WILLIAM M. AND MARTHA DAVIS COULTER
The Coulter Family followed a path similar to that of many other Russell
County families moving over several generations from Virginia and the
Carolinas through Georgia and finally into Alabama. Most of the Coulters
in the Chattahoochee Valley descend from Sarah (abt. 1791-bet.1860-70) and
Moses F. (bef. 1780-bet. 1830-40) Coulter who obtained land in Morgan
County GA in the 1820 Land Lottery and later lived in Butts, Pike and
Monroe Counties before the widow Sarah moved to Taylor County to be with
her sons. They are known to have had six sons and three daughters of whom
at least four sons and one daughter lived to adulthood.
The daughter reportedly married a Nichols and moved to Florida. One son,
John Edward Coulter (1822-1865), married Rachel William Mitchell, lived in
Taylor Co. at the time of his death in the Civil War, and had children
Julia Ann who married Stephen Rogers, William Newton whose wife was Rachel,
John Wiley who married Nancy Lou Jones, and Martha. Some of his
descendants now lived in Russell County.
Three of the sons moved to the Columbus-Phenix City area in the 1850s and
for many years they and their sons had grocery and butcher shops in Girard
and Browneville. Wiley Harrison Coulter (1827-1901) married Martha Teresa
Elizabeth Whittington and had children James Madison, William Edward Marion
who married Pennie Jones, Sarah Jane Elizabeth, Martha Ann, Isabella who
married Bolden Nelson, Lilly Ann who married a Buchanan and a Gilbert,
Wiley Josiah who married Fannie Geneva Estes, Allen Finnasee Jackson who
married Mae Lou Coulter, John Kimball whose wife was Beulah, Harrison
Thomas who married Vera Armstrong, and Sylvester.
Levi (~1820-~1875) and Elizabeth Coulter moved to Girard in 1853 and he
opened a butcher shop. They had children Sarah C., William Henry Harrison
who married Louisa Holton Ford, Narcissus who married H.A. Carmack, Susan
who married Thomas Sanders, Nanafas, and Pierce whose wives were Louisa and
Our forebear, William M. Coulter, the eldest son of Moses and Sarah, was
born in 1812 and died in Columbus in 1858. On June 9, 1833 in Butts County
GA, he married Martha W. Davis, born in 1816 the daughter of Crispin Davis
Sr. They lived in Butts, Pike and Monroe Counties before moving to the
bi-city area from near Griffin, Spaulding Co., GA. William farmed and
worked as a butcher. According to family stories, they also went West to
Arkansas and Texas for a short time but did not find it to their liking and
soon returned. He and Martha had four sons and three daughters.
Elizabeth (1848-1921) married Elijah Franklin Posey who died at Manasas
while serving in Co. G, 59th Reg. Of Georgia Volunteeers. They had one
son, John Rufus Posey (1862-1920) who married (1) Lilly Sears and (2)
Sallie Fannie Johnson. For many years she lived on 15th Street just off
Broad and brought up two of her grandchildren, Alma and Marshall Durwood
Posey. John Rufus Posey also had seven more children by his second
marriage. Of the other daughters of William and Martha, Almay (b. 1843)
and Sarah J. (b. 1851), we have little information.
Benjamin Marion Coulter (1835-bet. 1895-1900), the second son of William
and Martha, married (1) Louisa Watkins and they had seven children:
William M. (1866-1884), Benjamin M. Jr. (1868-1894) who married Georgia
Virginia Redden and had 7 children, Rosa Elizabeth (1872-1948) who married
Robert Russell Smith Coulter and had 4 children; Josephine (1875-?) who
married Joseph Hughes McCann and had 3 daughters, Joseph Thomas (1877-1959)
who married Era Williams and had 7 children, George Washington (1879-1938)
who married (1) Anna Belle Lankford and (2) Melissa Hesterly and had 3
children, and Mettie Amberline (1882-1954) who married (1) General L.
Reynolds and (2) Alton Hopkins and had 4 children. After returning from
service in the Civil War, Ben lived in Butler GA and River View AL where he
farmed and worked in the textile industry.
Reuben Martin Van Buren Coulter (1844-1915) married Nancy A. Goodale and
had 8 children: Augustus Eugene (1887-?) whose wife was May, twins Leler
Estell and Lular Elizabeth who died in infancy, Oscar Franklin (1884-?) who
married Mamie Barbee and had 3 children, Robert Russell Smith (1868-1940)
who married Rosa Elizabeth Coulter and had 4 children, Reuben Martin Van
Buren Jr. (1877-?) whose wife was Ola and had one son, Theodosia Gertrude
(1874-1943) who married William Robert McCann and had 6 children, and
Walter Calvin who died in infancy. Van and Nancy settled in Columbus and
he worked in the textile industry for many years.
Thomas L. Coulter (1836-1885) married Georgia Ann Ford and settled in what
was then Browneville while operating a butcher shop in Girard. For their
descendants, see the article on Georgia Ann Ford and Thomas L. Coulter
elsewhere in this volume.
