Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Rambling Life – J. Campbell Cory (1867-1925)

1 [1898] The Bee, Vol. 1, No. 1, May 16

“He is much given to exploration and adventure. Has prospected and operated mines throughout the northwest; broken the world’s records in a gas balloon; constructed and operated aeroplanes, and killed all manner of big and small game in North and Central America. He is an expert horseman, and an expert rifle, pistol and shotgun man.” – Cartoons Magazine, 1915

2 [1906] John Campbell Cory portrait
JOHN Campbell Cory was born September 11, 1867, in Waukegan, Illinois to Benjamin Sayre Cory, Jr. and Jessie S. (MacDougal) Cory. There were six children. The first child, Benjamin Sayre III (1865-75), died of scarlet fever at the age of 10. Next was John Campbell Cory, two years younger than Benjamin. Robert MacDougal Cory was born on August 24, 1870, married , and was working at the East Helena Smelter in Montana by 1897.

Agnes L. Cory was born September 1, 1872, and died in New Jersey in November 1900. John Campbell Cory's sister Fanny Young Cory was born at Waukegan in October 1877. She was married to Frederick Cooney at Helena, Montana on April 12, 1904. She had 4 children, one of whom died in infancy. Fanny Young Cory’s famous King Features comic strip Little Miss Muffet ran from 1935 to 1956. She died July 28, 1972.
3 [1930] Fanny Young Cory
“My early interest in art began with intense admiration for my brother Jack. It was he who made possible the instruction I received in the Metropolitan School of Art in New York and also at the Art Students’ League. By the time I was 19 years old I was earning my own way with an occasional lift from him.” – ‘My Own Story by Fanny Y. Cory,’ Indianapolis Star, 1930
The sixth child was son McKenzie Cory who was 2 months old in June 1880.

4 [1906] Us Fellers, written by Izola L. Forrester
There was one other cartoonist in the family. He was a cousin, Benjamin Cory Kilvert (1879-1946), from the Canadian branch of the Cory’s. He was close in age to Fanny Young Cory and may have drawn inspiration from his uncle’s career. He was an illustrator of children’s books, newspaper supplements and magazine articles. In 1908 he drew a full-page comic strip called Muffy Shuffles about a poor city girl trying and failing to hold a variety of jobs. Other comic strips were Buddy Spilliken’s Diary (1908), and Dorothy and the Killies (1914-15). As B. Cory Kilvert his cartoons appeared in the New York Herald, the New York Journal, Hamilton (Ontario) Spectator, and Life magazine.

5 [1908] Muffy Shuffles, June 14
The fine artist and photographer Kate Cory (1861-1958) was also related to the Cory’s.

John Campbell Cory’s first known employment was as an architect’s assistant in Chicago in 1881. In 1882 he was employed as same, this time in New York City. Cory was residing in Indiana in 1884 where he worked on a farm for two years. Then he began working as an animal illustrator, specializing in horses. He worked for some time on the Western Horseman, a periodical published in Indianapolis and contributed to livestock and turf periodicals.

By 1889 he was in Chicago working as a newspaperman. John Campbell Cory married Bertha Pollock of Milburn, Illinois, February 14, 1890, at Chicago, Cook Co., Illinois. They never had any children. In 1897 he was working in the horse-racing department of Hearst’s New York Evening Journal and was soon drawing political cartoons for the publication. Cory claimed to have no political affiliations.

In May 1898 Cory left Hearst for a short-lived New York color comic weekly called The Bee. He was the owner, chief cartoonist and managing editor. His uncle Charles Dickinson Cory was business manager. The Bee ran to twelve issues from May 16 to August 2, 1898. It was discontinued in the fall and Cory joined the staff of Pulitzer’s World as a cartoonist. In 1898 he drew a feature called The Funny Side of Life in Montana. He was the “star man” in the Sunday World’s New Comic Weekly, edited by Geo. W. Peck (Peck’s Bad Boy,) that began in December 1900.

6 [1901] The World, January 15
In 1901 J. Campbell Cory was the Vice President of the New York School of Caricature. Cory drew sequential gags for the New York World from an address in New Jersey, spent some time at Waukegan Lake, Illinois, and then visited relatives in Helena, Montana in 1901.

“I like the (mining) business, and having paid the price for my education in that line, it is my intention some day to resume operations with pick and shovel.” – ‘J. Campbell Cory, Cartoonist,’ by B.O. Flowers, The Arena, No. 194, January 1906
By 1903 he had taken a residence at Helena where he lived with his father (mother Jessie had died at Waukegan in 1888), brother Robert, uncle David, and cousin James Warren Cory. The 1903 Helena City Directory lists J.C. Cory as President of the Knickerbocker Development Company. On June 19, 1903, The Northwestern Exploration Company, with offices in Manhattan, was incorporated with $200,000 capital. J. Campbell Cory of Helena, Montana, was one of the directors.
7 [1903] Columbia Courier, June 12
“Deer Lodge County: Knickerbocker Mining Company. This company, comprising Mr. Cory and associates, is operating mines near Beaver Creek, across the Missouri River from Helena, and is shipping high-grade copper ore.” – Engineering and Mining Journal, August 8, 1903
In 1904 the Engineering & Mining Journal reported that “The Standard Ore Co. is in control with J. Campbell Cory at the head.” The same year the Helena Directory listed J.C. Cory as President and general manager of Sun River Mining. He was residing at the Monticello, presumably a hotel.

