Ira Coltrane

Ira Blair Coltrane (1815 - 1894)

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Ira Blair Coltrane
Born in Grayson, Virginia, United Statesmap
Ancestors ancestors
Husband of — married in Carroll County, VAmap
Died in Carroll, Virginia, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 29 Apr 2016 | Last significant change: 19 Dec 2018
Coltrane-151-1.jpg03:14: Elizabeth Coltrane uploaded Coltrane-151-1.jpg for Ira Blair Coltrane (1815-1894).
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Categories: Virginia State Senators | Family Brick Walls | North End Cemetery, Hillsville, Virginia | Carroll County, Virginia.

- Who was Ira's father?


Ira Blair Coltrane was the oldest son of Nancy Coltrane, father unknown. He grew up on his grandfather's farm and became a man of acknowledged integrity who was equally competent as a trusted advisor, architect, builder, colonel, state assemblyman and senator.

He was prominent in the days when the county was being formed and undergoing the Civil War. He was Colonel in the County Militia and was mustered into Company F, 4th Virginia Reserves on May 16, 1864 at Hillsville, leaving with the last company to depart from the county.

He served both branches of the State Legislature of Virginia: in the House in 1853/54 and 1857/58; and in the Senate 1883 - 1887 representing Carroll, Floyd and Grayson counties.[1]

Ira B Coltrane drew the plans for and build the county's first courthouse in Hillsville, VA using his own money to complete the job when faced with a cost overrun. The construction of US 52 through Fancy Gap Mountain in the mid-1920's follows the road engineered by Ira B Coltrane. When he was in his teens, he drove up and down the mountain through the Good Spur Gap. He knew from his own experience how difficult it was to get loaded wagons up the mountain. He realized the trip would be easier if there were a road through Fancy Gap, stating, 'I fancy a road through that gap" thereby creating the name the town would become known by. He went home he mapped out and built the road. In 1940, a special act was passed by the Virginia General Assembly naming the wooden covered bridge known as 'Little Bridge,' the 'Ira B Coltrane Bridge' to honor the man to had done so many things to improve the county.[2]

Ira married Amanda Jane Hale at the age of 29, June 9, 1844 and they lived near Little Reed Island Creek where he operated a grist mill and a lumber mill at the Gardner Mill where he brought the first water turbine for use in a mill in Carroll County. Together they had eight children, six of whom died in childhood. One daughter, Laura, married but only lived to be 25. One daughter survived him at his death, Mrs. E L Williams and her children.

Obituary: "A familiar form passed from mortal view when on the 13th day of May, 1894, at his home two miles west of Hillsville, Col. Ira B. Coltrane peacefully breathed his last, having attained the good old age of 78 years, 11 months and 15 days. Col. Coltrane's life was spent in our midst. He leaves behind him more monuments to his usefulness than perhaps any man that has lived in our section. When a boy fourteen years old he drove a team across the Blue Ridge at the Good Spur. On his return, in company with several wagons, when the foot of Good Spur was reached, all teams were hitched to the front wagon, and by hard pulling and tugging it was taken to the top of the mountain. The teams were all taken back to the foot and hitched to another wagon and it was taken up to the top as the first one was. This thing was repeated until every wagon landed safely on the mountain top. While this thing was going on the young teamster looked into the deep gorge just east of Good Spur, where Paul's Creek goes rippling down the mountain, and in his mind located a place for a better road. Years afterward when Virginia had embarked upon the policy of internal improvements, Col. Coltrane was a member of the General Assembly and procured an appropriation to open the Fancy Gap turnpike across the mountain along the very line his boyish eyes had mapped out. He then came home and by genius and skill located and opened the road across the mountain, which is one of the very best, if not the best, crossing of the Blue Ridge to be found in Virginia. This crossing will never be changed, neither its location nor its grade can be improved. It will remain there as a convenience and a blessing to the people of Southwest Virginia and Western North Carolina for ages after the face of its projector and constructor has faded from human memory.

