Biography - Nathaniel Corley

REV. NATHANIEL CORLEY, is an old settler and prominent farmer of Pickaway Township, who has ever been known for bis good words and works among the people. His is a resident on section 34, where he has one hundred and sixty acres, less one acre given by him for the use of the Separate Baptist Church. He procured this land from the Government in 1847, and has ever since owned the place and has put it in its present well cultivated and productive condidition. It is a well cared for place, every particular being kept up in the best of order. He secured the land on a land warrant issued to him by the Government for services rendered in the Mexican War, in which he had enlisted when nineteen years of age, in the year 1846, joining the Third Illinois Regiment, Col. Forman and Capt. Freeman, of Company B, commanding.

Mr. Corley went with his regiment to Mexico as Sergeant and after serving for about seven months was discharged on account of disability, having contracted illness during his service. He was in no active engagements, but saw much of the treachery and vindictiveness of the Mexicans. On his return home, and when he recovered his health he located his warrant on the land which he now owns and has ever since made it his home, his grant being admitted during President Polk's administration.

Our subject was born on Robinson Creek, Ridge Township, this county, June 13, 1827. His father was Bryant Corley, a native of Virginia, and of Scotch-Irish parentage and ancestry. He was only two years old when his parents, Jonathan C. and Delilah (Smith) Corley came to Kentucky, and eighteen years of age when his parents and family proceeded to Illinois and made settlement on Robinson Creek. There they began life in the early '20s and were the first pioneers of the county and for many years were in a sparsely settled country. At the time of their advent here, the Indians were their most frequent visitors and wild game was to he procured in abundance. Jonathan C. and his wife after some years improved a farm in Cold Spring Township, this county, and there died. Mr. Corley being a victim to paralysis and passing away at the age of seventy-eight, October 3, 1861. He had been a very strong and rugged man, and was noted for his wonderful strength and enduring capacity. His wife was, at the time of her death in 1848, three-score and ten years of age. They belonged to the Methodist Church, when the primitive followers of Wesley believed it wrong to wear a ribbon or flower, or to beautify in any way, the exterior person.

Bryant Corley was one of quite a large family, the children being thirteen in number. All lived to be married and have families, but at the present time only six of the family survive, and they are all quite advanced in years. Byrant Corley, soon after reaching manhood, married Elizabeth Lee, a native of Kentucky, and a daughter of John and Sarah (Hill) Lee, both natives of this country, but of German ancestry. 'The lady's family came to Illinois in 1818, and settled on Robinson Creek, Shelbv County, a short time later, and like the Robinsons and Corleys, were among the earliest settlers in the county, and there John Lee and his wife spent the remainder of their lives, with the exception of the last few months, which they passed in Texas, where they died. Mr. Lee had served for three months in the War of 1812.

After the marriage of our subject's parents they purchased a raw prairie farm and there lived for some time. Later they secured another farm, and improved it afterward moving to Rose Township, where they settled in a comfortable home, and there died. The father passed away January 13, 1874. He was born December 8, 1805. His wife died some years later at the home of her son, our subject, her decease occurring March 3, 1881. She and her husband were four years identified with the Methodist Church.

Our subject was the first born of ten children, six sons and four daughters. Four of the children are yet living, two sons and two daughters, and all are married. Our subject acquired his education in the primitive log school house, but is an intelligent and well informed man. He was married in Ridge Township, this county, in 1847. to Miss Chloe Casey. She was born and reared on the farm in Ridge Township, where she celebrated her marriage and was the youngest daughter, of Levi Casey, a well-known pioneer and frontiersman of this county, where he lived and died. Mrs. Corley was well reared by good parents. She is the sister of Judge John Casey, a prominent man in his county and State in the early days. Mrs. Corley was an earnest Christian and a kind neighbor and loving wife. She died at her home in this township April 19, 1862. She was a member of the United Brethren Church. She bore her husband two children, namely: Levi B. and Bryant. The former took as wife Catherine Maltox. They live on the farm owned by our subject and operate the same. Bryant took as wife Nancy Brinker. They also live on the home farm. The old house is full of the merry voices of children who make the rooms re-echo with their gay laughter and merry play. Levi has four children who are Addie, the wife of Rich R. Bryant, who resides in Cold Spring Township, this county, Chloe, Mary J. and Emma M. Bryant's children are Mary F., Naom, Lydia E., Nelson O., Ettir M. and Edith N.

After the death of his first wife, our subject was a second time married to Miss Rebecca R. Whitten. Their marriage was solemnized January 15, 1863. The lady was born in Kentucky, October 23, 1828, and is a daughter of Josiah and Sarah (Rector) Whitten, natives of South Carolina and Virginia, respectively, although married in Tennessee, and after a short residence in Kentucky emigrating to Illinois in 1846, where they settled in Montgomery County, and here lived, passing away at the ages of ninety-four and eighty-two, respectively. They were farmers and members of the Baptist Church. Mrs. Corley was twenty years old when her parents came to Illinois, and she lived in Montgomery County until her marriage. Both she and her husband are active members of the Baptist Church in which body Mr. Corley has been ordained a preacher and in which capacity he has served for twenty-four years, his ordination taking place in the month when he was forty years old. The Elders officiating were Revs. Willis Whitfield, Francis and Randolph, George W. Carter and John Turner. He has been in active service in the church ever since, until within four years. During that time he has done much travelling through the State and has been a faithful and devoted worker.

Extracted 05 Feb 2020 by Norma Hass from 1891 Portrait and Biographical Record of Shelby and Moultrie Counties Illinois, pages 663-664.

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