Ezra  Cornell

Ezra Cornell

Male 1807 - 1874  (67 years)    Has 16 ancestors and one descendant in this family tree.

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  • Name Ezra Cornell 
    Relationshipwith Adam
    Born 11 Jan 1807  Westchester County, New York Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 09 Dec 1874 
    Person ID I313420  Geneagraphie
    Links To This person is also Ezra Cornell at Wikipedia 
    Last Modified 13 Apr 2017 

    Father Elijah Cornell,   d. Ithaca, NY Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Mother Eunice,   d. Yes, date unknown 
    Siblings 10 siblings 
    Family ID F125351  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Mary Ann Wood 
    Married 19 Mar 1831  Dryden, New York Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. Alonzo B. Cornell,   b. 22 Jan 1832,   d. 15 Oct 1904  (Age 72 years)
    Last Modified 27 Jul 2010 
    Family ID F125352  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos
    Ezra_Cornell
    Ezra_Cornell

  • Notes 
    • Ezra Cornell held the patent for telephone poles and the founder of the Cornell University. Ezra was a
      pioneer in the development of the telegraph, and a founder of the Western Union Telegraph Co. He was a member of the NY Assembly and Senate.

      He was was raised near DeRuyter, New York. He was a first cousin, five times removed of Benjamin Franklin on his maternal grandmother's side. He was also a cousin of Paul Cornell, the founder of Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. Having traveled extensively as a carpenter in New York State, Ezra, upon first setting eyes on Cayuga Lake and Ithaca, decided Ithaca would be his future home.

      After settling in at Ithaca, Ezra quickly went to work proving himself as a carpenter. Colonel Beebe took notice of the industrious young man and made him the manager of his mill at Fall Creek.

      Ezra Cornell was a birthright Quaker, but was later disowned by the Society of Friends for marrying outside of the faith to a "world's woman," a Methodist by the name of Mary Ann Wood.

      On February 24, 1832, Ezra Cornell wrote the following response to his expulsion from The Society of Friends due to his marriage to Mary Ann Wood:

      I have always considered that choosing a companion for life was a very important affair and that my happiness or misery in this life depended on the choice?

      The young and growing family needed more income than could be earned as manager of Beebe's Mills. So, having purchased rights in a patent for a new type of plow, Ezra began what would be decades of travelling away from Ithaca. His territories for sales of the plow were the states of Maine and Georgia. His plan was to sell in Maine in the summer and the milder Georgia in the winter. With limited means, what transported Ezra between the two states were his own two feet.

      Happening into the offices of the Maine Farmer in 1842, Ezra saw an acquaintance of his, one F.O.J. Smith, bent over some plans for a "scraper" as Smith called it. Smith had purchased a share of the telegraph patent held by Samuel F.B. Morse, and was attempting to devise a way of burying the telegraph lines in the ground in lead pipe. Ezra's knowledge of plows was put to the test and Ezra devised a special kind of plow that would dig a 2½ foot ditch, lay the pipe and telegraph wire in the ditch and cover it back up as it went. Later it was found that condensation in the pipes and poor insulation of the wires impeded the electrical current on the wires and so hanging the wire from telegraph poles became the accepted method.

      Ezra made his fortune in the telegraph business as an associate of Samuel Morse, having gained his trust by constructing and stringing the telegraph poles between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland, as the first ever telegraph line of substance in the U.S. After joining with Morse, Cornell supervised the erection of many telegraph lines, including the Erie and Michigan Telegraph Company connecting Buffalo to Milwaukee. He earned a substantial fortune as a founder of the Western Union company.

      Cornell was a Republican member of both the New York State Senate and Assembly.

      Cornell retired from Western Union and turned his attention to philanthropy. He endowed the Cornell Library, a public library for the citizens of Ithaca. A lifelong enthusiast of science and agriculture, he saw great opportunity in the 1862 Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act to found a university that would teach practical subjects on an equal basis with the classics favored by more traditional institutions. Andrew Dickson White helped secure the new institution's status as New York's land grant university, and Cornell University was granted a charter through their efforts in 1865.

      Ezra Cornell entered the railroad business, but fared poorly due to the Panic of 1873. He began construction of a palatial Ithaca mansion, Llenroc (Cornell spelled in reverse) to replace his farmhouse, Forest Home, but died before it was completed. Llenroc was maintained by Cornell's heirs for several decades until being sold to the local chapter of the Delta Phi fraternity, which occupies it to this day; Forest Home was sold to the Delta Tau Delta chapter and later demolished. Cornell is interred in Sage Chapel on Cornell's campus, along with Daniel Willard Fiske and Jennie McGraw.

      A prolific letter writer, Ezra corresponded with a great many people and would write dozens of letters each week. This was due partly to his wide travelling, and also to the many business associates he maintained during his years as an entrepreneur and later as a politician and university founder. Cornell University has made the approximately 30,000 letters in the Cornell Correspondence available online.

      His eldest son, Alonzo B. Cornell, was later governor of New York. The eldest lineal descendent of Cornell is granted a life seat on Cornell University's Board of Trustees, currently Ezra Cornell.

      In 1990, G. David Low, graduate of Cornell University and Space Shuttle astronaut, took with him into outer space a pair of tan silk socks worn by Ezra Cornell on his wedding day in 1831


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