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In a Land Not Sown The Life and Times of Jeremiah William Cory, Sr.

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In a Land Not Sown
The Life and Times of
Jeremiah William Cory, Sr.
David A. Cory, M.D.

Revision/Update Information: March 17, 1999

I remember the devotion of your youth,
your love as a bride,
how you followed me in the wilderness,
in a land not sown.

--Jeremiah 2:2, Revised Standard Version March 17, 1999

Copyright ?1993

First Electronic Edition March 1999


All, all, are sleeping on the hill.
--Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology

The genealogist is a peculiar creature who spends countless hours seeking the details of the lives of persons long since dead, parts of whose deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) molecules were identical to his own. These little polymers, passed from generation to generation in the form of genes and chromosomes, connect us to human history in a mysterious and powerful way which drives the devotee of genealogy to sift through ancient documents in musty archives, log hundreds of miles traveling to libraries, sit for hours staring at microfilmed records, and spend a small fortune on postage, photocopies, and membership in genealogical societies.

My own interest in genealogy began in 1965. I was in the sixth grade and Mrs. Shirey assigned the class to produce a family tree. Perhaps the greatest benefits I derived from this project were the conversations I had with my grandparents about their ancestors and the old days as I gathered data for that family tree. My longsuffering parents drove me around to several area cemeteries to collect information. I still have the family tree that resulted from that research, a maze of rectangular boxes outlined and connected with colored pencil on brown paper, tattered and fragmented after being chewed by a dim-witted cocker spaniel puppy many years after the project was completed.

The genealogy virus lay more or less dormant for over twenty years, until our home was infected by the personal computer bug in 1986. Shortly thereafter, genealogy software was purchased, and my wife Mary set out on entering information we already had as well as acquiring more. Correspondence with Mississippi resulted in details of her Wilson ancestors, and a visit to the Syracuse cemetery yielded some more data on the Corys.

Again, there was a period of dormancy for a few years until 1991, when the plague of genealogy settled in for good. We subscribed to the Prodigyr online service, which allowed me to communicate with potential Cory cousins and others interested in genealogy all over the country via electronic mail. This was followed by repeatedly asking my still longsuffering mother for more information on the family, while my now longsuffering wife bid me farewell as days off were consumed by visits to the Newberry Library in Chicago, the Allen County Library in Ft. Wayne, the archives of the Elkhart County Historical Society in Bristol, the Elkhart County Health Department, the Genealogy Library of the Kosciusko County Historical Society in Warsaw, the Family History Center of the Mormon Church in South Bend, the Goshen College Library, and public libraries in Milford, Syracuse, Elkhart, and Goshen.

An important pilgrimage occurred in June 1992, when the entire family attended the 83rd Cory Reunion in Elkhart, Iowa, and then enjoyed an afternoon tour of Cory landmarks in Polk and Story Counties, guided by Neva Cory and daughter Sharon Dunbar. Neva's husband Ralph is a descendant of Jeremiah William Cory, Sr. In March of 1993, I had the opportunity to visit with and learn from Marge Chilson, former historian of the Cory Family Society and expert on the Western Pennsylvania branch of the family.

I have considered various ways to assemble and preserve the ancestral information I have gathered. One can never truly complete a family history. There are always details about ancestors that may be hidden until the next research trip or letter from a relative. I have chosen to focus on one ancestor, Jeremiah William Cory, Sr. The period of his life, from 1793 to 1860, was a period of westward expansion in America, and he and his family took part in this migration. They were pioneers in Ohio, Indiana and Iowa, where Jeremiah settled, and ultimately was laid to rest.

What follows is not meant to be a comprehensive history of the Cory family. It is a compilation of data I have acquired, based on my own interests and biases, and as such, gives short shrift to many descendants of Jeremiah William Cory and Dolly Martin. However, given the large size of pioneer families, to compile a detailed and accurate history of the enormous number of descendants of a couple such as Jeremiah and Dolly is an impossible task. I have tried, within these limitations, to present as factual account as I can.

Chapter 1
Lineage of Jeremiah William Cory, Sr.

But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep.
--1 Thessalonians 4:13, King James Version

Before beginning the story of Jeremiah William Cory, Sr., a sketch of his lineage is in order. The early American Corys had a habit of recycling names through successive generations, so a numeral in parentheses is used to designate an individual's generation in this chapter, beginning with the first American generation.

The ancestry of Jeremiah William Cory7 can be traced reliably back to John Cory I? (1618[?]-1685). John is believed to have emigrated from England around 1640 [15, 20], although there is no documentation of his life in England or his landing in America at the time of this writing. He lived for a time in Southampton, Long Island+, being assigned to a squadron which cut up beached whales [20, 23, 36], and receiving a grant of two acres of land in 1644 [2, 24]. By 1649, the Cory name no longer appears in town records [34,37], and John had moved north to Southold, Long Island++ [41].

