Born: Oc­to­ber 16, 1848, Rock­ing­ham Coun­ty, Vir­gin­ia.

Died: Ju­ly 22, 1899, Elk­hart, In­di­ana.

Buried: Prair­ie Street Ce­me­te­ry, Elk­hart, In­di­ana.


John was the son of Sam­uel Coff­man and Fran­ces Wea­ver, hus­band of Eli­za­beth J. Heat­wole, and fa­ther of Sam­uel F. Coff­man.

After a stint of teach­ing in lo­cal schools, he was or­dained by the Bank Men­non­ite Church in Day­ton, Vir­gin­ia.

He moved to Elk­hart, In­di­ana, in 1879 to be­come as­sist­ant ed­it­or of Her­ald of Truth. He con­trib­ut­ed to nu­mer­ous pub­li­ca­tions there, and ev­en­tu­al­ly be­came ed­it­or and pre­si­dent of the Men­non­ite Book and Tract So­cie­ty up­on its found­ing in 1889.

He was al­so one of the lead­ers in the es­tab­lish­ment of the Elk­hart In­sti­tute of Sci­ence, In­dus­try, and the Arts, which lat­er be­came Go­shen Col­lege.