Saturday, January 09, 2021
Monday, January 04, 2021
Saturday, January 02, 2021
John Calvin Cory was the oldest child of Jeremiah William Cory, Sr. and Dorothy “Dolly” Martin. He was born about 1815 in Pickaway County, Ohio. Nine siblings were to follow before Jeremiah and Dolly moved to northern Indiana in the 1830s. There the family acquired land and farmed. About 1835, John Calvin Cory married Martha Crosson, a daughter of Samuel Crosson, one of the founders of the town of Syracuse, Kosciusko County, Indiana. In 1836, Martha gave birth to John Walker Cory. She died the same year. Details are not available, but perhaps her death was a complication of childbirth. John Calvin Cory found his second bride in the person of Lavinia Stevens. They were married in 1839 in Lavinia's home county of Vermilion, Illinois. By the time of the 1840 census, the couple was living in Elkhart County, Indiana with young John Walker Cory. In the spring of 1846, John Calvin moved west to Iowa Territory. Whether he brought his wife and son with him is not documented. He was the first white settler in what would become Skunk Township of Polk County. In the fall of 1846, J.C.'s brother Isaac Walker and family migrated to Iowa, and in 1849, a wagon train comprising John Calvin's parents and several siblings with their families also made the trek to Iowa.
In 1848 the U.S. government began selling land to settlers in what had by then become the state of Iowa. There is no record that J.C. Cory bought any acreage, implying that he may have moved on. By the time of the 12 November 1850 federal census, John Calvin, Lavinia, and John Walker Cory were living in Pettis Township, Platte County, Missouri. Several members had been added to the household since the 1840 census. Three children had been born in Indiana: Christopher in about 1840, William Tigris, in about 1843, and James Euphrates, in about 1845. Daughter Cassa was born in Illinois about two months before the November 1850 census. Since Lavinia's pattern of childbearing was fairly typical of pioneer women—a birth every two to three years—while in Indiana, the gap of about five years between James and Cassa suggests Lavinia may not have accompanied John Calvin to Iowa in 1846, but rejoined him later. Lavinia's sister, Mary Ann Dunbar, 23, and her daughter, Columbia, age 3, were also living in the J.C. Cory household in 1850. Presumably, Mary Ann was widowed or divorced, but details of the father of Columbia are unknown.
In 1852 or 1853, the lives of the family took an unusual turn. According to findings of fact by a probate judge in the case of John C. Cory's estate, “...sometime after the marriage of John C. Cory and Lavinia Stevens, John C. Cory, about the year 1852 or 1853 abandoned the said Lavinia, his wife, and commenced living and cohabiting with Mary Ann Stevens, a sister of Lavinia and in 1856 John C. Cory removed from the State of Missouri to the State of California, taking Mary Jane (sic) Stevens with him where they continued to reside, and cohabit as man and wife, until the death of said Mary Ann Stevens, about the year 1865.” Mary Ann's daughter Columbia Dunbar also made the trip to California. Apparently, Mary Ann was pregnant when they left Missouri and migrated to California, as her first daughter by John Calvin Cory, named Nebraska, was born in Nebraska Territory in 1856. Their second daughter, Minerva Jane, was born in California about 1863.
While living in Butte County, California, John Calvin Cory was known as Dr. Cory. How or when he acquired this title is uncertain, but a history of Butte County by George C. Mansfield, published in 1918, described Dr. Cory as a “pioneer physician.” Licensing for physicians was lax at best on the frontier. It seems unlikely that he had any formal training. His brother back in Indiana, Robert V. Cory, advertised himself as a veterinary surgeon as well as an auctioneer, also without any evidence of a formal education.
After Mary Ann's death, Lavinia and John Calvin Cory reunited. Quoting again the findings of fact from John Calvin Cory's probate packet: “...upon the death of Mary Ann Stevens in 1865, Lavinia Cory, wife of said John C. Cory came to California in 1866 at the request of her husband, and from thenceforward, until the death of said John C. Cory in Butte Co Cal—lived with him as his wife.” Barring a personal visit, J.C. Cory must have sent a letter or telegram to Lavinia imploring her to take him back. What an interesting and persuasive document that must have been! The 1870 census indicates that Lavinia's brother Stephen C. Stevens, a schoolteacher, was living with J.C. and Lavinia in Plumas County, California. Interestingly, J.C., Lavinia, Nebraska, and Minerva Jane were counted a second time in the 1870 census—in Butte County. Presumably, J.C. Cory had property in both counties.
