Estate of John McCorkle
Abstracted by Dave Woody: Lawrence Co., Ohio Common Pleas Court Journal 1830-1839 (Term Records)
Clerk Copy to Term Records, July 31, 1897;  LDS Film 1303192


November 29, 1830 - The will of John McCorkle was produced by John Layne. “appoint John Layne my sole executor” Will witnessed by John and Samuel Layne, Sr. on October 5, 1830. Through Solomon Beckley his attorney, Robert McCorkle questions the interlineations and contests will. "Robt is brother to John" and “nearest of kin residing in Lawrence County". Robt declined taking Letters of Administration on the estate, therefore the Court approved John Layne administrator; Bond with Philip Forsch and Samuel Layne.
Richard Morrison, John McCrea and Isiah Crawford appointed to appraise the estate.
The case was continued so that the Court could study the evidence.
Interlineations included “one cow and all my sheep ”and “appoint John Layne executor”.

August 29, 1832 - John Layne filled papers to settle estate.

September 19, 1833 - Estate settlement continued again “in order to give administrator the opportunity of correcting is vouchers”.

I have never found the actual will of John McCorkle or the final estate settlement.


Other Related Information

On March 20, 1835, the heirs of Robert McCorkle, Sr. were named in an estate administrative proceeding. Among them were his sons Robert Jr. and John, as well as deceased son Samuel. (So John, the son of Robert Sr. was alive in 1835)

1820 Lawrence County, Ohio Census
Union Twp. John McCorkle 1,0,0,1,0,0/0,0,1,0,0.
Windsor Twp. John McCorkle 1,0,0,1,0,0/0,0,1,0,0. (Because the enumerations were identical, I assume that John, the son of Robert Sr., was counted twice in 1820.)

1830 Personal Property Tax
Union Twp. John McCorkle: 2 horses, 1 cow; Robert McCorkle: 1 horse, 2 cows + Property Tax on 160 acres.
Lawrence Twp. John McCorkle: 1 horse, 1 cow (This is very likely the John that died in 1830)

The first record of a McCorkle paying Lawrence County taxes was in 1822. The tax records through 1837 indicate that 1830 was the only year that two John McCorkles were taxed. In that time period, the only McCorkle recorded in Lawrence Twp. was John in 1830.

The implication of these records is very interesting. Apparently, the John that died in 1830 was the brother of Robert McCorkle Sr., son of Samuel and Sarah McCorkle of Augusta Co., Virginia. However, it has been alleged and widely published that John, the brother of Robert McCorkle, was killed May 6, 1814 while traveling from Kentucky to visit Robert in Lawrence County. I have never found any primary evidence at all to substantiate this claim and it seems odd to us that, although John's exact death date is asserted,  his burial place seems unknown. The earliest mention of this story that we are aware of was included in a newspaper article about the Lawrence County McCorkles that was published in the Huntington, West Virginia Advertiser in 1934. In any event, John’s wife Lydia and her thirteen children moved from Kentucky to Missouri about 1816. If there is another way to interpret this evidence, I would like to hear it because I realize that this conclusion will come as a shock to John and Lydia's descendants, as it did to me. The only genealogical significance that I can attach to this possibility is that there may be undocumented children of John McCorkle, son of Samuel Sr.

May 7, 2014 Update: Two Augusta County, Virginia Chancery Causes seem to prove that John McCorkle was alive and in Augusta on October 27, 1815, over a year after his alleged death. These causes are: Richard Rankin v. John McCorkle (
Index # 1834-037, 165 pages) and Exr of Richard Rankin v. Admr of Vincent Tapp (Index # 1840-004, 84 pages). Chancery Courts were supposedly courts of equity/fairness rather than courts of law. Vincent Tapp was also a defendant in the 1834 cause. These two causes stretched over several decades and are very complicated, tedious and frankly boring. As if this is not enough, the handwriting of the earlier cause is the worst we have ever seen in a chancery cause and, at times, it is unreadable to us. We advise anyone that is going to follow-up on this evidence to first read the 1840 cause, since it is very readable and gives a good overview of the 1834 cause. That these causes refer to the John McCorkle that married Lydia and moved to Kentucky is apparent since these facts are mentioned in the causes. Additional evidence of this conclusion is provided by Green County, Kentucky court records (Abstracts of Green County Kentucky Deed Books 5 & 6, 1806-1814 by Barbara Wright) that show that in 1807, Vincent Tapp gave John McCorkle his power of attorney to sell 4600 acres of land and that in 1809, John McCorkle appointed an Augusta County lawyer to sue Richard Rankin for money owed McCorkle. For our purposes, we deem the almost all of the issues debated in these causes to be of minor importance, so we will cut to the chase. On August 15, 1815 the Augusta Chancery Court ordered the sheriff to subpoena John McCorkle to appear before the court at the next term to answer a bill exhibited against him by Richard Rankin. Although it does not appear that John obeyed this directive, it seems that he did return to Augusta shortly after the subpoena was issued. The image on the left is a clerk's copy of the document that John McCorkle created on Oct 27, 1815 to declare his insolvency and to assert that he was transferring his only asset to Vincent Tapp. Since the copy is dated July 18, 1826, it was undoubtedly created as evidence in the Chancery Cause. The image at the right seems to be the original (not a clerk's copy) transfer and assignment document from John McCorkle to Vincent Tapp and is also dated October 27, 1815. According to John's insolvency claim made the same day, this was his only asset. The signature of John McCorkle on this document on the right is the one debated issue that seems to be of some importance. Much of the evidence presented in the causes concerns the signature on this document. Many of the numerous depositions taken by the attorneys for the plaintiff and defendants were given by John's acquaintances and ex-neighbors and concerned the veracity of the signature. Needless to say, the opinion of these deponents generally coincided with the position of the attorney that was taking the deposition. There were also other examples of signatures attributed to John McCorkle that were part of the cause evidence. It is our view that the examples show very little similarity and, apparently, this issue does not seem have had much influence on the court. However, one very important fact was stated in the opening pages of the causes and in several of the depositions. That fact was that John McCorkle had returned to Augusta County, Virginia for a period of time and that he was there when this document was originated. We also think it is significant that the Augusta court  considered John McCorkle to be alive in 1815, since the sheriff was ordered to subpoena John to obtain his testimony. 

We think it is clear that John McCorkle returned to Augusta for a short period in 1815 to declare insolvency and to try and use his award from his suit with Rankin as an asset to settle his debt to Vincent Tapp.

Conjecture: We really do not completely understand how the outcome or potential outcome of these causes put John at risk, but we believe that he considered his situation quite serious and it led him to attempt to disappear. It may have been that his asset that he used to settle his debt with Tapp turned out to be worthless and/or it may be that his assets in Kentucky were discovered. This may have been the reason that Lydia McCorkle and her family removed to Missouri in 1816.

With this additional evidence, we do not have any doubt at all that John McCorkle died in November, 1830 in Lawrence Co., Ohio. Again, we realize that this conclusion will not be popular with the descendants of John McCorkle; however, our conclusion is supported by a very substantial amount of primary evidence. To our knowledge, there is no primary evidence to support the story of John's death in 1814. We welcome those that have a real interest in this story to wade through the abovementioned Chancery Causes and send us your comments that are based on your reading. 

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Revised May 7, 2014