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Submitted by: Margaret Butler (

Dividing Line

NOTE !! This is a compilation of information only, and the reader must allow for errors. Because of past courthouse burnings, a large majority of coker information comes only from stories handed down through families and acquaintances. This genealogy is meant to be used simply as a guide. For additional information on the Cokers, look at the book on Marion County, AR families at the Marion County library.

* * *

(THOMAS?) EDWARD "NED" COKER, son of Buck Coker

b. ca. 1801, Bedford Co., TN

d. after 1865

buried Mullings Cemetery, Robberson Twp., Greene Co., MO

m. (i) abt 1821 to Winnie YOCHAM (d. abt 1860),

dau. of Soloman Yocham,

and (ii) Mary Elizabeth JAMES,

dau. of William & Annaliza (Townsley) James

The most important issue concerning Ned Coker is his death. It has been repeatedly reported that he was killed by Bushwackers on his way to Springfield, Greene Co., MO on October 12, 1864. However, it appears that he was almost killed but survived. He and his 2nd wife even had another child a few months later. Ned's hanging and survival is explained by S.C. Turnbo in his article entitled, "Simply Horrible":

One among the oldest citizens who lived on the right bank of White River in what is now Crocket township, Marion County, Arkansas, when the war between the states broke out was Ned Coker. Mr. Coker was intelligent and was a good common sensed man, very prosperous and owned several slaves. The writer has enjoyed many pleasant hours with him for he took pains to give me many incidents that occurred on the upper White River in the long ago. It was supposed by some that he possessed a big sum of gold and silver which was said to be concealed somewhere on his farm or in the near neighborhood, from this cause he was treated very cruel by the bandits that infested the county during the war. Mr. R. S. Holt, whose father, Wm. Holt, owned the river farm on the opposite side of the river from the Ned Coker farm informed me that during the turbulent days of blood and death the bad men stole all of Coker''s horses and cattle except one wild mare as they called her which he managed to keep out of the reach of the desperadoes. One night a band of robbers paid him a personal visit in disguise and demanded his money which he flatly refused to give up. They threatened to do violence to him unless he revealed to them the place where he had hid his gold and silver, but he had a stout heart and a resolution made of iron almost and they found that threats were unavailing to compel their victim to give up his money. And so they proceeded to torture him with fire and inflicted all the suffering and pain they were able to heap on him to force him to yield up his gold but he held out so strong against the awful tortures from their hands that they resorted to other means and they procured a rope and tied one end around the poor old man''s neck and passed the other end of the rope over a beam or other object and pulled him up and tied the rope fast with the intention to leave him suspended until he was dead, but as the bandits turned away from him to take their departure one of the band stopped and stepped back to the hanging and struggling form and cut the rope and he fell to the floor. After the robbers were gone and Mr. Coker had revived he called his faithful slave whose name was Jeff and who was a bow legged Negro to bring up the wild mare and they would make an effort to get into Missouri where there would be some show of receiving protection. The Negro was not long in bringing the mare to his master''s house. The thieves had stolen Mr. Coker's saddle but the now almost helpless old man by the assistance of his slave mounted the mare bareback and Jeff lead the mare. They traveled night and day and went part of the way where there was no road. Mr. Coker was not able to ride only a few miles at a time when he was compelled to stop and rest and go on again. In this way he rode the mare all the way into Green County, Mo., bareback and Jeff the Negro walked and lead the mare all that distance."

That explains how Mr. Coker could have survived a hanging.

In Turnbo's article, "How Ned Coker Wanted the Moles Destroyed":

The old Ned Coker farm which is situated on the right bank of White River in Crocket Township in Marion County, Ark. was settled very early. Ned Coker and Aunt Winnie his wife settled this land before 1824. Mr. Coker was a son of Buck Coker and was quite an intelligent man. The writer learned a great deal of information from him relating to the pioneers settlers along White. When I was a young man I took much delight in listening at Mr. Coker''s early reminiscences. I have heard him recite a number of strange and interesting incidents that occurred in the upper White River Valley in the years gone by. He was well known as a man that kept his own councils and run his own affairs one day while he and others were conversing together one of the men remarked, "Mr. Coker can three men keep a secret". and he quickly replied, "Why certainly they can if two of them are dead."

