6. William Thomas (Bill)
Coker(1) was born on 5 Jul 1874
in Millerville, AL. He died on 8 Sep 1953 in Lake Bistineau, LA. He has reference
number C003. Coker, William Thomas (Bill) (C003)
1874: Born July 5 in Millerville, Alabama; second son of Dr. James Jasper Coker
and Viola Annie Davis.
1893: Family moved to Bryceland, La.
1894: Joined the church in Bryceland.
1897: Married Nina Ann Gray (C4) on July 14 in the family home. Brother Henderson,
a Methodist minister, performed the ceremony. They moved about for several years.
1901: Nina Coker joined the church in Bryceland.
1904: Their first daughter, Irene, was born July 24 in a log house on top of
a hill near Bryceland, La., known as the Prentis Whitley Place (1962).
1906: Constance Waye (B002) Coker was born here on November 22, in a new house
built in 1906 by Bill and Paul Tilley.
1912: Helen Marie was born on March 31.
1914?: March 18: "I sold to W.T. Coker 4 hors? for the amount of $50. 25
cash, 25 on account..." (See note in file; all the notes referred to were
found in his papers after his death).
1915: William Thomas was born on May 1.
(From notes of Constance Way Coker Evans:) "Bill Coker managed a farm, traded
horses, operated a store and livery stable. He had a keen business mind and knew
how to make money. He loved horses and at one time had a horse trainer. He raced
horses at fairs. At one time he was mayor of Bryceland. He was a very progressive
and civic minded person who owned the first automobile in Bryceland, a Stoddard
Dayton. Then he bought a Willis Six and later a Willis Knighton.
"His first store was a partnership with John Duty where the present (1962)
Jones Store is. John Duty was postmaster.The office was in the store. Bill Coker's
brother John was later postmaster and bought this store. John Coker sold to the
present owner's father, J.M. Jones (Ellis Jones's father).
"W.T. Coker and H.W. Wright bought the commissary of Beckner Saw Mill.
The Coker family lived in the house known as the Mill Boarding House. Later,
with Paul Tilley, the three operated a store known as Union Mercantile Co., located
back of the present drug store. Jim Durbin was their bookkeeper. The Coker family
lived in the house then known as the Dr. Jones House."
1917: June 15: See note to Bryceland State Bank for $11, signed W.P. Noland and
W.T. Coker. Nov. 12: See agreement between J.M. Stukes, Delhi, and W.T. Coker,
made in Parish of Richland, in which Stukes sold 30 shares of stock to W.T. Coker
in a company he had organized. "Party of the first part has invented a certain
Pure Food Compound known as PANOLA...capital stock of one million dollars...
Factory will be located at Memphis...W.A. Brown of Bryceland, La. appointed to
act as Custodian of all funds during the interim or organization of the company..."
1918: See note of D.T. Turner for $41.75. and check of W.T. Coker for $20 to
E.C. Die? on Bank of Bienville.
1919: Jan. 7: Promisory note to W.T. Coker for 2500.00 for 162 shares of Marien
Oil Rfg. Co, signed O.C. White.
Mar. 5: Check to W.T. Coker from White for $1000: "Insufficient funds"
noted on back.
Sept. 26: W.T. Coker paid $100 for ten shares of stock in "Section 30
Oil Company in Shreveport. (See certificate in file.)
Oct. 25: See judgment of W.T. Coker against George Brackens for $87.80; ruled
in favor of Coker.
Nov. 19: See mineral lease of A.L. Ware in Sec. 29; T17; R6W.
1920: Sept. 25: See check on Bank of Bienville to E.C. Diek for 20, "Near
Sparta," signed W.T. Coker.
1921: Jan. 20: See note to J.J. Coker for $100 by Robert Williams, Witnessed
by W.T. Coker
Jan. 25: See note of Alonzo Chapman to W.T. Coker for $167. (On back: "Transerred
to J.J. Coker 3-19-23 by W.T. Coker."
April 2: Note to Union Merc Co. for $144.05 by Cad Davis, Attest: W.T.Coker.
On back: "Transferred to J.J. Coker by W.T. Coker 11-21-1923."
Aug. 11: See note of W.T. Coker for $44.96 on loan from The Commercial Bank
of Arcadia, La.
Sept. 6: See Letter from Oral C. White, Investments, Dallas, to "Dear Friend
Coker: Your letter received always glad to hear from you for I am certainly under
obligations to you. Since I left La. I have been through hell. I have not had
any money and not made enough to pay my grocery bills I have had to borrow from
everbody I could. No man was ever a better friend to another than you have been
to me and you are and you are going to be well repaid I am not a dead one yet
but just stuck in the mud for the time being....I have not done any thing to
dodge or to be arrested for as you claim and do not think you should write me
that you are going to send the sheriff after me, true I am in bad financial shape
and you have been my best friend...and we can work out of our trouble but tahe
sheriff can not help us to do so. So let us try to continue our friendship-Please
do not write me any more threating letters...."
