Cornelius Harnett Coffield, a North Carolina legislator from Cumberland County, North Carolina in the decade before the Civil War, was a namesake of Cornelius Harnett. Representative Coffield introduced a bill in the 1854-55 session that was later passed by the legislature creating Harnett County from the northern part of Cumberland County. This new county of Harnett was named for Cornelius Harnett.
Harnett County historian Malcolm Fowler, writing for the 1955 Centennial celebration of Harnett County, described Coffield’s role in creating Harnett County as follows:
In 1854 Cornelius Harnett Coffield, who lived between the present towns of Angier and Chalybeate Springs, was elected as the Harnett area representative from Cumberland to the State Legislature.
This body met in November, 1854, and Coffield introduced the bill providing for the formation of Harnett County. J. G. Shepherd, another Cumberland representative who lived in Fayetteville, bitterly fought the bill — so did the rest of Cumberland County. They liked losing the Harnett section about as much as a man enjoys losing a leg.
Nevertheless, the bill was ratified Feb. 7, 1855. It was entitled: “An Act to Lay Off and Establish a New County by the Name of Harnett.” 1
Harnett County Commissioner Daniel B. Andrews, Jr. says that the Coffield home was located near, and south of what is now the intersection of Chalybeate Springs Road and Parrish Road, shown above in a photograph taken on April 19, 2012. The arrow on the left points to the approximate location of the Coffield home site, a high point in the field. 2
The former home site of Coffield is currently owned by Dr. Jeffrey Senter. Commissioner Andrews not only knows where the old Raleigh to Fayetteville road enters the former portion of Coffield property owned by Dr. Senter, he also knows the location of the old road as it approaches from Raleigh and exits toward Fayetteville since he owns a large portion of the former Coffield property. (Andrews).
Evidence of the Raleigh to Fayetteville road entering the current Senter portion of Coffield property still exists. It entered about 500 feet west of the Chalybeate Springs and Parrish Road intersection as indicated by the arrows shown on the photograph below. After passing in front of the Coffield home the old road exited at a point across what is now Parrish Road at the approximate place shown by the second arrow to the right in the photograph above. (Andrews)
Commissioner Andrews states that Cornelius Harnett Coffield was from the area that became Harnett County where he had a large plantation of over 2,000 acres with approximately 1,000 slaves.
The old road exited the wood line of the Senter property near the deer stand in which Commissioner Andrews appears in the photograph and inset below. From there the road passed in front of the Coefield home.
Taking this tour with Commissioner Andrews is a fascinating reminder that cars did not exist prior to the Civil War nor, nor as a matter of fact, cars rarely if ever existed in rural North Carolina until the early days of the twentieth century. To take this tour is to be reminded that the roads of this state have improved greatly since they were taken over by the state in the 1930s.
Below is an aerial view of the Coffield home site and surrounding land. The location of the Coffield home site is shown as point 1 on the Map. The old Raleigh to Fayetteville Road, running in a general southerly direction, is shown as points 2, 3 and 4 on the Map. Point 5 is the intersection of the Chalybeate Springs and Parrish Roads. Chalybeate Springs Road runs east from Angier to Chalybeate Springs and Parrish Road is a dead end road running south from the intersection. Point 6 shows the location of Neil’s Creek which passes under Chalybeate Springs Road. (Andrews)
1. Fowler, Malcolm, They Passed This Way, A Personal Narrative of Harnett County, 1955, Centennial Edition, 1955, published by Harnett County Centennial, Inc. Chapter VIII (pp. 54-63), “The Formation of Harnett County,” p. 56.
2. Information in this paragraph provided to Ed McCormick in a conversation with County Commissioner Daniel B. Andrews, Jr. (hereafter Andrews) on April 19, 2012.