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Corbaley, Jeremiah J.

Mr. Corbaley was one of the few settlers that was living in Marion county when the writer first arrived here, and was one of the pioneers of the New Purchase.  He was born in the State of Delaware in 1789.  His father, Richard Corbaley, was a native of Ireland, and settled at Odessa, Delaware, where he married an English lady.  He then removed to Washington City, before the laying of the foundation of the first capital building, where he died, leaving four small children.  The widow then removed to Cecil county, Maryland.  Jeremiah remained with his mother and grew to manhood before her death.  In 1816 he came to the territory northwest of the Ohio river, and followed teaching school.  Near Hamilton, Ohio, he formed the acquaintance of Jane, eldest daughter of Robert Barnhill, to whom he was married in 1819. 

Mr. Corbaley brought with him from Maryland about six hundred dollars, which he intended to invest in land.  He entrusted it with a merchant of Hamilton who failed, and he was left without means.

In March 1820, he came to Marion county with Mr. Barnhill, his father-in-law, and settled on the bank of Fall creek, near where Patterson's old mill stood, just outside the Donation, where he remained two years.  On the 7th of August, 1820, his son Richard was born, being the first white child born in the New Purchase.

Richard Corbaley now lives in California.  Owing to the great distress caused by sickness the first two years after they came to Indianapolis, Mr. Barnhill having died, the family removed to a piece of land they had bought on Eagle creek, in the northwest part of the county.  Being industrious, it was not many years until each member of the family had a good farm, and from the rich soil they had a fair reward for their labor.  One of the great drawbacks was the distance they had to travel for a market for their grain, which had to be hauled in wagons to the Ohio river, where they would receive about fifty cents per bushel for wheat.  Mr. Corbaley was the business man for the whole neighborhood, being a good English scholar, and remained as such until his death, which occurred on the 11th of January, 1844.  For many years he was a justice of the peace for Wayne township.  He was one of the commissioners appointed by the Legislature to locate the seat of justice for the counties of Clinton and Fulton, Frankfort and Rochester being their location.

Mr. Corbaley made a trip from this place to his old home in Maryland on horseback.  In traveling through a wilderness country, twenty miles between houses, he was attacked by a panther.  It being near night, with the aid of a flintlock pistol and a piece of tow, he was enabled to kindle a fire, which kept the beast at bay during the night.  The last he saw of the panther was about daylight when the fire was renewed.

Mr. and Mrs. Corbaley raised a family of ten children, which was but an average number for the pioneers of Indiana, all of whom married before the death of Mrs. Corbaley, which occurred April 7th, 1870.  Eight children are yet living.  I well remember Mr. Corbaley as one of the most substantial farmers of the county, and one whose word was considered as good as his bond.


Nowland, John H.B., "Sketches of Prominent Citizens of 1876, with a Few of the Pioneers of the City and County Who Have Passed Away", a sequel to "Early Reminiscences of Indianapolis." 1820-76,  pp. 95-96


Transcribed by Sherri Morem Bergman