Nov. 28: See note by Ollie Sc?ine and Lonnie Davis (his mark) of Vienna, La.
to Union Merc. Co. of Bryceland for $20. Endorsed on back by "Union Merc.
Co, W.T. Coker, Pres.
1923: Sept. 13: Borrowed $508 against Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Policy.
1923?: Closed Bryceland Store and bought 3-400 acres of land in Tensas Parish
on Bayou Macon, near Delhi, La. The Delhi High School building is located (1962)
where the place was. The family never lived in Delhi, although John Coker's and
Walter Gray's families did.
1924: July 7: See note: "Due me $1.50; bal on shiners 1.90; credit Sunday
1.50; Monday, 1.50...boat due 1.00..." (apparently he was operating a fishing
1925: Leased a big place on Lake Bruin, near St. Joseph, La., in December from
Mr. Allen. Constance was teaching school in Saline at this time.
Dec. 1: J.J. Coker brought action on promissory Note for $43 dated 1919, against
Call Hart and Will Reed.
1926: Mar. 25: See back of note "by cash $40" on back of "judgment
in favor of W.T. Coker." Lost nearly everything they owned when the Mississippi
River flooded. Family moved across the lake. Moved to Bryceland where daughter
Irene, who had married J. Brewer Ware on November 26, l925, lived.
1927: In March, W.T. Coker moved to Cotulla, Texas, and went into the cafe business
as partner with John Coker. Later W.T. bought John's interest. He then sold the
cafe to Marie Neil.
May 3 & 11: Letters from H. McGinty, Real Estate, Investments in Alexandria,
La. "Dear Bill Yours of 28th we recd. about your Electric Fair Motor Stock...I
don't think it is worth much but we may get something out of it...I bought $15000.00
worth of the d... stock." See Oct. 19 note: "Mr. Prothro in front of
Clifs Hisks did promise that if he lived he would pay note it I would wrote W.T.
Coker and Jim Durbin..." Also see other assorted notes apparently owed to
W.T. Coker which were found in the bottom of his papers after he died in l953.:
"This is to certify that E.J. ? agrees to pay W.T. Coker $25 a week for
a period of 6 weeks or until 150 is paid."
Oct. 27: See notes for $133 to J.C. Coker with W.T. Coker signed as security;
also to W.T. Coker from Frank Brackens for $35.
Oct. 28: See several promisory notes of J.J. Coker - from 1927-27.
See undated note: "Salt Lake City Petrolum please pay to W.T. Coker $25.
Signed Dick Punatt, George West, Texas.; also others for "R=5, etc?? horse
1928: Opened a cafe in Dilley, Texas in summer. Moved back to Cotulla and operated
the hotel for 2 or 3 years. Lyndon Johnson, later to become President of the
United States, was teaching school at Cotulla then and often ate with them. They
closed the hotel and moved into John Coker's house on the corner from the hotel.
See signed note of Mrs. J.D. Scroggins: "Lunches $1.80, Coker Cafe."
Sept. 4: Borrowed $2,000 from Stockmen's National Bank of La Salle County, Texas,
with mortgage against "New Cafe in Cotulla. (See mortgage in file.)
Oct. 27, 1928: See note to W.T. Coker for $47 from Allen King, of Franklin,
La. "near Simmsboro."
1932: June 27: Letter by J.O. Evans to P.E. Brown in Arcadia about "a batch
of notes, 6 judgments and one $50 check belonging to W.T. Coker."
1933: Son, William, then a senior in high school, was killed in a car wreck on
March 15. Moved back to Minden, La. and operated the Dew Drop Inn.
1934: April 2: See letter from C.C. Walke?, Dallas to "W.T. Cotulla, Texas:
...I am enclosing Money Order for 2.50 will send some each week now until paid
in full...to pay you back the $20 yet due you...your friend CCW"
1935: "Nina stayed near Bryceland with her brother James Harrison Gray at
the Calhoun Place for about a year until he died in 1935. He was sick and she
waited on him.
"Bill Coker had a drinking problem at this time and Nina moved in with
Irene and Brewer Ware up the road a shot way from Dew Drop Inn to Fairview (near
Minden, La.) Bill moved to Lake Bistineau as a partner with Mr. Beck. Part of
this time Bill Coker operated a camp further down the lake known as Coker's Camp.
They, with the Ware's, moved back to Fairview for awhile. W.T. Coker stayed at
Knowles Landing on Lake Bistineau on Owen Evans' place.
June 25: Letter to W.T. Coker from his mother, Viola Coker, then 86 years old,
living in Dallas: "Dearest Son...I feel better than I have in some time
since the wather has got good...Well Son I wish I had some chering news to write
you but every thing is a bout the same old old thing especially for the poor
man. nothing good coming coming his way yes I glory in Huey is trying to do for
the poor I read a bout him they cant stop him from saying what he thinks not
a fraid to tell the president how he fooled the people never done any thing he
said he would do maby every thing will get better better there is room for it
dont you think ...I want to come over there some time this summer if pasable
dont know yet how it will bee now Billie dont warry you will find some- thing
that will bee worth while dont git out of heart you know the promise is to the
faithful. Jewellee says tell you hellow for her Bessie adn Lillin both say they
will write you soon for want of news I will close write real soon your loving
Mother VA Coker."
