Fonds MC239 - Amasa Coy family

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Amasa Coy family

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45 cm of textual records, maps, and photographs

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(Branch begins in 1725)

Biographical history

Merchant, banker, and Planter or pre-Loyalist, Amasa Coy, the son of Edward Coy [McCoy] (1725-1795) and Amy Titus (1733-1808), was born 31 July 1757 in Pomfret, Connecticut. In 1763, Edward and Amy Coy and their children, Sarah (1756-1829, m. Sylvanus Plummer), Amasa (1757-1838), Asa (1759-1784), and Lavinia / Lavine / Lavina (b. 1761, m. Gershom Bonnell), arrived in Maugerville, Sunbury County, Nova Scotia, which, in 1784, would become Sunbury County, New Brunswick. The family later moved to Gage Township and expanded to include at least 7 more children: Hannah (b. 1763, m. Cromwell), John (1766-1814, m. Amy Ann Parent), Edward (1768-1849, m. Jannet A. Murray), Mary (1771-1859, m. 1st Morris, 2nd Bradley), David (1773-1866), Anna (b. ca. 1777), and Rev. Benjamin (1778-1865, m. Sarah Cottle). Edward Coy sympathized with the American colonists during the American Revolution and served with Jonathan Eddy when he attacked Fort Cumberland in 1776.

Edward and Amy Coy's daughter, Mary Coy Bradley, became well-known for her religious beliefs. She married first, David Morris (b. 1766) on 15 February 1793 in Coytown, located near Gagetown, Queens County, New Brunswick. This marriage produced one child that died in infancy. Following David Morris' death, in 1817, she married Leverit Bradley (b. 1766), on 30 June 1819, also at Coytown.

Mary Coy Bradley was caught-up in the religious fervour of the Great Awakening. Born a Presbyterian and having an association with both the Congregationalists and the New Light Baptists, she converted to the Wesleyan Methodist faith in 1803. Although denied opportunities to speak about her faith in public forums, in later life, she expressed her beliefs in her memoirs entitled, "Narrative of the Life and Christian Experience of Mrs. Mary Bradley, of Saint John, New Brunswick", which was published in Boston in 1849. Mary Coy Bradley lived most of her adult life in Saint John. She died there, on 12 March 1859, aged 87 years.

Her brother, Amasa Coy, was well-known for his political and religious activities. Like his father, he served with Jonathan Eddy during the Fort Cumberland attack of 1776. Amasa Coy married twice, first, in 1797, to Elizabeth Holly / Holley (b. ca. 1761-1808), and they had 3 children, namely, Asa Coy (1799-1874); Sarah P. Coy (b. ca. 1802, Thomas B. Smith) and Rebecca Bunnell Coy (b. ca. 1803-1844, Simpson). His second marriage to Mary Spafford Barker Smith (ca. 1776-1863), about 1808, produced two sons, Dr. Amasa P. Coy (ca. 1815-1837) and John S. Coy (ca. 1812-1870).

Amasa Coy, Sr. associated with the local Congregational church and was involved in moving the meeting house at Maugerville to Sheffield in 1789. He was also involved with an Allinite group, followers of New Light evangelist Henry Alline, at Waterborough and Gagetown. About 1797 he moved from Gagetown to Queensbury Parish, York County, where he helped organize the Calvinist Baptist church at Prince William in 1800.

A few years later, in 1808, Amasa Coy moved to Fredericton, where he lived for many years in a brick house, located at the corner of Queen and Regent streets. He established a store on Queen Street, which, in 1825, operated as Stewart & Coy, merchants. Amasa Coy was also involved with the founding of the Fredericton Baptist Church in 1814, and he served as a Deacon from that year until 1830. By the time of his death, the church had opened a Baptist seminary in Fredericton with the Rev. Frederick William Miles in charge.

Amasa Coy and his son, Asa, were two of the founders of the Central Bank of New Brunswick, which was organized in 1834. Amasa Coy was named the first president of the Bank of Fredericton in 1836. In some of Amasa Coy's business dealings, he worked in partnership with his son, Asa, and with his son-in-law, Thomas B. Smith. Amasa Coy died on 18 July 1838 and was buried in the Old Burying Ground, in Fredericton.

