December 11, 2014

Cornell Family Dialogue Via Blog Post Comments




KILLED STRANGELY: A NEW ENGLAND MURDER STORY was the most commented on post on CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS, an online magazine-style blog. It’s connected numerous persons delving into the Cornell family (Twitter hashtags #Cornellgenealogy, #Cornellfamily).

  • Hi Carolyn, I am the great, great, great grandson of William and Margaret O’Neal Cornell of Bedford PA.  I’m trying to figure out if I belong to the New England family line or the French Huguenot family line or a lesser known family….Maybe you could help!  Patrick, received on CAROLYN’S BIO July 23, 2013

I decided to post a list of these comments separately from the list of a review of other CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS comments because the information is valuable for Cornell family researchers.

NOTE: This article is being rewritten. Upon review I discovered I made multiple writing errors which I will correct after January 1, 2015, on the CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS follow-up blog, CAROLYN’S ONLINE MAGAZINE. To reread the edited copy type CAROLYN’S ONLINE MAGAZINE after January 15, 2015.

Below are the Cornell family comments on CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS:

  • this story fascinates me! I found it a couple of years ago when I came across clues that suggest we’re also Cornell descendants here in Oklahoma! I had to buy the book. I’m reading it again because I want to share the story with my family on my blog, American Saga. I will track back to you when I get it written. Jan
  • Thomas Cornell was my eighth great grandfather. I’m going to Rhode Island in three weeks to visit these spots you mention and others. Were you able to find the graveyard where he is buried? Cameron Cornell  — January 3, 2009
  • I recently spoke to the author, Dr. Crane, who assured me she had found the family burial plot deep in the overgrown woods. It is not located on the government property. I visited this spot in Rhode Island a month or so ago, and walked back in the woods, but did not go deep enough to locate the plot. I’ll try again in the spring. John W. Cornwell  — January 22, 2009


May 24, 2014

Recognizing a Veteran: Robert W.Cornell




If you were a student of Chief Navy Photographer Robert W. Cornell,

I’d like to hear from you.

Please make a note in the comment box following this post.

It’s not surprising that a child follows in his/her father’s footsteps, It’s a twist when the child is separated from his/her father and his family at an early age, having no paternal contact or influence.

This is my situation. My parents were divorced before I began school, and before that his Navy career kept him away from the routine contact we would have had had he had a job where he came home every night.

Thus, it is a twist that when I first picked up a camera in my early teens I used it creatively and with joy. I wrote of our connection earlier: Two Photographers Named Cornell  

Being that this is Memorial Day I’m departing from posting pictures I’ve taken and, as a twist, I am posting a few pictures shot by my father, career Navy man Robert W. Cornell, Chief Naval Photographer.

Chief Navy Photographer Robert William Cornell

Chief Navy Photographer Robert William Cornell




May 19, 2013

WP Daily Prompt: Helping Hand: A Handwritten Letter



The WordPress daily prompt for today, May 8, 2013 is Tell us about the most surprising helping hand you’ve ever received.


Perhaps it isn’t the most surprising helping hand I’ve ever received. However, it is the first thought that comes to my mind.

The helping hand was one holding a pen, writing a letter, putting it in an envelope, stamping it and mailing it.


The letter dropped on the floor through our old-fashioned mail-slot. My husband Monte picked up the mail that day and handed me several pieces of mail. I sat down on the stairs to open it.

Davis was the name on the return address of one envelope.

Darn, I thought. “I just submitted my article on the Davis’s 50th wedding anniversary. The information in this letter had better be good if I am to recall the article and amend it.”

I slit open the flap and two pieces of paper fell out. This letter didn’t concern the newspaper article. It was from my father’s cousin in Florida and most likely contained something about my family genealogy.

I opened up one sheet. It was a genealogy, but I noticed the more recent section had more names on it than what I already had. What I read changed my perception of who I was and where I lived.

“Monte,” I said. “Bob is playing a trick on me.”

“Oh?” he questioned.

“Yes. Somehow he (more…)

November 18, 2012

A Record for the Most Santa Hats on Two Continents Simultaneously





What have Brockton, Massachusetts and Mullingar, Ireland had in common?


A competition to see which community can gather the most people together wearing Santa hats.


