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Fred Earl Coulter
Birth: Apr. 5, 1886
Marshall County
Iowa, USA
Death: Mar. 3, 1964
Marshall County
Iowa, USA

Fred Earl Coulter was the second son of Aaron A. Coulter & Etta Crecelius. He was born on the widow Kelley's farmstead in Liscomb Township. The widow had just married on 9 March 1886 to Aaron's uncle Henry Bash, causing Aaron & his pregnant wife and their two small children to move from Uncle Hen's red brick farmhouse north to the widow's place.

During World War I, Fred, 32, medium height, medium build, brown eyes, brown hair, with a wife & two children, registered for the military draft on 12 September 1918. The war ended two months later on 11 November 1918.

Fred married first on 14 Sep 1910 in the new parlor of the Kurtz farmstead to Verna Opal Kurtz, youngest daughter of Christian Gingrich Kurtz & Hannah Jane Puterbaugh; they had three children: Fred Jr., Joyce, and Doris. Verna died 20 August 1920 of ptomaine poisoning after eating bad pork at the New Virginia Pure Food Café (pure food, indeed!).

Fred married second on 29 August 1923 in the parlor of his own farmstead to Lucille Eleanor Dutton, youngest daughter of John Clinton Dutton Jr. & Bertha Alice Shutes; they had three children: Darleen, Sue Lynne, & Steven.

Coulter brothers Arch & Fred married Kurtz sisters Fay & Verna. They were farming north of Marshalltown, Iowa; but in February 1913, they sold out* & moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, to raise wheat & cattle. After a ruinous crop that summer, Fred, Verna, & Fred Jr. returned by train to central Iowa, and settled northwest of Conrad on a 320-acre farm called The Elms.

*The auction was held Wednesday, 12 February 1913 at 10 o'clock sharp, at the farm of the brothers' father-in-law, C.G. Kurtz, 8 miles north & 2 miles east of Marshalltown, Iowa, or 4 miles south of Conrad, & 1 mile west of the Keefer one-room schoolhouse. Col. Owen White was the auctioneer.

The Colonel sold 16 horses, 18 cattle, 31 sheep (30 ewes & 1 buck), 58 hogs (including 15 Chester White brood sows, bred for May pigs), farm machinery, seed corn, chickens, etc. Free Lunch at Noon (which was prepared by Fay & Verna Coulter & their mother Hannah Jane Kurtz).

Half a century later, Fred Coulter Sr. recalled that the day was bitterly cold; the bidding was slow & stingy; but the crowd's appetite for the free food was huge!

Fred Coulter Sr., his two wives, and his eldest daughter Joyce are buried on the north edge of Conrad Cemetery, not far from the northwest corner.

The next morning after becoming a widow, Lucille had her daughter Sue Lynne drive her to Marshalltown to buy a black dress, something her husband had refused to let her do while he was living. He declared, "You can wear black after I'm gone." He preferred to see his wife in lavendar---her favorite color---and other pastel hues.

Fred said black dresses reminded him of The Black Crows, his fond nickname for his mother's aunts---Mary Bartles, Mahala Conrad, and Phebe Melton---and their friends, who would sit in a row at church and family events. In their always-black dresses, they reminded him of black crows perched in a row atop a fence or on a telephone line between poles. And those full dresses would sweep the ground, for in repressed Victorian times, no respectable married lady would show as much as her ankle, lest the sight would inflame a bachelor, or even worse, another woman's husband! My, haven't times changed?

My father, Fred E. Coulter Sr. learned to walk four times during his 77 years. First, of course, was as a toddler taking his first steps on a farm north of Marshalltown, Iowa, in the 1880s. Then, in childhood, he was felled by two potentially-fatal illnesses at once, making his imminent death a definite. The doctors gave up on him. The local weekly newspaper stated his death was only a matter of time; the particulars would be in next week's paper, along with details of his funeral. Over half a century has passed since he talked about this; and I cannot recall for sure what he said the illnesses were---maybe scarlet fever and diphtheria---both very deadly in the 1890s.

