~ HEZEKIAH R. CORNELL , b. 3 Jan 1811 ~
Related Surnames - STEWART, CARPENTER, WHITING, ROYCE, WHEATON, SMITH, GREEN,
ARMITAGE, MORSE, ORCUTT, NELSON, MOYER, MILLER, BUTTERS
No man is more closely associated with the pioneer history of this county than the subject
of this sketch. He came to Iowa in the fall of 1851, overland from Delaware County, Ohio,
with a team being twenty-one days on the road. He purchased land in Brookfield Township,
at $2.50 per acre - a tract of wild prairie, lying in its primitive condition, without any
improvements whatever. He hauled lumber from Lyons, put up a frame house, and thereafter
endured all the hardships and privations incident to life on the frontier. Laboring with
the imperfect machinery of that day, he commenced the cultivation of his land, and slowly
effected the improvements most needed. The nearest markets for produce were Bellevue,
Dubuque, Comanche, and Davenport. One year he paid six cents per bushel for having his
wheat threshed and ten cents for having it hauled to Bellevue, then sold it at thirty-two
cents per bushel. He remained at that farm for a period of fifteen years, then selling
removed to Maquoketa and purchased city property. Here he has since made his home, with
the exception of four years spent in Jones County. In the meantime he purchased and sold
several farms, and for a number of years was in the dry goods and drug business with Dr.
Martin, in Maquoketa.
In glacing at the early history of our subject, we find he was born in New York City, Jan.
3, 1811. His father, John Cornell, was a native of Dutchess County, that State, and the
paternal grandfather, it is believed, was a native of Rhode Island. The latter removed to
New York State during the colonial days, and purchased property, but sold it during the
progress of the war, and took his pay in continental money. That becoming worthless, he,
of course, met with total loss. He died in Dutchess County.
The father of our subject was but a boy at the time of his father's death, and was
soon afterward bound out to learn a trade. He did not like his employer, and finally ran
away and went to sea. He commenced before the mast, and in due time was advanced to be
master of a vessel in the merchant service. Subsequently he engaged in partnership in the
merchantile buesiness, but was unfortunate in his selection of partners, who robbed him of
everything he possessed. He followed the sea for about twenty-five years, then engaged
in draying in New York City a few years. He finally purchased land in Sullivan County,
N.Y., and engaged in farming and lumbering. In 1816 he sold out, and in the fall of that
year, accompanied by his family, started for Ohio with a team of horses and a wagon. Upon
reaching the Alleghany Mountains they were snow-bound, and were obliged to spend the
winter in that vicinity. Soon after their arrival there, the father started out in search
s, and while he was gone his wife sifted the horse-feed and made bread of that. After
traveling three days the father returned with three bushels of buckwheat, which was all he
could buy. He then sold his horses, and in the spring, going to Olean Point, took took
passage on a raft. At Kill-Buck Eddy the raft went to pieces, and they tarried with the
Indians until it could be repaired.
After embarking once more the raft ran under a tree-top and the cabins were swept off into
the water. One of them carried with it the mother of our subject and an infant daughter
in her arms, but they were rescued and the daughter is still living. The family finally
landed four miles above Marietta, Ohio. They settled in the latter place, and the elder
Cornell engaged in butchering. He there spent the remainder of his life, his decease
taking place about 1822.
Mrs. Mary Eliza (Stewart) Cornell, the mother of our subject, was born in the West India
Islands, of English and Spanish parentage, and died in Provincetown, Mass, at the home of
her son, about 1860. The parental family included eight children, five of whom attained
their majority: Adaline became the wife of William Carpenter, of New York, and is now
deceased; Martin W. followed the sea many years, and made his home at Cape Cod, Mass.,
where he died; Hezekiah R. was the second son; Martha H. is the wife of Thomas Whiting,
and makes her home in Clyde, N.Y.; George H., also a seafaring man, died in Provincetown,
The paternal grandfather of our subject died during the Revolutionary War, and his widow
married Col. Taber Bently, who commanded a regiment in the War of 1812. At that time
there were a number of tories in Duchess County, N.Y. and one of them was a brother of
Col. Bently. The latter one day went into the timber to work and in a ravine encountered
a party of tories who were in search of him. He passed himself off for his brother - they
not knowing the difference, - gave them his dinner and returned home to get more food. He
went to his brother's house, and the brother being absent, sent his hired boy on
horseback to notify the people around to meet him at the mouth of the ravine. He then
returned there with the provisions and resumed chopping until the neighbors came, when a
descent was made on the tory camp, and the load of provisions captured and the tories with
it. Our subject remembers that when steamers commenced to run on the Ohio River the
engines were not alway!
s powerful enough to propel them against the rapid current, and the boatmen would place a
large sapling across the bow of the boat with a rope attached by which men walking along
the bank assisted in pulling the craft. The subject of this sketch was a little lad of
six years when his parents removed from New York State to Ohio. Soon afterward he went to
live with a family who had been their neighbors in New York State, and he resided with
them until a boy of twelve. From that time on he earned his own living. He made his home
with a party up the Hickory River, in Ohio. The country was wild and new, and deer, bears
and coons were plentiful. He resided there a year or more, then returned to Marietta.
His father had died in the meantime, and soon afterward the family started with a team for
New York State.
Young Cornell employed himself in different places for a time, then spent three years at
Beekman, in Dutchess County, learning the trade of a hatter. Then abandoning this, he
took up the tailor's trade, which he followed in New York State eight or ten years.
Next, returning to Ohio, he located in Delaware County and engaged in farming. He made
the journey thither with a team, and was twenty-one days on the road. He traded his
horses, harness and wagon for a tract of partially improved land, upon which there was a
log house with a small frame addition. He bought a pair of oxen and secured other stock
by riving shingles, which he traded for the latter. He finally managed to stock his farm,
kept on clearing his land and lived there until 1851. In the fall of that year he started
for the young State of Iowa, and his movements thereafter we have already indicated.
