Coakley – Move to Kentucky

Map of Kentucky with Bullitt County in Red. Henry Burl Stevens was born in Bullitt County.

Map of Kentucky with Bullitt County in Red. Henry Burl Stevens was born in Bullitt County.

Sylvia Rene Stevens (1948-Present)


Henry Burl Stevens Jr. (1924-1997) my Father


Georgia Mary Coakley (1905-1978) my Grandmother-Mother of Henry Burl Jr.


Thomas Lewis Coakley (1868-1923) my Great Grandfather-Father of Georgia Mary


William Jefferson Coakley (1844-1924) my 2nd Great Grandfather-Father of Thomas Lewis


Lewis Coakley (1820-1895)  my 3rd Great Grandfather-Father of William Jefferson


William Coakley (1788-1838) my 4th Great Grandfather-Father of Lewis

Often you think about family in the sense of location.  “Our family comes from Oklahoma” or “Our family comes from Indiana”. But, the family story is much more complicated than that. I had always known that my dad’s family came from Kentucky. End of story? Well, they did live in Kentucky for several generations but they came to Kentucky from Virginia. William Coakley (1788-1838), my 4th great grandfather, was the one who started a life in Kentucky for his family. He came from King George County, Virginia sometime between 1817 when he was married in Virginia and 1818 when his first child was born in Green County, Kentucky.

What causes a man who is living in an area of relative culture and sophistication to move to a wild and rough frontier? This was a hard and dangerous life. From the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783 until 1790 more than 1500 Kentucky settlers had been killed in Indian raids. But less than 30 years later, William Coakley packed up his new wife and moved into the area. Why? There is no way to know for sure but we do know several facts that might have influenced William’s decision. We know that William was not the first born son. He would not have inherited the family land if his family followed the traditions of the time. We also know that Green County Kentucky had incredibly fertile land and attracted many settlers who built tobacco plantations. William was a farmer and this would have been attractive to him.

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