The 82nd-annual reunion of the John Corbly Descendants Association was held June 30 at the historic John Corbly Memorial Church in Garards Fort. A worship service led by Pastor Gary Whipkey with church pianist Dixie McKahan preceded the meeting.
Bill Miller called the meeting to order following the church service. Attendees introduced themselves highlighting their Corbly lineage and interest in local history. Among the 50 attending were not only local members, but also those from Canada, Ohio, Arizona, Missouri, West Virginia and the Pittsburgh area.
Prizes were given to Tony and Martha Sullivan from British Columbia for traveling the farthest, Eugene Everly for the shortest, Robert Rice, 89, for being the oldest and Chloe Holloway, 7, for being the youngest in attendance.
For her many years of service as vice president and president of the association, Lena Galing was presented with a plate bearing the Corbly Crest. A moment of silence was observed for the recent passing of Leola Wright Murphy and her brother, Corbly Wright, as well as other members lost in the past year.
During the business meeting conducted by Marilyn Eichenlaub, the following new officers were elected: Miller, president; Craig Brewer, treasurer; and Kathy Miller, secretary.
A presentation by Miller highlighted Rev. Corbly’s Revolutionary War service with the George Rogers Clark military and settler expedition to the Falls of the Ohio, now Louisville, Ky. Corbly is credited with surveying the city of Louisville in 1789. The military campaign of Clark and the early settlements in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio helped to secure the Northwest Territory at the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
Corbly’s original land tract in Greene County was called “Slave Gallant” and is slightly west of the village of Garards Fort. It consisted of 431 acres and was surveyed in 1785 and patented in 1788.
Before coming from northeastern Virginia to Garards Fort, Corbly was married to Abigail Kirk with whom he had four children. His second wife, Elizabeth Tyler, and three of their children, were killed in an Indian massacre in 1782. Two of their other girls were scalped but lived to adulthood. He continued his ministry and is credited with establishing more than 30 churches west of the Appalachians.
In 1784, he married Nancy Lynn with whom he had eight children. When Corbly died in 1803 at the age of 70, Nancy remained on the family farm. Their brick house still stands and is on Carmichaels Road about a half mile from Garards Fort.
Miller recently visited many of the churches which Corbly helped establish in the latter decades of the 1700s. They range from the Peter’s Creek church near Pittsburgh to the Simpson Creek church in Bridgeport, W.Va.
The second minister at Peters Creek church, the Rev. Edgar David Phillips, was the pastor at Corbly’s funeral. The Simpson Creek church is recognized as the oldest Baptist Church west of the Appalachian mountains. Churches nearby include the Forks of the Cheat in Stewartstown, W.Va., and the following in Greene County: Bates Fork (Sycamore), Muddy Creek (Khedive) and John Corbly Memorial (Garards Fort).
It was announced that a Corbly website highlighting the Corbly’s life, religious, political and military accomplishments is being developed. The site also will provide genealogy information about the Corbly family and Corbly reunions, which have been held annually since 1932. Local history, in particular Garards Fort, will be included.
Following a luncheon at the church, members were invited to tour the Garards Fort Cemetery where Corbly, two of his wives and several children are buried. Also at this site are two large monuments commemorating the Corbly massacre and highlights of Corbly’s life.
The next Corbly reunion will be held June 29, 2014. For more information, contact William Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 724-627-7129.