Edward Corbley: Where did he go?

Edward Corbley:Birth April 19,1832 Death 20 Oct 1891 in Oakwood, IL  (Parents William Corbley and Rebecca Stephens).  Spouse Mary Ann Littler (February 7, 1860)

My aunt has decided to join the DAR and so this spurred a quest to find all the records for my paternal grandmother’s side of the family. We had already recorded the Corbley bible, but the last three generations needed more documentation. All was going fairly well until my great great grandfather Edward Corbley. Family stories differ on why he vanished and there aren’t a lot of records on him, but they all revolve around livestock that got ill and him losing everything. One story Aunt Ethel told was that Edward Corbley was driving cattle up from Texas when they became ill (she said hoof and mouth disease) and he had to hide from the government… then losing the land and everything to the federal government.

The Corbley Farm was a big farm that included the land across from the high school all the way to the land that included Muncie (there is a street in Muncie named after the Corbleys). One article shows that the Congressman J.G. Cannon purchased the farm in both Champaign and Vermilion counties for $30,000.  I’m not sure what the mention of Pearsons and Taft of Chicago means?


From that I can piece together though Edward Corbley went on after the livestock ‘fiasco’ to live in Kansas city, Missouri.  He lived there approximately 8 years before visiting his daughter in Illinois and passing away in her home.   The article tells that he sold his property and went west when reverence overtook him.

0126e205a8ac6220535380dad48d85e38789204239Mary Ann Littler (his wife) is rumored to be buried in Stearns Cemetery in Muncie Illinois with her family, so the thought is that he might be buried in the same cemetery.  There isn’t a record of his burial that I can find so far, and the only undocumented tombstones are so worn that they can no longer be identified.

Somewhere the name switched from Corbley to Corbly also.  Edward Corbly had a brother Lindsey that was in the new constantly (a lawyer)  – so it makes it surprising to me that Edward fell off the books.  I did find one mention that Edward and another man were responsible for surveying and laying out the town of Muncie but in a book with the history of Vermilion County, Edward is dropped completely from the history.  I’m not completely sure I’m ready to quit searching for the history of what happened to Edward.  Most stories though may be lost to time.

From what I’ve found about the livestock disease at that time, Texas cattle were immune to the illness and any land that they inhabited became infected.  New cattle brought in to graze on that land then became ill and died off.  Several states closed off cattle drive routes and would not allow those cattle to be driven through their states.  Shortly after the time I was looking at Illinois closed it’s borders to new Texas cattle.  BUT not knowing what was causing the illness, the farmer bringing in the cattle was vilified by neighboring ranchers for killing off huge herds of cattle.  My ancestors seems to have been caught up in the bad luck of bringing in the wrong type of cattle at the wrong time.

The history of Texas Cattle Drives is available here, but includes:

TEXAS FEVER. Readers of the Veterinarian, an English journal, were informed in June 1868 that a “very subtle and terribly fatal disease” had broken out among cattle in Illinois. The disease killed quickly and was reported to be “fatal in every instance.” The disease was very nearly as fatal as the Veterinarian claimed. Midwestern farmers soon realized that it was associated with longhorn cattle driven north by South Texas ranchers. The Texas cattle appeared healthy, but midwestern cattle, including Panhandle animals, allowed to mix with them or to use a pasture recently vacated by the longhorns, became ill and very often died. Farmers called the disease Texas fever or Texas cattle fever because of its connection with Texas cattle. Other names included Spanish fever and splenic or splenetic fever, from its characteristic lesions of the spleen. The disease is also known as hemoglobinuric fever and red-water fever, and formerly as dry murrain and bloody murrain. To protect their cattle, states along the cattle trails passed quarantine laws routing cattle away from settled areas or restricting the passage of herds to the winter months, when there was less danger from Texas fever. In 1885 Kansas entirely outlawed the driving of Texas cattle across its borders. Kansas, with its central location and rail links with other, more northern markets, was crucial to the Texas cattle-trailing business. The closing of Kansas, together with restrictive legislation passed by many other states, was an important factor in ending the Texas cattle-trailing industry that had flourished for twenty years. (See also, e.g., SHAWNEE TRAIL.)

I almost wonder if in the mention of Texas Fever in Illinois, if the story might be referring to what occurred with Edward Corbly.  Corbly moved to Missouri in 1883, leading me to believe that the epidemic with his cattle occurred shortly before that in the 1880 to 1883 time frame – though it could have been as early as the 1870s.

MUNCIE was platted and recorded in 1875, and evidently named by the surveyors, Alexander Bowman and Edward Corbley.

One story is that part of Muncie was handed over to make restitution for the loss of livestock.

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