Rev. John Corbly Family Massacre
The Corbly family lived one mile north of Garards Fort, in southwest Pennsylvania at the John Corbley Farm. The massacre occurred on Sunday morning, May 10, 1782, as the Corbly family traveled on foot to their place of worship. The Corbly family had left their home and were on their way to worship at a place where Reverend John Corbly was to preach. When Corbly discovered that the Bible, which he thought was in Mrs. Corbly’s care, had been left at home, he returned to get it and then followed his family, meditating upon the sermon he was to preach.
A party of Indians were on Indian Point, an elevation of land from which they could see John Corbly’s cabin. The Indians descended the hill, crossed Whitely creek and filed up a ravine to the place, about forty-nine rods north of the present John Corbly Memorial Baptist Church, where the helpless family was massacred. Two of Corbly’s daughters, Delilah and Elizabeth, lived after brutal scalpings. Mrs. Corbly and the three remaining children were killed.
Because of the rise of ground the fort was out of view of the massacre, but was within hearing distance. The screams of the Corbly family were heard there and in a few minutes men on horseback rushed from the fort to give help.
The John Corbly Memorial Baptist Church was built in 1862. A plaque erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in 1923 and set in a boulder reads: “Fort Garard built about 1774”. The Corbly massacre took place about 279 yards north on May 10, 1782. A family reunion of John Corbly descendants takes place every year on the last Sunday in June, at the John Corbly Memorial Baptist Church in Garards Fort, PA. A historic review follows the 9:30 AM church service at 11:00 AM with a potluck dinner afterwards.
Delilah lived to age 65 and reared ten children with Levi Martin. Elizabeth died at age 21, a few days before she was to marry Isaiah Morris of Garards Fort. Only John Jr escaped unharmed.
On wikipedia, I found a transcript of a manuscript which was a handwritten account of the Hanna and Corbly families, with the following passage [misspellings are as they were written]:
My History on My Mothers’ Side – She was a grand daughter of the Rev John Corbly.
A copy of a letter from Mr John Corbly a Baptist Minister to his friend in Philadelphia – dated Muddy Creek Sep 1 1792 (Whitley was called Muddy Creek at the time).
“The following are the particulars of the destruction of my unfortunate family by the savages on the 10th day of May last 1791. Being my appointment to preach at one of the meeting-houses about a mile from my dwelling house, I set out with my loving wife and five children for public worship, not suspecting any danger. I walked behind a few rods with my bible in my hand meditating. As I was thus employed on a sudden I was greatly alarmed by the frightful shriks of my dear family before me. I immediately ran to their relief with all possible speed vainly hunting a club as I ran. When within a few yards of them my poor wife observing me cried out to me to make my escape. At this instant an Indian ran up to shoot me. I had to strip and by so doing out ran him. My wife had an infant in her arms which the Indians killed and scalped after which they struck my wife several times but not bringing her to the ground. The Indians who attempted to shoot me approached her and shot her through the body after which they scalped her. My little son about six years old they dispatched by sinking there hatchet into his brain. My little daughter four years old they in like manner tomahawked and scalped. My elder daughter attempted an escape by concealing her self in a hollow tree about six rods from the fatal scene of action. Observing the Indians retiring, as she supposed, she deliberately crept out from the place of her concealment when one of the Indians who yet remained on the ground espying her ran up to her and with his tomahawk knocked her down and scalped her. But blessed be God she yet survives as dose here little sister whom the savages in like manner tomahawked and scalped. They are mangled to a shocking degree but the doctors think there are some hope of their recovery. When I supposed the Indians gone I returned to see what had become of my unfortunate family whom also I found in the situation above described. No one my dear friend can form a true conception of my feelings at this moment. A view of a crime so shocking to humanity quite over come me. I fainted and was unconsciously boarn off by a friend who at that moment arrived to my relief. Thus my dear Sir I have given you a faithful though short narrative of the fatal castraphe amidst which my life is spared but for what purpose The Great Jehovah best knows. Oh may I spend it to the praise and glory of his grace who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. The government of the world and its church are in his hands. I conclude with wishing you every blessing and subscribe myself your affectionate though afflicted friend and unworthy brother in the gospel ministry. John Corbly. “