In any event, Father fooled the doctors. He lived. Recovery took a long time. He was bedridden so long that when he finally rose from his sickbed, his feeble legs would not hold him. He had to learn to walk all over. (Today, we would call this physical therapy.) While recuperating, he spent a lot of time outdoors hunting, and he became an expert marksman. Those were the days when Iowa still had prairie chickens and wild turkeys; and passenger pigeons flew overhead in flocks so large they darkened the skies. Now, of course, the passenger pigeon is extinct, hunted to death for sport and for its prized pigeon wings used to decorate ladies' elaborate Merry Widow hats at the turn of the last century.

Then in the early 1930s, arthritis of the spine felled Father. His doctors declared he would never walk again. Once again, he fooled them. And once again, he was bedfast for a long time. And when he finally rose, and learned to walk all over again, he leaned on a twisted buckthorn cane given him by Mickey, a hired man on Father's farm, The Elms, northwest of Conrad, Iowa. In snapshots from 1935, he had visibly aged, now looking tired and much older than his eldest brother Guy.

In 1957, misfortune struck again. As dawn broke on a crisp fall day, Father headed his bright yellow Ford pickup---which he called The Yellow Canary---to Des Moines to pick up some building supplies for his beloved Farmers' Cooperative of Conrad, which was building more grain storage elevators. Southwest of Marshalltown, he pulled up to a five-way stop on state highway 30. He checked the other four stop signs, and since he had the right of way, he pulled into the intersection. Wham! A speeding car from the west slammed into him. The driver would later state that the rising sun was in his eyes, and he didn't even see the intersection. He also quickly transferred all his property into his wife's name in case of a possible lawsuit.

In those days before seat belts, the sudden impact on the passenger side of The Yellow Canary pulled Father from behind the steering wheel and propelled him headfirst through the windshield on the passenger side. No doubt a massive head injury would have killed him when he hit the ground. But his guardian angel was on duty yet again. Father's left wrist caught in the steering wheel, and he was snapped back through the broken windshield into the cab of the pickup. On his second trip through the windshield, the jagged glass inflicted numerous facial injuries and removed one earlobe. Mercifully, Father was unconscious by this time. He would remain unconscious for three days, hovering between life and death. Mother remained at his bedside in the Deaconess Hospital in Marshalltown. Splattered with Father's bright red blood, The Yellow Canary, as you might expect, was totaled. But not my father. God wasn't quite ready for him, it would seem.

Father was 71 years old. Recovery this time would be painfully slow and arduous. He required private nurses around the clock for six months. Finally, he was able to start physical therapy, with the aid of his nurses and a walker; and he learned to walk for the fourth time in his life. But he never again would be the robust, always-on-the-go person he was before the accident. Time was running out. On March 3rd, 1964, a fatal heart attack stopped the old Iowa farmer for good.

But what a marvelous example Father was of the determination and resiliency of the human spirit! Faced with seemingly unsurmountable obstacles, you CAN challenge them and win! I'm reminded of FDR. When he was felled by polio, his mother Sarah Delano Roosevelt wanted him to retire quietly to Hyde Park and live the life of a country gentleman. But both the future President and my father had the true grit that defines an American citizen of the United States. Both overcame the roadblocks thrown in their paths. With role models like that, how can we fail?
(written by Steven E. Coulter) 
Family links: 
  Aaron Archie Coulter (1860 - 1945)
  Etta Eliza Crecelius Coulter (1862 - 1946)
  Verna Opal Kurtz Coulter (1890 - 1920)
  Lucille Eleanor Dutton Coulter (1901 - 1976)
  Fred Ellsworth Coulter (1912 - 2004)*
  Joyce Alice Coulter (1916 - 1917)*
  Doris Elaine Coulter Dickenson (1918 - 1986)*
  Darleen Lucille Coulter Vajgrt (1927 - 1986)*
  George Samuel Guy Coulter (1882 - 1978)*
  Ella Mae Coulter Diller (1884 - 1985)*
  Fred Earl Coulter (1886 - 1964)
  Archie Aaron Coulter (1888 - 1978)*
  Lois Vitura Coulter Mullen (1899 - 1986)*
*Calculated relationship
Conrad Cemetery
Grundy County
Iowa, USA
Plot: Section 1, Lot 20
Created by: steven coulter
Record added: Sep 21, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 21680584
Fred Earl Coulter
Added by: steven coulter
Fred Earl Coulter
Added by: steven coulter
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 Added: Jan. 30, 2016

- sniksnak
 Added: Jan. 29, 2016

- Lillie Riney
 Added: Jan. 24, 2016
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