In 2008 Brocktonians gathered together to set a world record for the most people wearing Santa hats. Over 500 persons participated.

The following year the Irish Echo reported that Mullingar had joined in on the fun and broken Brockton’s record with a gathering of 780 persons.

The competition was on. In 2010 Brocton reclaimed its record with 982 participants, and maintained the record in 2011 with 1780 participants. This year the two communities are collaborating rather than competing. They aim to set a world record for the most simultaneous Santa hat wearers on two continents. Readers can view a live simulcast with a CLICK HERE FOR LIVE SIMULCAST at 1:00 p. m. today, November 18, 2012.

NOTE: If you live in Ireland click on the site at 6:00 p. m.1


I must confess that even though the competition turned into a collaboration intrigues me, I have an ulterior interest in Brocton. My father, Robert William Cornell, was born and raised on Cross Street in that city.

My husband Monte and I visit the community when we travel through New England.

In 2003 Monte and I raced a storm and reached Brocton a half hour before the mid-February blizzard. We were there for the funeral of my aunt, Nyllis Gardner.

On another note:


What do Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania and Brocton, Massachusetts have in common?


Mary Rugh Cubbage Cornell, the granddaughter of Michael Rugh, one of the original pioneer settlers in Westmoreland County (my home county), married Broctonian Irving Cornell and lived out her post-marriage life in Brocton.

Let me explain. Michael and Elizabeth Rugh’s daughter Elizabeth migrated to Iowa and Illinois in the mid-1800s. She wed William Cubbage. Mary, one of their daughters, when grown, took a vacation to San Francisco, California. While there she shopped for a pair of shoes. At the shoe store she met a shoe distributor from Massachusetts, Irving Cornell. It must have been love at first sight, because they married and moved to his hometown, Brocton. Mary is buried in Coweeset Cemetery.

One of Mary and Irving Cornell’s three children, William Cornell, wed Ida Victoria Berg. One of their children, Robert William Cornell, is my father. That makes Mary my great-grandmother.

When my husband and I retired we decided to move into the Westmoreland County (PA) community where my daughter lived, the very same county where Mary’s grandfather Michael was born and raised.

So I’ve brought the circle to a close by returning to the ancestral roots Mary Rugh brought to the Brocton Cornell family.


The Santa hat event was inspired by the story of the first department store Santa, Brockton native (more…)

June 28, 2012

Air Show in Latrobe (PA) Features the Navy Blue Angels


AIR SHOW IN LATROBE (Pennslyvania)


I wasn’t seated in the best spot to watch the Westmoreland County Air Show last weekend. I wasn’t on the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport  (Latrobe, Pennsylvania) tarmac.

I was on a grassy hill on the nearby St. Vincent College campus.

I chose being in the shade because I had a lobster-red sunburn acquired on Lake Erie during a visit there—at a time when the temperatures reached almost as high as the century mark that many persons seek to live to. Being with my two young grandsons I stayed in the water too long. But then, that’s another story.

My choice of watching the show from the college campus meant I could watch the show while luxuriating in the shade of a canopy of limbs belonging to old unidentified trees.

It also meant I would miss all the activities below the tree line and on the ground—among them the Smoke ‘N Thunder jet car run, the Medical helicopter demonstration with local Emergency Medical Services, and the Alabama Boys, Greg Koontz comedy routine and truck top landing (this last I watched today on the Internet:

I also missed an up-close view of the North American B-25 Mitchell medium-range bomber, a World War II relic. The B-25s were used by Lt. Col. James Doolittle and his men who flew the first raid over Tokyo in April 1942, about four months after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.3


More important, I missed being in as close a proximity to the Navy’s Blue Angels as was possible, which meant that I lost opportunity to nudge up to a pilot who was willing to (more…)

December 8, 2011

My Parents Did Name Me Carolyn



     The Daily Post at provides daily prompts. Their November 17, 2011(Topic #310) was: If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to?

Further questions were:

  • If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to?
  • Do you feel like your name matches your personality?
  • If you don’t feel your name matches your personality, what first name would better match who you are?


