Friday, February 16, 2007

The Tragedy of Cora and Pardner


Pardner Cory

For several months, I have been contemplating, and even started writing, a fictionalization of the story of Pardner and Cora Cory. Pardner was a brother to my great grandfather, Harvey Vaneman Lincoln Cory. I took inspiration from an article in the November 13, 2006 edition of Time, which I happened to pick up from the waiting room to read while I waited for an MR scan to be completed on call one night. The article, by Pico Iyer, is entitled, "How to Write a Short Story," and talks about Alice Munro's book The View From Castle Rock, wherein she transforms her ancestors' lives into fiction.

So far I haven't succeeded in converting my own ancestors' lives into fiction, so I just present the facts.

Item: From the Indianan Republican (yes, it's spelled correctly--the result of a merger of the Daily Indianan with the Warsaw Weekly Republican newspapers), July 24, 1890.

SUICIDE: Cora, the wife of Partner (sic) F. Cory, of Syracuse, committed suicide at that place on Sunday by taking poison. She was only 17 years of age, and previous to her marriage she resided in New Paris and was the daughter of Elias Wright. Cory married her last spring and it is said that the marriage did not prove a happy one and while she was visiting her old home, her husband wrote that she need not return. She did return however, and later committed suicide.

Item: From a collection of Elkhart County, Indiana obituaries at Rootsweb, submitted by Terri Clemens. There is no further attribution. I assume "The News" refers to the Goshen (Indiana) News.

Our readers will remember the talk about a letter from Pardner Cory at the time of his death a couple of weeks ago. The News correspondent at New Paris sends us the letter which reads as follows:

At Home, Nov. 13th, 1890.
To the family, and Mr. and Mrs. Wright,
When I talk to one I mean all. This beautiful morning Nov. 13th gives warning to me to be ready to meet my God in peace. As you know I have been in bad shape ever since dear Cora went home and as I told her many times I could not stay in the world without her, and as it seems as God has a wonderful power and he seems to tell me it wont be long until I can again say good morning dear as I did every morning in this life. And to all who seem to think she and I did not love each other as dear as our own lives, it is a wonderful mistake, for the Sunday she took the arsenic we agreed to love and cherish each other as long as time should last, and O my God, my God, did we not?

I am so much pleased to go and be where man should be, with his companion of course. To those of Syracuse who said I was not half a husband God bless you and help you to be better to your own wife.

To Mrs. Wright, you ought to change your mind if you think I did the work with Cora, when you come home it may be we can talk over it together. But indeed I can not tell you how dear my daughter was to me, but O be a good woman and meet me in Heaven.

Good by Ma & Ma & Pa & all.

Pard.

(Blogger's note: Pard was saying goodbye to his mother and inlaws. His father, Robert V. [Lucky Bob] Cory had died in 1879 from an overdose of an arsenic-containing tonic called Fowler's solution.)

Referring to the above our correspondent says: "It may seem strange to some people that he wrote such a letter two days before his death. Mr. Kitson, his brother in law, explains that. He says Pardner had some 8 or 9 sick spells since the death of his wife and every time he thought he would die. About the time he wrote the letter he had a hard spell which he thought would kill him. He did not die with convulsions as was reported in the papers, heart failure was the trouble. Pardner went to his wife's grave quite often, sometimes he would write in the sand with his fingers "Remember Me" and a few days before his death he did some scribbling on a small flat stone lying on the grave. It was reported that Mrs. Elias Wright found a letter on the grave, but she says she knows nothing about it.

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