1944: Jan 7: Suit filed against Sunshine Bus Line "for the injuring, bruising
and damaging me and my leg and body."
1945: Sept 28: "I have this day sold to Johnie Sheaperd Cabin I bought from
his Bro bor the consideration of $350.00..."
1946: "Mr. W.T. Coker-age 72 years, now at Methodist Hospital Dallas Texas.
The patient was injured the latter part of February in an automobile accident...principal
injury was a head injury...also severely comminuted fracture of both bones of
the right leg, just below the knee."
(See statement of Dr. Nash: "He was injured March 3, as he got off the street
car and started to cross the street was struck by a car traveling at a high speed."
(See bills for $1580.85.)
1946: See checks of William T. Coker on Peoples Bank and Trust Company of Minden:
Some signed for him with his X mark and others with his scrawling signature;
also bank statement.
1948: July 20: Letter from lawyers: "...we have ascertained that there is
a two year statute of limitation in Texas against suits for damages for personal
1950: Sept. 29: See letter from Rayville to W.T. Coker concerning his inquiry
about property: "You sold the property to B.R. Felts..."
1953: Aug. 31: Letter announcing birth of Melisa Anne Evans, born Aug. 25.
Sept 8: W.T. Coker died on Lake Bistineau. "Funeral services
for W.T. Coker, 79,died Tuesday at his residence south of Sibley, will be held
at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Bear Creek Methodist Church near Bryceland with the
Rev. B.P. Durbin of Lisbon officiating."
He was married to Nina Ann Gray on 14 Jul 1897 in Bryceland, LA.
7. Nina Ann Gray
(1) was born on 29 May 1880 in Mt. Lebanon, LA. She died on 6 Sep
1961 in Beeville, TX. She has reference number C004. Gray, Nina Ann (C004)
1880: Born May 29 at Mt. Lebanon, La. "across from where a Negro church
stood in 1962."
: See childhood poem book in file
: Moved to Lake Village in Natchitoches parish.
: Moved to Bryceland, La., on hill known as Printiss Whitley Place in 1962.
1888: John F. Gray homesteaded the Gray Place between Bryceland and Arcadia,
just north of where the road turns to Bear Creek. This place was owned by Woodard
Walker Lbr. Co in l979.
1897: Nina lived here until she married William Thomas Coker (C003) on July 14,
just after she turned 17 years of age.
1914: See letters written by Nina to her sister Annie Coker inCorpus Christi,
(See C003 for her history after this)
1953: Husband died on Sept. 8.
"Nina Gray Coker make her home with Irene and Brewer Warein Minden. She
visited her other two daughters, Constance Evans in Saline, and Helen Marie (Ferguson)
Hensley in Beeville and Tuleta, Texas. She spent most of the summers with Helen
Marie to be with her son Tommy while Helen Marie worked.
1961: She died in the hospital in Beeville, Texas, September 6, while on a visit
in Tuleta, Texas. "Mrs. Nina A. Coker, 81 died Wednesday after a lengthy
illness. Funeral services will be held in Bear Creek Church with Dr. Joe Bruce
Evans and the Rev. B. Frank Walker officiating..."
From History of Bienville Parish, Vol I, 1984, p 177:
"Mrs. Nina Coker was always active in the Good Hope (later Bryceland) Baptist
Church. She always carried her children to church and enjoyed keeping the visiting
Pastors. She had a desire to become a nurse but her many other duties prevented
her but was always willing to and did take care of the sick people when the doctor
was not available. Many times she was called upon when the doctor could not make
it. Dr. Jones taught her to give shots and first aid treatments which she did
when a doctor was not available. She kept and operated the telephone system between
Bryceland and Bear Creek. She controlled the switch that had to be used to get
telephone calls through, day and night. She was very attentive to her children
and, having very good control over them, always made a happy home form them with
parties, syrup pulling candy, pop corn parties, making her home the center of
entertainment for the neighborhood children. Many times we forget the many good
times we have in a good Christian home until we begin to meditate and bring back
the many memorable blessings we had from our Christian parents and home environment."
(I think this was written by her daughter, Constance; Bruce Evans) Children
Irene Coker(1) was born on 24 Jul 1904
in Bryceland, LA. She died on 21 May 1988 in Minden, LA. She has reference
Constance Waye Coker.
Helen Marie Coker(1) was born on 31
Mar 1912 in Bryceland, LA. She died on 24 Oct 2002 in Beeville, TX. She has
reference number B008.
William T. Coker(1) was born on 5 May
1915 in Bryceland, LA. He died on 15 Mar 1933 in Cotulla, TX. He was buried
in Old Cotulla Cemetery.