Wordless Wednesday — The Bros. Corley (Prologue)

Young Bros. Corley (Jesse, Karl, Roy, Ames & Foss)

Young Bros. Corley (Jesse, Karl, Roy, Ames & Foss)

Above is the oldest photo I have; I would guess it’s from around 1883.

Joseph Corley & Fam

Joseph Corley & Fam

Here are the brothers with my great-grandparents, Joseph and Ida.

Foss, Roy, Karl, Jess and Ames

Foss, Roy, Karl, Jesse and Ames

Here are the brothers all grown up.

Karl, Roy, Ames, Jesse and Foss

Karl, Roy, Ames, Jesse and Foss

Foss was a farmer/land owner (Conn.), Jesse was a Methodist preacher (Calif.), Ames went on to be a professor at Williams College and Yale University, Roy became lieutenant governor of Delaware and Karl (my grandfather) was a pediatrician in Washington, D.C.

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

Tombstone Tuesday — Arlington Abbey, Part 2

In last week’s Tombstone Tuesday post, I wrote about Arlington Abbey Mausoleum, where my great-grandparents were interred in the 1920s. Over the following decades, the mausoleum’s owners abandoned the property when it failed to become profitable. Its government overseers were unable to keep a close eye on it and it fell victim to looters and decay.

I came across an article that mentioned Scott Watson, an Army Corps of Engineers archaeologist, who in the 1990s had been tasked with locating next of kin of those interred at the mausoleum. The military was moving all of the remains out of the mausoleum in order to close it down permanently. I left a message with Watson and was able to speak with him this past week.

Watson was able to verify that not only were my great-grandparents originally buried at Arlington Abbey, but my grandfather as well. I hadn’t been able to track down his gravesite yet, so this was a somewhat unexpected boon (I was hoping he had ended up in the same location, but hadn’t found any evidence of that yet).

That is the good news — the confirmed burial locations of three relatives. The bad news is that they have all since disappeared.

When the Army Corps of Engineers went in to Arlington Abbey to catalog the remains there and prepare them for removal, the crypt where my relatives’ cremated remains had been interred was empty. Watson made the following observations at that time: the shutter from another vault was propped up against the Corley vault, which was second up from the bottom of a six-vault-high stack (so relatively accessible). He noted there had been a fair amount of vandalism.

Watson did say that between the 1950s and the 1970s, sometimes relatives of those buried at the mausoleum had removed the remains for reburial. The mausoleum sometimes kept records of this, but not always. There were no official records showing my relatives’ remains had been removed. Watson said that they had tried to trace the next of kin of the Corleys — but they put the most effort into tracking down families for whom they had remains to release.

Finally, Watson said that they discovered several unlabeled urns containing cremated remains in a pile on the floor of the Abbey Mausoleum. They had no way to trace the vaults to which the remains belonged. These urns were reinterred in the cremation vault at National Memorial Park in Falls Church, Va. This is where all other unclaimed remains from the mausoleum were relocated as well.

So, there appear to be three possibilities as to the current location of my relatives’ remains:

1) Another Corley descendant removed the remains sometime between the 1950s and the 1970s.
2) The remains are among the discarded urns found in the mausoleum.
3) They’re just gone — stolen or destroyed.

Watson apologized for not having better news or more details for me, but he’s given me a ton of information. He’s mailing me copies of the original interment documents and other information that he has available.

It does sadden me that there was looting at the mausoleum, and that because of this, I may never find the final resting place of my grandfather and great-grandparents. Arlington Abbey Mausoleum was demolished in 2000, so I can’t even visit that location.

But I have to admit that I’m a bit fascinated by this whole case. The story surrounding the mausoleum is quite incredible and I’m glad that I’ve learned as much about it as I have. I’ll report back if there is more to be gleaned from the records Watson is sending me.

Continue to Part 3.

Wordless Wednesday: Three Corley Generations

Joseph and Ida Corley surrounded by their children and grand-children, probably around 1918-19.

Joseph and Ida Corley surrounded by their children and grand-children, probably around 1918-19.

Bonus shot of the cousins

Bonus shot of the cousins

The Lineup

The Lineup

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

Tombstone Tuesday — Arlington Abbey, Part 1

Several years ago, whilst investigating my father’s family, I learned that my great-grandparents (his father’s father and mother–Joseph E. Corley and Ida C. F. Corley), were buried in a mausoleum called Arlington Abbey in Arlington, Va., after they passed away in the 1920s. The mausoleum is no more, however, and all of the bodies have since been relocated.

At that time, I assumed this was because the former mausoleum bordered Arlington National Cemetery, which from time to time expands to accommodate more graves. Grad school intervened and I had to shelve my family research. Only recently, did I pick this trail back up.

It’s not a pretty one.

A helpful ancestry.com member responded to a post on that site a few years ago to tell me that many of the bodies formerly located in the mausoleum were relocated to National Memorial Park in nearby Falls Church, Va., especially when next-of-kin could not be found. I called there this past weekend and was told that there is no record of my great-grandparents at that cemetery.

