Thu - June 23, 2005

God's Mountain, McLaughlin's Valley 

Anyone who has a interest in Mustoe Hamilton Corbett or his mother, Rebecca, probably should also have a keen interest in the family of John McLaughlin.

Rebecca Corbett is named in the 1838 will of John McLaughlin Sr, to wit: "To Rebecca Corbit for her long and faithful services to me and my wife I give and bequeth the sum of Fifty dollars to be paid unto her by my son John out of his part of the proceeds of my land(ed) property also one saddle and bride, one sow and yearling, six head of sheep and one bed and furniture."

The younger John McLaughlin is the one who eventually married Sally Wiley after the death of her first husband Mustoe Hamilton.

The senior John McLaughlin had a son Hugh who named Mustoe Hamilton Corbett in as a nephew will.

The senior John McLaughlin had another son Samuel, whose son Hugh P. McLaughlin enlisted and served with Mustoe Hamilton Corbett in the Civil War.

In any event, Joan Kay has recently started a blog on the relevant McLaughlin clan, called McLaughlin's Valley and also wrote a historical novel about the McLaughlins called God's Mountain, McLaughlin's Valley . I just received my copy in the mail today, and it is very enjoyable so far. 

Posted at 10:19 PM     Read More  

Sun - April 11, 2004

The Corbetts in 1850 and 1860 

My great-grandmother is Elsie Lucile Corbett, daughter of William Bennett Corbett and Ruby Gertrude Elliot. William Bennett Corbett's father was Mustoe Hamilton Corbett, son of Rebecca Corbett. I wrote last time about Mustoe and his brothers, William and Charles.

Rebecca has been a "brick wall" in my research for some time. The earliest mention I have of her is the 1850 U.S. Census, where she is enumerated as "Rebecca Carbet", age 38 in Highland County, Virginia. She is listed as a seamstress, and the head of the household with five children: William (age 11), Musto (age 9), Jane (age 6), Charles (age 3), and Isabella (age 1). Rebecca and her three eldest children are listed as having been born in Bath County, with the two youngest being born in Highland County. Highland County was formed in 1847 by combining pieces of Bath and Pendleton County, so it is not obvious yet whether the family had moved or whether the county lines had simply shifted around them.

The 1850 census was the first to list every member of the household. In 1840 and prior years, only the name of the head of household was recorded along with the number of people in each of several age groups. The trouble is that there are only two Corbett (Corbet) households in Bath County in 1840, and neither has a male child under five years of age (Rebecca's son William would be approximately one year old in 1840), so I have a bit more work to do on this front.

Still, the 1850 census gives me some clues. Living next-door to Rebecca Corbett was John McLaughlin, his wife Sally, and their children. This piqued my interest because several of their children (the oldest four) have the Hamilton surname. It turns out that Sally's first husband (and, presumably, the father of her first four children) was Mustoe Hamilton, It seems likely that Mustoe Hamilton Corbett is named after Sally's first husband (who died more than a year before M.H. Corbett was born), but the relationship between Rebecca Corbett and either the Hamilton family or Wiley family (Wiley is Sally's maiden name) is not clear.

This mystery is muddied a bit by the fact that Mustoe Corbett is later named in the will of Hugh McLaughlin as Hugh's nephew. This turned into a real Gordian knot when I realized that Sally Wiley's mother, Nancy Gwin, was married twice: first to a Hugh McLaughlin and second to James Wiley. The two afore-mentioned Hugh McLaughlins are not, as best I can tell, the same person. To make it worse, Mustoe Corbett enlisted and served with Hugh P. McLaughlin in the Confederate Army.

Not helping clarify things at all is the fact that James Wiley had two sons by a first marriage (before Nancy Gwin McLaughlin): John and Robert. James Wiley owned joint interest in a tract of land on Allegheny Mountain with William Corbit, an interest which John and Robert inherited when James died in 1838.

Confused yet? It gets better. In the 1860 census, Rebecca Corbett's household has been splintered. I have not found William, Jane, or Isabella yet. But I found Rebecca, Mustoe, and Charles.

Rebecca is living in the household of James and Susan Terry. This is interesting because James Terry is not Susan's first husband. She was first married to Robert Wiley.

Mustoe is living in the household of Hugh McLaughlin, age 62. This is presumbably the one who named him a nephew in his will a few years later. Hugh P. McLaughlin is living there also.

Charles is living in the household of Andrew Dilly. This is somewhat interesting since there is also a Margaret Dilly in the household of Hugh McLaughlin.

Well, that's what I've got at the moment: an awful lot of questions and a few answers. This is a fascinating puzzle that I hope I have the time and resources to solve someday.

Posted at 05:00 PM     Read More  

Tue - April 6, 2004

The Three Brothers 

For the past year or so, I've been struggling to find more information on my GGGG Grandmother Rebecca Corbett. I keep hitting a dead end around 1850 or so, and have thus far been unable to locate any record of her any earlier than that. I feel pretty comfortable in asserting that she had five children: three sons (William, Mustoe, and Charles) and two daughters (Jane and Isabella). Mustoe Hamilton Corbett is my GGG Grandfather.

I found out today that all three sons served as Confederate soldiers in the Civil War. The American Civil War Research and Genealogy Database is doing a great job of creating "the largest, most in-depth and fully searchable database of United States Civil War soldiers and events." The continue to add more data all the time.

William Corbett was the eldest son of Rebecca Corbett. He would have been approximately 22 years old in 1861 when he enlisted as a Private in Company E of the 31st Infantry Regiment (Virginia). It is not certain, but it is likely, that William participated in the the Battle of Greenbrier River on October 3, 1861. It was a rather indecisive battle, and the casualties were not particulary heavy on either side. Fought at the site of an inn on the Parkersburg-Staunton Turnpike, the battle lasted less than a day. As best I can tell, after the battle the 31st Infantry moved to Camp Allegheny where William died on 15 November 1861 of disease. The conditions there were bad: the frequent storms of snow and rain, combined with the fact of the troops not being fully provisioned for winter led to many Confederate deaths that winter and the abandonment of the camp in the spring.

Rebecca's second son, Mustoe Hamilton Corbett, enlisted as a Private on 18 May 1861 in Company D of the 9th Battalion Regiment (Virginia). My information on the early action of the 9th Battalion is a little sketchy (they did fight in the Battle of Rich Mountain in July 1861), but on 1 May 1862 the battalion was transferred into the command of the 25th Virginia Infantry Regiment. Mustoe almost certainly saw immediate action in the Battle of McDowell (8 May 1862) and Stonewall Jackson's Shenandoah Valley Campaign. He also served in "A" Company, 19th Virginia Cavalry, but I am not sure when or for how long. It is not certain when Mustoe was discharged from the army, but he survived the war and lived until 1926.

Charles Porter Corbett was Rebecca's youngest son. Born in 1848, Charles P. must have been a very young boy when he enlisted: he was only 13 at the start of the war in 1861. I don't have many details of his service (I don't know his enlistment date, for instance), but he mustered into "G" Company, 18th Virginia Cavalry and also served in "I" Company, 25th Virginia Infantry. This the same unit that Mustoe served in from May 1862 onward, leaving open the possibility that these brothers fought side by side. Charles survived the war and lived until 1913.

I have never been much of a Civil War buff, but I am intrigued that these three boys all elected to join the war. It is hard to imagine what they gave up to fight (or what they aimed to gain). We know that William and Mustoe were both serving in the fall of 1861, and I can only imagine that Charles was anxious to join in.

Posted at 09:55 PM     Read More