87th Corbly Reunion

2018 Reunion
June 24, 2018,
John Corbly Memorial Baptist Church, Garards Fort, PA

The John Corbly Descendants Association held it’s 87th Reunion on Sunday, June 24, 2018 at the historic John Corbly Baptist Church in Garards Fort, PA.  With over seventy in attendance, representing fourteen states and one foreign country, the reunion began with a church service led by Pastor Gary Whipkey, followed by President Bill Miller inviting attendees to introduce themselves and relate their Corbly lineage and interest in local history. Of particular note were two families with the surname Corbly, as well as two families descended from Delilah Corbly, Reverend Corbly’s fifth child by his 2nd wife, Elizabeth Tyler, who was massacred by Indians in 1782.  Delilah was scapled in this incident but lived to be sixty-five years of age and raised a family.

Prizes were awarded to the following individuals:  Bob Malinzak, New Richmond, Ohio and Ayden and Ava Barnard, Bloomington Illinois for oldest and youngest attendees; Carol Iarrobino, Headlee Heights, PA and Sheelagh Whillock, Sussex, England who travelled the shortest and longest distances for the reunion.  Descendants from all three of Reverend Corbly’s wives, Abigail, Elizabeth and Nancy Ann, were in attendance.

Following a short business meeting, President Miller presented an overview of Corbly’s life highlighting 3 critical years.  In 1768, Rev. Corbly was arrested and jailed for street preaching in Culpepper, Virginia.  After Corbly’s first wife Abigail died, he left his four children with a neighboring family and ventured westward to the Garards Fort area. In 1782, the well-known Corbly massacre happened where Corbly loses his 2nd wife and 3 children to an Indian raiding party.   Two other children were scalped but survived to adulthood.  In 1794, Whiskey Rebellion activities peaked and Corbly was outspoken in his support of the western Pennsylvania farmers’ cause. He cited the tax as unfair and the Federal government’s lack of protection from Indian raids.  He was one of 20 men arrested and marched on foot to Philadelphia in mid-winter.

To give descendants an overview of the Whiskey Rebellion, 2 re-enactors, Clay Kilgore, Director of the Washington County Historical Society, and Brian Cunning portrayed the conflict between the rebels and Federal militia.   Protests of the rebels centered on the tax of both their whiskey stills and the whiskey produced whereas the militia considered the uprising a threat to the newly formed government. The Federal government prevailed after sending more than 12,000 militia troops enlisted from eastern portions of the mid-Atlantic States and commanded by such Revolutionary notables such as Daniel Morgan and Alexander Hamilton.   David Bradford, leader of the Rebel cause, escaped down the Ohio river.  Rev. Corbly was exonerated of all charges and returned to his home in Garards Fort.  

A brief memorial service for descendants who had passed away since the last reunion was held.  Photos were taken of descendants from each of Corbly’s wives.  During the luncheon, held in the church social hall, a special “whiskey cake”, made by Lena Galing, was auctioned.  Tours were conducted of the Garards Fort Cemetery, resting place for Reverend Corbly, two wives and eleven children and site of the Corbly Massacre monument.

Next year’s reunion will be held Sunday, June 30, 2019.  The event is open to those interested in local history as well as Corbly descendants.  For more information go to www.johncorblydescendants.org or contact William Miller at [email protected] or 724-627-7129.