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


April 17, 2014

WP Daily Prompt: Humble Pie—Apology Letter



Hug for Tim


(WordPress Prompt for November 30, 2013)

Dear Tim,

I hope you have a recipe for humble pie . I need you to bake one for me.

Let me explain.

We, as fellow writers, have been friends for many years. Once we discussed starting a writing group together. However, the Foothills Writers Group only began when YOU took the initiative and set up meetings in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania.

The group met successfully for more than six years. Then you had too many obligations to continue it, and I was relocating to another community. Thus, the Foothills group of loyal writers became discontinued.

Yes, we were friends. However, there was an issue on which we always conflicted. It was an issue that brought out my…well, my frustration with you, and perhaps a hint of anger…because you never seemed to consider my background, which differed from yours and all the other group members.

The conflict was based on your great pride about living in the mountains, in the rolling hills, of Southwestern Pennsylvania. You speak of your ancestral home providing you with a sense of place. Thus, whenever you set up a prompt, it was related to Southwestern Pennsylvania.

1 IMG_8162E

Tim, you knew I couldn’t relate to the hills, the topography, the place of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Yet I believed you expected me to write impassioned responses to your prompts. After all, everyone else (more…)

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…)

March 15, 2012

My Tinge of Irish Heritage: The Googins Family



     What do the names Bonython, Foxwell, Rogers, Welch, and Googins have in common? What Irish heritage is found in these Maine location names: Pepperrellborough, Saco, Biddeford, Old Orchard Beach, Kittery, Trenton, and Lamoine?


     While sitting in my brother-in-law’s hospital room at the end of February I shared information from my files about my ancestor Patrick Googins, which I was reviewing to write a St. Patrick’s Day post. We discussed the United States region he emigrated to as a young man in the first quarter of the 1700s: Saco and Biddeford, Maine, then Pepperrellborough, Massachusetts (between 1762 and 1805). I read from my files that the Saco River emptied into the seacoast at Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

     Not long after that, Monte entered the room after taking a walk in the hospital corridor. He seemed excited, saying he had something to show me. On the wall in the corridor, among a number of paintings, was a picture of the Saco River flowing in New Hampshire, speeding to its destination, the Atlantic Ocean at Old Orchard Beach, Maine.


     Today is the day the Chicago River turns green.

     It’s St. Patrick’s Day.

     My Irish ancestry is so washed out as to be nonexistent. However slight it is, I still claim it, especially on March 17th each year.

     It began about ten generations ago in lower Maine. Patrick Googins, a woolen weaver by trade, emigrated from Ireland and entered the service of William Pepperrell, a native of Kittery.

     Pepperrell studied surveying and navigation before joining his father (a shipbuilder and fishing boat owner) in business. Young William Pepperrell expanded their enterprise to become one of the most prosperous mercantile houses in New England with ships carrying lumber, fish and other products to the West Indies and Europe. The Pepperrells sunk their profits into land, and soon they controlled immense tracts.* Thus, Patrick must have abandoned his wool weaving training to enter the mercantile business.

     Through the influence of William Pepperrell Patrick obtained (more…)

July 5, 2011

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness



     While doing genealogy, I have discovered many truly kind researchers. The first random act of genealogical kindness that I experienced amazed me.

     My husband and I were on one of our first visits to Lamoine, Maine. We stopped at Shore Acres to speak with its owner, Chuck Hemingway.  

     Shore Acres is a bed and breakfast on property once owned by my ancestor, William des Isles, grandson of settler Louis des Isles and his wife, Mary Googins. William operated a massive dance hall on the premises.

     During the conversation, I mentioned a home more inland on the road to Ellsworth. It was owned by my great-grandfather Allen Walker. Noteworthy was a boat, the Arabella, he’d built in Quincy, Massachusetts, and sailed to Lamoine Beach each summer.

     Suddenly Chuck, a post card collector, excused himself from (more…)

May 30, 2011

119 Memorial Days: Still Seeking Civil War Veteran’s Gravesite



Carolyn’s Online Magazine



     May 30, 2011. Another Memorial Day.  Actually, the 143rd Memorial Day since the commemoration for Civil War veterans began as Decoration Day in 1868.

On May 5.1868, General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic declared in General Order No. 11 that: The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

That May 30th, flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery to honor the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers.

The commemoration’s purpose began to change when, after World War I, observances began to honor all those who sacrificed their lives in the service of their countrys’ wars.  In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated the last Monday in May.


     One-hundred forty-three years later, two questions persist:

May 19, 2011

Shared Tristram Coffin Ancestry



    In doing some routine research (this time about climbing the Blue Mountains at Vestal’s—now Keye’s—Gap), I came across a book written by Addison Coffin. Skimming down the beginning I found the following:

It is becoming popular in writing biographies to give the genealogy of the person and family. Accordingly I will give a brief sketch of my ancestry as kept in the family record on the Island of Nantucket, and as found among the old records of Southern Sweden in Northern Europe. My father, Vestal Coffin, was the son of William, who was the son of Samuel, who was the son of John, who was the son of Tristram Coffin…(the name stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb)…

     Wait a minute—Tristram Coffin is part of MY (more…)

February 21, 2011

To Reclaim a Family Farm—Or Not


Feb. 22, 2011—3:22 a. m.:

Carolyn clicked  the 90,000th hit

on Carolyn’s Compositions!


     After moving to Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, I learned that one branch of my ancestors were from Hempfield Township, and that one of their sons, Michael Rugh (married Elizabeth Raymer/Reamer) and moved to Blacklick Township in Indiana County (same state) (see link in ADDITIONAL READING below: You Mean This New Englander is a Westsylvanian?).

     It wasn’t long before I arranged, with the current owners, to visit the farm where Michael and Elizabeth were raising their eight children.

     The current day farm is merely a piece of the original property. It was obvious that modernization had taken hold. As I stood in the front yard, overlooking Rte. 119, with the cars zipping by, I could see the towers of the (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…)

January 9, 2010

Blogging: Does it Have Value? Part 1



This is the first segment of a three-part post on blogging.

To receive E-mail notification of Carolyn’s Compositions posts, type your E-mail address in the Subscription box in the upper right hand column of this site. Your E-mail will not be publicized.

     On the evening of December 7, three days before the death of Latrobe (PA)’s last Holocaust survivor, Robert (Reibieson) Mendler, Carolyn’s Composition’s writing site received a comment on his posted story (THE HOLOCAUST STORY OF A TEENAGE VICTIM (Part 1)). Janet, a survivor of Nowy-Targ, Poland—Bob’s childhood community— had discovered Bob’s story after she typed Nowy-Targ into her computer search engine. She wanted to meet the only other Nowy-Targ (Poland) child survivor she’d discovered. And she discovered his survival by reading my blog. (to read post click on AN UNEXPECTED VISIT WITH BOB MENDLER ON DECEMBER 8, 2009 )

     On December 8, my husband Monte and I met with Bob, who was thrilled. Yes, he remembered he was ten years old when Janet was born. Both his and her families knew each other well. He would (and did) E-mail Janet. He told her he would call her.

     As fate would have it, the phone call was never to be. Bob died the evening of December 10. However, I’ve since talked to Janet. Although she feels the loss of a man she never knew, there is potential for our continued contact.

     This is only one of the surprising results of my blogging—connection and new friendship.

     I’m often asked if blogging is valuable. My response is (more…)

Next Page »

Blog at