Benjamin Corp Autobiography
Benjamin Corp (1758-1847) was an English carpenter who relocated to Ohio in 1795 and oversaw construction at Ohio University during its early days. Between the years 1833-1838 Corp wrote an autobiographical journal dedicated to his daughter, Margaret. As Corp was in his seventies and Margaret was still a very young child, the book was meant to serve as a vehicle for both his personal history and fatherly advice, in the event that he did not live long enough to share them with her in person. Today, the journal remains a rich slice of eighteenth and nineteenth century life. It tells of Corp’s early life in England, including his birth in the county of Dorset, his early career in the carpenters and joiners trade, and his marriage to Esther Squier. It also tells of his long journey to the United States, with stops in Newfoundland and Boston along the way, and his final settlement in Marietta, Ohio. Once in Ohio, Corp provides some insight into the early history of Ohio University while discussing his work overseeing the construction of university buildings. In addition to the autobiographical details, a large portion of the journal is dedicated to religious teachings, favorite quotes, and even housekeeping tips intended to aid in Margaret’s education. These passages illustrate the kinds of things that were deemed important for a young woman’s education at the time, and Corp’s interpretation of his role as a father. The complete book can viewed online, along with transcripts, on the Ohio Memory website, and in the gallery below you can see some of our favorite excerpts!