This is the fifth of six blog posts about Universalist ministers who are buried in Bradford County.
William Garfield Cortright (1870-1915)
William Garfield Cortright, the oldest of the seven children of Philip and Lucy Cortright, was born in 1870 near Wyalusing.
William attended public schools but did not graduate from high school. In his early teens he became enthralled with the new telegraphy and studied it on his own. In 1885, at the age of 15, he left school and took a job for some time with the railroad in Poughkeepsie.
The Cortrights probably moved to the Sayre/Athens area around 1890. There William met Myrtie Wood. She was the president of the young people’s organization at the Athens Universalist church in 1894 and 1895. William and Myrtie were married in 1894 by the Rev. B. G. Russell, pastor of the church.
Cortright was raised a Baptist but embraced universal salvation as a young man, either on his own or through his wife’s influence. He later said:
“I was brought up in the orthodox churches. I was taught the love of God, his power, and his wisdom. After considering these great attributes of the Father, I could not harmonize them with that other phase of their doctrine, eternal punishment. So, too, my spirit rebelled. But later on, it found its longing desire and its ideal in the Universalist Church.”
William and Myrtie officially joined the church in 1901. His parents Philip and Lucy joined in 1904. William and Myrtie operated a grocery store in Athens.
Some time before 1905, William decided to become a Universalist minister. He and Myrtie enrolled in the Universalist theological school in Canton, N. Y., in 1905. Myrtie enrolled at least in part to help her husband, whose education was limited, get through his courses.
Cortright was licensed to preach in 1906. He was ordained in Friendship, N. Y., in 1909, and served that congregation until 1911. From there he moved to Cooperstown, N. Y., and then, in 1914, to a pastorate in Cortland, N. Y. He died a year later, on Oct. 31, 1915. He was buried in Tioga Point Cemetery in Athens.
William and Myrtie had three children, all of whom were baptized at the Athens church. Their daughter Angela married a Universalist minister.