Amasa Coy's daughters married well. Sarah P. Coy (b. ca. 1802) married Thomas B. Smith (ca. 1803-1840), a Methodist, about 2 August 1824, and they had a least 4 children -- Amasa Coy Smith (also known as Amasa McCoy), Thomas B. Smith (b. ca. 1824-1880), Rebecca Louisa Smith (d. 1841), and Elizabeth Smith (m. Charles H. M. Black). Sarah P. Smith and her children, were living in Fredericton in 1855.

Rebecca Bunnell Coy married John Simpson (1799-1863), merchant, Queen's Printer, and publisher of the "Royal Gazette," on 23 February 1825, at Fredericton. They had 9 children -- John Wesley Simpson (1826-1827), Sarah Louisa (1830-1834), John Duncan (1840-1841), Mary Elizabeth (m. Rev. John Lathern), Emma Colebrook. (m. Rev. T. Neales), Joseph G., Kate (m. Oliver Jones), Isabella Browning (1833-1864, m. William J. N. Hanington), and Catherine Garden. Rebecca B. Simpson died in April 1844, aged 40 years. In January of the following year, John Simpson married Alicia Wallace. He died at Fredericton on 21 February 1863.

Amasa Coy's sons also made their home in the Fredericton area. Amasa P. Coy became a medical doctor and surgeon, studying first in New York, between 1831 and 1832, under Alex N. Stevens, M.D. and, between 1833 and 1834, at Glasgow University and Glasgow Royal Infirmary. In 1836, he sold his office and drug store, on Regent Street, to Dr. Henry Hartt. Dr. Amasa P. Coy died, prematurely, at Fredericton, on 30 March 1837, aged 23.

His elder brother, John S. Coy, married Catherine Palmer Trueman (b. 1807-22 February 1882), the daughter of Nancy Palmer and John Trueman, of Mount Watley, Westmorland County, on 21 June 1836. They had at least 5 children, namely, Mary A. (b. ca. 1837-d. 6 February 1883), Milcah M. (b ca. 1841- 27 December 1884), Sarah Louise (d. 1846), Milley (d. 1883), and Catherine (b. ca. 1843-15 June 1908). Three of the daughters, Mary, Catherine (Cassie), and Milley attended the Wesleyan Academy, in Sackville, probably in the 1850s, and all three were adherents of the Methodist faith. In 1852, John S. Coy's mother, Mary S. Coy, was living with the family.

John S. Coy had a varied business career. He was recorded working as a clerk with the Central Bank in Fredericton in 1861. He was also a a director of the Central Fire Insurance Co., a tax assessor in Fredericton (1843), and a director of a gas company. John S. Coy died suddenly on 1 August 1870, at Fredericton.

Amasa P. and John S. Coy's half brother, Asa Coy, married Mary Ann Ring (1805-1884) on 29 March 1825, and they had no fewer than 9 children, namely, Asa Holly (1827-1871), Caroline / Carrie Ring (1829-1911, Waterhouse), Sarah Elizabeth (1831-1893, Phair), Marianne (1832-1901, Watts), Frances Rebecca (1835-1836), Fanny Rebecca (1836-1848), Harriet Amelia (b. ca. 1837-1848), Amasa Simpson (1845-1846), and George Frederick Miles (1844-1907).

Like his father, Asa Coy was an adherent of the Baptist faith. He served as a Deacon of the Fredericton Baptist Church from 1830-1874. He was a member of the Sons of Temperance as well, and he travelled to several cities in North America to attend meetings and conferences. Asa Coy's activities in the Baptist Church and the Sons of Temperance brought him into contact with a number of prominent men, including Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley, William B. Kinnear, the Hon. William Henry Steeves, the Rev. I. E. Bill, the Rev. George Seely, and the Hon. A. McL. Seely. These men corresponded with Asa Coy, and some of their letters are represented here.

Asa Coy was employed in several different capacities. In addition to his work in the store and Central Bank of New Brunswick, he held the post of commissioner of the Fredericton almshouse from 1848 to 1850. He served as Commissioner of Crown Debts and as a magistrate for York County, resigning both posts in April 1854, when he moved to Saint John after suffering financial difficulties. In 1855, Asa Coy returned to Fredericton and was employed as clerk or secretary to the Board of Works, headed by his friend, the Hon. W. H. Steeves. He continued at that post for about 20 years. For a time, he worked alongside his brother-in-law, John Simpson, the Queen's Printer, and was in charge of collecting accounts.

