In a Land Not Sown
The Life and Times of Jeremiah William Cory, Sr. 1793-1860
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

Copyright© 1993

First Electronic Edition March 1999

  • All Rights Reserved.
  • Printed in U.S.A.


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.