Mr. Cornell was first married Feb. 6, 1832, to Miss Emeline Augusta Royce. This lady was
born in Sullivan County, N.Y., and was the daughter of Colby Royce, a native of
Connecticut. She became the mother of two children, the eldest of whom, Augusta, became
the wife of Morris Wheaton, and resides in Champaign County, Ill.; Emeline M. married
Alonzo Smith, and is also a resident of that county. The mother of these children died in
New York State, in 1835, in the third year of her marriage. The second wife of our
subject was Miss Christiana Green, to whom he was wedded Feb. 6, 1840. She was a native
of Dutchess County, N.Y., and of this union there were born five children: The eldest, a
daughter, Mary, became the wife of Granville Armitage, and resides in Topeka, Kan.;
Thomas, during the Civil War, enlisted in Company A, 9th Iowa Infantry, and died in the
service; Harriet married George Morse, and is now deceased; George H., when but a boy,
enlisted in the Union Army,!
and was in the service a greater part of the time until the close of the war. He was
captured by the rebels while with Sherman, and confined at Andersonville, from which he
made his escape and exchanged his clothing for a Confederate uniform, thinking he would
more easily pass through the country; he was soon arrested as a deserter and sentenced to
be shot; one of his comrades, who had been confined with him at Andersonville, identified
him, and he was returned to prison, from which in due time he was released, and lived to
reach his home in safety; he is now a resident of Chicago, Ill. Antoinette married
George B. Orcutt, and resides in Maquoketa. Mrs. Christiana Cornell departed this life in
Mr. Cornell was married to his third wife, Miss Lucinda Nelson, June 1, 1856. She was a
native of Ohio and a daughter of John Nelson, and died in 1857. The present wife of our
subject, Mrs. Sophia (Moyer) Cornell, and to whom he was married Feb. 23, 1859, is a
native of Clermont County, Ohio, and is the daughter of Abraham Moyer, who was born in
Pennsylvania. The paternal grandfather of Mrs. Cornell was also a native of Pennsylvania,
whence he removed to Kentucky during the early settlement of that State, and from there, a
few years later, to Clermont County, Ohio, where he spent the remainder of his life.
Abraham Moyer was a young man when leaving his native State, and learned the trade of a
weaver from his father. He went with the family in their removals to Kentucky and Ohio,
and in Clermont County, the latter State, settled on a tract of timbered land - 100 acres
- which had been given him by his father-in-law. He first put up a round log house, and
later a more commodious dwelling of hewed logs, and in this latter his daughter Sophia was
born. There were then no railroads in that region, and the village of Cincinnati, forty
miles distant, was the nearest market. Mr. Moyer was a very industrious and enterprising
man, successful as a farmer, and in due time became the owner of a large estate,
consisting of a finely improved farm, upon which he erected a brick house and other
buildings to correspond. He there spent the remainder of his days, and during his
declining years enjoyed all the comforts and many of the luxuries of life.
Mrs. May (Miller) Moyer, the mother of Mrs. Cornell, was likewise a native of
Pennsylvania, and the daughter of David and Sarah Miller, also born in the Keystone State.
From there they removed to Kentucky at an early day, and later to Clermont County, Ohio.
There grandfather Miller purchased a large tract of land, improved a farm, and there, with
his excellent wife, spent his last days. The mother of Mrs. Cornell was a very
industrious and thrifty house-wife, and manufactured most of the clothing for her family
by carding, spinning and weaving wool and flax, assisted in the weaving by her husband.
She taught her daughter Sophia these arts also, and the latter became fully as proficient
as her mother. She remained under the parental roof until her first marriage, to Mr. Levi
Moyer, who, although he bore the same name as herself, was no relative.
Levi Moyer was born in Ohio, and was the son of Philip and Sally Moyer, who were among the
earliest pioneers of Clermong County, where Levi was reared to manhood. He assisted in
the development of the pioneer homestead, and made frequent trips down the Ohio and
Mississippi rivers on flat-boats, loaded with farm produce, which he sold at various towns
along the rivers, and at one time went as far as New Orleans. After disposing of his
produce he would sell the boat and make his return trip on a steamer. In 1851 he went to
California via New Orleans and the Isthmus, and engaged in mining. After an absence of
three years and one month he returned home to Ohio, and in the fall of 1854 came to Iowa.
Prior to this, however, Mr. Moyer had purchased a tract of wild land in Brookfield
Township, Clinton County, this State. There being no buildings upon it, he located in
Maquoketa, and was preparing for the removal to his land in the spring, but his plans were
cut short by his death, which occurred in April, 1855. Of this marriage there were born
two children, a daughter and son. The first mentioned, Louisa C., became the wife of John
Butters, and is a resident of Woodbury County, this State; Taylor E. is a resident of
Our subject by his last marriage became the father of four children, the eldest of whom,
Emma Sophia and Emmett Hezekiah (twins), died at the age of twelve years; Catherine L.
died at the age of ten years and six months, and Grant died when an infant of six months.
the family residence at Maquoketa is a substantial, homelike structure, and with its
surroundings indicates the abode of comfort and plenty. Mr. Cornell is widely and
favorably known to most of the old residents of Jackson, and is considered one of the
landmarks whose name will be held in kindly remembrance long after he has been gathered to
his fathers. He has contribued his full quota to the growth and development of the
county, being one of those men who form the bone and sinew of the social fabric, and who
have by their example stimulated the enterprises calculated to advance the interests of
their community, socially, morally and financially.
("Portrait and Biographical Album of Jackson County, Iowa", originally published
in 1889, by the Chapman Brothers, of Chicago, Illinois.)