For much of his working life, Asa Coy made his home in Fredericton, but from the spring of 1854 until about May of 1855, he lived in Saint John. When he returned to Fredericton, his wife, Mary Ann Coy, remained in the Port City until the summer of 1858. During those years, Mary Ann Coy took in boarders to make ends meet. Mary Ann Coy also spent time away from home visiting with family. The months Asa and Mary Ann Coy spent apart is reflected in this fonds by the numerous letters she wrote to him. Asa Coy died at Fredericton on 1 February 1874; Mary Ann Coy survived him, passing away at Beechmont, Fredericton, on 6 November 1884.

Asa and Mary Ann Coy had a close relationship with their children. Sarah Elizabeth Coy married John Henry Phair (ca. 1824-1896) on 6 March 1850. J. H. Phair was a barrister and solicitor who practiced law in Fredericton. He also held the office of city clerk and, in the 1870s, served as clerk assistant of the Legislative Council. For about 12 years, he was fishery commissioner. The Phairs, who were members of the Church of England, had 3 children, Harry Ring (1865-1941), m. Jessie Tennant), Fannie A. E. (b. 1871, m. H. Percy Lee), and Edwin Earnest (1851-1929), m. Junetta Estey). Edwin E. Phair, attended the Wesleyan Academy, in Sackville, in the 1860s. Mary Ann Coy was living with the Phairs, in Carleton Ward, Fredericton, in 1881.

Marianne Coy married Edwin / Edward Davidson Watts (b. ca. 1830), of Saint John, on 12 November 1861, and they had a daughter Minnie R. (m. Walter G. Lewis). Marianne Coy Watts died in Boston in 1901.

Caroline (Carrie / Carry) Ring Coy taught school briefly in Saint John immediately prior to her marriage. She married Levi H. Waterhouse (1809-1879) on 23 December 1856, at Saint John, and they made their home there. The Waterhouses had at least 3 children, namely, William Henry Waterhouse (b. ca.1857-1861), Sarah E. Phair (d. 1869), and Minnie Coy (Clark). Carrie R. Waterhouse died on 17 April 1911.

Sarah, Mary Ann, and Caroline's brother, A. Holly Coy married Mary Elizabeth Foster, the daughter of Stephen K. Foster, of Saint John, in October 1851. They had a daughter, Mary Louise W. (m. W. L. Harding). By the mid to late 1850s, Holly and Mary Coy had separated, and they were still living apart in the early 1860s. While a young man, Holly Coy was employed as a druggist in Fredericton. From 1855 to 1856, he was living and working in the Boston area (Chelsea), but, by March 1857, he had returned to New Brunswick and was working in Saint John. Eventually, he returned to Fredericton where he was employed as a clerk for the Board of Works. A. Holly Coy died at Fredericton on 17 September 1871, aged 44.

Holly Coy's younger brother, George Frederick Miles Coy, attended Horton Academy, in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. In 1866, G. Frederick M. Coy was one of a company of volunteers that left Fredericton for St. Andrews to guard against Fenian attacks. G. Frederick M. Coy married Emily J. Waterhouse, the daughter of Levi H. Waterhouse, on 7 July 1875, at Saint John, and they had, at least, two children, namely, May / Mae (b. ca. 1876-1895) and Hazel E. (b. 1879). G. Fred M. Coy was employed in the provincial secretary's office, for a time, and later as a clerk in the office of the Board of Works. He died in Fredericton on 10 September 1907, aged 63 years.

Amasa Coy, Sr., and his children, particularly, Asa Coy, Dr. Amasa P. Coy, and John S. Coy, and their families are represented in this fonds.

Sources: This sketch draws heavily on the entry for "Amasa Coy," by D. M. Young, in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography on-line. Other sources include; The Old Burying Ground Fredericton, New Brunswick Vol. I by Isabel Louise Hill; Daniel F. Johnson's Vital Statistics from New Brunswick newspapers on-line; MC239; Massachusetts Archives on-line database; RS141 Vital Statistics from Government Records; and New Brunswick Census, 1861, 1881, 1901, and 1911.

Custodial history

The bulk of the material pertaining to Asa Coy and his family was found in the Legislative Library. on Queen Street, in Fredericton, in June 1971. Then librarian, Maurice Boone, reported that a Miss Moffat had donated these records to the Legistive Library prior to that date and that she had found the material in her Charlotte Street home, which was located two doors down from where Havelock Coy lived.

