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Cofer, Martin Hardin

Posted by MarthaCrossSargent 
Cofer, Martin Hardin
March 10, 2007 01:23PM
Lawyers and Lawmakers of Kentucky, by H. Levin, editor, 1897. Published
by Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago. Reprinted by Southern Historical
Press. p. 92. Hardin County.

MARTIN HARDIN COFER, chief justice of court of appeals, and one of the
most notable members of the bar of Elizabethtown, was born in Hardin
County, Kentucky, April 1, 1832. His early life was spent upon a farm
and his educational advantages limited to the common schools of the
neighborhood. Before arriving at man's estate he determined to ally
himself with the legal profession, and to this end he studied law while
engaged in teaching school in the rural districts. He began that work
when twenty years of age, and devoted his time outside of the schoolroom
to the mastery of those volumes which contain the fundamental principles
of the science of jurisprudence.
In 1853 Mr. Cofer wedded Miss Mary E. Bush, and soon afterward
removed to Illinois, where he remained for about three years. ON the 1st
of April, 1856, he was licensed by the supreme court of that state to
practice law, and returning to Kentucky opened an office in Elizabethtown
where he made steady and rapid progress in his profession. His superior
natural talents were enhanced by his great energy, his perseverance and
his close application, and at the time of the war he had a large clientele.
He commanded respect of his upright and honorable deportment, and was
regarded as one of the ablest members of the Elizabethtown bar. At the
special election in June, 1861, he was a candidate for the general assembly
on the states'-right ticket, and on meeting defeat at the polls, he cast
his lot with the south, becoming lieutenant colonel of the Sixth Kentucky
regiment of the Confederate service. With the exception of the battle of
Murfreesboro, he participated in every engagement with his regiment up
to August 30, 1864, and was severely wounded at the battle of Shiloh.
His meritorious conduct and gallantry on the field of battle won him
promotion to the rank of colonel September 30, 1863, and the day before
the battle of Jonesboro he was made provost marshal of the Army of the
Tennessee, taking charge of the discipline and reorganization of all the
troops of the department. His excellent administrative abilities were
adequate to the proper comprehension and performance of this responsible
duties, and with consummate skill he completed the task assigned him.
Colonel Cofer remained with the army until the close of the war,
and then resumed the practice of law in Elizabethtown and in the courts
of the surrounding counties. He was thus occupied until January, 1870,
when Governor Stevenson appointed him circuit court judge, which position
he filled as an appointee until the following August, when he was
regularly elected to that bench, serving until 1874. In August of the
latter year he was elected an associate judge of the court of appeals
for a term of eight years, and in 1881 became chief justice and died in
office. His able, forcible and clear opinions won him distinction, and
his accurate knowledge of the law and its masterful application to the
questions in controversy made him the equal of any member of the Kentucky
bar. He was the author of Cofer's Kentucky Digest, a work of rare merit
and standard authority in Kentucky jurisprudence.
He was a Knight Templar Mason and belonged to the Methodist
Episcopal church, south.

Cofer Bush
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IL

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