John Charles COULTER
Was John Charles COULTER murdered or did he die of natural causes? His grand-daughter daughter, Dorothy, who lived in America suspected the former and had a probable suspect in mind, but the case never came to trial. The level of detail that surrounded the version that came from her is fascinating not only with respect to what the truth turned out to be in this one instance, but also as a caution to all of us doing family research:
Certainly the two TREACY's and COULTERs had a century long relationship that involved leases of land and possibly marriage. To complicate things, the two families also straddled the faith divide with COULTERs being Church of Ireland, and the TREACY’s being Catholic. In the early 1900s in County Louth, this was a challenging divide to straddle. From the distance of America, it is easy to see how such a story would seem to be a fit, however it started to unravel as one of the descendents shared what she knew with me. The next development was that I stumbled accross John Charles COULTER's will. (Stumbling is one of my most effective research methods - I found it when I was looking for something else.) The next thing that happened was tthat a fellow OLIVER family researcher, Maria Beattie - a harpist in London, kindly responded to my call for help, and gave us his probable date & place of death: Dundalk, 1919. His death certificate, found recently by Lainey (Elaine) Machovsky was the final slam dunk. The death of John Charles COULTER was irrefutably a death resulting not from murder, but from natural causes: general debility, intercupsular, fracture of hip, bronchitis (10 days). He was age 82 and died June 17, 1919. From other evidence, it seems he was born November 1836 (American Census docs say November, and his age at death gives a year).
Since the certificate was signed by “cousin” Patrick TREACY, it would seem likely that the families had intermarried. After all, a James TREACY of Philipstown was named as a trustee in an 1851 document concerning lands and involving John Charles COULTER’s brother, Henry, and their mother Ann. Given that Ann COULTER was widowed a year earlier in 1850 when her husband Ralph COULTER died, it is quite possible that she was a TREACY, and possibly also a sister of James. I have not done any work on this part of the research myself.
So now I resume the story as I had it before we found out the truth surrounding John Charles' death. I am retaining most of it because all the research is quite interesting, even though we know so much more than we did when I first posted this story in 2010:
John Charles COULTER (Nov 1840 – bet. 1914-1917) was born in Ireland and emigrated to
America in 1870 with his bride, Margaret GORDON (1848-1922). Prior to emigration, he was a school
master. His daughter recalled that they had left Ireland because of religious
unrest and because their flax fields had recently been burnt to the ground. He kept in touch with family back in
Ireland as well as with a Ralph COULTER who was in Australia at the time. Ralph
was possibly a brother or some other relation. The picture beneath, taken in
Brisbane is possibly this same Ralph COULTER. John Charles COULTER’s father’s
name was also Ralph,
but nothing more is known of him except that he was listed on his son’s
marriage certificate as a farmer.
We have so little to go on when it comes to learning more. The birth date of the deceased John Charles COULTER is not known precisely, but was computed from his age as given in various American censuses. It may or may not be accurate. It is possible by looking at a range of other sources to assemble some circumstantial evidence that may help us to figure out a bit more about who he was. It might also help us to better understand why he may have returned to Ireland and also possibly why he may have been murdered or at least why there was a suspicion of his being murdered. I’d like to tread carefully here. The facts are sparse, so guilt on the part of anyone cannot be assumed. I have unearthed the following:
Taken in aggregate, these facts do open up some tantalizing possibilities about John Charles COULTER’s potential family and in turn may shed some light on the circumstances of his death. If my hunches are correct, here is what his family tree might look like (NOTE: This is a line of COULTERs that still has lots of speculative assumptions. I need to do more work on with respect to the generations preceding this. I am hoping that there will be more deeds that will make some of it more clear.):
Descendants of Ralph Coulter
1 Ralph Coulter born before 1772 and d: 13 Oct 1850 in Carrickastuck, Co. Louth
.. +Probably Anne Unnamed d: 23 Jul 1864 in Carrickastuck, Co. Louth
........ 2 Henry Coulter b: in of Carrickastuck, Co. Louth d: Aft. 1865 in possibly Carrickastuck, Co. Louth
........ 2 Mary Coulter
........ 2 Eliza Coulter b: Bet. 1830 - 1840
............ +George Hamilton m: 17 Feb 1860 in Barronstown, Co. Louth
........ 2 William Coulter b: 1828 in C. Louth d: 14 Apr 1913 in Barronstown, Co. Louth
........ 2 Ralph Coulter NOTE: He is possibly the one who went to Australia.