John Cory was a weaver by trade [5,15]. His religious affiliation has been a source of some confusion. Claims have been made that he was a Quaker [2]. This certainly would have not been the case when he came to America, since George Fox, the founder of the Quakers, did not begin preaching in England until 1647 [14], well after John Cory I? was established on Long Island. It is possible that John converted after the Quakers organized in New York and Long Island in 1657 [26]. If he did, it was a closely guarded secret, as no Cory (or Corey) appears in the records and minutes for New York City and Long Island in the Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy [27]. It is understandable that one might not advertise affiliation with the Quakers, since it was unlawful for any "Quaker, Ranter, or other Herritick of that nature" [28] to come into or abide in the New Haven Colony, which held jurisdiction over Southold until 1662. Quakers were viewed with suspicion by their neighbors [2], and in some cases were subjected to physical violence*. However, the Quakers were compulsive record keepers, and it is very doubtful that the Corys could have entered or left the group without showing up in the records.

It has been implied [1] that John Cory's refusal to take an oath of fidelity to the New Haven Colony was related to his supposed Quaker beliefs. An examination of the record disproves this theory. The constitution of the New Haven Colony, adopted on October 27, 1643, empowered the general court of the jurisdiction "to impose an oath of fidelity and due subjection to the laws upon all the free burgesses, free planters, and other inhabitants within the whole jurisdiction [4]." At the April 1644 session of the court, the oath of fidelity was established as follows:

The Oath of Fidelity

I, A.B., being by the providence of God an inhabitant wthin New Haven Jurisdiction doe acknowledge myselfe to bee subject to the Judgment thereof, and doe sware by the greate and dreadfull name of the ever living God to bee true and faithfull unto the same, and doe submitt both my person and my wholl estate thereunto according to all the wholesome lawes and orders that for present are or shall hereafter bee made or established by lawfull authority there established:--And that I will, as I am in duty bound maintaine the honour of the same and of the lawfull magistrates thereof promoteinge the publiqe good of the same whilst I continue an Inhabitant there--And whensoever I shall be duly called as a free Burgesse accordinge to the fundamentall order and agreement for Gowv'ment in this Jurisdiction to give my vote or sufferage touchinge any matter wch consearneth this commonwealth, I will give it as in my conscience I shall Judge may conduce to the best good of the same without respect of persons--soe helpe me God [8].

John Cory's objection to this oath was not based on religious convictions. He was willing to swear allegiance to the New Haven Colony, but he objected to submitting to laws which had yet to be written. At a court of magistrates held in New Haven held May 23, 1659, the following was recorded:

The names of John Corey, John Swasey, Mr. John Booth, Joseph Youngs sen., Thomas Rider, Edward Petty, Tho. More junior, all of Southold, being returned to ye court for refusing to take the oath of fidelity, J_. Corey, being prsent, was called & asked wherefore he refused to take the said oath, to which he answered, that he had tendered to take oath that he would be no traitor nor conceale any treachery, but further he could not goe, as to binde himself to the obedience of such lawes as are yet to be made; to wch the court replied, that he had beene forborne some yeares, but the thing must not be borne wth in any that live in ye jurisdiction to p[er]sist therein, for ye oath is safe, and not intended for a snare to any, for it is onely ye wholesom lawes, made or to be made, that they are required to engage to submitt to; he was told if the oath were put in these words, that he should be subject to the scripture, if p[er]secutors should arise & say this is the meaning of such or such a scripture, (wch is not,) & punish him for not obeying, that touches not his conscience; he was asked if he had any other meanes in view yt he might vse for his satisfaction, he said no; it was demanded if he would take ye oath, but he refused, whereupon ye court declared, that there are others of Southold whose names are also returned, & yt although ye court might proceed with him at this time, yet they would leave it till the court in October next, at wch time he with the rest are required to make their appearance, if in ye meane time they take not the said oath & certify it to the court [29].

