JOSEPH CORDER, 1753-1807 of Fauquier and Frederick counties, Virginia
and his sons William and Joseph of Barbour County, West Virginia

by Lyle K. Corder

When I started research on my Corder family of Harrison County, Virginia, now Barbour County, West Virginia, I knew very little about them. I did have a copy of Howard B. Grant's William Corder of Barbour County, West Virginia dated 1934. Mr. Grant said "The Corder family is of Dutch ancestry. The head of the family was Joseph, who came to Virginia via England at the close of the Revolution and married Martha Hardesty."

Well, Joseph Corder did marry a lady by the name of Martha, and he did live in Virginia, but the rest is simply not true. The Corders are not Dutch (probably Norman - Cordier); Joseph was born in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, about 1753; his ancestors had most likely been in Virginia since at least 1723 and, we don't know the last name of his wife.

I suspect the original source of Mr. Grant's information is the now-famous letter dated 16 Sept. 1893, from Isaih Burritt McDonald to Mr. Edward Corder of Spencer, West Virginia. Edward Corder was the son of John and Mary Roach Corder and the grandson of Joseph Corder who married Jane Board (5 Jan. 1813) in Fauquier County, Virginia. Joseph was the son of Joseph and Martha Corder.

Edward Corder of Spencer, West Virginia, was a highly educated lawyer, member of the Roane County Board of Examiners, County Coroner and Superintendent of Schools. He private also had a private law practice.

Joseph Corder, Edward's grandfather, came to Barbour County about 1837 from Fauquier County. His brother William and wife Sarah Cole Corder had settled in the same area about 1814. William is my great x 3 grandfather.

But, back to Mr. McDonald's letter. I'm sure there is some truth to the names and dates, but Mr. McDonald got his families confused. Much of what he says is about a Carder family that came to Harrison County. He got the Corder surnames confused, as well.

He said, "My oldest uncle, John Corder, moved to Harrison County, Virginia, in 1832 or 3 and settled on Konchelow Creek northwest of Clarksburg where he died during the war or about its close in 1864 or 5." There is nothing correct in this statement.

  1. The dates of 1832 or 3 refer to John Carder (1797-1876)who came to Harrison County in 1832.
  2. The Carders, not the Corders, settled on Kincheloe Creek, Harrison County. (See John Carder above.)
  3. The Corder who died in 1864 or 5 was William Corder of Barbour County (not John).

Mr. McDonald goes on to say "His children (referring to the John Corder of Harrison County), a large family, and their relatives still live in Harrison County. One, a noted physician, lived at Salem and afterwards at a post office called Jane Lew." Here again, he is confused.

  1. The Carders were the large family in Harrison County at this time. Most of the Corders were still in Barbour County.
  2. The doctor in Salem was a Carder. (Either Dr. Albert Spicer Carder, Dr. James Franklin Carder or Dr. Joseph B. Carder - all sons or grandsons of John Carder of Kincheloe Creek.)
  3. The first Corder doctor (Dr. Grover Corder) in Jane Lew was 10 years old when the letter was written. (He was the great-grandson of William Corder of Barbour.)

Mr. McDonald's letter isn't the only record we have that has caused much confusion about Joseph Corder of Virginia. In a letter dated 14 Jan. 1902, Rev. Joshua Simmons Corder (William Corder's son) of Barbour County told John E. Corder of Grand Pass, Missouri, "I presume, without hesitation that we are the same stock of Corders that came from England about the time of the Revolution war: perhaps the years 1775 or 1776." He went on to say, "My Grandfather's name was Joseph, this I know because I have his will which was made in the year 1807, in Fauquier County, Virginia." (Actually, the will was in Frederick County.)

Rev. Corder, never a shy one, also told John Corder, "You are a Presbyterian by profession. Please excuse me: the Savior was a Baptist, if you would follow the Lord Jesus Christ, you must be a Baptist of the right kind." But, he ended the letter on a friendly note, "The false preachers have already nearly ruined these United States. Come and see me."

Did Rev. Joshua Simmons Corder meet and talk with Isaih Burritt McDonald? He probably did. Joshua was quite a well known man. He married over three hundred couples and was credited with saving the Philippi covered bridge during the Civil War.

The Confederate soldiers had placed hay on the bridge and were about to set it afire when Joshua got down on his knees and prayed for hours to save the bridge. This was during the famous Jones-Imboden raids that were terrorizing this part of West Virginia. I suspect his brother, Confederate Captain Edward M. Corder, was with the troops at the bridge and may have helped Joshua plead his case.

We'll probably never know if Joshua Corder got his misinformation from Mr. McDonald, but, Joshua did say, "I presume, without hesitation that we are the same stock of Corders .... " This doesn't sound like a man who got his information from a member of his immediate family.

And, what about the statement that Martha Hardesty was Joseph's wife? I think Joshua Corder's daughter Semma Ell (1859-1943), the source for much of Mr. Grant's material, simply got her ancestors confused. She thought her great- grandmother Elizabeth Cole was originally a Simmons when actually she was a Hardesty. Elizabeth Hardesty Cole's mother was a Simmons. Semma Corder thought her father Joshua Simmons Corder got the Simmons name from his grandmother's maiden name when actually he got it from the maiden name of his great-grandmother Keziah Simmons Hardesty. Confused? So was Semma.

If these stories on Joseph Corder of Virginia are not true, then what is the history of Joseph Corder who married Martha? Based on my modest research and countless letters and conversations with Mrs. Estelle Corder of Larue, Texas, I feel the following account to be reasonably accurate.

