History of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, 1887


In the history of the northern central regions of Pennsylvania and of the southern tier of counties of New York state the surname Coryell has been associated with occurring events for a full century. In early Tioga county, New York, history the name Coryell for many years was intimately associated with the development and growth of that interesting locality, and there were among its pioneers those of the name Coryell who were conspicuous figures in its civil and political history, and whose influence always was for the public welfare. The same name and the same family also is found in early Bradford county, Pennsylvania, history, and there too its representatives were men of influence and strength; and representatives of the family in some of its branches found their way over into Wyoming county and even within the borders of old Luzerne, the mother of counties in that section of the state. Another branch of the same family effected a lodgment in Lycoming county, but came from Lambertville, New Jersey, and New Hope, Pennsylvania. A ferry connecting the two places was run and owned by two brothers and whose ancestors were French Huguenots. There they became an essential part of its history and development, numbering among its representatives many men of achievement-men who accomplished results in the varied activities of life. It is with this branch of the Coryell family that we have particularly to deal in this narrative; but of the old stock of the immediate family there remains but one representative-John Burrows Coryell, of Williamsport, born there May 19, 1822, and for more than sixty years in the mercantile and industrial history of that section of the state.

The great-grandfather of John Burrows Coryell was George Coryell, the period of whose life dated back into the eighteenth century. He married and had children, and among them was a son, George Coryell, whose wife was a Miss VanBuskirk; and their son, Tunison Coryell, who married Sarah Burrows, was the father of John Burrows Coryell of Williamsport. Sarah Burrows was a daughter of John Burrows and Jane Torbert, and John Burrows was a son of John Burrows of whom little is now known.

Tunison Coryell was an important factor in the early history of Lycoming county, and he was especially interested in the settlement and development of Williamsport long before the city was brought into existence, and even before it became a lumbering center of any considerable prominence. The active period of Tunison Coryell's business life covered the first half of the last century, and aside from his personal interests in promoting the growth of the locality in which he lived he was in a sense a public man, the records showing that he was prothonotary of Lycoming county, and also at one time was collector of internal revenue for the district of which Williamsport was a part. He was a contractor on public works and improvements, and as a result of his efforts in life he accumulated a comfortable fortune. He was variously identified with the interests of the locality and was one of the pioneers of the lumber business in the region. Politically he was a Whig and Republican, and in religious preference a Presbyterian. Tunison Coryell and Sarah Burrows had seven children : Jane, who married John Gibson and had seven children-William, Sarah, John, James J., Weir, Charles and Mary Gibson; John Burrows, who married Margaret Bingham and had four children; George, who died at eighteen years of age; Mary, who never married; Sarah, who never married; Francis, who died in infancy; Charles, who married Harriet Miller, and had three children-Robert S., Elmer and George Coryell.

John Burrows Coryell, second child, oldest and only surviving son of Tunison Coryell and his wife Margaret Bingham, was born in Williamsport, May 19, 1822. His early education was acquired in the common schools, after which he learned and took up land surveying, but at that time there was little employment in civil engineering, and therefore he abandoned that pursuit and went to Towanda and assisted his father in the construction of a dam. There his health failed, whereupon he returned to Williamsport and found employment as clerk in the West Branch Bank. In 1843 he started in mercantile business in Warrensville, and afterward carried on the same business in Montoursville. After about five years these interests were sold and Mr. Coryell removed to Pottsville, Pennsylvania, and established a line of canal barges for the transportation of freight and merchandise from that point to New York; but at the end of two more years he disposed of this enterprise to very good advantage, returned to Williamsport, and, in company with Ralph Elliott and J. Hyman Fulmer, established a large general store. After a short time Mr. Coryell succeeded by purchase to the sole proprietorship of this business, and carried it on with good success until he finally sold out to his former partner, Ralph Elliott.

About this time Mr. Coryell was appointed general agent at Williamsport for the Adams Express Company, and during his incumbency of that position many hundred thousand dollars passed through his hands, and lie was responsible for its safe custody and transmission; but during his long service with the company he lost but one package of the comparatively small value of sixty dollars. This is remarkable when we consider the vast amount of money handled by him and the crude express methods which were then employed by the company, and the dangers and inconveniences attending the duties imposed upon an agent. However, he resigned his position when his cousin, George Bubb, was collector of revenue, and became a deputy in his office; but this life of itself was not sufficiently active for him, and he soon joined with a company of nine others in the purchase of a considerable tract of land at St. Mary's and the organization of the St. Mary's Coal Company. For two years the company operated without material results, and at the end of that time Mr. Coryell resigned his clerkship, removed to St. Mary's and assumed personal charge of affairs there. Among other things he established a store there in partnership with Dr. Eben J. Russ. This was the beginning of a long, pleasant and profitable relation, and one which has continued to the present time. During those many years they never had a word of difference. As opportunity offered the firm extended its business to other places, and at one time traded to the amount of $100,000 per year. A detail of all the firm's operations is not necessary to this narrative, and it is sufficient to say that they were almost invariably successful, and were carried on without friction throughout a period of thirty years, and with mutual profit to both partners. In 1876 Mr. Coryell bought the residence he now occupies on East Third street in Williamsport. The structure has been remodeled and enlarged, making it one of the most elegant homes in the city, and within its walls peace reigns supreme, and it is a seat of comfort and generous hospitality.

