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 Lucille Eleanor <I>Dutton</I> Coulter

Lucille Eleanor Dutton Coulter

Death 12 Jan 1976
Burial Conrad, Grundy County, Iowa, USA
Plot Section 1, Lot 20
Memorial ID 21680588 · View Source
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Lucille Eleanor Dutton was the third and youngest daughter of John Clinton Dutton Jr. and Bertha Alice Shutes. The first photo is her 1917 graduation portrait from Liscomb (Iowa) High School. In the second photo, she is shown with her new husband, Fred Earl Coulter, a few weeks after their wedding on Wednesday evening, August 29, 1923, in the front parlor of the Coulter farmstead in Felix Township, northwest of Conrad, Iowa. Lucille was 21; Fred was 37, a widower with two young children, Fred Jr., 11, and Doris, 5. Lucille & Fred had three children: Darleen, Sue Lynne, and Steven.

Lucille's mother attended the wedding, riding with Lucille's sister and brother-in-law, Greta & Harold Good; but Lucille's father refused to attend, since he disapproved of his daughter marrying a man 16 years her senior.

Lucille would have liked to marry in the famous Little Brown Church in northern Iowa; but her future mother-in-law decreed: "Nonsense! We're not all driving way up there just to watch a five-minute ceremony. We'll do it right here at home, in the front parlor." Decorations included a white crepe paper, fold-out bell, which hung above the couple as they exchanged their wedding vows in front of the bay window, before the Presbyterian minister.

Lucille's former employer & friend, Ruie Nickerson Zink, baked the multi-tier wedding cake. The small top tier was removed before the cake was cut. Lucille planned to save it as a memento; but her mother-in-law boxed it up and mailed it to Fred's beloved sister Ella Coulter Diller in Pasadena, California, since Ella had been unable to attend the ceremony.

The day after the wedding, Fred's parents, Aaron & Etta Coulter, who lived with him, left to visit Aaron's Mechling cousins in Missouri. When they returned, Fred & Lucille were scheduled to leave on their honeymoon; but Aaron & Etta returned with their Model T full of ripe Missouri peaches. Etta decreed, "You'll have to delay your honeymoon. These peaches need canned NOW!" She and Aaron were moving January 1st, 1924, to their new home at 4 East Webster, Marshalltown; and Etta planned to can enough peaches to last both households through the winter. So Etta and Lucille peeled and pitted and cut up peaches and canned them in the sweltering kitchen for day after day after day. Only after the canning was complete were Fred & Lucille allowed to drive to Illinois to visit Lucille's youngest aunt, Maud Dutton Cochran, on her farm near Tolono.

Etta decided she wanted to take some homemade lye soap to her new home, too; so she and Lucille dragged the huge, heavy, cast-iron footed kettle used for making apple butter to the backyard, lit a fire under it, and made lye soap, which they cut into bars after it hardened. Lye soap was a fine cleaner of fabrics, but it was harsh and destructive to human skin while using it on a washboard. Lucille resolved never to make any more.

Four years later, Fred & Lucille welcomed their first child on September 11, 1927. They had both recently read a delightful magazine story featuring an adorable heroine named Darleen. They both liked the name, so they called their baby girl Darleen Lucille Coulter. Lucille cut up her wedding veil to make mosquito netting for the baby's crib.

Twelve years later, Darleen gained a baby sister on Christmas Day 1939. The proud papa said he hung up his stocking on Christmas Eve, but had to exchange it for a baby basket when Santa left him such a big surprise. Irene Burns, a friend of the family, named the baby Sue Lynne, after the famous panda in the national zoo in Washington, D.C.

In my grandmother Etta's defense, she was used to giving the orders, since she was in charge of the housekeeping for her widowed son Fred, and Lucille Dutton was her hired girl from March 1, 1923, until Fred & Lucille married on August 29, 1923. But Etta didn't view that as a reason to stop giving the orders! When harvest time came, to escape her domineering mother-in-law, Lucille became one of the cornpickers, walking the length of the field, pulling each ear of corn off its stalk, husking it and tossing it into the wagon. Lucille couldn't keep up with the experienced hired men; but her devoted husband picked both his row and part of hers, so she wouldn't fall behind the rest of the crew.

As Etta's hired girl, Lucille received $6 a week, plus board and room. Before they married, Fred often slipped her an extra dollar for her good work, so she could say she earned a dollar a day. After they married, the wages stopped.