A Joseph Corder, age 27, a resident of Fauquier County was listed on the Revolutionary War military roster at Chesterfield Court House, Chesterfield County, Virginia in 1780. This would make his birthdate 1753; he said he was born in Spotsylvania County, Virginia.

We only know of one adult Joseph Corder in Fauquier County at the time. A Joseph Corder was listed on a lease between William Corder and Lord Fairfax in 1771 in Fauquier County (Deed Bk. 5, page 131). This was on Beetree Branch in southern Fauquier near the Hedgeman (Rappahannock River. A daughter, Eve Corder, was also listed on the lease.

Edward Corder of Spencer, West Virginia, said, "my greatgrandfather (Joseph Corder) served four years, 1778-82 in the war for independence." Evidently, he didn't believe the letter he got from Mr. McDonald.

It's noteworthy that Martha Corder, wife of Joseph, didn't have any children from 1778 to 1785, after having a child each year in 1776, 1777 and 1778. They had another child in 1785.

It's easy to follow the growing Joseph Corder family in the early days in Fauquier County as he is taxed with his father William Jr. and his brother Benjamin D. He is the only Joseph Corder listed.

In 1787 Joseph Corder is listed on Fairfax lease No. 195 for 300 acres in Frederick County, Virginia. The lease was not recorded until 29 Sept. 1792, for only 200 acres, and lists sons James and William (Deed Bk. 24, pg. 113). Benjamin Corder is a witness. The land is located just off Rt. 601 on the western side of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Ashby's Gap. This area is now Clarke County, Virginia.

The same day Joseph Corder recorded his lease, his brother Benjamin recorded a lease next to Joseph, and Joseph witnessed Benjamin's lease.

It's interesting to note that during this period of movement for the Joseph Corder family, Martha Corder had no children from 1786 to 1791. Joseph was probably away, preparing the land in Frederick County for his family's arrival.

The tax lists of Fauquier and Frederick Counties reflect this movement of Joseph and Benjamin Corder from southern Fauquier to Frederick.

Joseph Corder died in Frederick County, about 1807. His will mentions his wife Martha and daughter Lucy (Lucinda). Benjamin Corder witnessed the will. Martha (Patty) is carried on the tax lists until she died in 1816. The oldest son, James, took over the land until he moved to Ohio in 1826. The Joseph and Martha Corder estate was sold on 20 Aug. 1816. The Corder children, Joseph, James, John, Martha and Lucinda, purchased items at the sale. A William Corder also bought a few things.

The parents of Joseph Corder were most likely William and Ann Corder Jr. William Jr. moved from southern Fauquier County to northern Fauquier on Hayes Branch of Crooked Run in 1791 and leased property near his sons, who located just across the county line in Frederick County. (William Jr. - Deed Bk. 11, pg. 53) The lease lists daughters Caty and Eve.

William Corder Jr. left Fauquier County about 1800 and is found in the tax list for Warren County, Kentucky, in 1805 and then in the Allen County, Kentucky, tax list in 1816. His son, Benjamin D. Corder, left Frederick County about 1813. Benjamin ended up in Washington County, Kentucky, and then moved to Hart County, Kentucky.

William Jr. was born in 1732 according to the affidavit he signed in 1834, supporting his son Benjamin D.'s Revolutionary War pension request. Yes, he was 102 years old.

In his Revolutionary War pension request, dated 12 May 1834 in Hart County, Kentucky, Benjamin D. says he was 69 years of age and that he was born in Fauquier County, Virginia (that would be 1765). This is a very important statement, because it proves the family was in Virginia before the Revolutionary War. He also says he entered the war in March of 1781 and was discharged in the fall of 1781. He further says he removed from Fauquier County to Frederick County about six years after the war and stayed there for about 20 years. All of this agrees with the movements of Joseph and Benjamin Corder in the tax lists and property leases. Benjamin probably moved to Kentucky to be near his father.

Joseph's grandparents appear to be William and Alice Corder who leased land in southern Fauquier County in 1759 (Deed Bk. I, pg. 31). The lease listed sons John and William (William Jr.). William Corder Sr. is quoted in a Fauquier County court record in 1793, saying he lived on Brown's Run in southern Fauquier as early as 1723. His wife Alice confirmed his statement. His birth year was 1703.

This Corder family was in Virginia long before the Revolutionary War started. The records are there to prove it. Benjamin just wanted to join the military ranks like his big brother JOSEPH CORDER OF FAUQUIER AND FREDERICK COUNTIES.

The children of Joseph and Martha Corder were:

James 1776 Sarah Corder 1806 to Ohio
Eve 1777 James Redman 1800 to Ohio
Susannah 1778 Thomas McDonald 1803 to Ohio, Illinois
William 1785 Sarah Cole 1811 to West Virginia
Joseph 1786 Jane Board 1813 to West Virginia
John 1791 Celia McDonald 1811 to Ohio, Indiana
Martha (Patty)* 1795 William Fields 1820 to Ohio
Lucinda (Lucy) 1801 Eli Oliver 1817 to Ohio

*All the children but Martha married in Frederick or Fauquier counties of Virginia. She married in Ross County, Ohio.

Thanks go to Estelle Corder for the many pieces of this puzzle and the inspiration to put them together.

Lyle K. Corder
13 Crestview Terrace
Bridgeport, WV 26330
27 Nov 1995


The Allegheny Regional Family History Society
Post Office Box 1804
Elkins, West Virginia, 26241

Comments regarding this page to: Deborah Johnson.