Two days later, at a meeting of the general court for the colony, consisting of the governor, deputy governor, magistrates, and town deputies, an order was issued for John Cory and his fellow dissenters to appear at the court of magistrates on October 19, 1659 [30,31]. However, they did not appear in October, and their case was continued to the May 1660 session of the court [32]. By the time the court met again on May 28, 1660, the men had abandoned their protest and had taken the oath in Southold [33]. John Cory was not out of trouble yet, for also appearing in the record of the court of magistrates for May 28, 1660 is a suit against John for allowing his pigs to trespass into and damage the wheat and peas of a neighborhood widow. Some time after the incident, the widow married John Concklin, who brought the action against John Cory. The matter had been arbitrated at Southold, but Cory, claiming that some of the offending hogs belonged to other men, did not pay damages. After hearing testimony on both sides, the court ruled against Cory and ordered him to pay not only the forty shillings awarded in arbitration at Southold, but an additional fifty shillings in damages and court costs, for a total of 4 pounds, 10 shillings.

Even then John's troubles were not over, as two other actions were taken against him during this court session. First, John Concklin charged Cory with slander, alleging that on a training day for the local militia, Cory "did endeavore by his words to take away his repute & esteeme amongst his neighbors, & lay him below ye heathen," saying that Concklin was a neighbor not fit for an Indian to live by and that Concklin had killed one of Cory's hogs [33]. Second, John Budd, Jr., of Southold also charged John Cory with slander for accusing Budd of taking a false oath. When the arbitration of the matter of the hogs in the pea patch had been delivered to John Cory at the Southold meeting house, he was "much discontented & said he was wronged by falce witnesse," referring to testimony given by John Budd. Cory admitted his guilt in both cases and was ordered to pay court costs and to acknowledge publicly his misdeeds [33].

Figure 1-1 Line of descent from John Cory I to Jeremiah William Cory.

                                                John Cory I 
                                         John Cory II 
                                         |      | 
                                         |      Ann Salmon(?) 
                                   John Cory III 
                                   |     | 
                                   |     Mary Cornish 
                            Elnathan Cory 
                            |      | 
                            |      Priscilla Osborn 
                     Ebenezer Cory 
                     |      | 
                     |      Sarah Simpson 
             Elnathan Cory 
             |       | 
             |       Mollie Mills 
  Jeremiah W. Cory 
             Sarah Walker 

John Cory was married to a woman named Ann [6,7]. Apparently, a close relationship between John Cory I and his neighbor William Salmon has led to the belief that John's wife Ann was Salmon's daughter [15]. This seems unlikely based on available records, although it is possible that William and Ann were siblings. One source lists John's wife as Margaret [37]. He may have been married twice [2]. John and his wife (or wives) were the parents of six children, John II, Abraham, Hannah, Jacob, Isaac, and Abigail [15]. The existence of a seventh child, Sarah, is questionable [3]. In his will, John I? bequeathed to his son John II?, among other things, half his "weaving takell," and the Greate Book [15]. The Greate Book, also called the Greate Bible, has been a preeminent Cory family heirloom since. An inscription, long since faded, on the last page of the book read, "This book given to John Cory by his mother to carry to America [10]." According to James Enos Cory8, an early Cory family historian, the title of the volume is The Seven Treaties. It is a collection of religious treatises written by a minister named Richard Rogers from Weathersfield, Essex, England. The book was published in Scotland, probably in 1603 [11]. This may have contributed to the legend that the Corys were of Scottish or (as my grandfather Lee Cory(10) believed) Scots-Irish descent. However, since we cannot trace the family further back than John I?, there is no evidence at this time that the Corys are of Scottish origin. The Greate Book is still in existence, and has been passed down through 11 generations of John's descendants [10]. The phrase, "John Cory his Book" appears on a page of the book in three different handwritings. It is assumed that these represent the inscriptions of John I?, John II? (1639-1686), and John III? (1674-1722) [12]. The Greate Book now resides in a wooden cabinet which was built by James Enos Cory8, who in addition to researching the Cory family and the Greate Book in the early years of the twentieth century, used his carpentry skills to build the cabinet. The family name is an acronym for the woods he used in the construction of the cabinet--Cherry, Oak, Rose, and Yew. He obtained some of the cherry and oak from lots in or near Southold, Long Island where John Cory I? had lived, and some of the oak from property in New Jersey once owned by Elnathan4 and Ebenezer5 Cory. The rose came from the farm in Darlington, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, owned by William Sidney Cory(10), who possessed the book when the cabinet was built in 1907. Finally, accepting the proposition that the Corys were of Scottish origin, James Enos obtained yew lumber from Aberdeen, Scotland [13].

The westward migration of the Corys began in a modest way with John II?, who moved to Huntington, Long Island around 1660. His occupations were farmer and merchant. He had extensive real estate holdings in Huntington and Southold and was active in civic affairs, serving consecutively as temporary recorder, overseer, recorder, and town clerk. He was known as an arbitrator in land disputes. John II? was married to Mary Cornish 15 Dec 1667. They were the parents of eight children, Mary, Abigail, Elizabeth, John III, Martha, Elnathan, Thomas, and Abraham. The Greate Book was passed to John III? [15,20].