Soon after Coker and his wife settled this bottom they built a small log house on the bank of the river and cleared a few acres, of land and planted it in corn in the spring of 1824. But the moles were so numerous that they devoured every grain of it almost before it come up. This was all the seed corn or any other corn the man had that spring and there was no more in reach of him to buy at any price and the man was terribly wrought up in temper at the hundreds of moles which destroyed his seed corn he had planted. And in his anger he called on the great God of heaven to cause a flood to come in White River big enough to submerge all the bottoms deep enough to drown all the moles from the head of the river to the mouth of it. In the latter days of August and the first few days of September of that year when the gates of the nimbus clouds were opened and let down blinding sheets of water which filled the channels of the creeks and hollows to overflowing and the rush of this water into White River soon caused this stream to be a roaring and foaming flood of water which rose so rapidly that Mr. Coker and his wife were driven from their cabin and they sought safety on higher ground. As they were leaving their hut Mrs. Coker reminded her husband of what he had said and prayed for in his wicked way of calling on the name of the good God of Heaven what he wanted him to do when the moles eat up the corn he had planted the spring before "and now Mr. Neddie" says she "I guess your prayers are answered but God cannot drown all the moles in this bottom without giving you trouble. The water went on rising and spreading over the bottom until the couple were compelled to remove their camp a number of times before the water began to recede. Mr. Coker began to think that it was going to be another universal flood that the Bible, spoke of and repented of what he had desired the Lord to do and become restless and uneasy and quoted the word of God as saying that God had promised that the earth would never be destroyed by water any more "but my God Winnie this rise looks very suspicious for I believe it is going to cover the entire earth before it quits. This land is now known as the Alex Pruitts upper farm.

From Turnbo's article, "Tom Norman and His Family and the Death of Four of Them":

We have often mentioned that part of White River where Buck Coker settled in 1815. This land as we have said is on the left bank of the river in the Jake Nave Bend in what is now Boone County, Ark. When Buck Coker went to West Sugar Loaf Creek soon after the freshet of May 1844 Lewis Clarkstone moved into the house vacated by Coker. Mr. Coker sold the improvement to Clarkstone. The latter was a hunter after wild animal and kept a fine pack of hounds to chase the fox, wild cat and catamount. Mr. Clarkstone or [N]orman as he was commonly called. He was from the state of Virginia and lived here in the early fifties. ... Soon after the death of ... Norman and his wife this land fell into the hands of Ned Coker. Mr. Coker bought the land from Mr. Clarkstone. Normans did not own the land while he lived on it only had it rented. Coker sold the land to R. S. (Dick) Halet for the consideration of one fine black mare and three hundred dollars in cash.

Turnbo wasn't quite clear as to the difference between Mr. Clarkstone, the land owner, and the Normans who rented the land ... but the point is, Ned Coker bought the land which was originally owned by Buck Coker.

Turnbo discusses one of Ned's children in "Recollections of Another Pioneer Family":

"... As we have said before, Jake Nave married Miss Sallie Coker daughter of Ned Coker. Mr. Coker opposed the marriage and the young couple not to be out done eloped together one bitter cold night and rode all the way to the mouth of Little North Fork where they were married. Mr. Coker was a sensible man and forgave his daughter and son in law and Mr. Nave made his home in the Jake Nave Bend of White River in Boone County, Ark. Here he followed farming and blacksmithing as an occupation. Mrs. Nave was a kind hearted and industrious woman and made a great deal of home made cloth on the spinning wheel and hand loom. I well remember their oldest children Mary and Ned. Mary married Bill Sheleton and she died. Ned also died. Mrs. Nave died in 1852 and lies buried in the Buck Coker grave yard at the lower end of the Jake Nave Bend where her two children Mary and Ned lies. Mr Nave had the grave of his wife enclosed in box form with large slabs of native stones. By her side lies the remains of Mrs. Winnie Coker wife of Ned Coker and mother of Mrs. Nave. ..."

