As we try to fill in the pieces of our ancestors’ lives there are frequently gaps and brick walls. It’s not so neat and tidy as we get back to the early 1800s and late 1700s, especially if your ancestors moved around and there are several people you find with the same name. This is definitely the case as I try to research my maternal 3rd great grandfather Isaac Cornell. UGH but then no one ever said it would be easy. And for me it’s the pursuit of finding the answers, no matter how difficult the journey, that keeps me going.
I have profiled the life of my maternal 2nd great grandfather Joseph Cornell in posts entitled Civil War-Certificate of Disability for Discharge and Organizing Information Joseph Cornell. With the information I have on Joseph I thought I would look for information on his father Isaac/Isaiah. I also enlisted the help of my cousin Wendy because I hadn’t previously found much. Wendy and I have shared information before and I so enjoy working with her. We’re good at brainstorming together and we each often find information in different places that the other person hasn’t found. I think we’re really stumped on this one.
In the mid 1990s while driving from Elmira, NY to Long Island, New York with my mother and son we decided to make a quick stop in Laceyville, Pennsylvania to see what I could find in the cemetery there. I knew several ancestors had lived there and hoped we could find the cemetery and some additional information. I decided to stop at the local Post Office and ask for directions to the cemetery. As I walked up to the Post Office there was a mail carrier named Ellen, heading in to the building. I asked if she could give me directions to the Lacey St. Cemetery and she said she could. She asked what name I was looking for. She said she was interested in genealogy as well and while she worked as a mail carrier she frequently would go through local cemeteries and look for her family and her husband’s family tombstones. I told her I was looking for the Coolbaugh Family and for Isaac Cornell. She laughed and said her husband’s great-grandfather was Cyrus S. Cornell (I think I am remembering this correctly) the brother of my Joseph Cornell. She had no idea where their brother Isaac was buried or who their parents were. She said her father-in-law had a family bible but she hadn’t been able to get much access to it. I must try to find her again.
Here is what I do know, so far:
1810 Isaac (Jr.) is born in Pennsylvania and his father’s name is Isaac (Sr.) as well.
Isaac (Jr.) married Sally before 1837. I have Sally listed as Sarah Ranght but not sure where this is from.
Isaac and Sally had 4 sons: Joseph in 1835, Isaac in 1837, Benjamin in 1839 and Cyrus in 1845.
1850 US Federal Census Isaac 40, Farmer, couldn't read/write; Sally 35; Joseph 15, attends school; Isaac 13, attends school; Benj 11, attends school; Cyrus 5; Isaac 70, no occupation; all born in PA.
The Isaac that is the head of the household is my 3rd great grandfather and the father of Joseph Cornell, my 2nd great grandfather. There is an Isaac living with them which I believe is Isaac’s father. Since Isaac is listed as 40 in 1850 that would make his year of birth as 1810 and Sally as his wife.
23 Aug 1863-“Isaiah Cornell was alive when his son, Joseph Cornell, provided answers to fill out an 'Individual Record of Personal History of Officers and Soldiers Belonging to Regiments from NY In the Service of the United States' form at Carver Hospital on 23 Aug 1863. Joseph Cornell described his parents' nationality as German on a form he provided information for on 23 Aug 1863.” I have this note in my records, unfortunately, it was before I knew the importance of citing my sources and cannot locate the original source to see if there is additional information.
Sometimes you just can’t find anything. Sure wish I had cited my sources early on. We’ll just have to keep working on this.
A reminder…you never know where that next lead or family connection will come from. It could be at the local Post Office.
If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,