The Civil War years were particularly hard on the aging Martha since she
had been left a widow in 1858. All four of her sons served with
Confederate forces in the Civil War and saw much action. She lost her
eldest son and her daughter Lizzie was left a young widow with a baby. The
two older sons, Russell and Benjamin enlisted in Company E, 12th
Regiment of Ga. Volunteer Infantry. Russell Smith Coulter, the eldest of
William and Martha's sons (b. 1834) was killed at Gettysburg July 7, 1863.
Van was in Baker's Company of the Ga. Artillery. Thomas enlisted in Co. H
of the 3rd Ga. Battalion of Infantry which lost so many men it was
reorganized as Co. K, 37th Regiment of Ga. Volunteers, Infantry. Martha
passed away December 1, 1873.
THE GEORGIA ANN FORD AND THOMAS L. COULTER FAMILY
Thomas L. Coulter was born November 19, 1836 to Martha Davis and William
M. Coulter (see article elsewhere in this volume) and grew up in Pike,
Monroe and Taylor Counties GA. In the mid-1850s he moved to the
Columbus-Girard area with his family. At the outbreak of the Civil War,
young Tom enlisted in Co. H, 3rd Ga. Battalion of Infantry for three years
or the war. "This company was reduced to a very few men several times as
the result of the many severe battles in which it was engaged. It was
reorganized as Co. K, 37th Regiment of Ga. Volunteers, Infantry. It was in
all the principal battles and engagements in the Western army under Bragg,
Kirby, Smith, Gen. Joe Johnson and Hood. The records of the company were
destroyed but surviving members collected the names and information on as
many of their comrades as possible" and published it in an 1873 Columbus
City Directory, from which the above is quoted. Thomas was proud of his
military service and carefully preserved his uniform.
Not long after his return from the war, Thomas married Georgia Ann Ford on
November 18, 1866 in Butler, Taylor County, GA. Georgia Ann was born June
11, 1848, the oldest daughter of Barbara Ann Gibson and Elie Ford. She,
too, remembered well the war years and often told of how she hid from fear
when Union soldiers came to their home. She soon found out that they, too,
were just young men doing their duty as they saw it and became friends with
one who gave her a parasol.
Thomas, like his father and others in the family, became a butcher and
grocer. He was in business primarily with his first cousin William Henry
Harrison Coulter in Girard near the end of the 14th Street bridge. Henry
happened to be married to Louisa Holton Ford, one of Georgia's younger
sisters. Henry and Lou lived across the street from Tom and Georgia on 8th
Street in Browneville, now 20th Street in Phenix City. As a butcher's wife
Georgia learned to prepare well every cut of meat, often preferring to use
those cuts which did not sell well, such as hearts, kidneys and blood
On April 24, 1885, Thomas L. Coulter died rather suddenly, leaving Georgia
with five children ranging in age from fourteen to less than one year.
Life was not easy for Georgia even though she was a strong woman who
managed through hard work and thrift. Her grandson Charles remembered her
as a loving, easy-going woman who liked a good joke. If he misbehaved she
would thump him on the head with her thimble which he said she always
seemed to be wearing. She had a game table with a checkerboard inlaid on
it and was always ready to play. Checkers and dominoes are still favorite
games among her descendants. Charles said she was never idle and didn't
like to see other people idle. She would often tell him to go get some
stovewood for her while he was resting. Georgia Ann Coulter died May 29,
1926 and both she and Thomas are buried at Linwood Cemetery.
Georgia Ann Ford and Thomas L. Coulter had three sons and one daughter.
Thomas Henry Coulter (1871-1963) married Lucy Ray and had four children:
Ethel (1896-1984) who married Paul Stanford and had one daughter; Margaret
Leona "Maggie" (1898-1969) who married (1) Edgar Scott and (2) Irving
Calvert Jones and had four children; Lester Edwin (1900-1985) who married
Naomi Nelson and had no children; and Chester who died in infancy. In the
early 1900s Tom was City Clerk, Treasurer and Jailer for the City of
Pheonix when the city hall was behind Trinity Methodist Church. Later he
worked for the Columbus Ledger and as a salesman. He was a member of the
Administrative Board of Trinity United Methodist Church for more than 50
John L. Coulter (1874-1923) married Minnie Hargett and had one son and two
daughters: Musette who married Jesse Greene and Myrtle who married H.G.
Parrish. John worked in the textile industry and lived in Barnesville GA.
Rufus Edward Coulter (1879-?) married Zada Aldridge, had no children,
worked in the textile industry and lived in Girard.
Louie Mozart (1882-1973) married Eddie Lou Roberts and had five children.
See article on this family elsewhere in this volume.
Barbara Anne Coulter (1884-1965) married Rev. Arthur Clayton and had eight
children: Arthur Ulmont whose wife was Jimmie; Edgar Warren who married
(1) Montez Walker and (2) Ann Rogers; Mattye who married James Adley
Geiger; Myrtle who married (1) Ernest Bush Sr. and (2) Woodrow Davis; Lily
Belle who married (1) Frederick Theophilus Garrett Sr. and (2) Col. Durie;
Clara Lee who married Chester Claude Murray Sr.; Thomas Curtis who married
Mattie Vaudell Brown; and Edna Eileen who died in infancy. Annie was a
loving mother, grandmother and wife who knew how to cope with whatever
happened. Life was never dullÂ—or quietÂ—in the Clayton household since Rev.
