top of page

Sophia Suttenfield Aughinbaugh Coffee Butt Porter


Portrait
Sophia Suttenfield Aughinbaugh Coffee Butt Porter in her older age (Grayson County GenWeb).

Sophia Suttenfield Aughinbaugh Coffee Butt Porter was one of the more colorful characters to inhabit the Red River Valley, and one of its more notorious.


Born Sophia Suttenfield around 1815 in Indiana, she followed her family to Texas and, after being deserted by her husband Auginbaugh (who either died or abandoned her), she found work as a "camp follower," meaning that she accompanied Texas Revolutionary soldiers as they trekked to battle sites. At the camp, she tended to the cooking and washing, and provided other "wifely" attentions that weren't official parts of the job description.


While in camp, she caught the eye and love of Holland Coffee, a merchant who traded in goods, liquor, slaves, and cattle along the Red River. They married and she helped Coffee set up his trading post at Preston at the confluence of the Red and Washita rivers. Coffee's enslaved people built a plantation-style home called Glen Eden that overlooked the gardens that Sophia said she liked to tend. Glen Eden became a hub of activity; she may have "entertained" soldiers from Fort Washita with the women she owned.


Holland Coffee was killed during a dispute with soldier Charles Galloway, with whom Sophia may have been having an affair. She buried Coffee in a fancy above-ground, brick tomb and then married George Butts, who was also murdered shortly afterwards in a land or cattle dispute. Thereafter, she wed James Porter, a cotton farmer from Missouri. He took Sophia's land holdings, brought more enslaved people with him, and grew the plantation into a major operation.


Sophia Suttenfield Aughinbaugh Coffee Butt Porter became a wealthy woman but not necessarily respectable. The Methodist preacher in Sherman did not want to admit her into his church due to her reputation. After twelve long years, she eventually wore him down and gained membership. She then reinvented herself as the "grande dame" of Grayson County, who regaled listeners at the annual Pioneer Festival with tales of nursing Sam Houston back to health during the Battle of San Jacinto and that, during the Civil War, she rode her horse across the Red River to warn Confederate Colonel James Bourland that Union soldiers were occupying Glen Eden.


Sophia died in 1897 and is buried with her last, and most lucrative, husband at the Preston cemetery, which was relocated form its original boneyard when Lake Texoma was built.



Newspaper
Texas was never really a settled place, as this notice in the Northern Standard, published for Holland Coffee, attests. He sought the grant certificate for a piece of land that he may have killed for.

Comments


bottom of page