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Coad, Nicholas G. O., 1851-1928

COAD, OATES, ANSLEY

Posted By: Lydia Lucas - Volunteer (email)
Date: 3/5/2018 at 22:23:45

The following biographical sketch is found on Nicholas Gay Oates Coad’s page on FindaGrave.com. The source is not identified, but it appears to have been written by a family member, probably his grandson, Nicholas William Coad. Two portrait photographs of Coad are also posted there.

Nicholas Gay Oates Coad was the first surviving child of William Coad and Elizabeth Oates, and was their first child born in America. He was born at Mineral Point, Iowa [County], Wisconsin 1851 Nov. 19. Nicholas was the oldest of seven living children. Like the surname Coad, his two middle names were also of Cornish origins. His maternal grandparents were William Oates and Asenath Gay.

By 1870, his father died suddenly. Fortunately his father, William Coad, left a sizable estate in excess of $15,000. Keeping in mind unbroke Iowa farm land was selling at $2.00 an acre or less at the time and that a school teacher in 1910 was making a dollar a day and clearly this was a sizeable sum, well in excess of a million dollars today.

After graduating from school at Mineral Point, he first attended a preparatory College, Lawrence University at Appleton, Wisconsin. He went on to attend pharmacy school at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, graduating as a Pharmacuetial Chemist in 1875.

By 1876 he was found in Clinton, Iowa in the pharmaceutial business with a gentleman named Belk. His brother William graduated from Law School in 1877 and by 1878 Nicholas, along with his brothers Thomas Edward Coad (1855-1927) and William Tucker Coad (1856-1933) had arrived at Pattersonville, Sioux, Iowa. The railroad had just reached Pattersonville (latter renamed Hull), the previous year this location was a corn field. Nicholas erected one of the very first businesses in town, a pharmacy that he and his brother Tom ran. Nick and his brother William sold land, [and] lent money.

In 1879 Nicholas returned to Hull to marry Mary Tilley Ansley (1854-1935). Mary was the daughter of Thomas Sinclair Ansley and Rhoda Ann Tilley of Linden, Iowa [County], Wisconsin.

By 1881 the couple had their first child, a boy. It was delivered by Nicholas, however [it] died a few days later. By 1883, they did have their only living child, William Ansley Coad (1883-1931). By this time his brother William Tucker Coad had moved on to Rapid City, South Dakota. He likely took Thomas Edward Coad with him at this time. Now Nicholas moved his youngest brother, James A Coad (1865-1921) from Mineral Point to Hull to help run the drug store and Nicholas left to attend medical school at the University of Vermont at Burlington. He received his degree in 1886 or the spring of 1887 as a surgical doctor.

Within a few years he sold the drug store to focus on his medical practice and other business and personal endeavors. These included N G O Coad & Son kerosene, oil, grease and later gasoline business. This business was very successful and was well noticed by John D Rockefeller's Standard Oil. As a result of unfair business practices by Standard Oil and the railroads under the Rockefeller control, numerous law[suits] were filed with Coad often prevailing.

Nicholas was also very involved with politics and was a devout Democrat. This was probably due to the personal impact of the powerful Rockefeller machine. It is further believed he was instrumental in helping a number of his siblings with their pursuit and success. During this time frame this would be William Tucker Coad, who had plenty of success as well as failure in the Black Hills.

At one point in time and as a result of a visit to Oregon to explore the fruit industry, an Oregon newspaper referred to him as the millionaire doctor Coad of northwest Iowa. The Hull paper ran a reprint adding, "that's our Doc Coad for sure!" The question of whether N G O Coad was actually worth or had a million dollars is easily up for debate. However, it is clear that he did have extensive financial resources personally and connection to other significant financial resources referred to as "eastern money to lend.” While there is no evidence of fact, there is speculation some of this money may have come through connection to the Vanderbilt family. Nick's wife Mary T Ansley had relatives at Staten Island, New York and lived next door to Cornelius Vanderbilt. And in fact Cornelius Vanderbilt married a step daughter of this Ansley line.

After his son returned from a failed medical school attempt in 1906, Nicholas again found himself in the pharmacy business, opening a new pharmacy across the street to the east of his former pharmacy. His son ran this business. By the early 1900's Nicholas was helping his youngest brother James A Coad into the oil and gasoline business. James suffered through some of the similar issues, a result of the Rockefellers. Yet James was reasonably successful as well.

About 1912, Nicholas and Mary Coad moved to San Diego, California; though they frequently travelled back to Hull to attend to business. By 1917, Nicholas turned over all his business interests in Hull to his son. By sometime in 1927, Nicholas was diagnosed with cancer. His son spent much of the year prior to his death in California at his side. 1928 Feb 29 he died at San Diego as a result of cancer of the lower pelvis. He was cremated and his ashes were possessed by family members until 1991 Oct 30 when they were buried at the Richardson plot in LeMars, Iowa, by grandson and name-sake, Nicholas William Coad.


 

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