Ex-slave's descendants prosper

Ex-slave's descendants prosper

According to historical reports, Coffey saved $616 from his diggings for Bassett which his owner kept, returning with him to Missouri.

The accounts note that in 1852, Bassett sold Coffey for $1,000 to Mary Tindall, while another slaveholder, Nelson Tindall, already owned Coffey's wife and children. Coffey persuaded Nelson Tindall to allow him to return to California to earn enough to buy his freedom.

Coffey set off for California again in 1854.

By 1856, the then 34-year-old Coffey had earned the $1,000 he needed to buy his freedom and then, by 1857, another $3,500 to buy the rest of his family out of slavery, written sources say.

Coffey returned to Missouri to bring his wife and three sons to California while two older daughters were left with a grandmother in Canada until he was able to reunite them in 1860.

A Slave Father Sold Away from His Family, Frontispiece from "The Child's Anti-Slavery Book", 1860




A Slave Father Sold Away from His Family, Frontispiece from "The Child's Anti-Slavery Book", 1860


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"When Alvin made his second trip to California, he still was not a free man. He made arrangements with his current master to be allowed to go back to California to earn the cost of his freedom which had been set at $1,000," Molson said.

Once he'd saved that much, Coffey notified his family's master, who sent the emancipation papers without first receiving the money, she said.

On Dec. 22, 1858, the couple's next child, Charles Oliver Coffey, was born free in California.

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