Clayton, a Methodist minister, specialized in organizing "singing schools"
and establishing music programs in churches. Among their descendants are
many professional and amateur musicians.
My relationship is that I am the great-granddaughter of Georgia Ann Ford
and Thomas L. Coulter. As you see indeed Van, Russell, Ben and Thomas were
all sons of William M. Coulter but not the one buried at Mt. Olive. I am
not certain off-hand who that on is but I suspect it to be a grandson of
John Ed the brother of our William M. If you'll note the dates would be
about right for that generation. The name was variously spelled Colter,
Coalter and Coulter. We do not know where Sarah, mother of William M.,
Levi, Wiley Harrison, etc. is buried but it appears that she may have died
while living in Taylor County with John Ed and Rachel. One of Levi
Coulter's sons, William Henry Harrison, served in Co. K of the 46th Ga.
Inf., was captured June 1864 at Kennesaw Mtn., prisoner at Greensboro NC
and paroled May 1 1865. He was erroneously listed as a deserter when it
was not known that he had been captured. He also moved to Girard (Phenix
City) and was married to Louisa Ford (sister of Thomas L.'s wife Georgia
Ann Ford). Another sister of theirs (Laura) married Charley McCardle and
they had the grist mill at Eelbeck (now part of Ft. Benning) which
eventually moved to Columbus to be the Eelbeck Milling Company. The father
of the three Ford girls mentioned was Elie Ford who had also lived in
Taylor County I believe, but am not certain. Here's the write-up about
THE ELIE FORD FAMILY
Elie Ford was born January 1, 1817, died February 8, 1897, and is buried
at Linwood Cemetery. As a youngster he was orphaned and sent to live with
relatives in Georgia and to work on their plantation. He married Nancy
Pollard in Upson County GA on September 18, 1838, but Nancy died very soon
thereafter. He then married Barbara Ann Gibson on April 8, 1841 in Upson
County and they had five daughters. After Barbara's death, he married
Nancy Jane Copeland and they had six children. In the late 1850s Elie
moved, along with Coulters and Copelands, from Taylor County GA to the
By all accounts Elie was an imposing figure, unusually large and strong in
statue with thick, brown, curly hair, brown eyes and a thick beard. He was
first a farmer and later became a machinist at the Eagle and Phenix Mills.
While reportedly he was a fine family man, one granddaughter remembered him
as stern and gruff. Having reared nine daughters, he probably was not one
to put up with much nonsense from little girls in his old age! His
grandson Louie Coulter remembered him as a man of patience sitting quietly
for hours as he taught him to fish.
Although old by standards of that day, Elie served in Co. A, 1st Georgia
Regiment Light Duty Men. According to family lore, Union troops stayed in
his house which was on the hill overlooking the 14th Street bridge at the
time of the Battle of Girard.
After the deaths of Nancy and Elie and the death of their brother Daniel,
Elie's three younger daughters moved to Florida, all eventually settling in
the Boynton Beach area.
Children of Barbara Ann Gibson and Elie Ford were:
(1) Mary Jane Ford (1843-1914), affectionately known as "Aunt Puss" because
she was afraid of cats, who was a seamstress, never married, and lived near
her sisters Georgia and Louisa.
(2) Georgia Ann Ford (1848-1926) who married Thomas L. Coulter (see article
elsewhere in this volume for details on this family).
(3) Martha Ann Ford (1850-?) who married L.W. Edwards and lived in Phenix
(4) Louisa Holton Ford (1853-1913) who married William Henry Harrison
Coulter and had five children: Melvina who married Wesley Griggs, Esther
who married W.H. Gibson, Mineola who married Martin Z. Gentry, Sadie Mexie
who married William W. Hill, and Edna who married Arch Lee Tillery.
(5) Laura (1856-1935) who married (1) a Mehaffey and had one son Cliff and
married (2) Charlie McCardle and had one son, Elmer. Her family operated
the Eelbeck Mills.
Children of Nancy Jane Copeland and Elie Ford who survived to adulthood
(1) Abby Sophronia Ford, who was always called Jessie, married Wilbur Leroy
Forrey and had no children.
(2) Daniel Ford (1863-1904) was confined to a wheelchair from childhood but
was well educated at home by private tutors, later served as a tutor
himself and Justice of the Peace in Browneville. He never married.
(3) Barbara Ann Ford (1869-1939), called Annie, married David Daniel Lee,
had no children, and operated a popular Victorian inn called Lee House in
Boynton Beach FL.
(4) Catherine Missouri Ford (1879-1934), called Kate, married Abel Augustus
Rousseau, lived in Boynton Beach FL and had seven children: Callie Mae who
married William Hugh Brown, Jesse Ford who married Virginia Keith Powell,
Mabel Claire who married John Martin Tuite, Esther Barbara who married (1)
Richard McSweany Jr. and (2) Merton Raymond McCorkle III, Laura Katharine
who married Joseph Tyler Hogan, Wilbur who died in infancy, and John Robert
who married Margaret Howarth.