From Turnbo's article "An Incident of the Great Rise in White River in 1824":

Just below the river bottom known as the Jake Nave Bend in Boone County Ark. is a tall bluff where a precipice reaches high up to the summit. Here one day recently I had a fine view of scenery along White River for several miles which includes a birds eye view of the Nave Bend. At the lower end of this bottom is where Buck Coker pitched his tent January 8, 1815. Here on the bank of the river he and family sheltered in this tent which stood in the midst of tall cane until he could build a small cabin to protect them from the cold wintry blast. In the course of a few years Cokers wife sickened and died and she was buried near by where the dwelling stood. This was the start for a grave yard there which we have referred to so often in other sketches. Among the old time residents who lies in this village of the dead is Billy Holt and his kind and industrious wife Mary L. Or Aunt Polly Holt as she was commonly known. Here also lies their daughter Peggie wife of "River" Bill Coker, and their unmarried daughter Mary Ann. Here also lies Mary Coker Nave daughter of Ned Coker and the first wife of Jake Nave, and also Aunt Winnie wife of Ned Coker. This land is known now as the Dave McCord Farm. A short distance above this land at a fine spring of water is where Jake Nave lived and died and lies buried in the cemetery at Pro-Tem. Just below where Buck Coker lived is the mouth of Pine Hollow at the head of which is a small pinery where Ned Coker and "River" Bill Coker had their negro men to fell pine trees and out off loge of the desired length and haul them to the river at the mouth of this hollow with ox teams where the logs were made into rafts and floated down the river to Mike Yocums saw Mill in the mouth of Little North Fork where the logs were converted into lumber, and the negroes hauled it back home on ox wagons.

More information about Ned's children comes from Turnbo's article, "A Part of an Account of the Coker Family Biographical and Historical":

"... Ned Coker another son of Buck Coker married Winnie Yocum daughter of Solomon Yocum. Their offsprings were "River" Bill whose first wife was Peggie daughter of Wm. Holt and Sallie who married Jake Nave. Among "River" Bills Cokers children by his first wife for he was married the second time are George who was born in 1850 and is one of the leading merchants of Lead Hill Ark. and Winnie who married Bill Magness son of Sam Magness and Nina who married Eph Kelly who was postmaster at Lead Hill many years.

From S.E. Turnbo's short story, "Face to Face with Bruin":

Soon after Ned Coker settled in the bottom on the right bank of White River in 1823 in what is now Crooket township in Marion County, Ark., he and Winnie, his wife, had an adventure with a bear one day while clearing land near the house. They were both busy at work in a thick growth of tall cane cutting the cane off with homemade hoes. Mr. Coker while at work noticed an object in the edge of the cane which he took for his wife and wondered why she was dodging around in the cane. Next moment he saw his wife busy at work cutting the cane which brought him to his senses and raising up he was confronted by a bear standing on Its haunches with its nose almost at his face. Coker was much astonished at the audacity of Bruin and jumping back from it a few feet he yelled, "Look out, Winnie", and struck the bear on its nose with the hoe. At this the bear snorted and lowered himself and with another snort the blood dripped from Bruin''s nose for the man had mashed it with the hoe. The bear made off into the cane and was gone, but Coker thought it might come back and stood ready to protect himself and wife if it did return. But that was the last of it as far as they knew.

But later, Ned had a chance to kill Bruin. This is mentioned in Turnbo's "A Bear Resembles a Huge Snowball While Rolling down a Mountainside":

... When it [Bruin, the bear] stopped Ned Coker was in a few feet of it and quickly placing the muzzle of his rifle at the bur of the bear's ear, fired and killed it. ...

More is found in Turnbo's "An Oldtime Country School":

At the lower end of the old Ned Coker farm which is owned now by Alex Prewit is a fine spring of water which gushes out of the river bank. This water comes out just above the level of a low stage of water in the river and Is in Crocket Township Marion County, Ark. In the latter 50s a log house stood in the lower end of the bottom and just above the spring, and Billy James was employed by a few of the citizens to teach a three months subscription school in it. The house had a puncheon floor and puncheons were used for seats. ... There were 5 of the Jake Nave children, Ned, Mary, Bill, Dice and John, who lived with their grandfather Ned Coker and went to school here. George and Winnie Coker, children of "River" Bill Coker who lived opposite the mouth of Shoal Creek were among the little men and women who learned to spell and read in this school.

Ned was a slave owner, according to Turnbo in "A Negro Woman on Horseback Attacked by Wolves":

Mrs. [Polly Coker] Wiggins [dau. of Charles Coker] said that while her uncle Joe Coker lived at the Big Spring below Lead Hill, Ark., his negro slaves would visit the negroes who belonged to ["massa"] Ned Coker who lived on the river and Ned Coker's negroes would return the visit and thus they would exchange visits with each other. ...

