WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah)
ARTHUR B. CORT
BIOGRAPHYArthur B. Cort was born May 30, 1852 in Monongahela City, Washington County, Pennsylvania.
As a youngster, he also lived in in Reynolds, Lee County, Illinois and Dement, Ogle County, Illinois.
Arthur attended theological school and petitioned to be ordained in 1879. His license was recommended to be granted and he was ordained to the ministry by the Chicago Presbytery at the annual meeting. After a successful questioning period, the whole of the presbytery laid their hands on the kneeling candidate, and the moderator was voice for the ordination. When Arthur arose, all gave him the right hand of fellowship and one of the reverends gave him the charge.
Arthur and his brother William, also a minister, headed west (probably by train) to serve as evangelists in Southern Utah. Their mission was to “save the Mormons from their misguided and degenerate ways”. On the 1880 census, Arthur and William are living in St George.
Arthur opened a school in the First Ward in October that year and preached the gospel. The school was poorly patronized and no pupils came regularly, so it was moved to Third Ward a month later. Within a month fourteen pupils were enrolled with an average attendance of ten. Arthur helped several Protestant women begin schools, including Anna Stevenson in St. George, Virginia Dickey in Washington City, and Fannie Burke in Toquerville. The Presbyterians hoped that the Mormons would send their children to the schools and then would gradually move back into mainline Christianity. It was a creative strategy; however, although some Mormons sent their children to the schools and took advantage of the fine opportunity, hardly any changed their religion.
In 1881, a “bevy of beauty and brains” known as the “Immortal Fourteen” came to Salt Lake City. This group of fourteen young ladies were to be schooled at the Collegiate Institute (now known as Westminster College). It was said that they entertained more thought of matrimony than pedagogy. About half of the young ladies married quickly. And thus it was that Arthur married Nellie Eugenia Bartlett about 1882 in Utah Territory.
Arthur was described as “a vigorous, active man who pushed things”. He purchased the mission-house in St. George and enlarged it. He went to Washington City and purchased the old John D. Lee home and fitted it up for a mission-house. He preached in St George, Washington City, Silver Reef, and Toquerville for eleven months. He had 100 people in communion, with 65 attending Sunday School.
Arthur taught and preached in St George from 1882 to 1885. He performed marriages in Silver Reef, such as the marriage of John Thompson of Silver Reef and Kate Rigby of Salt Lake City. In 1885, Arthur and his wife went to Cincinnati, where he served as a delegate from the Utah Presbytery to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church. Arthur served as a deputy registration officer for St. George precinct in 1883 and as a municipal election judge for St. George in 1884 and 1886. In 1888, Arthur was again listed as minister at Silver Reef, with 14 church elders and 95 Sunday School men.
Shortly after, he moved his family to Sherman, Washington. They moved quite often after that as Arthur took on various ministerial assignments.
Arthur died 19 February 1933 in Hollister, Taney County, Missouri.
Nellie lived with her brother; she died in 1951.
REFERENCESArthur B. Cort and the Silver Reef Presbyterian Church
A research report by Elaine Young, PhD.