8 [1905] The World, April 17
Sometime between 1903 and 1905 J.C. Cory was employed as a “picture drawer” on the Butte Miner. It was probably at Butte that he began his association with the comic writer Berton Braley, at that time a well-known Montana newspaperman. In spring 1905 he left Montana for New York’s World newspaper where he stayed until the following spring of 1907. Earlier, on March 31, 1906, he had been granted US Patent no. 849,600 for a Golf Ball Marker.

9 [1908] The Golfer’s Magazine
In the spring of 1907 he organized an expedition to explore territory 800 miles north of Vancouver, British Columbia. He was leading a group of “prominent financiers” through the wilderness in search of land, mineral, water and power rights. The Panic of ’07 left him busted and he returned to New York. Cory was member of New York’s Rocky Mountain Club, formed for residents and former residents of the Rocky Mountain States in 1907.
10 [1908] The Golfer’s Magazine
“His next venture was in publishing The Great West, a monthly publication which he started in 1908. In June of that year he became cartoonist with the Cincinnati Times-Star, and it was during the period of his work with this paper that he began making amateur balloon ascensions. In June, 1910, (residing in Hamilton, Ohio) he made a flight of six hundred and thirty-five miles in ten hours in a gas bag which, unofficially, broke balloon flight records of that day.
He remained with the Times-Star for eighteen months and then became identified with the Scripps organization. His cartoons appeared in the Scripps publications from 1912 to 1914.”History of Colorado, Denver: Linderman Co., Inc., 1927, Vol. 4, p.502
11 [1912] cover of The Cartoonist’s Art
J. Campbell Cory’s 1912 book The Cartoonist’s Art (Chicago: The Trumbo Co.) was reprinted in 1920 (New York: The Prang Co.). 

12 [1912] advertisement for The Cartoonist’s ArtNovember 23
In February 22, 1913, Cory departed for Colon, Panama. His cartoons appeared with text by “Uncle Dud,” a nom de plume assumed for his well-known baseball columns. The Tacoma Times described Panama as “America’s ditch” and “the place where the American nation is CUTTING THE THROAT OF A HEMISPHERE.” His acquaintance Berton Braley also made the trip to Panama and on their return the two men teamed up for an illustrated poetry newspaper feature. On March 29, 1913, Cory was in Washington studying the wildlife for a feature entitled Who’s Who in Wilson’s Cabinet.

13 [1913] Tacoma Times, February 3
The September 1913 issue of Printer’s Ink had this announcement:

“Cartoons and advertising are to be combined by the Cory Cartoon Advertising Service Company of Chicago. The incorporators are William B. Fitzgerald, Melanie Malzen and J.F. O’Donnell.”
14 [1915] March 22
The death of Cory’s father, Benjamin Sayre Cory, was reported on October 19, 1913, in Chicago. In 1914 J.C. Cory was residing at Chicago, Illinois. A notice posted in Fourth Estate: A Weekly Newspaper for Publishers, Advertisers, Advertising on February 6, 1915, stated “Jack Cory, for years on the New York World, is now illuminating the Chicago Herald’s front page by his cartoons.”

“During his nomadic career, Mr. Cory has succeeded in breaking his nose six times in as many different ways, with the cumulative result that it is not much of a nose to look at any more, but as he complacently observes, ‘there’s enough nose left to break at least once more.’” – Cartoonists Magazine, 1915
15 [1915] Cory’s Kids
By March 1915 Cory was drawing a comic strip titled Cory’s Kids for the McClure Newspaper Syndicate and was staff cartoonist on the Chicago Herald. A 1917 advertisement in Cartoons magazine advised “In writing to J. Campbell Cory address in care of The Publisher’s Feature Bureau, 417 South Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois.”

16 [1918] The Shenanigan Kids 
Starting on September 10, 1918, Cory ghosted Rudolph Dirks’ daily The Shenanigan Kids comic strip. From November 1918 until his death Cory was cartooning for the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Times. He was a member of the Denver Press Club and with Perce Pearce of Chicago founded the Denver Academy of Applied Art (1920) which taught commercial and fine arts.

17 [1920] The Denver Academy of Applied Art
Cory died November 25, 1925, in Denver, Colorado, and was buried in Milburn Cemetery at Milburn Illinois. He was 58 years old. A Memoriam from an unnamed source was quoted in the History of Colorado, Denver: Linderman Co. Inc., 1927 –

18 [1920] The World, January 29
“Like all great workers in this field of art his becoming a cartoonist was a gradation from the artist, the humanist in him stirring for expression. He became a cartoonist because of his sense of humor and because he could use the cartoon so effectively in attacking wrong things – and Cory at the bottom of his heart was a crusader. He hated wrongdoing and his sympathies were with the weak and undefended. In his day, a full generation ago, Cory stood at the very head of American cartoonists and his cartoons became part of national political history.”
19 [1906] The World, January 11

The Bee cover image courtesy Richard Samuel West at Periodyssey.

Cory’s Kids page courtesy Alfredo Castelli.


  1. What a tremendously throrough biography of a fascinating man. I really enjoy your blog - the content and the quality of the writing - and admire the frequency of your posts! Such energy.

  2. John, thanks for sharing the full story of Jack Cooney. I'm a great-grandson of Fanny Y. Cory. The Art Gallery/Studio I direct, Sunnyshore Studio, is hosting a celebration of Fanny's life and cultural legacy in October of this year. We will be showing her art, illustrations and cartoons. We also are publishing a biography on her life that is written by Toni McCarty titled "Queen of Montana Beach: the story of artist Fanny Y. Cory." And we are releasing a documentary that tells her story. Your wonderful article fills in the story. Thanks so much. To see what we are doing check out: Thanks again for this great article!

  3. What a superb and thoroughgoing treatment of this elusive genius!