Ned also supported his relatives, as talked about in Turnbo's "The Last Hours of Mike Yocum":

... In 1850, while [Mike] Yocum lived at the mouth of Little North Fork and owned the mill there, he was a candidate for representative of Marion County. His opponent was Captain Henry, whose given name is forgotten. Both men were influential and had many friends which made the canvass hot. Ned Coker, who espoused the cause of Yocum, was one day talking with one of Captain Henry''s friends and during the conversation relating to the race between the two men, the latter remarked to Coker that "Captain Henry was a very nice man and ought to be elected." "Yes," replied Mr. Coker, Captain Henry looks nice enough, but he is a terrible liar." Mr. Yocum succeeded in defeating Henry and his friends rejoiced at the opportunity of sending him to Little Rock to represent in the legislature. ...

Jake Nave was Ned's son-in-law as mentioned in S.E. Turnbo's article "Plenty of Sugar and Bear Meat":

On the opposite side of White River from the mouth of Shoal Creek in Crocket township, Marion County, Ark., is the old River Bill Coker farm which was settled by Jess Yocum. A-large number of sugar maple trees were on this bottom and in the bluff when Mr. Yocum came here and he and wife made plenty of sugar and syrup out of the sap of these trees. Yocum collected the sap from the troughs and vessels that he had placed under the spouts to catch the water in by using a one horse sled and barrel. During one winter season he and wife filled three 50 gallon barrels with nice cakes of sugar made from the sap of the sugar maples. When Yocum left here he was succeeded by Jack Nave, son in law of Ned Coker. ...

Ned had a slave named John as referred to Turnbo's "Killing Three Bear in a Field of Corn":

... I [Jake Nave] went across the river to Ned Coker's to get help and Coker sent his negro man John with dogs and gun with me. ...

From Turnbo's "Devoured by Wolves":

... To make the story more complete, we will state that when the war broke out, Ned Coker and his son William--"River Bill" they called him, to distinguish him from "Wagoner Bill", Yellville Bill" and "Prairie Bill" Coker--lived on the south bank of White River in Marion County, Ark. The former's named residence was on the farm on the right bank of the river just below the mouth of East Sugar Loaf Creek. The latter lived on the farm opposite the mouth of Shoal Creek. Both these men were slave-holders and possessed about fifteen negroes each. ...

By the time the 1850 Marion Co., AR federal census was taken only Edward and Winney were listed in the household (#144). He was 49, born in TN, and she was 47, born in TN. Their daughter Sarah and family lived next door:

No. 145 Jacob Nave 31 Tenn

Sarah 26 Ark

Edward 10 Ark

Mary L. 7 Ark

William 4 Ark

Dice Ann 2 Ark


(S.C. Turnbo only talked about two)

1. William "River Bill" Coker, born abt 1822 AR; m. (1) Margaret "Peggy" (HOLT) Pumphrey, (2) Mary Ann (ORR) Coker, widow of Hardin Coker. Children by Peggy: George Washinton, Winnie, Edward, Sarah "Nina," Kansas, Robert and Mary Ann. Child by Mary Ann: Cassandra. "River Bill" died July 30, 1864, in Greene Co., MO, and after his death, Mary married Fielding Holt.

2. Sarah "Sally" Coker, born abt 1824 AR; m. Jacob "Jake" NAVE, born June 19, 1814 in the Cherokee Tribe in TN. Children: Edward Ned, Mary L., William "Bill," Dice Ann, and John Calvin. Sallie & Jake lived in the Jake Nave Bend of White River in Boone Co., AR. Sallie died in 1852 and is buried in the Buck Coker graveyard at the lower end of the Jake Nave Bend where her two children Mary & Ned are buried. Her mother, Winnie, lies next to her.

3. Edward Coker, born abt 1827, Carroll Co., AR; died before 1870, married Demeris GLOVER. Children: Joseph Edward, Paralee (b. 1-6-1867), and Dinah Elizabeth.

By Edward "Ned" Coker's 2nd wife, Mary, they had the following children:

4. James Lee Coker, born January 25, 1863 in MO; married Matilda Caroline WILLIAMS.

5. Paralee E. Coker, born April 27, 1865 in MO; died October 12, 1884, Clear Creek, Marion Co., AR. She married Clark M. MORGAN on December 22, 1880. Paralee & Clark's children: Lonnie D. Morgan.

Mary Jane Coker (Part 10)

Dividing Line

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