My Genealogy Hound

Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Seneca and Schuyler Counties, New York published by Chapman Publishing Co., in 1895.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

* * * *

OTIS R. CORBETT, one of the well known and substantial citizens of Reading, Schuyler County, was born in that town, September 27, 1818, while it was yet a division of Steuben County. His life was passed upon the home farm of the family, on the west shore of Seneca Lake, until his marriage and the purchase of his present homestead, some fifty years ago. His education was obtained in the common school of the times, and his experience was widened by subsequent engagements in public affairs. At the age of nineteen he held the position of First Lieutenant of an artillery company, of which he was a prominent member, taking a lively interest in the promotion of the military system then prevailing throughout New York State. His first vote was cast two years later, in 1840, when he deposited a ballot for William H. Harrison, and all subsequent Whig and Republican Presidential candidates have received his support.

Agriculture has ever been the chief occupation of Mr. Corbett, although other matters at times have engaged his attention, during his long and busy life. By judicious investments in real estate he caused the original farm home to increase in acreage, and a competency to accumulate, which assures him the contentment of financial security during his declining years. In attaining this he has had to surmount obstacles and bear misfortunes, but these he has met with a patience and determination that have known no defeat. From a log cabin to a neat frame welling, and then a comfortable and commodious residence, he has advanced his family hearthstone; though August 29, 1874, the home was devastated by fire. The homestead occupies a pleasant site overlooking the beautiful Seneca, with a romantic ravine skirting its shady grounds. Although well fitted for grain-growing, the pure springs and grassy brooksides of the farm peculiarly adapt it to stock-raising, and this has long been a leading feature. Fruits flourish in the lake country of New York as in few other localities of the Union, and to this interest the acres are being largely devoted.

Otis R. Corbett and Adelia B. Chase were united in marriage October 1, 1846, and in all subsequent efforts to advance home interests she has proven a worthy helpmate. She came from Oneida County to the town of Reading in that year, taking charge of a school, and at its close entering upon the duties of wifehood. Her birth occurred November 21, 1827, and, the youngest of four children, she is now sole survivor of the family, the eldest of whom was the late Hiram W. Chase, of LaFayette, Ind. Mr. and Mrs. Corbett efficiently aided in the establishment of the Watkins Methodist Episcopal Church, freely contributing to all its objects and the erection of the fine brick structure now occupied by the society. They have been ever active in surrounding the home with the right influences and extending advantages to their children, who are as follows: Walter S., who was born October 28, 1847, and who died October 30, 1874; Eliza J., whose birth occurred August 13, 1849, and who died February 8, 1850; Chester L., who was born May 2, 1851; John, September 23, 1854; Mary T., September 15, 1856; Sophia C., September 18, 1858; George A., July 10, 1862; William R., April 16, 1864; J. J., November 19, 1867; and an infant whose birth and death occurred November 18, 1872. All reside on the homestead save John and J. J., who have been engaged in newspaper work.

The parents of Otis R. Corbett were Chester Corbett and Sallie (La Fever) Corbett, both representatives of pioneer families, whose enterprise laid the foundation of present prosperity. The father of Sallie, Lewis La Fever, was a Deacon and a licensed preacher in the initial Baptist Church of the town, while Chester Corbett was of the first Methodist membership. He and his father, Asaph Corbett, settled on the lake-side farm in Reading in 1812, coming to this place from the town of Catharine, where they were tax-payers in 1804. The father of Asaph was Robert Corbett, who died at Corbettsville, near Binghamton, having reached that locality from Milford, Mass., where a Robert Corbett was a pioneer, taking part, according to the records of the place, in King Philip’s War of 1676. “Burke’s Landed Gentry” states that there are in England thirteen county families of the name of Corbett, and adds: “The Corbets or Corbetts have been situated in the counties of Salop, Merioneth and Worcester for many generations. The family is one of the few male lines which trace back to a race of the same name in Normandy, of whom was Hugh Corbet (or Corbeau) living in 1040. He had four sons, Hugh, Roger, Robert and Reginald. Roger came over with William the Conqueror and founded the English family.” In “Walford’s County Families,” a mention of the Corbetts contains the following statement: “Moreton Corbet Castle, the ancient family residence, was burnt in the Civil Wars and is a beautiful ruin.”

* * * *

This family biography is one of the numerous biographies included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Seneca and Schuyler Counties, New York published in 1895. 

View additional Schuyler County, New York family biographies here: Schuyler County, New York Biographies

View a map of 1897 Schuyler County, New York here: Schuyler County, New York Map

Use the links at the top right of this page to search or browse thousands of other family biographies.