enormous hurtle, one had to admire Ezekiel’s tenacity. Evidently his motivation got John Coe’s attention, because he eventually conceded to Ezekiel and Patsy’s desire to be together. From all accounts, it was he who performed the “jumping over the broomstick wedding ceremony” making them husband and wife.
After this occasion, their family grew more rapidly with the birth of Thomas in 1844, William in 1845, Ezekiel Jr. in 1847, Jemima in 1848 and Joe in 1851. For all intentional purpose, they were a family. However, their situation was such, that Ezekiel continued to live in the hills, and Patsy and their children retained the title of slave and remained on the John Coe’s land. It’s merely a thought, but Ezekiel and Patsy appeared to have had the people they thought most about in mind, when naming their children. It seems somewhat ironic that outside of Thomas, of which Ezekiel had a half-brother named Thomas, Ezekiel Jr. and Joe, their other three children: Mary, William and Jemima were names of three of Thompson and Patsy Clarissa Glen’s children. And with that said it brings us to a solemn and sobering period of time in their lives.
As it is with human nature, when life is given, at some point, death will surely follow. Those conditions occurred in 1854, and simply put; it was the year of the two Johns. The year brought death, with the passing of John Coe. He was not a perfect person in the least: he was a slave owner, as well as one of those who paid others for their slaves’ labor. Slaves who no doubt belonged to his widowed sister , Nancy Burrus who lived in Overton County, Tennessee. Also in Overton County, he represented his deceased brother Gile’s widow and their children in litigation over a land dispute and prevailed. It seemed as though, he was at peace with himself when he befriended a free teenage boy of color, and would remain his friend to the end. But when the issue of race became very personal, it was obviously a position he was not comfortable with. Say what you may about him, and form your own opinion, but it appears that his heart was always with those in his family. It was his strongest attribute. The following is his Last Will and Testament:
“In the name of God amen. I, John Coe of Cumberland County, Kentucky. Being now in good health and in Burkesville and knowing that we all have to die. Do hereby make my last Will.
I desire all my just debt be paid. I give to my grandchildren. The children of my dead daughter Fanny Poindexter seven hundred dollars, that is one hundred for each one. There being seven now, when the youngest child is free and my wife is dead.
I give to my daughter Malinda Short, wife of William Short, three fifty acre tracts of land where they now live. Two of said tracts patented in my name. The other, I purchased of William Sconce. I also give to her a Negro girl named Mary aged about 13 years, now in her possession. Said land and Negro is for her use and benefit, so long as she may live. When she is dead, to her legal heirs of her body.
I give to my daughter Jermima (Jemima) Spearman, one Negro woman name Patty (Patsy) age about 34 years, also one Negro girl name Jermima aged about 5 years. I also give her a Negro boy named Frank, which was heretofore given to her. My said daughter is not to have any of the increase of said Negro girl Patty that is all born after this time. Said increase if any shall be equally divided between (Jesse and Jefferson Coe) my sons, and (Jermima Spearman and Malinda Short) during their lives. That is Mrs. spearman and Mrs. Short, this desire to Jermima Spearman is for her use and benefit. When she is dead to go to the heirs of her body after my wife’s death. I want said Negro woman Patty to live near her husband. Say not further than five miles, so long as they remain as they now are, that is she must be hired out if need be to affect that object.
I give to my son Jesse Coe, Negro boy Thomas aged about 9 years, also a Negro boy Jo aged about 2 years and my Negro man Ransom.
I give to my son John J. (Jefferson) Coe, Negro boy William aged about 8 years, also Negro boy Ezekiel aged about six years and Negro woman Betty with a request of my beloved son, that he should be of steady habits and take good care of said slaves and not part them.
I give to my beloved wife, all my estate both real and personal during her life, that is she is not to want for anything. If there is more land than she may desire, I want it to be rented out until my wife is dead, and all the land not herein devised now owned by me, to be rented out each year until the year nineteen hundred, and the proceeds equally divided between my sons (Jesse and Jefferson) (Jermima Spearman and Malinda Short) evenly. Mrs. Short’s share to be paid to her to clothe and educate her children at the end of the time above. I desire my land not herein devised, to be sold and the money to be divided between the heirs of Jesse Coe, Jefferson Coe, Jermima Spearman and Malinda Short.
I hereby appoint my sons Jesse and Jno (John) J. Coe and my grandson Isaiah Coe, executors my last Will.
Hereby revoke all Wills heretofore made by me. Given under my hand and seal this 25th day of November 1853.”
(Cumberland County, Kentucky ( John Coe, 1853 Will Book E, page 246)