Skip to main content


Series I. Correspondence: June 17, 1828 - May 8, 1844 (Box 1)

June 17, 1828 - September 22, 1830 (Box 1/Folder 1) : [35 digital images]

TOPICS:

Family correspondence; family health; travel; Quaker Meeting; personal finances; news from friends and acquaintances (death of children, social events).

HIGHLIGHTS:

August 23, 1830. E.B. Cornell to Ezra Cornell from Manlius:
"It's very sickly about here now, there is about 2 hundred patients under the phisician's care."

PLACES:

DeRuyter, N.Y.; Manlius, N.Y.; Ithaca, N.Y.

PEOPLE:

Cornell, Elijah; Cornell, E.B.; Eddy, Otis; Cornell, Mary Ann.

May 19, 1831 - June 12, 1837 (Box 1/Folder 2) : [52 digital images]

TOPICS:

Family correspondence; birth of son Charles and daughter Elizabeth, death of Charles; finance and real estate speculation; mills and women mill workers; national politics and financial situation.

HIGHLIGHTS:

February 24, 1832. Ezra Cornell's response to expulsion from Quaker Church 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 happyness or misery in this life depended on the choice..."

March 6, 1834. Ezra Cornell to Elijah Cornell:
"I informed thee when thee was out that I had got out of debt and a little to spare but not being able to enjoy sound sleap while I remained in that situation (that some would call happy) I have remedied the evil by running in debt for the large house and lot..."

January 13, 1836. Reference to "distressing conflagration" in New York City.

May 15, 1836. Ezra Cornell to Elijah Cornell discussing Ithaca's potential, mentioning the New York and Erie Railroad and the Sodus Canal.

PLACES:

Fall Creek (Ithaca); DeRuyter; Rochester, N.Y.; Michigan.

PEOPLE:

Merritt, Nehemiah; Beebe, Jeremiah S.; Cornell, Alonzo B.; Wood, M.B.; Wood, Benjamin; Wood, O. S.; Bristol, John S.; Bristol, Elmira; DeWitt family; Cornell, Mary Ann.

June 18, 1837 - September 11, 1838 (Box 1/Folder 3) : [72 digital images]

TOPICS:

Management of Jeremiah Beebe's Ithaca affairs; textile mill; flour mill; women mill workers; tannery; water power.

PLACES:

Ithaca.

PEOPLE:

Cornell, Elijah; Cornell, E.B.; Beebe, Jeremiah S.; Whyte, Thomas; Blunt, Joseph; Bristol, John S.; Bristol, Elmira; Cornell, Mary Ann.

October 27, 1838 - July 15, 1841 (Box 1/Folder 4) : [54 digital images]

TOPICS:

Family correspondence; family relations; business and financial matters; pottery; Cornell & Wright grocery; water power; mill machinery; Beebe's directives for businesses; letters of recommendation for trip East to view improvements in water power and to promote Ithaca as a manufacturing site; national politics; Loco Focism; Whig party.

HIGHLIGHTS:

October 6, 1839. Elijah Cornell to Ezra Cornell, regarding the economy:
"But in observing the signs of the times I think it is time for people to sing small songs..."

PLACES:

Ithaca; DeRuyter; Fall Creek; Michigan.

PEOPLE:

Cornell, Elijah; Macy, Anna; Beebe, Jeremiah S.; Bristol, John S.; Bristol, Elmira; Cornell, Mary Ann.

July 15, 1841 - August 13, 1842 (Box 1/Folder 5) : [78 digital images]

TOPICS:

Business and financial correspondence; plans for rental housing in Ithaca; cattle; New York State Agricultural Society; Barnaby and Mooers side hill plow, and correspondence to Maine pertaining to selling of plows and plow patent rights.

HIGHLIGHTS:

July 15, 1841. Letter to the Trustees of the village of Ithaca concerning complaints about Ezra Cornell's bull.

PLACES:

Ithaca; Maine.

PEOPLE:

Dexter, S.; Beebe, Jeremiah S.; Blunt, Joseph; Flagg, J. P.; Mooers, Henry; Cornell, Mary Ann.

August 18, 1842 - January 31, 1843 (Box 1/Folder 6) : [79 digital images]

TOPICS:

Family correspondence; rental properties; Ithaca fires; agriculture; cattle; plows; pottery; temperance.

HIGHLIGHTS:

1842. Ezra Cornell to the editor of the Maine Farmer regarding Maine's potential as an agricultural state.

August 27, 29, and September 29, 1842 concerning Cornell pottery.

January 23, 1843. Samuel F.B. Morse to Archibald L. Linn with sketch of his electromagnetic telegraph instrument. Morse alphabet added to letter by Ezra Cornell, February 18, 1873.

January 31, 1843. Ezra Cornell to Mary Ann Cornell and children describing a four day journey from Ithaca to New York City via stage, railroad, and steamer, relating conditions of travel, type and cost of food, arrival in the city, and the purchase of a life insurance policy. Visits and describes the Croton Reservoir.

PLACES:

Maine; New York City.

PEOPLE:

Beebe, Jeremiah S.; Stuvins, E.S.; Cornell, Elijah; Wood, O. S.; Morse, Samuel F.B.; Linn, Archibald L.; Cornell, Mary Ann.

February 2, 1843 - August 17, 1843 (Box 1/Folder 7) : [68 digital images]

TOPICS:

Personal finances; life insurance; plow sales and patent arrangements in Maine and Georgia; travel conditions (first class travel versus second); hardships of the times; Bankruptcy Act; Philadelphia Mint and markets; steamer travel; account of a rough crossing of Chesapeake Bay; observations of Southern landscape and agricultural practices; business ventures; plans for trench digging and pipe laying machine.

