top of page


Family Patriarch:     John C Coney

His Mother:  Patsy Quin
His Father:  Speculation


(1870 Census, Patsy Quin is married to George Coney). 

The Coney name is inextricably tied to both the Black and White Coney families of Pike County area of Mississippi....

"Family Reunions are small revolutionary acts in defiance of individualism, isolation, & disconnectedness."

John C. Coney's mother was Patsy Quin.  Patsy Quin's father was John Quin according to death certificates in the State of Mississippi.


Searching the records for a possible biological father for John C Coney, our patriarch, has been difficult. The 1870 census was the first census to enumerate African Americans by name. Before 1870 black Americans were not counted as citizens, only as property.   The Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil Warled the government to count everyone as citizens. 

I was able to search records dating as far back as 1700's in Pike County, Mississippi,  which is where John C. Coney was most likely born.  There are several possibilities of who could have been his father,  most likely his owner. In my search, I interviewed  many sources and was  told at one time John C. Coney never had been a slave. Of course, this was one persons retelling of what they were told growing up. But it was an eye opening statement which caused me to rethink possibilities, considering the era.   I was told that John C. Coney,  my great grandfather, had been the buggy driver for his slave owner/father. I was told that he knew the lay of the land and at the end of the Civil War, was given or sold land by his family, most likely his biological father's people.  My DNA later proved a direct connection to the Coney's of Pike County.  I personally found records of purchased land by John C. Coney dating back to 1876. This was remarkable considering how hard it was in that day for a black man to own much and although Jim Crow laws were being enacted he managed to own land.  In the process of interviewing over the years, I have talked with many family members who remembered John C. Coney.   Most of these family members have all since passed on.  He was described as a very light skinned man, tall, handsome with a handlebar mustache and dimpled chin. His reputation was that of a man who took what he wanted, which included women.  It was said that if he saw a woman in the field working, that he would take her if he desired her. He was able to do this because he is reported as being an "overseer" in the fields,  who's, I am not sure of, and frankly the time line does not add up.  Most likely he was an overseer for those that were sharecroppers. 


The Civil War ended about 1865, at this time John C. Coney was 17 or 18 years old.  The stories I collected were of him later in his life.  He was most likely an overseer of his own lands and farms.   He is also reported as riding a large white horse.  In fact, my Aunt Nola Mae Coney Gardner (his oldest grandchild) remembers when she was a small girl, that her grandfather, John C. Coney would drive down to the house in a horse and buggy. It was her job to tie up the horses and give them water. She remembers him as a very light skinned man who was mean, her words from a interview.    Nola Mae Coney Gardner is the oldest daughter of Ulysses S. Coney who was the youngest son of John C. Coney and Barbara Dillon.  Ulysses S. Coney (called U.S. or Lish) was my grandfather, my father Alfred Coney is Ulysses' youngest and only living child.

In the 1870 census of Pike County MS, John C Coney is married to Barbara Dillon. He is 21,  she is 18. It looks as though they are newly married.   They live next to George and Patsy Coney. Back in those times children did not move too far away from their families.  It was more likely that the female child moved away to be with the family of their husband, the men usually lived/stayed in close proximity.   I had heard  that John C. Coney sold or gave each of his sons forty acres, this is unclear still, at this point. I say it this way because I heard it both ways, that he gave them and that he sold them land.  The census takers went from property to property counting residents.  George Coney (possible father but unlikely) and wife Patsy were  neighboring John Coney (son). Patsy Coney is the biological mother of John C. Coney. I possess the death certificate of John C. Coney which states that his mother is Patsy Coney. Conversations with a family member in Waterloo, Iowa, Mr. John Otis Coney whose father was William Coney, son of J. C. Coney, reveals that he personally remembers his "g-grandma Patty" and also remembers his grandfather John C. Coney. Specifically, he remembered a time when Grandpa (as he called him) came down to the house in a buggy and horse when he was a little boy. He had a "great sore" on his leg that would not heal and he remembers that it was swollen and infected.  He (JC Coney) said to Otis "look a here, look a here, boy" showing Otis his leg that he (Grandpa) operated on himself. Otis says that leg never healed and is probably what killed him. I now know that this is not so, that he died of heart disease.  Grandpa John C. Coney  lived  on what is now called the Napoleon Coney (Shane) property.  This is the property on South 93 Central, in Pike Co. Now own by Warren Banks.    When John C. Coney died, Otis remembers his mother taking him to see Grandpa laid out in the living room in a box on ice. He remembers being afraid, his mother lifting him up to see him and he not wanting to look.    At that time the loved ones were funeralize in their homes laid  out for viewing in the family home.   John Otis Coney's father was William Coney who married Ella Magee. Ella Magee's mother was Jane Hornsby Magee, her father was Jesse Magee.  Keep this in mind.

