Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The American Civil War

One hundred and fifty years ago this morning, April 12, 1861, the American Civil War began with the shelling of Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. By the time the war ended in April 1865, approximately 620,000 Americans were dead.

In many cases, the war pitted families against each other and brother against brother.

My family was no exception.

The earliest recorded Cornelius immigrant in America was Aaron Cornelius, captain of the English privateer ship, Canary Bird, in the service of the English Crown  in 1639. His place of residence was Flushing, Long Island, which was chartered to the English settlers in 1645 by the Dutch West India Company. Aaron was married and had at least five children. He died in Flushing on February 28, 1695 and his will is on record there.Although his oldest son John returned to England with his family, the others remained in the area and many descendants of this Cornelius line live in America today.

The next earliest record found of a Cornelius arrival in America was John Cornelius who arrived from Holland and settled in Maryland sometime prior to 1651. John and his wife Mary moved to Virginia where a will dated April 14, 1656 bequeathed all of his property to his wife. They had no known children and it is impossible to follow this line.

My immigrant ancestor, Rowland Cornelius, arrived from Holland in 1665 and settled first in Virginia and then moved to Maryland. He returned to Virginia around 1690 and purchased 50 acres of land at the head of Nantepolsen Creek in Lancaster County in August 1697. He purchased the land for the sum of three thousand pounds of tobacco! Rowland lived there until his death in 1727. Although Rowland did not leave a will (thus listing his children), there is documentary evidence that he had five sons (the oldest also named Rowland who is referred to in family documentation as "Rowland #2") who remained in Virginia. He married a woman named Rebecca and they had nine children. Rowland #2 passed away sometime in 1765.

Rowland #2's sixth child was William Cornelius was born in Spotsylvania County in 1732 and passed away in 1801 . William moved around a great deal and eventually located in the Carolinas. He had nine children with three children born in South Carolina. His seventh child, John Cornelius, was born May 20, 1776 in South Carolina and died April 18, 1857. John is my 4th great grandfather. John eventually settled in Christian County, Kentucky and married Patcey Profitt and they had eight children. John and Patcey are buried in Kentucky.

John's oldest child was Henry Profitt Cornelius who was born in 1806 and died in 1895. Henry was married twice -- first to Mary Ann Quisenberry who passed away in 1845 -- and he then married her cousin Catherine Quisenberry. In total, Henry fathered 18 children! Henry moved to Champaign County, Illinois and is buried in the Mount Hope Cemetery in Foosland, Illinois.

Henry’s eight child (with Mary Ann) was Jesse Profitt Cornelius who was born in 1840 and died in 1885. In 1879, he and his wife Mary Ann Spencer, moved to Kansas. Jesse’s oldest child was my great grandfather William Seborn Cornelius.

As the families moved from Virginia and the Carolinas and headed west, a number of family members moved north. By the time the Civil War broke out in 1861, members of the Cornelius family lived in the North and in the South and in the border state of Kentucky. There is documentary (and anecdotal) evidence that family members fought on both sides.

My Kentucky ancestors apparently leaned to the South. A tombstone of a family member named John Wilkes Cornelius appears in the Christian County Cemetery.

The war separated the country and the effects are still felt 150 years later.