Great-Grandfather Left Old Country for Land of Opportunity

From England, young man heads to America’s land of opportunity to make his fortune.

| Good Old Days

My great-grandfather, Corbulious Coates, was born in Yorkshire, England, on February 3, 1832. In those days, young men left the old country at 18, when they had to register for the draft or army. He came to America’s land of opportunity when he was 17. The ship's passenger contract ticket is still in the family after 144 years.

When Corbulious first came to this country in 1849, he worked for other people. He took out his constitution or naturalization papers on March 26, 1855, and became a United States citizen at the age of 23. On October 31, 1861, he married Harriet Vasey, whose family also came from England.

Corbulious bought 318 acres of land, which is located at the east edge of Scott County in west central Illinois. In 1854 he purchased 140 acres for $2,640. Other purchases were made in 1864 and 1876. The family lived in a log cabin until their large eight-room northern colonial home was finished in 1871.

Corbulious died January 22, 1891, and Harriet died June 4, 1899. Both were buried in the Lynnville Cemetery. A son who died in infancy is also buried there. Corbulious and Harriet had two living sons, one of whom was my grandfather, and six living daughters. The farm was divided between the two sons. When my sister and I recently inherited the farm, we sold the house off the land to Glenn Robert Coates, a cousin, and his wife, Diane. Glenn is the great-great-grandson of Corbulious, and he looks like him, too.

Patricia Rutherford
Winchester, Illinois

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then CAPPER’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from CAPPER’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community. 

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