Sergeant James F. McCorkle - 1st West Virginia Cavalry, GAR
Biography & Obituary

    James F. McCorkle was born October 26, 1836 in Lawrence Co., Ohio, the son of Henry Carty and Mary Elkins McCorkle. He was the great great grandson of Samuel and Sarah McCorkle of Augusta Co., Virginia. James F. McCorkle was one of the very few descendants of Samuel and Sarah McCorkle that volunteered for service in the Union Army during the Civil War.   

From History of Montgomery County, Kansas, By Its Own People, L. Wallace Duncan, Iola, Kansas, 1903
Transcribed by John A. Jackson

    The rapidly increasing distance of the Civil War from these times of the nation’s great prosperity tends to a seeming forgetfulness of the glorious deeds of the “boys in blue” which made that prosperity possible. And yet it is a “seeming” forgetfulness, for whenever opportunity offers, the public is not slow in showing its appreciation of the sacrifices and hardships endured during those four terrible years of the nation’s peril. This is not only true in a public sense, but in private life as well. The tribute of respect paid the “old soldier” in every community is general and of the utmost sincerity. Like the father of his country, the old soldier is “first in peace, first in war, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” The list of Grand Army veterans is unusually large for Montgomery county, owing to the fact that her broad acres lay in inviting idleness at the time when the implements of war were bring turned into the pruning hooks of peace.

   The gentleman whose honored name initiates this paragraph, is one of the nation’s defenders who settled on a quarter section seven miles south of Independence, in the year 1870, (but having come to the county in 1869), and has since been continuously engaged in the pursuit of agriculture. At the breaking out of the Civil War, Mr. McCorkle was a student at the Lebanon (Ohio) Normal. He immediately returned home and enlisted as a private soldier in Company “G”, 1st W. Va. Cav., in which organization he served three years and four months, being discharged at Harper’s Ferry in the fall of 1864. During his period of service, he saw much of the horrors of war, having participated in nineteen hard-fought battles, in which artillery was used on both sides, and in 117 skirmishes, many of which partook of the seriousness of a battle. He was wounded at Gettysburg, receiving a ball in the fleshy part of the neck, which, though painful, was not serious. He, however, had several close calls, having had two horses killed and one wounded under him. During the period of his service he was an unwilling witness to the fall and wounding of several prominent officers, notably Gen. Shields, wounded at Kernstown, Gen. Mulligan, at Winchester, and Farnsworth at Gettysburg. He also saw Gen. Custer when shot in the leg at Culpeper, Va. Of those days of carnage, Mr. McCorkle speaks with the feeling of the true soldier—glorious, but awful, and may they never return again.

    The parents of our subject were Henry and Polly (Elkins) McCorkle, the father born at Blacksburg, W. Va., in 1812, the mother also being a native of that state, and a member of the same family brought to national attention by the late Senator Elkins. They were leading farmers in their section of the state, members of the U. B. church, and concerned in the development of that spirit of freedom and loyalty which dared to refuse the demand of the mother state to follow her into dis-union. Their family consisted of seven children, as follows: James F., subject of this review; Villetta, Mrs. Gabriel Lister; Miranda, Mrs. Lieut. Suitors; Ann, Mrs. George Matthews; Franklin, a farmer of Liberty township, this county; Madison, of Lawrence county, Ohio, and Jefferson, living on the home farm.

    James F. McCorkle was born October 26, 1836 in Lawrence County, Ohio. He was reared to farm life and was destined for one of the professions, had the war not cut short his school days. After the war, he went to Paxton, Ill., where he engaged in the nursery business quite extensively for several years, and in 1869, as stated, came to Montgomery county. Here he has been an active factor in the development of the resources of the county, industriously attending to his own affairs, and always in favor of the right as he saw it. He lived on the original quarter for a number of years, and then bought an eighty nearer town, which he still owns, and from which he removed to his present residence in town in 1899. Of late years, Mr. McCorkle has been connected with the oil industry which has developed to so great an extent in southeastern Kansas.

     The marriage of our subject was an event of Sept. 17, 1868. Mrs. McCorkle is a native of Troy, Ohio, and is the daughter of B. F. and Mary (Martin) Tullis.

     Of the family which these parents reared, the following is a brief statement: Harry B., is a graduate in pharmacy of the Kansas State University and a graduate in medicine and surgery at Marion-Simms Medical College at St. Louis, and is successfully practicing medicine at Billings, Ok. Ty. He married Edna Becker, and has one child, Margaret; Mollie S. married R. C. Hearne, a master painter of Independence, one child, Sallie; Charlie E., a farmer of the county, married Bettie Clay, and has three children, Leo, Edna and Golden; Jessie M., married Henry Miller, of Independence, and has one child, Treva; James F. is a student of the high school.

From The South Kansas Tribune, February 3, 1904
Transcribed by John A. Jackson

Another Veteran Mustered Out

     James F. McCorkle, a well-known early settler in Liberty township and for the past few years a resident of the city, was called home last Saturday, Jan. 30th, at the age of 68 years. He was born in Ohio and while attending college at Lebanon, responded to President Lincoln’s call for soldiers. Ohio’s quota for enlistments being full he with others crossed the river and was mustered in the First West Virginia Cavalry, and was in most of the hardest fighting in Virginia. He participated in 27 skirmishes and in 19 hard fought battles, was one wounded and twice had a horse shot from under him. After the war he was married and went to Illinois, but in 1870 they came with the great host of army veterans to this county, where he had become one of the best known of the “boys of ‘61”. He was always an upright, intelligent and honorable citizen, took an active part in all public affairs, and was highly respected by all. His wife, two sons and two daughters survive him. The funeral was held at the residence Sunday, under the auspices of the Grand Army of the Republic, with a brief address by his comrade Elder C. H. Jones, who spoke feelingly of the departed, and in his admonitions to the “old boys” urged them to prepare to meet the change so rapidly coming. Burial at Spring Hill.

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Revised Jan 12, 2012