Lester Ellis Colebank was born in Iroquois County, Illinois on January
15, 1894 to Martha Jane McIndoo Colebank and L S Colebank. He was
the 7th child of 11 children born that people told his mother "You'll never
raise that child" (meaning he would die young) so his mother Martha
had a formal picture taken of him just in case.
His parents moved to a farm in Riverside Township near Madelia when
he was six or seven years old. He remembered people on the train
looking at him and feeling of his arms because he was so thin. He
proved everyone wrong by growing to 6'2 1/2 inches tall and living to be
nearly 80 years old. His Army discharge papers say that he had gray
eyes, dark brown hair, and a ruddy complexion.
He was brought up in the Madelia Church of Christ and attended rural
school district #4 where he attended through the 8th grade. He worked
in Nebraska, Colorado, and Idaho and installed water and sewer lines
in towns in Iowa. He was a partner, owner and operator of an ice
cream parlor in Denver. He cooked for a crew of men in Idaho. He
served in the U.S. Army during WWI at Fort Bliss, Texas as a medic with
Ambulance Company #10. He was a lifelong member of the American
Legion. He was an avid baseball player and played professionally for
the city of Duluth, Minnesota.
Lester met his wife Linda at his sister's birthday party. They were
married March 19th, 1921, in St. James, Minnesota. He was 27 and
Linda, a schoolteacher, was 26. They began married life in Madelia
where Lester worked at the Cement & Tile Factory. In 1924 they moved
to Woodside Township, Polk County in northern Minnesota, where they
rented Linda's half brother Jack's farm. In 1928 they bought their own
farm 7 miles south of Mentor near Maple Lake where they lived 18
years. Lester built his own barn in 1929, chicken house in 1930 and
house in 1940. He and Linda both served on the Woodside District
#156 school board. They had three children: Warren, June and
Victoria, born five years apart.
Lester suffered a 'nervous breakdown' in 1937 after he took on the
running of a neighbor's farm as well as his own. He spent six months
in the state hospital in Fergus Falls. After he got out the family moved
back to their own farm and Lester was okay the rest of his life except for
a few minor episodes.
In 1946 Lester and Linda moved to a farm 5 miles west of Madelia
where they farmed for 17 more years before moving into town into a
house Lester bought from his parent's estate (the house Barbara lives
in now). Lester and Linda attended the Baptist Church in Madelia.
"I remember my dad as being extremely honest," says June. "He did
not like to go in debt for anything and tried to do everything 'pay as you
go.' He was usually very pleasant and liked to joke. He got along well
with people and seemed to be well liked. He was always very neat and
looked nice when dressed up. My mother always thought he was the
handsomest man she ever knew. I remember him bringing bouquets
of wildflowers home to my mother that he found out in the field or
woods wherever he was working. My dad always considered my
mother very smart because she was a schoolteacher. My dad never lost
his hair and never got heavy. He weighed 190 pounds for many years."
Lester played the harmonica and guitar and sang. He did his own
repairs on all his farm machinery and automobiles. He was truly a jack
of all trades.
I (granddaughter Rebecca) remember his infectious laugh (which
always ended in wheezing because he smoked). He always seemed
jolly and I can't remember him ever yelling at us kids, even though we
made the entire Madelia farm our playground when we went to visit. He
died from a ruptured aortic aneurism in his abdomen on August 9,
1973, and is buried in Riverside Cemetery in Madelia.
Parts of this article have been taken from the works of family historians:
"From Whence Came the Colebanks" by Warren Colebank and from
"William Cunningham" by June Blanshan.
|L S and Martha Colebank with their 11 children. Back
row, from left: Bernice, Jessie, Royal, Lester, Elgie,
Jennie, Susie Olive. Front row, from left: John, Mary
Elizabeth (Lizzie), L S, Martha, Clara, Henry.
|Click on the link below to enter Lester's
LESTER ELLIS COLEBANK
Lester and Linda Colebank
|Lester (far left) in the Army at Fort Bliss, Texas during WWII.