From Commemorative Biographical Record of the Counties of Rock, Green, Grant, Iowa and Lafayette Wisconsin, publ. 1901 - page 674-675
NICHOLAS CORNELIUS enjoys the reputation of being the oldest living settler of the city of Monroe, Green county, and certainly the changes that have taken place in southern Wisconsin under his personal observation, if fully told would far transcend the limits of a volume like this. He has lived a long and useful life, and is spending the evening of his days surrounded by warm friends and a venerating public.
Mr. CORNELIUS was born in St. Clair county, Illinois, March 3, 1815, and is a son of Joseph and Mary (RUTTER) CORNELIUS. Eight children were born to them, and their son, whose name appears above, is the only one now alive. The father was a farmer, and moved to St. Clair county, Illinois, in 1804, making the overland journey with a four-horse team and settling near the city of St. Louis, though the nearest postoffice was at Kaskaskia, forty miles distant. He bought Spanish claims to five hundred acres nine miles east of what was then the metropolis of the West, and engaged in farming the rest of his life. When he came from Maryland to Illinois he brought with him a family of six slaves, whom he subsequently freed. They went to St. Louis, where one of them was kidnapped and sold into slavery in New Orleans. Upon learning this fact, Mr. CORNELIUS made a journey to that city on purpose to secure her release, although the trip cost him over $400. He died in 1825, while still in middle life. His wife died in 1819. They were both Baptists in faith. It is said the CORNELIUS family descended from three brothers who came from Scotland early in the seventeenth century. The given name of the father of Mary RUTTER is not now known, but he was of German descent, and died in Maryland.
Nicholas CORNELIUS grew to manhood in St. Clair county, Illinois, attended an old fashioned subscription school, held in a log cabin with no floor but the ground, and was reared on the farm. In 1834 he came to Wisconsin, and took up a claim of 160 acres in what is now Clarno township, in the county of Green. He failed to perfect his title, and two years later secured a quarter-section in Monroe township, the name of President Van Buren appearing on the patent. This farm he presently exchanged for another, consisting of 150 acres, a half mile nearer the present city of Monroe, and now adjoining the western limits of the corporation, which he has owned for over sixty years, and was actively engaged in its cultivation until 1885. That year he moved into Monroe, where he has lived since, his son Erwin now taking charge of the farm, and he is making a fine farmer, although engaged as principal of schools at Wauwatosa, Wis., for several years past.
On June 10, 1849, Mr. CORNELIUS married Miss Phillippa TRIZETTER, who was born in 1832 in England, daughter of Andrew and Susanna (BULIN) TRIZETTER, who came to America the same year, locating a few years later, near Columbus, Ohio. Three children have been born to their union, Erwin C., ALICE, and one who died in infancy. (1) Erwin C. married Miss Winnie BYERS, a daughter of Dr. BYERS, of Monroe, and they had one daughter, Alice; Mrs. CORNELIUS died, and he married a second time Mrs. Bertha PERKINS, and has one child by that union. (2) Alice CORNELIUS married Charles GODDARD, of Monroe, and they have four children, Harry, Wilbur, Grace and Phillippa. Mr. and Mrs. CORNELIUS have been married fifty-two years. He voted for William Henry Harrison in 1840, and cast his lot with the Republican party when it was formed, and acted with it until 1900. He says he believes in Americanism, but not in plutocracy. Mr. CORNELIUS has been on the grand jury twenty years.
Nicholas CORNELIUS came to this locality when the country was wild and full of Indians, and helped to ferry three hundred Indians across the Pecatonica on their way to Chicago in 1834. There was no Milwaukee, Janesville or Monroe then. He is the oldest settler here, not in age, but in point of length of residence , only three families having settled in Green county before his arrival. He remembers visiting St. Louis when it was a town of less importance than the present city of Monroe. When he first came up the Mississippi, there was no settlement on the river north of Narvoo except Ft. Snelling, Steamboats ran to Galena, the lower river then being navigable. After coming to Wisconsin, Mr. CORNELIUS spent about fifteen years in the lead mines, and while there he made the acquaintance of Gov. Dodge, William S. Hamilton, and other prominent pioneer citizens of the State. His father's farm of 500 acres was sold after his death to satisfy a mortgage of $300 which, owing to the depreciation of the currency was paid with $80 in specie. This circumstance made a deep impression upon the mind of our subject, and he has never mortgaged any property during his life. His strict business principles and unswerving honesty have given him an enviable reputation in the business world.