Additional material relating to Asa Coy was discovered, in the Legislative Library, in the 1990s, and was transferred to PANB by a former librarian, Eric Swanick, along with other records. This material forms part of MC3189 Eric Swanick collection.

Approximately 1.3 meters of records relating to Amasa Coy, Amasa P. Coy, and John S. Coy, including family photographs, came into the hands of Mrs. J. W. Black, of Sackville, N.B. prior to 1968.

Scope and content

This fonds documents the business, legal, and personal activities of Amasa Coy, Sr. and members of his family, notably, his sister, Mary (Coy) Bradley, his daughter, Sarah P. (Coy) Smith, and his sons, Dr. Amasa P. Coy, John S. Coy, and Asa Coy. In addition, there are records relating to John S. Coy's family, including his wife, Catherine (Trueman) Coy, and their daughters, Mary, Millie, Milcah, and Catherine Coy, as well as to Asa Coy's family, notably, his wife, Mary Ann (Ring) Coy, and their children, A. Holly Coy, Caroline R. (Coy) Waterhouse, Sarah E. (Coy) Phair, Marianne (Coy) Watts, and George Frederick Miles Coy. A few records pertaining to members of the extended family -- Barker, Gabel, Harding, Gale, and Simpson -- are also included.

Mary Coy Bradley's records (MS1) consist of a single item, her 6-page, manuscript recollection of her conversion to Methodism and spiritual walk (1804).

Amasa Coy, Sr.'s records (MS2) consist of family correspondence (3 items); financial records, including a receipt book (1820-1836) for business, personal, and household transactions; and legal records, consisting of deeds, leases (one for a pew in the Baptist Meeting House at Fredericton, 1825), a bond, a mortgage, fire insurance policies, and a manuscript copy of his last will and testament.

Sarah P. Coy Smith's records (MS3) consist of a single letter from her brother, John S. Coy (1833); a deed from her, her children, and the executors of her father's estate to Alexander N. Black (1855); and a draft constitution for the formation of a Wesleyan Compassionate Society for the care and relief of the poor (1824).

Dr. Amasa P. Coy's records (MS4) consist of correspondence (3 items); tickets certifying his attendance at medical lectures and examinations; a listing of medical courses (1831); a letter of reference signed by Dr. Alex N. Stevens, New York; accounts, receipts, and promissory notes, some relating to the establishment of his medical practice in Fredericton; and John S. Coy's account of the illness and death of his brother, Dr. Amasa P. Coy (1837).

John S. Coy's records (MS5) consist of business and general correspondence (1833-1869), some relating to an action in the Supreme Court in Equity over a shipment of shingles and clapboards (1868); family correspondence (1832-[1860?], including an letter from his nephew, Amasa McCoy, in which he eloquently discusses the education of young girls and women [ca. 1855]; legal records, consisting of a quit claim deed (1843), and leases, most of which relate to the settling of his father's estate (1839-1868); his appointment as Ensign of a company in the 1st Battalion, York County Militia (1839); a few business records pertaining to his employment as a tax assessor for the city of Fredericton (1868); and a scattering of other records.

John S. Coy's wife, Catherine Palmer Trueman Coy's records (MS6) consist of a single letter written by her sister in which Mrs. Allison outlines her plans to sell her property in Sackville (1878). Records of the Coy daughters (MS7) -- Mary, Millie, Milcah, and Catherine E. Coy -- consist of correspondence from family and friends, notably 3 items from Lemuel A. Wilmot, and his wife, Margaret E. Wilmot (1870s and 1880s); and invitations to Government House, a ball, and other social gatherings (1860s and 1870s). Catherine E. Coy's records include statements of account (1890-1907); insurance policies; leases (2); a manuscript essay entitled, Obedience to Parents, by her cousin Mary Allison [before 1871]; a manuscript copy of the Rev. Robert J. Burdett's sermon entitled, Alpha and Omega [before 1915]; and correspondence and other materials relating to the probate of Catherine E. Coy's estate.

