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.