Place: Grove City, PA
Note: Richard Coulter, born 1758 or 1759 in County Donegal, Ireland; died Feb 25, 1839 in Liberty Twp., Mercer So., PA, age 80; married in Ireland probably about 1790 to Catharine _______, born 1758 or 1759 in County Donegal, Ireland, died Dec 24th 184 1 in Liberty Twp., Mercer So., PA, age 82. (This date is on her tombstone; an old family bible entry lists her date of death as March 3 1840.)
The first of our Coulters to settle in America were Richard Coulter and his wife Catharine, native of County Donegal, Ireland, near the town of Killybeggs. Uncle Jim Coulter, grandson of Richard, claims that Catharine was also a Coulter before he r marriage, but that she belonged to the Irish aristocary; while Richard was a fisherman. Her family is supposed to have disowned her after she married beneath her class. No evedince has been found to prove or refute this romantic family traditi on, or even to establish Catherine's maiden name.
The "History of Mercer County", Pennsylvania, published in 1888 states that Richard and Catharine Coulter immigrated to America in 1793 with one son, Andrew, and settled in Franlin Co., PA. Here four more sons were born: John whe died at ag e 5, Samuel, James, and William. About 1803, Richard moved his family to Mercer Co., PA and settled in Wolf Creek Twp., which is now the northern part of Liberty Twp. In 1817, for $500, he purchused a second tract of 300 acres in what is now Pin e Twp, but he continued to live on the first settlement until his death. According to the cencus list, the eldest son, Andrew, and his family lived with Richard and Catharine.
The old Coulter homestead, a fine two-story brick dwelling, has changed hands about eight times in the last 130 years. The present owners, Mr and Mrs James A. Black, were told by the last owner that the house was built in 1803 with bricks mad e there on the farm. The remains of the brick keln are now buried by the efforts of beavers in damning the nearby stream called Black Run. At one time, water from an artesian well north of the house was piped into the cellar kitchen to keep th e milk cans cool. Mr Black has refinished the wood floors and is doing a fine job of restoring and preserving the old home.
Richard and Catharine Coulter are buried in the United Presbyterian Center Church cemetery about two miles about two miles wouthwest of Grove City, PA. Their tall, thin headstones are very legable. In 1970, vandals carried away the small footsto nes that bore their initials, R.C. and C.C.
Many other early settlers in Mercer Co., PA were also of Scotch-Irish descent, including the surnames Denniston, Robb, Christy, Woods, Buchanan, and Stevenson. Some of these families later intermarried with the Coulters.
Last will and testament of Richard Coulter of Wolf Creek Township, Mercer County, Pennsylvania; farmer. Recorded at Mercer, PA in Will Book #2, p. 192:
I, Richard Coulter in the name of God being advanced in years and considering the uncertainty of this mortal life and being of sound mind and judgement blessed be God the same do make and publish this my last will and testament- in manner and for m following
1. I bequeath leave unto my wife Catharine Coulter all my beds and bedding and bureau and her saddle with a comfortable maintenance during her mortal life or as long as she chooses to live with Andrew my son. And if she chooses to leave Andre w and the old mansion house she is to have in addition to the above one milch cow and 1/3 of the wheat and corn raised on the old place during her mortal life.
2. I bequeath and give to my eldest son Andrew all that parcel and tract of land on which I now live with the above restrictions containing 100 acres with all the remaining of my personal estate--except my mare and coult--upon condition tha t he pays to William my son at or before my death the sum of $150. $100 to be cash and $50 in marketable trade.
3. I bequeath and give James my son that parcel or tract of land on which he now lives containing 150 acres except the 23 acres that Andrew has purchused from him which I gave to Andrew.
4. I direct that my mare be sold and after the expence of settling my estate being paid the remainder to be equally divided between my sons Samuel and James and in case the mare should not be living or out of my possession Andrew is to pay the ex pense of settling my estate.
5. I give and bequeath to my grandson Andrew Coulter my colt if in my possession at my death. I further appoint Henry Brandon and Andrew Coulter my executors to carry this will in effect.
In witness thereof I have hereunto affixed my mark this 11th day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty five.
witnesses- William Smith, Samuel D. Vandike, James Black
probated March 26, 1839
(Because Richard is the first Coulter I have data on, I'm including the following text under his name...)
Richard and Catharine Coulter, our ancestors who reportedly came to America in 1793, were natives of County Donegal, Ireland, near the town of Killybeggs. Their parents' names are not known. In 1964, the Genealogical Office in Dublin, the geneal ogy headquarters of Eire (Republic of Ireland), reported:
A brief search, now completed, indicates that the likeihood of tracing the Coulters in Killybeggs is very small. The name Coulter, however, did occur in County Dunegal from the early eighteenth century, as shown by two references in the Inde x of Raphoe Marriage License Bonds, and by one entry in the Index of Raphoe Wills...
It is greatly regretted that the situation would seem to be hopeless, but Donegal records are notoriously poor, and in addition to this it is frequently quite impossible to trace persons in Ireland in the eighteenth century.
The following references were found in County Donegal records:
Raphoe Wills (Killybeggs is in the Raphoe diocese)
Coulter, Hugh, 1766
Raphoe Marriage License Bonds, 1710-1755
Coulter, James and Rebecca Ramsey, 1734
Coulter, Richard and Mary Gregory, 1734
Coulter, Hannah, Stranorlar, 1810
Coulter, Charles, Drumidart, 1847
It is possible that our Richard Coulter, born in 1758, could have been a son or grandson of either James Coulter who married Rebecca Ramsey in 1734, or of Richard Coulter who married Mary Gregory in 1734. It is possible that James and Richard, bo th married in 1734, were sons of Hugh Coulter who died in 1766. In this case, Hugh Coulter would have been born in the late 1600s.