........ 2 Sarah Anne Coulter
........ 2 John Coulter is possibly the John Charles COULTER b. 1840.
........ 2 Margaret Coulter
Obviously, this summation is a product of a lot of “guess and by golly”. Perhaps others will be able to either refute these hunches or else fill in the blanks. In time, we may be able to corroborate the case for the family roots of John Charles COULTER and the story of his possible murder.
 He was listed in the Minnesota Census for 1910, but not listed in the 1920 Census or anywhere else after 1910. SOURCE: http://wc.rootsweb.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=silverbowl&id=I5644
 Margaret Gordon (b: 31 May 1848 Island Magee, County Antrim, NIR; d: 17 Nov 1922 Newton Township, Otter Tail County, Minnesota, USA), living first in Ohio, next in Michigan, and then finally settling in Newton Township.
 NOTE: I wonder if it might have been the harvested flax which was burnt rather than the flax fields. Does a flax field, particularly in the “soft” weather of Ireland, burn to the ground? Perhaps others can educate me here.
 Registrar's District of Larne 1870, Marriage solemnized at the Parish Church in the Parish of Island Magee in the County of Antrim.No. 22
 Monday, 28 June 1841Freemans Journal (Transcribed by Wendy Jack)
QUEEN'S BENCH CHAMBERS - SATURDAY.
The Honourable Mr. Justice Burton sat in chamber on Saturday to hear motions.
The Queen, at the prosecution of James Carroll and Terence O'Neill, v. Ralph Coulter.
Mr. Teeling applied, on the part of the prisoner, who was confined in the gaol of Dundalk, the he should be admitted to bail. The prisoner was committed to gaol on the 17th of May, on the information of James Carroll, which stated that Coulter, in person with another person unknown, came to him on the 24th of March last, and asked him to cash a bill drawn in New York, in favour of a person named Terence O'Neill of Castleblayney, in the County of Monaghan, for 20l. 9s. 1d. The prosecutor consented, and gave the money to the unknown man, who represented himself to be Terence O'Neill, but he had afterwards to pay the amount over again to the real Terence O'Neill, who was joined with him in the prosecution.
Mr. Monahan, Q.C., opposed the motion on the part of the crown. He said that the charge was one of forgery. Both the prisoner and his companion were alike implicated in the offence, as they came together with a forged bill, and had, to all probability, divided the money afterwards between them.
Mr. Teeling said the prisoner made an affidavit, in which he stated that a strange man, whom he had never before seen, and who represented himself as Terence O'Neill, came to him in Dundalk on the day in question, and said that he was recommended to him by the postmaster of Castleblayney, who was the prisoner's friend, as a person who could assist him in procuring cash for the bill. That the prisoner then accompanied him to Carroll's shop, and, after introducing him, went away, and never saw him more. That Carroll did not pay the amount of the bill for six days after, until he obtained advice as to its authenticity from Liverpool, and that the prisoner was not present on the second occasion when the amount was paid, and that he was an extensive farmer, and well able to give substantial bail.
His Lordship said, under the circumstances, he thought it a case in which bail should be given. He would, therefore, make an order that the prisoner be admitted to bail on giving security, himself of 200l., and two sureties in 100l. each
 Probate of the Will of William Coulter late of Barronstown County Louth Revenue Officer (Retired) who died 14 April 1913 granted at Armagh to Charles Joseph McGahon. Solicitor Effects: Effects £1,314 16s. 11d. Corroborating evidence can be found in the gravestone at the Kane Old Graveyard : COULTER Sacred to the Memory of Ralph COULTER Barronstown also his son William who died 14th April 1913 Erected by the above William.
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