What's In A Name? Something Special, If the Name is 'Coultrap'
Harry Coultrap is remembered as an active member of the Geneva community for more than 50 years.
In 1937, more than 200 Geneva residents filled the auditorium at City Hall to recognize "Professor" Harry Coultrap for having served 25 years as Geneva's superintendent of Schools.
On this occasion, several speakers, including the Mayor William C. Wood, local author Forrest Crissey, School Superintendents George E. Thompson of St. Charles and H. C. Storm of Batavia, spoke at length about Coultrap's personal integrity and his unparalleled dedication to education.
Harry Mansfield Coultrap was born 1881 in McArthur, OH, a small town in the southeastern corner of the state. He attended Ohio University in Athens and later earned degrees from the University of Colorado and Northwestern University.
He began his career as a sixth-grade teacher, became a high school principal and was soon appointed the superintendent of the McArthur public schools, a job he held for just one year before leaving this post to continue his education in Colorado.
Before arriving in Geneva in 1912, Coultrap taught for four years at nearby Elgin High School.
Coultrap was an active member of the community, and in addition to his duties as superintendent, served as a director and president of the Geneva Building and Loan Association, director of the State Bank of Geneva, and as president of the Geneva Chamber of Commerce.
During his tenure, the enrollment in Geneva's schools grew significantly. Upon his arrival in 1912, 21 faculty members taught a combined enrollment of 557 students at either the four-room East Side School or the aging West Side School, which was located adjacent to the downtown business district. At this time, the West Side School housed the elementary school and the high school. Twenty-five years later, a professional staff of 36 taught 739 students, and the enrollment at Geneva High School had grown from 77 to 220 students.
To accommodate the growing student population and an expanded curriculum, Three elementary schools were constructed between 1916 and 1929 on Fourth Street, Sixth Street and Harrison Street. A "modern" high school building was constructed on Peyton Street in 1923, and students benefitted from a more diverse curriculum which included several commercial courses, general science, biology, French and home economics. In addition, students participated in expanded programs in art, music and physical education.
Coultrap was particularly highly regarded for his continuing focus on professional development, and both he and his staff were noted for their ongoing efforts to apply current educational research and best practices aimed at enhancing the educational program offered by the Geneva schools.
Coultrap retired in 1950, having served in what one newspaper reporter then described as the "most difficult job in the county" for 38 years. From that time, until his death in 1963, Coultrap and his wife Anna lived at 208 Logan Avenue, just across the street from Geneva High School. In 1958, this building was rededicated as Coultrap Junior High School.
In June, 1963, at the age of 81, Harry Coultrap died at Community Hospital following a brief illness. His obituary ran on the front page of The Geneva Republican, adjacent to a news story reporting the successful passage of a referendum which would allow for the construction of a new elementary school on Western Avenue.
His dedication to the community, and in particular to the students of Geneva, is remembered today as having been extraordinary, and his efforts established a firm foundation which continues to serve the needs of the community today.
Editor's note: Historic Geneva and Sunday Morning Mystery Photo missed a few installments because Kelly Nowak was out for emergency surgery to her Achilles tendon. (Ouch!) Geneva Patch is super excited that she's back writing—even though she's still not allowed to move from the couch. Get well soon, Kelly!