John III? was the first of Jeremiah's7 Cory line to move to the mainland. In 1695, at the age of 21, he moved to New Jersey, and lived in or around Elizabethtown (now called Elizabeth), Essex County until his death in 1721. Like his father he was a farmer and merchant. John III3 was married to Priscilla Osborn, and they were parents of seven children, Mary, Elnathan, John IV, Hannah, Joseph, Benjamin, and Elizabeth. Elnathan4 inherited the Greate Book from his father [16,21].

Elnathan4 (1701-1766) was a farmer and blacksmith. He married Sarah Simpson, and they were the parents of nine children, Ebenezer, Mary, Daniel, Sarah, James, Joseph, Thomas, Jeremiah, and Job. Elnathan4 died and is buried in New Providence, NJ. [17,21].

On Elnathan's4 death, the Greate Book passed to his son Ebenezer5 (1730-1785). Ebenezer5 married first Mary (Mollie) Mills, and they were the parents of five children, including Elnathan6 (1759-1838). After Mary's death (about 1763), Ebenezer5 remarried and his second wife Hannah bore three children. Ebenezer5 lived his entire life in New Jersey. After his death, the Greate Book was passed to Elnathan6 [18].

Elnathan6 was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He volunteered or was drafted several times during the war for periods ranging from less than a month to four months [9,38,39]. Elnathan6 first volunteered when the British landed on Staten Island, near his Elizabeth, New Jersey home. Elnathan6, in his pension application, recalled this as occurring in 1775, but the landing actually began in July 1776 [22], so he must have enlisted in August 1776. Several of the New Jersey Corys were revolutionary soldiers, including Elnathan's6 uncle Lt. James Cory5, brother of Ebenezer5 [9]. Elnathan6 served as a private under his uncle for a period of time [9,19,38]. As a consequence of Elnathan's6 service in the Revolution, another Cory family heirloom was acquired. The story of its acquisition is reproduced verbatim as follows:

The History of the Cory Bell

Wrote by Mrs. Mary St. John, Aug. 7, 1911

The Cory Bell was bought by Elnathan Cory my grandfather, my mother's father in the second year of the Revolutionary War in which he served for seven years.

His neighbor and he were going home from a battle when they heard this bell and they talked about it and decided to follow the sound until they would find it. They thought of turning back several times but pressed on and at last were rewarded by finding a large ox lying down chewing his cud. They then went to the cabin near by and asked the man if he owned it and if he would sell the bell? He said he would and that he would take a dollar for each mile they had traveled. My grandfather said he did not know now many miles they came. The man said, "You are soldiers from the field and it is just 4 miles to the battle field so you may have the bell for 4 dollars," so each man gave 2 dollars. When the man that sold it said, "Now when you get home who will the bell belong to?" He suggested that they draw cuts for it and the man that gets it can pay the other when convenient. My grandfather and his neighbor agreed to this. The man then took 2 splints from a broom. When they had drawn found the bell had fallen to my grandfather and when he died left it to my brother Cory. He left it to my son Cory. Now it has been in three generations.

It can only go to those named Corey or to Corey Elnathan. My mother Matilda McCown looked after it while she lived.

I now have the care and appreciate it as so much gold and I hope and pray that the hand it falls in when I am gone will take care of it and pass it on to the next Corey as that was my grandfather's request.

Mrs. Mary St. John East Palestine, Ohio [40]

The bell has been passed on through the generations, and is now in the possession of the Western Pennsylvania Cory Reunion Association. It was used to call to order the business meeting of the National Cory Family Society in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania on August 11, 1991 [25].

In 1777 or 1778, Elnathan6 Cory married Sarah Walker (1759-1843), daughter of Richard Walker and wife Sarah [9,39]. Sometime between 1783 and 1788, Elnathan6 and Sarah migrated to Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania [38,39]. It was here that Jeremiah William7 was born in 1793.



+ Long Island was claimed by the Dutch as part of New Amsterdam, but the English established settlements on the east end of the Island. The inhabitants of Southampton placed themselves under the jurisdiction of the Connecticut Colony in 1645. When the Dutch surrendered New Amsterdam, including Long Island, to the English crown in 1664, King Charles II proclaimed Long Island to be part of New York [35].

++ Southold was originally under the jurisdiction of the New Haven Colony until 1662, when the New Haven Colony merged with the Connecticut Colony. Southold was under Connecticut's jurisdiction until 1664, when Long Island came under the government of New York [35].

* "The son of Thomas Rouse had his ears cut off for being a Quaker[1]."

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