Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Henry Profitt Cornelius

[Update: August 10, 2009] There seems to be some uncertainty regarding the correct spelling of Henry's middle name. The name is actually his mother's maiden name and her records show the spelling as Proffitt.  As I wrote below, one of Henry's sons was named Jesse with the same middle name. Today I found Jesse's gravesite and it also shows his middle name spelled as Proffitt. I am going to assume this spelling is the correct spelling as opposed to what Henry's record shows. Incidentally, I received photos of the gravesite of Henry's parents -- John and Patcey.

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I had a fun day today. I fulfilled a long-held desire to take a short trip back in time and visit the gravesite of my third great grandfather. His name was Henry Profitt Cornelius
Henry was born on March 16, 1806 in Christian County, Kentucky and was the oldest of eight children. He was first married to Mary Ann Quisenberry in 1828. They had ten children together with the eighth child being my second great grandfather, Jesse Profitt Cornelius. (“Profitt” was Henry’s mother’s maiden name and was used these two times as a middle name.) Mary Ann passed away in 1845 and is buried in the Hittle Grove Cemetery, Tazewell County, Illinois. Henry married Mary Ann’s cousin, Catherine Quisenberry, in 1847 and they had eight more children together. Thus, Henry fathered 18 children!
Henry passed away at the ripe old age of 89 on August 29, 1895. Catherine passed away in 1902. They are buried together in Mt. Hope Cemetery near Foosland, Illinois.
I became aware of Henry’s existence when I read about him in my Uncle Jay’s Roots and Shoots book. It became somewhat of an obsession for me to find Foosland and to find Henry’s grave. In fact, Dad and I talked a number of times about driving down to find the location, but his declining health made the trip unlikely.
I’m on a four-week sabbatical from work and I decided this morning to make the trip. I packed a cooler of water and energy drinks and made the trip to Foosland. Actually, it’s not a bad drive at all and certainly one we should have made years earlier. The town is “off the beaten path” and it took several turns before I found the county road leading to it. It took even more time to locate the cemetery. I had to ask some locals to point me in the right direction.
But I found it!
Foosland is located northwest of Champaign which is home to the University of Illinois. I thought my father’s hometown of Madrid was small, but I believe Foosland is even smaller. It’s accessible by county roads only.
The cemetery is very well maintained. It took me about an hour to find his tombstone. Since they both passed away over 100 years ago, I was fearful of not finding the grave at all or finding a tombstone that was weather-worn or in very poor condition. To my relief and surprise, their tombstone is in excellent condition.
Here are some photos that I took. I thought of Dad today as I was sitting at the tombstone.