     I like the moniker my parents gave me. Carolyn. It is unique to my (more…)

February 11, 2011

My Mother’s Secret: An Adoption Story


MY MOTHER’S SECRET: An Adoption Story

I’m certain my mother would have strongly opposed SB335 as it progressed through the New Hampshire Senate and House in 2004. The Bill, which became law effective January 1, 2005, concerned access to records available to adult adoptees who were born and adopted in New Hampshire. These adoptees now can gain access to their own original, pre-adoption birth certificates…

 Why would she have opposed this law?

Because she had a secret.

Her secret was revealed to her family on January 19, 2011. (more…)

November 15, 2010

Rhode Island: Part 1


Carolyn Cornell Holland


     What comes in the smallest packages, the cliché inquires.

     And the cliché answers: the best things.

     Egotist that I can be, I note that I must be a “best thing” since I was introduced to the world in Rhode Island, the smallest state.

     A 2010 Rhode Island election issue made me realize how ignorant I am about my natal state. The controversy was, and remains, the state’s name: Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Some Rhode Islanders want to drop and Providence Plantations—making the official name just Rhode Island. Of course I wrote a post about it: Change the Name of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations?

     But then I wondered what else I didn’t know about the state, which is a whole lot, starting with the names of the Native American tribes.


     I was familiar with Miantonomi Hill in Newport (to view photo click on But did the name Miantonomi belong to an Indian tribe or was he an Indian Chief?

     The first Indian tribe, alphabetically, was the Cowesetts. So that’s the source of the name of the Cowesett Cemetery in Brocton, Massachusetts, where my grandmother Cornell is buried. Then there is the Narragansett tribe, familiar because of Narrangasett Bay. The homestead of my 1600 ancestors, Thomas and Rebecca Cornell, fronted on this bay. I was slightly familiar with the Niantic, Nipmuc, and Pocasset tribal names. However, I’d never heard of the Manisses, Moswansicut, Pawtuxet, Sakonnet, Tunky, or Wampanoag tribes.

     Further research uncovered the fact that Miantonomi was an Indian chief, one of two (the other was Canonicus) from whom Roger Williams purchased land. Williams named his settlement (more…)

July 22, 2010

I Wear My Cornell (University) Jacket Proudly



     I wear my Cornell University jacket proudly, humbly.

When I’m asked if I graduated from this prestigious university, I have an answer ready: No, not from the traditional University. I graduated from the Cornell University of hard knocks.

You see, my maiden name is Cornell. I am the daughter of the late Robert William and Nancy Briskay Cornell.

And like Ezra Cornell, founder of Cornell University, my father and I are descendants of the original Cornell settlers, Thomas and Rebecca Briggs Cornell. I carried the surname that came through the years from 1600, through the generations, until I married.

Mine was the typical dysfunctional family. Because my parents divorced when I was four, I didn’t re-meet my father until I was thirty-two. At the same time, I met four of his five children by his second marriage—three boys and a girl.  His fifth child, a son, from that same marriage, has no interest in meeting his father’s child from a previous marriage.

The first thing Kitty said to me when we first spoke on the telephone was that she always (more…)

June 12, 2010

Flag Man (Bob Cornell) Shivers



Carolyn’s Online Magazine


Sonny Schwartz*

FLAG DAY IS ALWAYS JUNE 14. This year I’m posting a newspaper column Sonny Schwartz wrote about my father, Robert William Cornell.

Yesterday was Bob Cornell’s day.

Nah, not his birthday. That was May 28.

Nor the anniversary of his retirement from the Navy after 30 years of active and inactive service. That was June 4, 1971.

Flag flying on (or near) the original Cornell homestead, Portsmouth (Middletown), R. I.

Yesterday was Flag Day.

And on Flag Day, the former U. S. Navy chief aviation photographer stands tall.

Tall-ship tall…

Cornell, you see, is a flag fanatic, though he winces at the categorization.

And it’s the American Flag, good Old Glory, that turns Cornell on and sends star-spangled bannered shivers down his spine.

Now don’t think for a moment that Bob Cornell is your ordinary inveterate flag buff.

He’s much more than that. Much more.

He eats, drinks, talks, walks, breathes and sleeps the American Flag.

Cornell’s a veritable human book of knowledge when it comes to the U. S. Flag, a subject he’s studied with intensity since (more…)

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