Most people in America and elsewhere have never heard of the CoeRidge. Therefore a brief introduction is probably in order. Prior to the name Coe being attached to it. The CoeRidge was just a small patch of land located on an isolated ridge in Cumberland County, Kentucky. For a number of years a free mixed blooded individual called Ezekiel was its lone occupant. That would be the case up until slavery was abolished. In the meantime, he met and had a child by a mixed blooded slave called Patsy who later became his wife. Over the years, they added nine more children to their family. However, it wasn’t until Patsy and their children were freed from slavery that they had the ability to unite as a family on the land Ezekiel occupied. During that transition, Ezekiel and Patsy elected to go by the last name of Coe, which was the surname of the man who had own Patsy and their children. It wasn’t until their offspring became young adults and begin to marry other former slaves, who would join them on the ridge making it a viable and functional community. But what made it unique was their defense of the Ridge, and their attitude toward those who didn’t live there. At first glance, one might think that these folks were bitter and angry at the world, but that wasn’t the case. In their day, both White people and Black people knew where they stood in the scheme of things. But it was a constant struggle for a minority of people who was a mix of the two , to know how and where they fit in. Ezekiel and Patsy carried such bags and baggage. Every effort was taken by a handful of people, who thought it was in everyone’s best interest to keep what happened in their past, a secret. Nevertheless, what that handful of people thought may have done more harm, than good. As we go through and chronicle the lives of Ezekiel and Patsy, along with the life and times of the CoeRidge. It won’t be hard to understand why its neighbors looked upon it with disdain as well as with envy.
Ezekiel, before the CoeRidge Existed
The CoeRidge was more than a place of defiance and a place where ex-slaves went to, even though they were two of the dimensions that struck at the core of why it existed. If one took a careful view of its history, you probably come away with the impression that the place had a conscience. I did, and if I were asked to describe the conscience of the CoeRidge, the word: “Freedom” would fill the air. It was the thought Ezekiel had when he took his first steps on the land, and that thought is present there today.
In the past, Mother Nature had been kind to the CoeRidge. She made it undesirable by humans, but made it the perfect place to hide. When Ezekiel went there to live, he definitely felt that he needed a place to hide. You see, he was very aware of the fact that he was 50% White, 25% Black and 25% Indian. Given those ingredients then and now, he was Black. So his concern of being incorporated into slavery may have been just a ridge away from being a reality. Certainly, one can’t get a true picture of Ezekiel’s ordeal from all that has previously been said. Therefore, an introduction to the boy behind the CoeRidge, and his parents should fill in much of what has been left out.
It was stated, in a few creditable publications, that a slave named Betty was Ezekiel’s mother. What appeared to shore up and give that notion some validity and acceptance, was the fact that she was listed in the household of Ezekiel Coe on the 1870 Federal Census of