Joseph and Ida used to live in Shelby County, Illinois, the location of a Corley Cemetery where a few of my ancestors and extended relations are buried. Thinking perhaps Joseph and Ida had found a way back home, I did some searching. I found an online list of the gravestones and Joseph and Ida are not listed. Scratch that possibility off the list.

Since these were my only leads, I decided to do some more digging into the history of the mausoleum. I turned up a couple of articles in the Washington Times from the 1990s. Turns out that the mausoleum used to be privately owned, but was not very profitable. The owners turned over control of the facility to the federal government back in the 1950s, but the government didn’t have the resources to oversee it closely. It fell into disrepair and was the target of vandals and apparent satanic worshipers. Bodies were removed from their crypts and valuable items stolen.

As disturbing as the above news is, the articles above include valuable information like the name of the company that originally owned the facility, the exact date when they turned over the property to the government, etc. Perhaps most importantly, I now know the name of the Army Corps of Engineers archaeologist who was tasked with investigating the families of the deceased to try and find next of kin when it was determined all of the graves had to be moved.

I was able to track down his contact information over the weekend and I’ve left him a voicemail to see if he has any information about the whereabouts of my great-grandparents’ remains.

He is not my only hope though. If I don’t hear back or he doesn’t have information about Joseph and Ida, I now have more details that I can use to perform further research. Luckily, I live close enough that trips to libraries in Arlington County, Va., or Washington, D.C., are feasible.

I’d be curious if anyone else reading this has also traced relatives to Arlington Abbey — have you had any luck finding out what happened to them?

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week. I hope to report back that I’ve heard from the Army Corps archaeologist.

Treasure Chest Thursday: A Genealogy of Corleys

A Genealogy of Corleys by Dewitt C. Corley (1927)

A Genealogy of Corleys by Dewitt C. Corley (1927)

One item that I was incredibly lucky to procure over the past few years is “A genealogy of Corleys beginning with Caniel Corley of Bedford County, Virginia,: Tracing all lineal descendants of his son, Jonathan Cheathem [sic] Corley” by Dewitt C. Corley (1927). This book is packed with anecdotal information that Dewitt gathered from interviews with kin, in addition to thorough historical research. It has proved invaluable in my search for more information about my ancestors.

I found out about this book after posting a question about one of my ancestors on genealogy.com and just happened to find an original copy after searching for it on Amazon. The book contains extra copies of photos published within its pages.

Not only was this book written by a Corley, my copy was previously owned by a Corley (Elmer “Pat” Corley). One of my favorite passages details the author’s interactions with my great-grandfather and great-grandmother, Joseph E. Corley and Ida Champ Ferris Corley:

“The compiler has repeatedly had the pleasure of entertaining him and his wife in his home, and always found them most gracious and entertaining guests. He [Joseph] married Miss Ida C. Ferris, an accomplished and educated woman, who survived him.”

The book provides information on when each passed away and where they were buried. It also details the lives of their sons, including my grandfather, Karl Coates Corley, Sr. There is a photo of Ida and Joseph and another of their five grown sons (and I have an original copy of that photo!).

One mysterious find within the pages of my copy was this hand-written poem:

"Only One" by George Cooper

“Only One” by George Cooper

The poem was folded and on the front says “To Mother.” Googling the first line of the poem turns up lots of results, one of which can be found here: http://bartleby.com/248/1205.html

I’m fascinated by who may have copied this poem down — it is possible it was written for Elmer’s wife. It’s also possible that this book belonged to a different owner since Elmer and it was written by or for that owner or one of their relatives. The poem apparently pre-dates the book.

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

Tombstone Tuesday (A Day Early)

Dear Reader: Do you think you are related to the individuals listed in this post? Please drop me a note! I love hearing from cousins and others researching my family!

To make up for my lapse over the weekend in posting Saturday Night Genealogy Fun a day late, I’m posting for Tombstone Tuesday a day early. Besides, I won’t be around tomorrow night to post it then.

I don’t have a picture (yet) of the grave site of Obediah Basham in Breckinridge Co., Kentucky, but in researching this line of my family tree on WorldVitalRecords.com, I came across his entry on the Find a Grave web site: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=12624487

Obediah is one of my great-great-great-great grandfathers. His daughter, Delilah (I love their names!), married Jonathan Cheatham Corley.

At least according to this site, Obediah Basham fought in the Revolutionary War (I haven’t had a chance to investigate the veracity of this yet). It’s interesting to see who has left notes on this site in his memory. Who are they and what are their connections to Obediah? Are they my distant relations? At least one of them says they are related to him.

I’ve done some preliminary investigations into the Basham (sometimes Bassam) line. There are a few books mentioning Obediah, Delilah and a few of their possible forebears. There’s a whole mess of confusion as to who Obediah’s parents may be — on familysearch.org, there are no less than three possible sets and the potential fathers are all brothers. Another blogger genealogist had the excellent suggestion of investigating the brothers’ wills, which I hope to pursue soon.

Not-So-Wordless-Wednesday

I am thankful to the genealogy blogging community for providing prompts like this to write (or not). Here’s my first (Not So) Wordless Wednesday post. There’s not a whole lot I know about this photo — I don’t know where or when it was taken. But I treasure it because it’s the only photo I have of my dad and his brother together as adults.

Karl and Edmund Corley