"The bridge across little Reed Island Creek, two miles north of Hillsville, is a model of perfection. It was pronounced by the Chief Engineer of the N. & W. R. R. Co. to be as good a wooden bridge as can be built with human hands. This bridge was built by Col. Coltrane and will long stand as a monument to his memory. The court house at Hillsville is a model of beauty and symmetry. It is universally pronounced to be one of the soundest, most durable, as well as convenient, structures that can be reared. Col. Coltrane was its builder and its architect. Long before it was finished Col. Coltrane saw hat he would lose money on his contract; but he went on to completion without one inferior piece of material or one inferior piece of workmanship going into it. The stone wall and the stone steps in front of the court house and some of the cut stone in the building were not in his contract, but he was unwilling to turn off anything but a good job and so he did this work and received no pay for it. It would be next to impossible to tell how often Col. Coltrane has been appointed to draw plans for buildings, to assess damages, to receive work that was being done for the county and to perform other duties of that kind, but just as often as he was appointed he performed his duties faithfully and well. He drew the plan for the first court house and jail ever built in our county. He was Colonel of Militia, and had served in both branches of the legislature. But of all the monuments he has erected the grandest one is his character for truth and honesty.

If there was ever a track of falsehood, flattery, deceit, or corruption in his composition it had been carefully rooted out. His manner sometimes seemed rough, and his words sometimes sounded harsh but they were utterances of the plain, unvarnished truth, nevertheless, without affixes, prefixes or adjectives.

"In his legislative life his name was a terror to all lobbyists. He would snap their heads off with as much composure as he would snap the idler who came around him to meddle with his business or his work. A person fond of feeding on flattery could never have enjoyed Col. Coltrane as a companion or associate. On the other hand a person contented with fair dealing, with firm and unyielding friendship unmixed with falsehood or deceit, would love him for his sterling qualities. Beneath his stern exterior there beat a kind and loving heart. Col. Coltrane was married to Amanda Hale of Grayson county, on the 9th of June, 1844. She and seven of the children born to their union preceded him to the grave. Mrs. E. L. Williams is the only child that survives to mourn his death. During the long, long months of his illness she sat at his side and administered to his wants as only faithful woman can do. Several small grandchildren by a deceased daughter, Mrs. G. T. Burroughs, and the children of Mrs. Williams, are his descendants. May the spirit and the mantle of the honest and upright grandfather rest upon them. For some time before his death Col. Coltrane knew that his days were numbered, and that he was lingering at death's door; but he was not afraid. He had not overlooked the subject of religion. He had read and studied the bible; he had examined the creeds and tenets of faith of the prevailing denominations in this section of the country; but he never joined any church. He looked upon his own judgment and the promptings of his own conscience as his safest guide to a correct understanding of his duties towards God and towards man; and these he faithfully followed. He stated in his last sickness that he had yielded himself into the hands of God and trusted Him to do whatever was right. We know that he went into the presence of his Maker with no lie on his lips and no hypocrisy on his soul. He had lived long and no doubt met upon the other bank of the mysterious river thousands whom he had known in this life; but it is safe to say he met no one there upon whom he had committed a fraud, or to whom he had in this life done intentional wrong. One of the largest crowds that ever assembled at our village cemetery gathered around his open coffin to take a last sad look at the face they had known so long and so well and then with loving hands the casket was interred close by his wife and children and among the relatives that for generations have been buried there."

"Were a star quenched on high, For ages would it light Still travelling downward from the sky Shine on our mortal sight; So when a good man dies For years beyond our ken The light he leaves behind him lies Upon the paths of men."


  1. "A register of the General Assembly of Virginia, 1776-1918, and of the Constitutional Conventions" Swem, E. G. (Earl Gregg), 1870-1965, comp,Williams, John William, 1869-1934, joint comp, Library of Congress
  2. Bowman, Owen, Carroll County, Virginia: The Early Days to 1920. Virginia Beach, Virginia: The Donning Company, 1993.

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It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Ira by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known yDNA or mtDNA test-takers in his direct paternal or maternal line. It is likely that these autosomal DNA test-takers will share DNA with Ira:

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Images: 2
Ira Blair Coltrane
Ira Blair Coltrane

Carroll County Courthouse, Ira B Coltrane, Architect and Builder
Carroll County Courthouse, Ira B Coltrane, Architect and Builder


Ira is 20 degrees from Robin Helstrom, 20 degrees from Katy Jurado and 16 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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