On January 27, 1925, Bernard Coffindaffer was born in Craigsville, West Virginia. Both his mother and father died when he was young, leaving him an orphan. Despite his rough childhood, he completed high school at the age of fourteen, graduated from the University of Charleston with a degree in Business and served six years in the U. S. Marines with duty in Iwo Jima and Nagasaki, Japan during World War II. After the war, Coffindaffer worked in the oil industry and later founded his own company, a coal washing business in the mountains of West Virginia, proving to become a successful businessman.
While running his business, at the age of 42, Coffindaffer became a Christian, and eventually, a self-proclaimed Methodist minister who served in several small churches in West Virginia. A little less than twenty years later, in 1984, he received what he described as a vision of the spirit of God, telling him to erect crosses, first in West Virginia, then in all 50 states. After this epiphany, he founded Cast Thy Bread, liquidated his business assets and begun planting his “Crosses of Mercy” across America. Coffindaffer worked from an office in his basement and hired seven full-time work crews across the country to help build his crosses. The clusters contained one larger cross in the middle, signifying the cross Jesus was placed on, and two smaller crosses on either side for the thieves that were crucified alongside him. Coffindaffer had the middle cross painted yellow to signify royalty, and the surrounding ones a light blue to signify the earth, although the prolonged exposure to the elements has turned most of the blue to white.
Coffindaffer worked for the next nine years erecting 1,864 cross clusters across 29 states, spending more than $3,000,000 of his own money do to so. He died of a heart attack in his home at the age of 68 in 1993, however, his legacy had no intention of coming to a halt. After Coffindaffer’s passing, Sara Stevenson Abraham, a Mississippi housewife clipped his obituary in the newspaper. She claims that one day while doing a devotional, the clipping fell out of her Bible and inspired her to continue his crosses. A mere six years after his death, Abraham founded Crosses Across America, Inc. in 1999 to continue what Coffindaffer had started. She opened a new headquarters in Vicksburg, Mississippi with the goal of locating all the clusters, getting them repaired and restored, and possibly erecting more in the future. In 2015, the organization had approximately 1,400 volunteers and was still operating to continue Coffindaffer’s mission to spread the word of the Lord.