Back to the 1870 census enumerated on August 3. George and Patsy lived in neighboring properties to  John and Barbara who were young with no children at this time, they were newly married.   Living within  George and Patsy's household were: George 50, Patsy 45, Silas 19, Clara 10 and Ginny 7. George Coney is listed as a "farmer" and Patsy as "keeping house". John and Barbara Coney in residence at the next property are 21 and 18, have no children yet. George and Patsy's neighbor on the opposite side is Governor Pounds and wife Viney. Their ages 42 and 35 with several children. It looks as though Silas and John C. Coney were brothers, whether whole brothers is unclear.

In ten years, the 1880 census is enumerated on June 10 & 11. George is stated as being 75 and Patsy 60 BUT when you add ten years to the 1870 ages, George should be 60 and Patsy 55!  The census taker in error recorded their ages most likely.  In their household is Jesse age 4 and Leander age 3. When you first look at this you wonder how George age 75 and Patsy age 60 could still be physically producing children. It is entirely possible though since George and Patsy are only 50 and 55... now this pushes the limit I agree, but more plausible than 75 and and 60! Also in the 1880 census, John and Barbara Coney are still living next door to their parents George and Patsy. John is now 28 and Barbara is 29. They now have five (5) children who are Jacob 9, Elizabeth 7, Delia 5, William 4 and Early 2. John and Barbara's neighbor on the opposite side is Ned Magee and Pricilla Barnes Magee with several small children. Ned is 27 and Pricilla 23.

Moving onto the 1900 census, as the  complete 1890 census was wiped out by a fire with in the court system.. It was totally destroyed so that they are not available, so now 20 years has passed. In the 1900 census, George and Patsy are not listed as living in the same area. John and Barbara are NO longer together. John C. Coney is now married to Jane Hornsby Magee!  In their household are Jane's children by her first marriage to Jesse Mage:  Ella, Minnie, Luke M,  and Arthur, they are Magees.  Also living in this household are John's children by his first wife Barbara Dillon, they are Coneys: Early, John L, Linnie, Dock, Myrtis, James,  and Ulysses age 3 yrs old (my grandfather). Also with the children from their previous marriages of both John C. and Jane Hornsby Magee, are three natural children born between John and Jane. They are Ardella, Van Leslie, and Lillie Viola Coney.

Record searches show that John divorced Barbara on December 11, 1895 (documented). At that time he arranged to have a house built that was located  at the South East Quarter of North West Quarter of Sec. 13, T.2 R.5 lying in Pike Co., MS. (Description).  It is described thusly:   a "good one (1) room box house with a shed room 16 x 20 feet, with substantial dirt chimney on or before February 1st, 1896". Said house and land to be her property while she lives and at her death to revert to me, if I survive her, if not, to the children of our marriage." Witnessed by hand this 11 day of December 1895. Signed John C. Coney... This is the actual wording from a  document filed in County of Pike and John C. Coney personally appeared before W.C. Vaught, Clerk and Chas. E. Brumfield Clerk. The divorce was granted due to "habitual cruelty and inhuman treatment".  Actual wording.

Remember, I previously told you the reader,  to keep the name Jesse Magee in mind.   Another story handed down to this writer from two sources  follows:  The story has not been able to be proven as TRUTH.

Jesse Magee, husband of Jane Hornsby Magee mysteriously dies. It is found to be from STRYCHNINE poisoning. The story is that John and Jane plotted to kill both of their spouses so that they could marry. Somehow, Barbara got wind of the plot and survived but Jesse dies. It is said by sources that John C. Coney did some time in jail for the murder, there is no proof of this to date. UPDATE:  Recent newspaper articles discovered corroborate the truth of this story.  Janes was arrested as was John.  There was a trial and both were found not guilty. Articles will be attached to validate this story.

As you can see from reading earlier, John C. Coney provided a dwelling for Barbara to live out her last days. An earlier census record show this to be fact.  She indeed lives in a home neighboring her son William and Ella Coney's property.  There is also a tombstone of Jesse Magee at Rosehill Cemetery behind Rosehill Baptist Church, it is inscribed with, what I call the "ACCUSING FINGER"! That is simply my thinking but this is truly a symbol showing "God reaching down for the soul!"