In many respects Mr. Coryell has been an important part of the business life of Williamsport and Lycoming county, in manufacturing and banking circles, in the church, and in political history. He was one of the first directors of the Lycoming National Bank, and has been its president since 1896. For many years, too, he has been connected with the Lycoming Savings Bank. With his father he assisted in establishing the Williamsport Gas Company, still existing, and he is a director in the Edison Illuminating Company. He was the principal founder of the Coryell Flint Paper Company, now operated by his sons, John G. and Bingham H. Coryell; was one of the organizers of the Hermance Chemical Company, and also of the Otto Chemical Company, the works of both of which are in McKean county. He is deeply interested in Williamsport, its growth and its continued prosperity. For many years he has been a member and liberal supporter of the Presbyterian church. In politics he is a staunch Republican, and has given of his time and means for the advancement of party principles, but never has he, shown an inclination for political office.

Mr. Coryell married, November 28, 1855, Margaret Bingham, daughter of James Bingham, of Williamsport. They have four children: James B. Coryell, lawyer, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, now president of Cambria Coal Mining Company, married Mary Mayer, and has one child-Charles Mayer Coryell. Sarah Coryell, who married John K. Hays, and has three children: John Coryell Hays, James Hays and Margaret Coryell Hays. John Gibson Coryell, who married Lourina Davidson and has one child, John Burrows Coryell (2nd). Bingham Hood Coryell, who married Marie Stewart and had two children : Clement Stewart Coryell and Margaret Bingham Coryell.

John Gibson Coryell, third child, second son of John Burrows Coryell and Margaret Bingham, is a native of Lycoming county, born in Williamsport, March 26, 1861. His early education was acquired in the Williamsport public schools, Dickinson Seminary, the State Seminary at Mansfield, the Pennsylvania State College, and the celebrated Hill school at. Pottstown, Pennsylvania, where he finished his studies. Returning to Williamsport he was for three years an employe in the Lycoming National Bank, and at the end of that time became assistant manager of the Williamsport Iron Nail Company, in which capacity he remained two years. He then acquired an interest in the I. F'. Bloodgood Company, Limited, which was engaged in the manufacture of sand and flint papers and glue. At that time the company had a small plant in Loyalsock township, but after Mr. Coryell entered the concern and undertook its management the business soon so increased as to necessitate new and enlarged works and better shipping facilities. Therefore, in 1892 the plant was removed to Williamsport, and since that time the company's business has steadily increased. The works have about thirtyfive thousand feet of floor space, and give regular employment to about forty workmen. The company also operates an excelsior mill which employs about fifteen hands; and it is not by any means an idle or undeserved compliment to say that in a great-measure the success which has attended the operations of this company during the last twelve or fifteen years has been due to the business capacity of its managing officer, John G. Coryell. Mr. Coryell also is interested in the Coryell Coal and Iron Company, and in the Cambria Coal Mining Company. He is a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and of the Presbyterian -church, and in politics is a Republican. He married, April 3, 1902, Lourina Davidson, daughter of Alexander Davidson, of Oil City, Pennsylvania. Lourina Davidson Coryell is the third of four children of Alexander Davidson.

Bingham Hood Coryell, son and youngest child of John Burrows Coryell and Margaret Bingham, was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, August 8, 1865. He was educated in the Williamsport public schools, Dickinson Seminary, the Lawrenceville and Media Academies, and Lafayette College. After leaving college he soon became identified with the business management of the Coryell Flint Paper Company, in association with his father and next older brother, and continued there until 1894, when he withdrew and organized the Coryell Construction Company, for general contracting work. Although a comparatively new enterprise in Williamsport, its business nevertheless is extensive, and employs in all its departments from two hundred to three hundred workmen; and it seems almost needless to state in this connection that Bingham H. Coryell is the active head of the company and directs its business operations.

Mr. Coryell married, June 12, 1895, Marie Stewart, daughter of Clement Stewart, of Easton, Pennsylvania, whose genealogy appears on page thirty-four, " Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania."

Source: Genealogical and Personal History of Lycoming County, John W. Jordan, Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1906.

Coryell Genealogy Resources

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