GEORGE W. COULTER
On the roll of those who arrived in California in 1849 appears the name of George Wilson Coulter, and as one of the honored pioneers of the state well does he deserve mention in this volume; but not alone on that account, as for more than half a century he has been active in advancing a substantial upbuilding of the commonwealth and the town of Coulterville, his works standing as monuments to his enterprise and progressive spirit. He is now the owner of the Coulter Hotel at Chinese Station, conducting a popular and well-appointed hostelry.
Mr. Coulter is a native of Pennsylvania, his birth having occurred in Westmoreland County on the 12th of July, 1818. His parents, Joseph and Mary (Wilson) Coulter, were both natives of the Keystone state and were descended from good old Revolutionary stock, their ancestors having aided in the establishment of American independence. The father died in the forty-sixth year of his age and the mother passed away at the age of eighty-seven, having long survived her husband.
George Wilson Coulter, the eldest of their six children, was educated in the common schools, and when the country became engaged in war with Mexico he joined the American forces and with his command proceeded to Santa Fe, where he was stationed until hostilities had ceased. He then received an honorable discharge and returned to the east to his family, for in the meantime he had married in Pennsylvania Miss Margaret Backhouse, a descendant of an old Philadelphia family. They resided in St. Louis, Missouri, from 1843 until 1846, when Mr. Coulter served in the Mexican War a year. Next he removed with his wife and two little sons to Santa Fe where another son, George, was born. There he engaged in conducting a hotel until the discovery of gold in California, when, hoping to benefit his financial condition, he crossed the plains from Santa Fe to Mariposa, where he engaged in mining until the 5th of November, 1849. He then went to San Jose and after passing the winter in that place he returned in the following spring to Mariposa, where he resumed his mining operations. In connection with a partner he took out a nugget valued at four hundred and seventy dollars, and on another occasion took out one worth three hundred and fifteen dollars. Two months’ labor resulted in bringing to him twenty-four hundred dollars, and with the capital he had thus acquired he opened a store on Merced River, at the mouth of Solomon’s Gulch. Subsequently he founded the town which has since born his name, Coulterville, and there erected a number of buildings and was its leading citizen for a long period, continuing to make it his principal place of abode until 1897. In the meantime he conducted a hotel at the Yosemite for two years, and in 1897 he erected his hotel at Chinese Station. The Sierra Railroad had just been completed to Jamestown. He built a near and substantial hotel building, conveniently arranged for the purpose, and has since been identified with the business and public interests of Chinese Station.
In 1851 Mr. Coulter was joined by his wife and three children, Joseph S., Angney and George. After their arrival in California the family was increased by the birth of a son and a daughter, Alexander Stair and Anna M. The last named and George are now the only surviving children of the family. The daughter is the wife of George W. Kenney, who resides at the Yosemite during the summer months, and has a winter home in Madera. Mrs. Coulter departed this life in 1890, having traveled happily by the side of her husband on the journey of life for fifty-one and one-half years. She had been to him a most faithful companion and helpmate, and her venerable husband feels her loss keenly. His son George is now associated with him in the hotel business and relieves him of the care and responsibility connected with its conduct.
In his political affiliations he has been a life-long Democrat. His career has been one of uprightness in which he has shaped his life by manly principles, and those who know him render him the veneration and respect which should ever be accorded those who have advanced far on life’s journey, Mr. Coulter now having passed the eighty-second milestone.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.