Biography of David H. Coffman

David H. Coffman is one of the older residents of Champaign County, went from this district to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War, and has turned his hand with credit and success to many undertakings, from farming to commercial lines. Mr. Coffman is now an honored retired resident of the city of Champaign, where in 1909 he built a substantial two-story home at 606 West Hill Street.

He was born in Fairfield County, Ohio, October 1, 1840, a son of Noah B. and Elizabeth (Lamb) Coffman. His parents were also natives of Fairfield County and in 1859 brought their family to Champaign County, Illinois. Their home was a farm three miles north of the city of Champaign. Noah Coffman proved himself a successful farmer and stock raiser and continued to live in Champaign County until his death in January, 1864. The mother is also deceased. They had nine children: William H., of Champaign; Aaron F., deceased; Mary C., of Champaign; David H.; Lucinda Frances, deceased; Peter J., deceased; Samuel C., living in Iowa; Thomas D., of Oakland, California; and Sarah Elizabeth, deceased.

David H. Coffman was nineteen years of age when the family removed to Champaign County. His early educational advantages were those of the public schools of Ohio. He remained a practical assistant to his father on the farm until September, 1861. Already the war had broken out and was raging in unlimited fury when he answered the call of patriotism and enlisted in Company I of the Tenth Illinois Cavalry. He was with that gallant regiment, whose record is so well known, for two and a,’ half years. It was a hard service, and he was finally disabled and spent considerable time in a hospital at Little Rock, Arkansas. He was sent home on a sick furlough, and was discharged at Springfield, Illinois.

The war over, he resumed the quiet lines of civil affairs as a farmer on the homestead for about three years. He then bought a hundred and seventy acres near Savoy, kept it about a year, then sold out and farmed another year near Champaign. For three years Mr. Coffman lived in Springfield, Missouri, employed by the Missouri Pacific Railway as stationary engineer. He resigned that position to return to Champaign County, and at Bondville became associated with his brother in the grocery, grain and general merchandise business for three years.

For another period of about three years Mr.. Coffman was in the monument business, and for one year was with C. W. Clark dealing in monuments, with their headquarters at Urbana. Mr. Coffman then took up the building and contracting business, which he followed for three years. He has always owned a farm during this period, and about that time he put his son in charge on the farm. The son remained on the property one year, and then both father and son began selling implements for the International Harvester Company. He finally closed out his business affairs and now gives his time only to looking after his home and investments. Mr. Coffman has been a regular supporter of the Republican party for a great many years. He is affiliated with the Grand Army of the Republic and the Methodist Episcopal Church.

On December 28, 1876, Mr. Coffman married Sarah E. Ruhl, daughter of A. G. and Barbara (Vanderau) Ruhl, both of whom were natives of Germany. Her father came to America at the age of three years, the family locating near Marysville, Ohio. Later they went to Rockford, Illinois, and in 1857 established a home in Champaign County. He lived on a farm in Hensley Township, but about five years before his death removed to Bondville, where he lived retired. The children of the Ruhl family were: William, a resident of Kansas; Mary, deceased; Mrs. Coffman; Emma, deceased; Carrie, wife of Newton Taylor; Charles, deceased; John, of Mahomet; Martha, wife of Charles Pfiester, of Bondville; Lulu, wife of William McBride, of Iowa; Elizabeth, deceased; and Maud, wife of Robert Hill, of Cincinnati.

Mr. and Mrs. Coffman have one child, Harry A., who is a capable young man of varied experience and attainments, and he was born May 30, 1879. He continued his educational training in the district schools of Condit Township until he reached the age of fourteen, and then entered the grade schools of Champaign. He was also a student in the high school of Champaign, and then entered the University of Illinois and graduated from the law department of that institution in 1901. For one year after leaving the University he was engaged in farming, and then formed a partnership with his father in the implement business, that relationship continuing for three years. Mr. Coffman then accepted a position with the Luthy Manufacturing Company, and later became sales manager for the Hart Grain Weigher Company. He has remained with this company to the present time, and is now filling the office of secretary and general sales manager.

Harry A. Coffman married Jessie Trotter, of Champaign, a daughter of Jefferson and Eliza Trotter, also of this city, and they have become the parents of three children: Frances, Harriet and David, the latter having been named in honor of his grandfather, David H. Coffman. Mr. and Mrs. Coffman are members of the Congregational Church, and he has fraternal relations with the Masonic order, in which he has attained the Thirty-second degree. He is held in the highest regard both in business and social circles.


Stewart, J. R. A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York. 1918.

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