Saturday, December 17, 2005

Uncle "Jay" Cornelius (1908-2005)

I received word late Friday that my great-uncle "Jay" Cornelius passed away at the age of 97.

Uncle Jay (his real name was "General") was the brother of my paternal grandfather, Floyde Cornelius Sr. There were a total of eight children in the family and collectively their lives spanned three centuries. The oldest sibling, Owen Cornelius, was born in 1889. My grandfather was the fifth-oldest sibling and was born in 1896. Jay (born in 1908) was the youngest -- and the last surviving -- sibling.

Uncle Jay was the family genealogist. In 1981, he compiled a history of the Cornelius family and called it Cornelius Roots and Shoots. He pulled together everything by hand as this was long before computers and the Internet. My own interest in genealogy was, in part, sparked by his book as well as the birth of my son Kevin in 1995. In fact, I wrote Uncle Jay in 1996 and received back a 4-page letter written in a strong hand. In the letter he wrote that he was trying to document that one of our distant ancestors fought in the American Revolutionary War -- thus qualifying all of his descendants for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution.

I regret that I never met him in person.

Uncle Jay is survived by his wife, Esther. They were married 64 years.

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