84th Corbly Reunion

Two hundred and twelve years after Reverend John Corbly’s death in 1803, his legacy lives on through the John Corbly Descendants Association.  The organization’s 84th annual reunion was held Sunday, June 28, 2015 at the historic John Corbly Memorial Baptist Church in  Garards Fort.

Following a worship service led by Pastor Gary Whipkey, Association President, Bill Miller called the meeting to order.  After attendees introduced themselves and related their Corbly lineage and interest in local history, the following individuals were recognized:  Robert Rice and Brendan Samuelson, the oldest and youngest attendees respectively; Claudia Covalt Auger and Sherri Murray, who travelled the longest and shortest distances to attend the reunion.  Ms. Auger, whose Covalt ancestors settled near Garards Fort and joined the Goshen Baptist Church (later renamed John Corbly Memorial) in 1784, travelled from Bali, Indonesia where she has lived for a number of years.  Others among the 60 in attendance were from North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Michigan, Ohio, Maryland, Washington D.C. and the Pittsburgh area.  Many of the out-of-state participants initially learned of the reunion through the recently developed website https://johncorblydescendants.org.

During the business meeting, President Miller discussed expansion of the website to include a photo section highlighting past and present reunions.  It was announced that the association has secured a microfilm copy of the early Goshen Church records, which will be presented to the Cornerstone Genealogical Society in Waynesburg.  Correspondence was read from several long-standing members who were unable to attend.

A presentation by President Miller highlighted Reverend Corbly’s lifetime accomplishments in establishing over 30 Baptist Churches west of the Appalachians.  In addition to serving as a Revolutionary War soldier, chaplain and militiaman, he was a  delegate to the General Assembly in Williamsburg, a trustee of the Washington Academy ( now W & J College), and he surveyed and platted the city of Louisville, Kentucky.  During the Whiskey Rebellion, he was one of 20 individuals arrested and taken to Philadelphia for trial.  He was outspoken in his desire that these tax monies, if collected, should be used for the defense of frontier settlers from Indian attacks.  On November 19, 1794, he was taken from his residence in Garards Fort and marched to Westmoreland County.  On December 1st, the prisoners began their walk from Westmoreland County to Philadelphia, arriving on Christmas Day.  Corbly, then 61 years old, survived the ordeal and eventually was exonerated.  He returned to Greene County and had 3 more children before passing away at the age of 70.  In total, Reverend Corbly had 17 children:  4 with Abigail Kirk, who died in childbirth, 5 with Elizabeth Tyler who was massacred in an Indian raid, and 8 with Nancy Ann Lynn who outlived Corbly and remained in their Garards Fort home until her death in 1826.

The meeting’s featured speaker was Candice Buchanan, a certified genealogist, who specializes in identification of old photographs from the 1840-1930 era. She provided examples of using period clothing and photographic techniques (tintypes, daguerreotypes and photographs) to identify unknown individuals.

The reunion concluded with a luncheon in the church social hall and a tour of the Garards Fort cemetery where Corbly, two wives and eleven children are buried.  Also at this site are two memorials commemorating the Corbly massacre and highlights of John Corbly’s life.

Next year’s Corbly reunion will be held June 26, 2016.  The event is open not only to Corbly descendants but also anyone interested in local history.

For more information contact William Miller at [email protected] or 724-627-7129.