Our subject was born June 3, 1839, in the humble pioneer home that his parents, George and Eliza (Wilson) Coultas, had established here. They were natives of Yorkshire, England, and migrating to America in 1830, came directly to Morgan County. They did not become acquainted with each other until after that time, and they were married in 1835. They then settled in Scott County, which was then a part of Morgan County. They located on a farm entered from the Government and were the first settlers in this section, their nearest neighbors being five miles distant. Before his marriage and shortly after landing here, the father had enlisted in the army which was raised to prosecute the Black Hawk War. He did valiant service throughout that conflict and took an active part in several engagements. Some years later he received a land warrant for what he did in that war. After settling here he was obliged to go to Morgan County to earn money to help support his family, while his wife was left all alone with their babe in their windowless, cheerless log cabin, and often at night she was annoyed by the wolves howling outside, and in the morning as she stood at her door was startled often by the deer dashing past close to her. It must indeed have been a lonely, wild scene that greeted her eyes, with no signs of the advancing civilization beyond her threshold. But the brave woman kept up her courage for the sake of husband and little one, and in the years of toil and hardship that followed she was ever ready to sympathize with and aid her husband, and was, indeed, his right hand in the work of upbuilding a home. To that worthy couple were born eight children, five boys and three girls. Of their sons, three are farmers, one is a professor, and one is a minister in the Methodist Episcopal denomination. The father departed this life June 10, 1859. Fifteen years later the mother closed her eyes in death.
He of whom we write was their second child. His schooling was necessarily limited, but he made good use of his time when the district school was in session, and by observation and reading has gleaned a fair education. He remained at home assisting his father in the support of the family until 1862. He had watched the course of public events that had culminated in bloody strife with intense interest, and in the month of August, that year, he laid aside his home duties at the higher call of his country, and cast his lot with his brave fellow-men who had preceded him to Southern battle fields. He enlisted in Company H, 129th Illinois Infantry, and went with his regiment to Louisville, Ky., where it was assigned to Gen. Nelson's division of Gen. Buell's army; Benjamin Harrison became his Brigade-General. Our subject and his comrades were set to guard a railroad in Tennessee, until they were placed in the 20th Army Corps, and then they took an active part in the Atlanta campaign. Mr. Coultas took part in all the battles in which his regiment was engaged, and was always found in his place in the ranks in the most hotly waged contest. He was with Sherman in his march through Georgia and the Carolinas, and for his good conduct was promoted to be Corporal, and was detailed all through the campaign as a scout and forager, acting so well in those capacities as to merit the commendation of his superiors. He took part in the grand review at Washington, and was subsequently discharged with his regiment, having proved himself a daring, courageous and efficient soldier.
After his experiences of the hardships and privations of army life, Mr. Coultas returned to his Illinois home, and once more resumed the peaceful vocation to which he had been bred, gladly laying down the sword for the pruning hook. After farming on the old homestead awhile he bought a small farm, and marrying Miss Ruth Southwell, Feb. 24, 1867, they began their wedded life thereon. Mrs. Coultas was a daughter of Robert Southwell, who is now a prominent grocer in Winchester. She was born Sept. 22, 1844, the third child in her parents' family. She was well educated in the old academy at Winchester. After marriage she and Mr. Coultas made their home in a little log house of three rooms, and had to struggle hard to get a good start as they had nothing but their hands and brains and stout hearts. But by quiet and persistent efforts, directed by sound common sense and constant attention to the practical every day affairs of life, they have succeeded beyond their expectations, and are now in prosperous circumstances. Besides the fine brick residence on his home place, Mr. Coultas has purchased a substantial frame house just east of it, that is now occupied by a renter, together with a commodious barn, 40x60 feet, and other necessary outbuildings. His farm comprises 250 acres, well adapted to the needs of a stock-raiser, and he raises medium grades for the market, and is gradually introducing a higher grade of horses in his place.
Mr. and Mrs. Coultas have had eight children, of whom the following four are living: Mabel, born Aug. 17, 1868, is at home; Charles E., born Sept. 5, 1870, is preparing to enter college next year; Bertie M., born Oct. 23, 1877; Chester, Aug. 31, 1883. This pleasant household was sadly bereaved by the death of two daughters, twins, who were bright promising girls, who died in July, 1882, and their memories are still cherished in the hearts of the father, mother, sister and brothers.
Mr. and Mrs. Coultas and their two eldest children are active members of the Presbyterian Church, take a lively interest in the Sunday-school, and carry their religion in to their every day lives. Mr. Coultas has served his precinct as Justice of the Peace four years, and as School Director several years, and in whatsoever capacity he may act he is always found to be the right man in the right place. He is a fine specimen of the genus homo denominated the self-made man, as will be seen by the perusal of this brief life-record. He has always been a stalwart Republican, and never fails to vote at elections and to use his influence for the benefit of his party. He took an active part in the election of his old brigade commander, Gen. Benjamin Harrison, to the presidency.