coe sold all his effects and spent some time on the road selling electric belts, medicines, notions and was engaged in this vocation when the election of 1896 occurred. With the assurance of there being a change in the postmastership at LaHarpe, Allen County, he became a petitioner for the office and brought such influence to bear upon the department as to secure his appointment in April, 1897. He took the office the 1st of May following.

In his political affiliations Mr. Coe has ever been a Republican. Since 1856 when that organization placed its first candidate in the field for president he has espoused the party principles and has modestly given its candidate his support.

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