Friday, May 6, 2016

Coulter and Gladstone, Builders

James Leiper Coulter was born April 11, 1862, the son of Andrew T. Coulter and Eliza McDonald. He had two sisters (Elizabeth and Lillian) and a brother Henry. His father died of TB on New Year’s day, 1867. His mother remarried 11 years later to William Richardson. James married Hattie A. Gladstone in 1886 in Shavertown, NY. They had two sons, Harry (born 1888) and Andrew (born 1890), both born in Bovina.

James followed in the footsteps of his maternal grandfather, Henry McDonald and became a carpenter. He was noted for building several Victorian houses in Bovina. One of the first houses documented to have been built by him was one he built for William Thompson in 1888, now owned by Brian and Marcia Olenych. Around 1890, he went into partnership with George Gladstone. George was born December 2, 1862 in Andes, the son of John E. Gladstone and Augusta Drummond. He married Sarah Sloan in Bovina in 1889. They had three sons, all born in Bovina, John and David, and an infant son who died about six weeks old. George was known as E. George Gladstone while he was in Bovina. George's sister was Hattie Gladstone Coulter, so James was his brother-in-law.

One of the first houses they built together was one built for the Presbyterian minister, Mason Pressley, in 1890. It is now owned by John and Margaret Hilson. As partners, James and George had their biggest impact on Bovina Center’s newest street, Maple Avenue (then known as New Street). They built most, if not all of the Victorian style houses on that street.

This picture of what is now Maple Avenue likely dates from around 1900.

They started with what is now the Bovina U.P. Church manse, building it for James himself in the summer and fall of 1893. This house sold to the church for use as a manse in 1914 and serves as such today. Almost simultaneously, the house next door was built for Peter and Elizabeth McNair and ready in the Spring of 1894. It is not clear whether Coulter and Gladstone built this house. All the newspaper accounts about the building of the McNair house make no mention of Coulter and Gladstone, and the papers usually did mention the builder. This is now the Steve and Maureen Roberts home. Around the time the McNairs were moving into their new house, George Gladstone decided to build a house on the new street too. The house was built in about two to three months and occupied by June 1894. This house was later the home of Marvin and Eleanor Archibald. In the summer of 1894, yet another house went up on the street, across from the others. Built for Elmer Hastings, construction was completed in the late fall of 1894. This is now the home of Colleen and Ken Heavey. In 1899, yet another Victorian house went up on the New Street, built for John McCune. As with the Peter McNair house, it is not clear whether or not Coulter and Gladstone built it, though it seems quite possible. This is now the home of Stephen and Glenna MacGrotty. 

It seems that the last project the brothers-in-law did together was the addition to A.T. Doig’s store, now Russell’s Store. By 1903, George was running a hotel in Bovina while James still was building. That year James had built the last Victorian house on Maple Avenue, now owned by Norma and Tony Gabriel. Coulter also did work on several buildings on the Gerry Estate. In 1906, he moved his family to Margaretville, partly so his sons could go to the high school there and partly because he had a contract to build a new Margaretville school. Coulter’s move from Bovina left the Bovina U.P. Church in a quandary. For several years, Coulter had been the choir director and an organ was not necessary – it was left to Coulter to “start the tunes.” His departure led the church to take steps to get an organ.

In 1907, Gladstone gave up the hotel business and worked in A.T. Doig’s store as a clerk. In November 1909, he and brother-in-law, William J. Doig and their families made a decision to move to Colorado. They both settled in Crested Butte and were there the rest of their lives.

Meanwhile, Coulter continued building and remodeling houses and also got the contract to build the lake on the Mabon Farm – this is now Silver or Coles Lake. He got a big contract in the spring of 1910 to build the new Presbyterian Church in Walton, but it is not clear whether or not he ultimately carried it out. Work was to start in 1911, but in the fall of 1910, James and his family moved to New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, north of Pittsburgh. This is where he settled the rest of his life, though they did make frequent visits to Bovina, where they visited, among other people, the Cecil Russell family. Though not related by blood, they were related by marriage. James mother, Eliza, after the death of her first husband, married William Richardson, Isabell Russell’s grandfather. Cards that James and Hattie sent to Marjorie were always signed Aunt Hattie and Uncle Jim.

E. George Gladstone worked in coal mining in Colorado, though probably did more carpentry work than actually digging of coal. He is believed to have built many of the houses in the town of Farr, probably built for workers by the mining company. Known in Bovina as E. George Gladstone (and sometimes as Elliott) by 1920, he was going by Elmer G. Gladstone. He died in Colorado on January 2, 1928. His death was reported in the Catskill Mountain News, noting that “he was by trade a carpenter.” He was survived by his wife, two sons, two brothers and two sisters, including Mrs. James Coulter.

James worked as a bank teller and assistant cashier for many years. In the 1940 census, when he was 78, he was still working as a teller. James died in August 1949 and is buried in New Wilmington. Hattie died two years later in 1951.

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