John Sidenham Coulthart (1844-1912) of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin

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John Sidenham Coulthart was born on November 19, 1844 in Winchester Township, Dundas County, Ontario. He was the oldest son of Walter Coulthart and Nancy Duprat. His childhood was spent with his parents and eight siblings on the family farm located on Concession 10, Lot 22 near the town of Morewood, Ontario. Around 1864, the family moved to Minnesota and settled on a farm near Northfield fairly close to his aunt Jane (nee Coulthart) and her husband William Hunter. Around 1867 John moved to Rudolph Township, Wood County, Wisconsin and most likely lived with his Aunt Christina (nee Coulthart) Harkness. Christina and her husband Francis were the earliest settlers in section nineteen of Rudolph township. They arrived in 1854 from neighboring Portage County, Wisconsin where they had lived since leaving Vermont around 1850. Francis purchased 57 acres in Rudolph Township from the public domain for $72.54 and was the first to ever own this plot of land. He also organized the petition drive in 1856 that established the township. In September 1861 Francis enlisted in Company G, Twelfth Wisconsin Infantry in which he served during the Civil War. His unit headed south in January 1862 and joined Ulysses S. Grant's forces and engaged in a number of battles with the Confederate Army, including the famous Siege of Vicksburg in 1863. Four years before John's arrival in Wisconsin, Francis had died of dysentery near the Vicksburg battlefield. He was buried at Vicksburg National Cemetery. Click on the thumbnail to see a larger photograph of the memorial to Francis Harkness in Wisconsin Rapids. By 1867 Christina was surely having difficulty running the family farm by herself. At the time she had nine children between the ages of 9-24, the oldest son being only 18 when John arrived. John must have been quite a help for her. Within two years in 1869, John helped his aunt bury two of his cousins. Click on the thumbnail to see a larger photograph of John's Harkness cousins who survived to adulthood. Left to right: Jennie, Annie and Maggie with Frank in the back. John buried another cousin in 1873 and his aunt finally succumbed in late September of 1876 at the rather young age of 58.

During his years with the Harkness family, John often would visit their neighbors to the north. Lyman Parkhurst was the first to settle in section 18 and he and his wife Almira (nee Bigelow) had been a Harkness neighbor since 1857. Click on the thumbnail to see a larger photograph of what may have been the Parkhurst home. Lyman had also been deeply impacted by the Civil War. He lost a son, Delevan D. in 1862, who was only 21. Delevan served with the 19th Wisconsin Infantry. The Harkness and Parkhurst families shared a sad moment in our nations history and as a result were probably fairly close.

There were surely many happy moments for John Coulthart who soon fell in love with Lyman's daughter, Welthia Almira Parkhurst who was born on December 13, 1854. John and Welthia were united in marriage on June 7, 1871 in Wisconsin Rapids (earlier known as Grand Rapids). They had seven children: Dolly Alice (1872-1873), Maud Almira (1875-1877), Walter Lyman (1877-), Mary Elisabeth (1881-), Edith (1883-), Raymond John (1891-1967) and Theron (1892- 1893). 1873 was a bad year, as they not only buried another of John's cousins, but their infant daughter died as well. On March 24, 1874 John purchased for $1,600 part of the land originally settled by his father-in-law in section 18 and in section 13 of neighboring Sigel township which was directly across the road. Here he built his farm and here he would remain until his death. Click on the thumbnail to see a larger photograph of the land where John built his home. In his later years, he lived with his wife Welthia who died on March 16, 1911, his youngest daughter Edith and his spinster sister Nancy Coulthart. On July 6, 1912 John wrote his last will and testament:

  • I, John S. Coulthart, being now of sound mind and memory but mindful of the uncertainty of human life and desiring to change my former will, hereby make, publish and declare my last will and testament, among other things revoking all former wills by me made.

  • First. My just debts, expenses of funeral and of this will's probate shall be paid.

  • Second. To my son Walter L. Coulthart I bequeath eighteen hundred dollars.

  • Third. To Mary E. Wasser, I give and bequeath two hundred dollars and to her husband Charles R. Wasser I give and bequeath two hundred dollars.

  • Fourth. To Ray Coulthart I bequeath ten dollars. I direct my executrix and in case she does not act I direct my administrator to purchase out of my estate a house for my son Ray and my daughter-in-law Gertrude at an expense and cost of fourteen hundred dollars and I direct that the deed of said house shall run to said Gertrude Coulthart as party of the second part (grantee) and that it shall contain the restriction that she shall not convey it away or mortgage it within twenty years of the giving of said deed. I fully authorize, empower and direct my executor (or administrator) to make such purchase and suggest that in doing so consultation be had with both Ray and Gertrude.

  • Fifth; The rest, residue and remainder of my property of every kind and nature I give, devise and bequeath to my daughter Edith E. Coulthart.

  • In case at the time of my death my personal property does not suffice to pay the foregoing legacies in full the same (including the provision for Ray and Gertrude as well as the other cash legacies) shall be prorated - a proportional reduction to be suade upon each.

  • I appoint and request the court to appoint my daughter Edith E. Coulthart executrix and direct that she be not be required to give any bond as such.

  • In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal July 6, 1912 John S. Coulthart

John died on October 13, 1912. His funeral cost $161.55 which consisted of $100 for the casket, $15 for embalming, $15 for the burial suit, $1 for a pair or slippers, $5 for singers at the funeral, $20 for the reverend's services, .55 for a telephone message, and $4 for grave digging. He was buried next to his wife at Forest Hill Cemetery in Wisconsin Rapids not far from the Harkness family. Click on the thumbnail to see a larger photograph of John Coulthart's grave.

The children of John Sidenham Coulthart

  • Dolly Alice Coulthart (1872-1873) died in infancy.

  • Maud Almira Coulthart (1875-1877) died in infancy.

  • Walter Lyman Coulthart (1877-1963) married Maud Frances Bratton and moved to Manitoba, Canada where they had five children: Walter Angus (1906-1990), William Raymond (1908-1912), Edythe Jane (1910-), Violet Jessie Mae (1915-) and Phyllis Ruth (1922-). Walter owned a store in the town of Minitonas until 1908 when it burned in the town fire. The family then moved to Kenville where Walter opened a general store. His descendants currently live in Swan River, Manitoba.

  • Mary Elisabeth Coulthart (1881-) married Charles Waser and moved to Cleleum, Washington. They had one child: Holcombe. Mary was trained as a nurse and her husband worked for the railroad.

  • Edith E. Coulthart (1883-) never married. She inherited her father's farm which was sold for $8,750 in 1914.

  • Raymond John Coulthart (1891-1967) married Gertrude Bankenbush and they had four children: Mary Jane (1910-1992), Welthia (1912-1992), Charles John (1916-) and Bert Lyman (1922-1923). The family lived in Green Bay, Wisconsin Rapids and Racine, Wisconsin and also for a few years in Minitonas, Manitoba, Canada. Ray was a stationary engineer at the Modine Manufacturing Company until his retirement in 1945 after which he operated the Ray Coulthart Agency. In addition, for 33 years he ran Ray's Old Time Dances. Ray and Gertrude died in Racine. Descendants currently live in Racine, Madison, Whitewater and Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin.

  • Theron Coulthart (1892-1893) died in infancy.

For more information on this Coulthart family send E-mail to or write: Tim Coulthart, 1913 Dolores Drive, Madison, Wisconsin 53716.

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Page last updated 07/26/2000. © Copyright 1999. Terry Meinke. All rights reserved.

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