Jesse is deceased,  Jane marries John C. Coney on December 12, 1895 one day after he divorces Barbara his first wife! At this time, Jane Hornsby Magee is already pregnant with Ardella Coney. This is John and Jane's first born child together. She is born April 1896 exactly four months after his divorce from Barbara and marriage to Jane. Jane and John keep house raising all of Barbara's (John's 1st wife) children (Coney's), Jane's (Magee's) children and their own children together!  The1920 census shows Barbara is living next to her son William Coney in her own home,  the home that John had built for her. It was big enough for her and not her children. Taking into account the era and time period, children were property of the father and not the mother.  

Jane and John are married for sixteen years (16) before he divorces her and marries  Mollie (Mary)Jackson in 1918. In between his marriages, there were many women. He fathered at least two children by Maggie (Margaret) Burris. Those two children were: Arie and Hattie Coney.

Arie Coney is my great grandmother on my mother's side of the family.  Arie Coney and Hattie Coney, sisters were visited by their brothers (step and half) through out their lives.  This was witnessed by both my maternal grandmother, my paternal grandfather Ulysses and various other family members. They called them sister Arie and sister Hattie. Hattie Coney goes on to marry a Brumfield, while Arie Coney  (Burris) has several children by several marriages and relationships.  A whole new chapter to talk about but not at this time.

The property that my grandfather eventually purchased and lived on belonged to Van C Coney, a white man. I was told when I was younger that the Coney's owned much of the land between South Pike 93 to the town of Magnolia. In searching the records, much of this is true. How John C. Coney was able to gain this property is not so clear. Although I find deeds and land ownership papers for John C. Coney it is not clear if it is he or someone else who bought the property. It is reported by the census that he could not read or write. John C Coney was 17 years old when the Civil War ended. MANY negroes (as they were called) did not leave their comfort zones. They stayed in the areas of their familiarity. Remember, the story I was told was that G-Grandfather John was the buggy driver of his white owner/father. His father was married and had many children, those children had a kinship with John C. Coney. Van C Coney is remembered by various family members in the community. There was also William Otis "Chic" Coney, who was married to Mary Aulene Tucker. My great great grandmother Maggie Burris supposedly worked as a domestic in a white Coney home. Maggie's two pregnancies are a result of that situation. Fast forward to my grandmother Hattie Simmons Conerly. She is the daughter of Arie Coney and Herbert Simmons a white man who happened to be married with a family!  And yet, he fathered my grandmother Hattie, her two brother Jake Simmons and John Burris.  My grandmother remembers her grandmother Maggie telling her about how she was "brought off the ship and made to strip and examine" by perspective slave owners. She was bought by a white man named Burris or Garner. Maggie somehow ends up working for the Coney family after the Civil War.

Maggie and Arie work in this Coney home as domestics (the real HELP). I find out as the years go by that Ms. Aulene and her two sisters are an integral part of Hattie Simmons Conerly's life as she grows up. It turns out that these old ladies whom my grandmother worked for through the years, cooking and cleaning, turned out to be her Aunts. I remember when I was a young girl going with my grandmother to their home, by that time, the two sister were living together and one had moved away. They would let me come in and dust the furniture and reward me with a red life saver. One tiny life saver! I was not allowed to eat in their kitchen but on the back porch. This was a meal that my grandmother had prepared for them. This Ms. Aulene (Tucker) was married to Chic Coney before his death.  Chic Coney is the son of one of the white Coney boys whom my DNA matches.

The white Coney family that great grandmother Arie Coney worked for was William Otis Coney. He was call "Chic". He was married to Aulene Tucker first and then Mary "Mollie" Andrews. His father's name was William Drew Coney. It is believed that Chic Coney and my g-grandfather John C were half brothers. That William Otis "Chic" Coney and John C. Coney were half siblings or had a deeper family connection. William Drew Coney's was his father.   Jeremiah Coney was the father of William Drew Coney.  Jeremiah Coney  married Emily Quin. Great Grandma Patsy Coney's father was John Quin. He was most likely  a slave in the Quin family. Thus Patsy's surname of Quin. The Quins and Coney's intermarried thus their slaves and "half breeds" living in close proximity. These is/are connections that I have been able to put together through years of asking questions, research at Pike County Court Records, Clerk records and now DNA shares reveal that I was on the mark of who the possible father of John C. Coney may be! 