So she raised hens, and sold eggs, butter, and cream to the general store in Conrad, just like her mother-in-law had done before her. The first time she took her produce to Conrad, she was handed only a few coins in return. "Here, here!," she said, "what I brought you is worth a lot more than that!" Whereupon they informed her that Fred Coulter had bought from them, on time, the granite headstones for his daughter Joyce in 1917 and then his first wife Verna in 1920. And the tombstone bills were still being paid off, little by little, with the farm's eggs, butter, and cream. Neither Fred nor his mother had thought to mention to Lucille the credit/barter arrangement with the general store.

In my memorial for my father's first wife, Verna Kurtz Coulter, I described her lovely long hair. My father's second wife, Lucille Dutton Coulter---my mother, also had beautiful straight hair, so long she could almost sit on it at night when she took out all the hairpins and let the tresses down when she got ready for bed. However, as those of you who have had long hair know, maintaining it can be quite time-consuming. And it was more so in the 1920s, when the many chores of an Iowa farm wife were never-ending; especially after baby Darleen arrived in 1927, with the extra time and care that any baby needs.

So Mother decided to get her hair bobbed! All the city ladies were doing it. Mother was smart enough, however, not to mention her plan to her husband. Father would have vetoed the idea, saying he loved her long hair, and she could NOT shorten it. On Saturday afternoon, as usual, the Coulter family motored from their Felix Township farm south 15 miles to Marshalltown to take eggs and freshly-churned butter and garden produce to Fred's parents, Aaron & Etta Coulter, at 4 East Webster Street. Leaving baby Darleen with the young one's doting grandparents, Mother walked uptown to do some shopping---only this time she stopped at a beauty parlor and had her long tresses bobbed! And yes, her husband was not pleased when she returned to 4 East Webster, shorn of her lovely long brown hair. Yet another example of when asking forgiveness after the fact is better than asking permission beforehand!

And now, a question, please. I've noticed that my father's two marriages both occurred on Wednesday evenings, in 1910 and 1923. And other farm relatives' weddings took place on Wednesday evenings in the same time period. Why Wednesday? To break up the long work week? Mondays were wash days, so clothes were still fairly clean on Wednesday? Maybe the preacher liked to wed couples on Wednesdays so he could work the rest of the week on his Sunday sermon? Help, please! Thank you. Steven Coulter,
Answer: Cousin Shannon Michaels reports that Wednesday weddings were viewed in early US history as the luckiest day to get married. Thanks Shannon!

When I was growing up at Velvet Lawn Farm in Felix Township northwest of Conrad, Iowa, in the 1940s, I remember my mother Lucille singing softly to herself as she worked contentedly in her kitchen, cooking and baking and canning. What did she sing? The Old Rugged Cross, and other comforting hymns she remembered from her childhood, growing up near Liscomb, Iowa. Why hymns? That would have been about the only music she was exposed to as a child, born in 1901. Lucille had two older sisters, Ethel & Greta. Their father, Jack Dutton, wouldn't let them go to any parties or other social events other than those at church, because he didn't want any boys "spoiling" his girls before they married.

So on Sunday, the girls' one day of rest, they went to church four times: Sunday school and regular church service in the morning, then an afternoon gathering, and finally a youth fellowship in the evening. And they walked to and from church. In the early 1900s, people thought nothing of walking several miles to reach their destinations. It was a slower, less frantic way of life than we live today.

Greta often stayed home on Sunday night, to study for her classes the next day; but Ethel & Lucille would walk to church for the youth fellowship. In winter, it would be dark when they left church to walk home. A boy who was sweet on Ethel would often walk them home; he would carry the lit kerosene lamp to light the way. But Ethel would order Lucille to stay at least 25 paces behind her, so she and the boy could have a little alone time. Half a century later, Lucille remembered that being by herself in the pitch darkness was a bit scary at times, with an occasional night owl hooting suddenly nearby.
(written by son steven)

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  • Created by: steven coulter
  • Added: 
  • Find A Grave Memorial 21680588
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Lucille Eleanor Dutton Coulter (29 Dec 1901–12 Jan 1976), Find A Grave Memorial no. 21680588, citing Conrad Cemetery, Conrad, Grundy County, Iowa, USA ; Maintained by steven coulter (contributor 46608391) .