While the proceding paragraph is guesswork, due to the scarcity of records available, we do know that there were Coulters in County Donegal as early as 1734. Since the marriage records between 1755 and 1817 are missing, the marriage bonds of ou r Richard Coulter and his wife Catharine haven't been found. They probably were married about 1790 since their first child, Andrew, was born in 1793. (At least Andrew is the first child we know of).
Both Richard and Catharine were over thirty years old when their first child was born. This is not unusual for the Irish. In 1966, the average age for marriage in Ireland was 30 for men, and 27 for women; the corresponding American figures wer e 22.6 and 20.4.
The fact that most Coulters in Ireland were Presbyterians indicates that their forbears probably came from Scotland. "A History of England and the Empire- Commonwealth" states:
After the crushing of the Irish rebellion in the last years of Elizabeth's reign (1558-1603), is was decided to hold Ireland in hand transplanting thither Englishman and Scots. Six of the nine counties in Ulster, the northerm province, were give n over to settlers from Britian. Some of these were English, but a considerable number were Scottish Presbyterians. Hitherto the Celtic Irish had absorbed the Danes, Normans, and Englishmen who had gone amoung them, but these dour Scotch-Iris h of Londonberry, Belfast, and other parts of Ulster have remained sharply distinct and hositile. A century later large numbers of the Scotch-Irish were to go to America, bringing Presbyterianism with them to the middle colonies and out to the fr ontier.
Col. Joseph S. Coulter, of Alexandria, Virginia, is a retired Army officer and professional genealogist who has traced a number of Coulter families. He states:
I have NEVER meet a Coulter that is Irish. They are all Scotch or Scotch-Irish. You know the Scotch who came from Ireland to America in the 1700's were called Irish. They did not like this. Because of their resentment, people started callin g the Irish (Irish) Catholic-Irish to differentiate between them. The Scotch who were from Ireland were called Presbyterians, of course, because of their religion. They didn't like this either. Then people started calling them Scotch-Iris h to differentiate between them and the (Irish) Catholic-Irish. (How involved can you get?) Our ancestors didn't like this either--they wanted to be called plain Scotch. But the name Scotch-Irish stuck.
ORIGIN OF THE NAME COULTER
Several theries have been found regarding the Coulter name. A 1913 history of the Allegheny Valley of Pennsylvania states:
The family of Coulter is a very large one at the present time in the north of Ireland, with over twelve hundred families recorded in the latest census. The name, spelt also Colter, is very old; it appeared first in Scotland in records of the twel th cencury. Coulter is the Scot spelling of the Norse Kaldr, a Viking name of the eleventh century. This fact, and the occurence as a proper name in the very north of Scotland, where most of the personal--and place--names are of Norse derivation , makes it possible to sat, with little hesitation, that the Coulters are descendents of the Norse Vikings, who invaded Scotland and Ireland from the north. Attempts have been made to identify the name with Coulthart, Coulthurst, de Coulthart, et c. and such names dirived variously from Coulthartus, name of a Roman Lieutenant; but it is very uncertain evidence. The Scot name Calder is however without doubt of the same origin as Coulter.
When the English crown granded lands in Ireland in the year 1606 to Montgomery and -- --, for colonization, a great many families from Scotland crossed into Ireland and became tenants on these lands in the counties of Downs and Antrim. Amoung the se colonists were several Coulters from Galloway. The name appears constantly from this time in Ireland; in the eighteenth century there were several Coulters among the Presbyterian clergy in Tyrone and Downs. The Venango (Pennsylvania county ) representatives are a branch of these Irish Coulters who came to America during the great emigration in the later half of the eighteenth century. Several families of Coulters left Ireland during this time and settled in Pennsylvania and Nova Sc otia, whence many members have moved onward to New England and the middle west.
Other sources support the claim that the name Coulter is derived from the ancient personal name of Coulthart. This name is said by family tradition to have been derived fron the prowess of its first bearer, a Roman horse-soldier. According to fa mily chronicles, Coulthartus, a Roman Lieutenant, served in the forces of Julius Agricola during the period of the wars with the Scots, Picts, and Danes. The Roman general Agricola invaded Scotland in the year 80 A.D. The Romans fought a numbe r of campaigns against the Picts, but failed to conquer them. After the end of these conflicts, Coulthartus, instead of returning to Rome, married Marsa, daughter of Kadalayne, chief of the Navantes, through whom he aquired large territorial poss essions in the county of Wigtown in southwest Scotland. In 1855 a book was published on the subject of Coulthartus and his descendants, the barons of Coulthartus, "Genealogical and Heraldic Account of the Coulthartuss and Coulthart and Collyn, ch iefs of the name."
Still other writers state that the name is derived from the occupation of its first bearers as "colt herders" that is, as keepers of colts. Possibly this derivation is true of the English branch of the family, while the Coultharus theory refer s to the earlier Scottish line. The name appears in ancient British and early american records in the various forms of Coulthartus, Coulthart, Cutler, Coulthard, Coultart, Coltart, Coulthurst, Colthurst, Coltherd, Coltehird, Colthirde, Colthyrd , Colthard, Colter, Coulter, and other, of which the last two spellings are those most often found in America today.