The death of John Calvin Cory was no less out of the ordinary than his life had been. On 12 February 1871, Dr. Cory was lying on the floor of his house, warming his feet at a fireplace with his head resting on a stool. A rifle held by his brother-in-law Stephen C. Stevens in an adjacent hallway discharged, and the bullet struck Cory in the top of the head, passed through his neck, and lodged in his left shoulder, killing him instantly. Stevens claimed he stumbled on his way to go outside to shoot ducks and that the gun discharged accidentally. Indicted for murder, he was found innocent at trial. After his acquittal, California newspapers had nothing positive to say about Stevens. The Chico Semi-Weekly Review of 6 December 1871 carried a short item which stated “S.C. Stevens, the fancy school teacher who sloshed around here last spring has turned up in San Jose, playing the confidence game. He has a niece along and represents her to be an heiress to considerable wealth, and himself to be possessed of means and property in Chico. He also represented himself as belonging to a benevolent institution, and on the strength of that succeeded in bilking some landlords. The San Jose Patriot gives about a half a column of his eccentricities.” An article with the headline “Turning Out Badly” in The Red Bluff Independent of 21 December 1871 reported that Stephen C. Stevens was “accompanied by his niece, whom, it is said, he represents as an heiress to great wealth. This disclosure is mortifying to those who believed in his innocence, and leaves him to go altogether to the dogs.” The niece in question was Nebraska, fifteen-year-old daughter of John Calvin Cory and Mary Ann Stevens Dunbar. Stephen C. Stevens and Nebraska were later married, on 26 July 1873. Unfortunately for the couple, in 1875 the probate court of Butte County, California denied Nebraska's claim to be an heir of the estate of her father, based on the fact that she and her sister Minerva Jane were illegitimate children of J.C. Cory and therefore ineligible to be his heirs.
California voter registrations of 1875 and 1880 listed S.C. Stevens’ occupation as lawyer, even though all previous documentation was that he was a schoolteacher. Whether he was actually qualified to be a lawyer or whether he merely posed as one is unknown, but he practiced in the Police Courts in Colusa and Tehama Counties. Stevens met a gruesome death on 27 August 1882. On that Sunday afternoon, he went to the home of Ashland Christian near Orland, Tehama County, California. Newspapers varied on the details of the dispute that ensued between the two men, but it centered on a piece of land. The Stockton Evening Mail of 29 August 1882 reported that Stevens was claiming “money as commission of a sale,” while the Chico Weekly Enterprise of 1 September 1882 reported the argument was over a piece of land that both Christian and Stevens laid claim to. In any event, Stevens pulled a knife and threatened the life of Christian, whereupon Christian knocked Stevens down and kicked him to death. The Evening Mail reported, “The deceased was much battered—had his skull fractured and two ribs broken. Christian, who is respectably connected, is under arrest.” The Enterprise described Stevens as “originally a school teacher, a particularly dressy young man” who “managed to worm himself into society,” and who, since being acquitted in his trial for the murder of Dr. Cory in 1871, had made a career as a swindler, confidence man, and claim jumper.
There was no mention of a widow in the news accounts of his murder, and what became of his wife (and niece) Nebraska is unknown. It does not appear that Ash Christian was convicted for the murder and no mention was made of the episode in his obituary when he died at age 69 in 1925. He was described as “one of the prominent men of Orland and was held in high esteem by all who knew him.”
Thursday, September 12, 2019
|Title page of the 1603 edition of Seven Treatises by Richard Rogers.|
Sunday, September 08, 2019
Yes, I am still alive. It's been a few years since I've posted here, but since I'm boycotting Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., this is the one somewhat social medium open to me. I have just completed an ebooklet about the Great Book, a family heirloom handed down from the Puritan John Cory I of Southold, Long Island. It's publicly available, free of charge, on Google Drive. Enjoy.
Friday, February 27, 2015
Sunday, November 09, 2014
Wednesday, February 05, 2014
Sunday, November 03, 2013
1. In not one, but two pictures, films of a brain MRI are upside down.
2. Nobody prints films of MRI scans anymore. The images are all on computer monitors.