Historical Sketches of Various Early Day Families in Indiana
By Robert E. Turman, Feb. 10, 1955
...Another of the pre-Revolutionary American families was the Cornwell family, one branch of which came out of Maryland and Virginia to Kentucky, and eventually to Indiana. One of them was Anna Cornwell, who at the age of 20 was the bride of our recent subject, William Grigsby Jr. They were wed in Jefferson County, Ky., on March 25, 1816, and moved to Orange County, Ind., four years later. The Census of 1820 showed that Wm. Grigsby was head of a family in Northwest Township in that county that year.
Anna was the daughter of William Cornwell, who also was an early settler in that part of southern Indiana. The old Orange county history contains numerous references to the sons of William Cornwell. On page 583 it was revealed that "Wm. Cornwell was a descendant of the Cornwalls of England. But his branch used "e" instead of an "a" in spelling the family name."
William Cornwell was born Oct. 9, 1768 in Virginia. On his 26th birthday, he married 19-year-old Mary F. Swann, probably in Maryland. She was a native of Maryland, born Dec. 10, 1775. She died Aug. 20, 1843, and her husband died Nov. 21, 1845. They are buried in Stamper's Creek Cemetery, four miles east of Paoli, Indiana.
Several Cornwell descendants have spent years in searching for the complete story of this family, some of which is still disconnected. Cornwell data has been found in various parts of the country. Here are some of the earliest records:
According to the 1850 U. S. Census, which sheds valuable light on the history of many a family, the first two children of Wm. and Mary (Swann) Cornwell were born in Maryland. It is probable that Wm. Cornwell was a son of "Old" Peter Cornwell of Stafford County, Va, which is just across the Potomac river from Maryland.
The Virginia Magazne of History, Vol. 38, p. 184, tells that Peter Cornwell lived near the Rappahannock River in Stafford county. Since there were several intermarriages between the Cornwell, Grigsby and Wolfe families, all of whom were pioneers in that "norther neck" of Virginia, it is certain that they were all of the same "tribe." One of the Harrison families must have bee connected also, in the dim past, for the name "Harrison Cornwell" was one of the key family names handed down for several generations in Ky. and Ind.
"Old" Peter Cornwell was the father of Peter Jr., born June 12, 1780, and Charles Cornwell. Descendants of both these men became a part of the Cornwell Grigsby colony in Indiana early in the 19th century.
Peter Cornwell Jr. was married on June 24, 1802, Jefferson County, Ky. to Mrs. Elizabeth "Betsy" Branham. She was a daughter of William Arterburn, as indicated in his last will dated Sept. 19, 1816, and probated Oct. 14, 1816. In this will, Mr. Arterburn left " $30 to my granddaughter Lydia McKee, when she marries or comes of age." and to my wife, Nancy, I lead my estate and at her death...to be divided between my children, Elijah, William, Samuel and Presley Arterburn, Betsy Cornwell and Lydia Saffer." Executors were the sons, Wm. and Presley; witnesses, Robert Tompkins and Enos McKee. (Bk. 2, p. 48, Jefferson County, Ky.) Peter Cornwell, Jr. died Oct. 1, 1842, in Orange County, Ind.
Charles Cornwell (another son of "Old" Peter) had a son, the Rev. Harrison Cornwell, who was born March 10, 1802, in Virginia. In 1826, he married his first cousin, Nancy Cornwell, daughter of the above Peter Jr. and Elizabeth Arterburn Cornwell and they spent their lives in Stamper's Creek Township, Orange County, Ind. Harrison Cornwell also had brothers named Daniel and James.
Another of the early Virginia Cornwells was Jacob, who married Mary "Polly" Wolfe in Kentucky in 1810. Their son, Shelby Cornwell (1810-1892) married Nancy Jane, daughter of Simon Arterburn Cornwell and his wife, another girl named Mary "Polly" Wolfe.
Probably the very first of the Wolfe family to come to Virginia was Peter Wolfe, who arrived about 1720. He had at least three sons--Jacob, who settled in West Va; Lewis, of Rockingham County, Va; and John, born about 1745, who settled in the Shenandoah Valley and built a Fort at Stony Creek settlement. John Wolfe married Elizabeth, one of the original Cornwell girls, and they later migrated "west" to Kentucky, like their older kinsmen. One of their sons was Henry Wolfe, born Oct. 18, 1786, and he married Lucy Grigsby about 1813.
Lucy was born Oct. 23 1794, and some of her descendants think she may have been a sister of Wm. Grigsby Jr. of Orange County, Ind. Lucy Grigsby Wolfe died in that county April 23, 1839, and her husband died there june 20, 1855. But their deaths occurred so long before the first county histories of Indiana were published that Lucy's relationship to some of the other families apparently was forgotten and not recorded in print. It was one of the above Henry Wolfe's sisters, "Polly", who was the wife of Jacob Cornwell. The Cornwells, Grigsbys and Wolfes were intermarried every which way with the neighboring families of Trinkle, Lewis, Wible and Strange, around Paoli and Livonia, Ind.--much the same as some of the Sullivan County families of Brewer, Turman, Dodd, Cushman, Gray, Bosatick, etc, were intermarried around Graysville and Big Spring in Turman Township a century ago.
Some of the Cornwells were in Kentuckky before it became a state. In the First Census of the U.S. in 1790, there were listed in Mason Coutny, Ky, John and Thomas Cornwell. In nearby Shelby County, Ky, the records show that one Ann Cornwell and Enoch Flemming were married April 30, 1799. The Wm. Cornwell-Mary Swann family resided somewhere near Louisville prior to moving in 1834 to the neighborhood of their Grigsby (and other) relatives near Paoli, Ind.
As stated before, the first two of Wm. Cornwell's 10 children were born in Maryland. They were James, born July 16, 1795, and Anna, born Feb. 5, 1796. The next two were born in Virginia--Edith, about 1799, and Peter on Jan. 18, 1802. The others were all born in Kentucky--Phoebe, about 1805; Wm. Jr., 1807; Edward, Feb. 29, 1809; Bayless, Nov. 25, 1811; mary, 1815; and Burwell Harrison Cornwell, born July 3, 1819.
The latter became a prominent citizen of Terre Haute, Ind., in his adult life, according to the 1891 History of Vigo county by H. C. Bradsby.
(Continued next week)