Respectfully submitted by:
Alice Coney Player
Research 1999 through 2017
I highly value any stories you as the reader, heard as you grew up in your homes. Our family history is like a giant puzzle over time that has to be pieced together story by story. Somewhere in all of this IS our history. Please feel free to contact me to share any information you have or heard. aledplayer50@comcast.net517-321-6011








On Thursday, February 26, 2009, an article appeared in the Magnolia Gazette of Magnolia, Mississippi.  This small town of Magnolia is the "seat" of our family history. It was also called "Holmesville, MS".

In the late 1990's I learned that there was a cornerstone that had been kept in Uncle Myrt's store.  This cornerstone had been a bit of a mystery to Dr. Elaine Coney, granddaughter of Myrtis Coney. For you that know about the A & L Coney Store, it also was a family landmark of our history!  Myrtis Matthew Coney, son of John C. Coney owned and operated a corner store located directly on Hwy 48 and what is now called Pike 93 South.  It was once called Route 1.  Sitting directly in back of this store was/is Ardella (Coney) and William Nelson's home.  This home still sits there although the store has long been gone.

Dr. Elaine Coney of Magnolia, MS says this cornerstone had once been kept in the store long after the school was dismantled.  According to records, the school was short lived.  Dr. Coney would be one to give more information regarding this school. As the writer of this information, I am sharing said article published regarding this cornerstone.  It states thusly:

"In 1902, Magnolia Bank (which is now First Bank) provided loans for the "Mississippi and Louisiana Normal and Industrial College" in Magnolia, one of the first African American Colleges in Mississippi".

To learn that my great grandfather John C. Coney was a "board director" of this first African American College was a fantastic discovery!  It's no wonder that so many of our people have been tied to the field of education!

There are records indicating that John C. Coney sent some of his children to college.  One such record is of Ardella Coney in College in 1920!  He also sent his sons Albert and Allen to college.  Albert Coney attended what is now call "Michigan State University" back then it was Michigan Agricultural College, one of the best agricultural schools in the United States! 

Both of his sons were called Prof, short for professor.  Both returned to Magnolia's school systems to teach and be prominent leaders in the educational system and within our community, including our church. Rosehill Missionary Baptist Church, a cornerstone of the Rosehill community!  The Coney's were leaders in Pike County and beyond. This was fostered by the early history of John C. Coney's knack for business.  He successfully owned land and was a successful farmer and businessman.  He taught his sons and daughters alike. 


This is an except from the article:
"Magnolia has a long history of fine schools, with it's citizens, both white and black, placing great importance on education. After the Civil War, in an era of segregation, African Americans made significant strides in Magnolia and Pike County in establishing vibrant and successful educational institutions." "Few remember one of the most important educational accomplishments for Magnolia's African American citizens and one of Mississippi's earliest African American colleges:  The Mississippi and Louisiana Normal and Industrial College for Negroes.  The Magnolia Gazette notes on August 20, 1902 Magnolia's celebration of the college's opening, with black and white speakers addressing 1500 black citizens "from afar and near."  See also Magnolia Gazette Sept. 24, 1902.  The Gazette noted that the day passed quietly, with sixty students enrolling in the first class.  The newspaper also noted pledges of support from several of Magnolia's leading citizens, both black and white.  


The loan which allowed the construction of the College was made by the local Magnolia Bank, and the institution clearly had the support of most of Magnolia's citizens of all races.  The College made significant gains over two years, under the direction of W. Crawford.  The school sized increased to over 100 students, both day and boarding.  Unfortunately, the college closed in 1904, after the school's principal (Crawford) got in a dispute with a family led by one of the college's trustees, Irwin Fortenberry.  A gun battle ensued, and soon the doors of the college forever closed."

"The above cornerstone was discovered at the home of M. M. Coney, son of John C. Coney, who was one of the college's board of Directors.  John C. Coney was also great grandfather of respected local educator Dr. Elaine M. Coney, who assisted in this article and currently cares for the college's cornerstone." As stated earlier, I too am a great granddaughter of John C. Coney whose name appears on this cornerstone!

More Family History....


Inscription on cornerstone reads:

Miss & LA N & I College
Incorporated & erected 1902
Founder I.W. Crawford
First Faculty

I.W. Crawford B.S. -Pres
J.H. Mosley B.S. - V Pres
Miss Bertha LaBranch, Tutor
Miss E.M. Bowman, Tutor
Miss M. E. Jackson, Music
Miss Eliza Lee Matron

Board of Directors:
T.B. Commons
W.M. Kaigler
Washington Dickerson
H.S. Miskell
AND J. C. Coney

bottom of page