Holland Coffee, Red River trader, the son of Ambrose and Mildred (Moore) Coffee, was born on August 15, 1807, probably in Kentucky. He was orphaned at age eleven and grew up in McMinnville, Tennessee, with an uncle, Jesse Coffee. In 1829 he arrived in Fort Smith, Arkansas, with Silas Cheek Colville, James Mayberry Randolph, and several others. There he established Coffee, Colville, and Company. He supplied local settlers, Indians, and trapping expeditions, and made contact with Sam Houston, who was living at the time among the removed Cherokees. In 1833 Coffee conducted a trapping expedition to the upper Red River. Afterward, he established a trading post at the old Pawnee village, probably the old north-bank village of the Taovayas near the site of present Petersburg, Oklahoma. He was a major link in completing the Camp Holmes treaty of August 24, 1835, the first treaty to authorize the relocation of eastern Indians to lands west of the Mississippi.
Coffee moved west to the mouth of Cache Creek, near Taylor, Oklahoma, in early 1836. He was respected by the Indians, became knowledgeable in Indian languages and customs, and ransomed many Indian captives. In April 1837 he was on Walnut Bayou, near Burneyville, Oklahoma, and by September he had moved across the river to Washita (Preston) Bend. Coffee was accused of aiding Indian depredations through trade-specifically by giving the Indians guns and whiskey in exchange for stolen cattle and horses-and was investigated by the Texas Congress. In the winter of 1837 he visited Houston, where he made satisfactory explanations to the government. On November 16, 1837, President Houston appointed him Indian agent, and on September 2, 1838, Coffee enacted a treaty between the Republic of Texas and the Kichai, Tawakoni, Waco, and Tawehash Indians at the Shawnee village, near the site of modern Denison. Coffee was elected to the Texas House of Representatives from Fannin County for the 1838–39 session. He married Sophia Suttenfield Aughinbaugh (see PORTER, SOPHIA) on January 19, 1839. Thereafter, he dissolved his partnership with Colville and turned to the development of Glen Eden Plantation in Grayson County. He furnished supplies for the Military Road expedition of William G. Cooke in the winter of 1840–41 and participated in framing the Texas Indian treaty of August 24, 1842. He developed the town of Preston near his trading post in 1845 and provided the supplies given to the Indians in the Comanche treaty of 1846.
On October 1, 1846, Coffee became offended over a remark about his wife and attacked Charles Ashton Galloway, a trader from Fort Washita, who stabbed him to death. Coffee had no children. He was entombed in a brick aboveground crypt at Glen Eden; his grave was removed to Preston Cemetery at the time of the impounding of Lake Texoma.