The bulk of Asa Coy's records consist of general and family correspondence (MS8). General correspondence (1828-1865) pertains to business, religious, church, temperance, political, community, family and other matters. Correspondents include prominent Baptists and Baptist preachers, such as I. E. Bill, George Seely, Samuel Robinson, T. R. Estey, J. D. Casewell / Caswell, William Flint, Henry Blakoler, and A. S. Hunt among others, as well as political and public figures, such as Samuel Leonard Tilley (9 items), William Henry Steeves (36 items), Hon. A. M. L. Seely, and W. B. Kinnear. Of particular interest are letters from W. H. Steeves, written while he was attending the 1864 Quebec Conference, held to discuss the proposed Confederation of British North America. There are also letters from former New Brunswickers, David Morgan, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Drusella (Miller) Green, of Waupaca County, Wisconsin, who discuss their new lives in the American West. The Tilley (1849-1855), Steeves (1849-1865), Morgan (1857-1861), and Green (1855-1859) letters have been separated from general correspondence and are located in MS8A 42, MS8A 43, MS8A 44, and MS8A 45 respectively.

Asa Coy's general correspondence also includes letters from J. W. Hartt, of Horton Academy (MS8A 46, 4 items), concerning the education of his son, George Frederick Miles Coy; from the Rev. Humphrey Pickard and Thomas Pickard, of Mount Allison Wesleyan College and Academy (MS8A 47, 9 items), concerning the education of his grandson, Ernest E. Phair; letters from S. K. Brundage, of Fredericton, particularly those dated 1854, that discuss the fire that burnt much of Fredericton in July of that year and that report on A. Holly Coy's battle with alcoholism; and letters written the same year, by various individuals, reporting on the spread and consequences of the cholera epidemic. There are also a few letters from Edward Harper, of Boston, dated 1861, that outline preparations for, and fighting during, the American Civil War.

Asa Coy's family correspondence (MS8B) includes about 168 letters from his wife, Mary Ann Coy, dating from 1828 to 1863, in which she discusses the growth and development of the Baptist Church in Saint John and Fredericton, the activities of Baptist preachers, the family's financial struggles, her attempts to make ends meet by taking in boarders and reducing expenses, family concerns over A. Holly Coy's illness, and other family, religious, temperance, community, and social matters. Asa Coy's family correspondence also includes letters from his children, A. Holly Coy, Caroline R. (Coy) Waterhouse, Sarah E. (Coy) Phair, Marianne (Coy) Watts, George Frederick Miles Coy; from his brother, John S. Coy; and from other family members.

Asa Coy's business and legal records (MS8C) include a few items pertaining to his work with the Board of Works, as an auctioneer, and as a collector of debts for the Queen's Printer, along with a deed, a mortgage, leases, and receipts for the payment of rent. Financial records (MS8D) include itemized household accounts; receipts for payment of accounts; accounts relating to educational expenses of his son, Fred Coy, and grandson, Edwin Phair; and promissory notes. There are also a few records relating to the Baptist Church and temperance movement (MS8E), notably, copies of minutes and reports concerning the establishment of the Baptist Seminary at Fredericton (1835-1838, 1859); Asa Coy's critical account of his attendance at a Mass in a Roman Catholic Church; temperance circulars; a draft letter to the editor (1855) concerning the activities of the Sons of Temperance; and requests for payments of temperance dues.

Mary Ann Coy's records (MS9) consist primarily of correspondence (23 items) from her husband, Asa Coy, and her children, A. Holly Coy, Caroline R. (Coy) Waterhouse, Sarah (Coy) Phair, Marianne (Coy) Watts, and George Frederick Miles Coy. There are also a few pieces of correspondence addressed to the Coy children, A. Holly Coy (MS10), Caroline R. (Coy) Waterhouse (MS11), Sarah E. (Coy) Phair (MS12) and George Frederick Miles Coy (MS13).

Lastly, the fonds contains a few items relating to members of Asa Coy's extended family -- Barker (MS15), Gabel (MS16), Harding (MS17), Gale (MS18), Simpson (MS19), and Fulton (MS20).

Coy family photographs (unidentified) were transferred to the photographic section (P1-0054); a visitors' book (1913-1917), belonging to Lieutenant Governor Josiah Wood and Mrs. Wood, was transferred to MC218; and several maps were transferred to the cartographic section.

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Immediate source of acquisition

This material was transferred to PANB in 2 separate accessions. Mrs. J. W. Black donated Coy family records in 1967. The Legislative Library, via librarian, Maurice Boone, donated the remaining Coy family records on 31 January 1980. See the preliminary finding aid and accession sheets in the administration file for details.


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Additional records pertaining to the Coy family and the first Baptist Chuck of Fredericton are located in MC3189 Eric Swanick fonds, particularly, file nos. 20 and 20A, currently located in container #51131.

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