HIGHLIGHTS:

February 10, 1843. Ezra Cornell to Mary Ann Cornell and children:
"...I have got 57 cents left but there is always a way when there is a will and I will get along somehow. I shall have to let you pay the postage on letters..."

March 11, 1843. Ezra Cornell to Mary Ann Cornell and children:
"I arrived at this place last evening very much fatigued with a walk of 150 miles from Charleston through snow and rain..."

April 2, 1843. Ezra Cornell to Mary Ann Cornell and children giving instructions on family deportment, an account of a murder trial, and comment on Mesmerism, religion, personal faith versus organized religion, and the difficulties in selling plows.

April 9, 1843. Ezra Cornell to Mary Ann Cornell providing extensive observations of slaves and slavery, race relations, and fatherly advice and concern.

April 18, 1843. Ezra Cornell to Mary Ann Cornell:
"My dear, the duty that devolved wholly on you in my absence of guiding and expanding the minds of our dear children is a laborious one and a responsible one...
"I find that a well-formed, healthy negrow can get as many wives as he wants if it is 3 or 4 at a time but a decrepid fellow can't get the first one by the consent of (her) master or mistress. why is it sow. plain enough 'like begets like' they wish to improve their stock.
"...but the American slaves are all illegitimate. I don't know as it can be different were people are bred as stock and sold in the market a cattel."

May 16, 1843. Ezra Cornell to Mary Ann Cornell and children concerning superiority of Northern farmers, praise of Southern land, Southern idleness, details of route walked, and gold mines.

PLACES:

Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; Norfolk, Va.; North Carolina; Wilmington, N.C.; Charleston, S.C.; Augusta, Ga.

PEOPLE:

Lincoln, A.B.; Chandler, J.; Beebe, Jeremiah S.; Mooers, Henry; Cornell, Mary Ann.

August 24, 1843 - February 5, 1844 (Box 1/Folder 8) : [62 digital images]

TOPICS:

Family correspondence; advice and admonition concerning the children, particularly regarding their education; descriptions of travel in Maine, including an account of a rough trip by steamer to New York; character of the Maine people; phrenology; business and finance; Ezra Cornell's "new enterprise"; a proposal including a description of manufacturing possibilities in the South, and an offer by Ezra Cornell to manage a company if $100,000 were invested; plows; wool factory in Ithaca; fires in Ithaca; the laying of the test telegraph pipe between Washington D.C. and Baltimore; rejection of Ezra Cornell's initial patent claim for trench cutter, the Patent Office suggesting amendments; description of sights in Washington D.C., including extensive discussion of the Capital.

HIGHLIGHTS:

September 3, 1843. Ezra Cornell to Mary Ann and children:
"Idleness is to the human mind like rust to iron."

October 28, 1843. Correspondence concerning trench digging and pipe laying machine.

October 29, 1843. Ezra Cornell to Mary Ann Cornell describing telegraph pipe laying; Ezra Cornell's "flattering" business offers; settlement of Ithaca affairs; completion of plow business in Maine:
"I can assure you my Dear that I breathe freer and deeper than I have done for some time past. I feel as though Old Dame Fortune was bestirring herself to make amends as far as may be for her past neglect, but I am cool."

December 27, 1843. Authorization from Samuel F.B. Morse detailing plan of action for Ezra Cornell's role in the test laying at a salary of $1000 per year.

January 19, 1844. Ezra Cornell to Mary Ann Cornell:
"...I have an invention in Embrio that my opperations here has suggested that will open the Eyes of the world, it will be far in advance of anything of the day, and it astonishes me that it should have been overlooked so long."

PLACES:

Augusta, Me.; Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; Ithaca.

PEOPLE:

Lincoln, A.B.; Cornell, E.B.; Bristol, Eliza; Smith, F.O.J.; Morse, Samuel F.B.; Cornell, Mary Ann.

February 16, 1844 - March 31, 1844 (Box 1/Folder 9) : [60 digital images]

TOPICS:

Laying of the test cable; conversion to telegraph posts from trench pipe; government involvement in the project; F.O.J. Smith's view of Mr. Vail and the difficulties he causes the project, and Smith's account of other conflicts in the telegraph project; patents; manuscript patent application; description of Mount Vernon and the Princeton Steamship catastrophe; Ezra Cornell attends lecture by Daniel Webster; Ezra Cornell studies in the United States Patent Office Library; Ithaca affairs; Ithaca fire; family finances; instructions and advice on child rearing; family news; business matters; plow business.

HIGHLIGHTS:

February 16, 1844. Description of Franklin's printing press including a sketch, and a suggestion that it be displayed in the National Institute.

February 26, 1844. Ezra Cornell to Mary Ann Cornell and children describing and providing sketches of items observed in the National Institute, including detailed description of implements of war from the Fiji Islands.

March 31, 1844. Ezra Cornell to Mary Ann Cornell reflecting upon thirteen years of marriage:
"We have avoided the quicksands of jealousy, the whirlpools of dissipation, the rocks of passion, and the many other impediments to a safe and happy voige.
I don't believe that a preparation consists in a belief in Millerism, Jo Smithism, or any of the popular isms of the day, but in doing right..."

Concerning the telegraph:
"...the thirteen miles will be sufficient to test the phylosophical principal and then if it works well we are in hopes that congress will make appropriations for its continuance to Philadelphia."

PLACES:

Washington, D.C.

PEOPLE:

Cornell, E.B.; Slater, Justus; Morse, Samuel F.B.; Cornell, Elijah; Smith, F.O.J.; Beebe, A.; Vail, Alfred; Gale, Leonard; Cornell, Mary Ann.

April 1, 1844 - May 8, 1844 (Box 1/Folder 10) : [51 digital images]

TOPICS:

Family correspondence; Mesmerism; plow business; Ithaca elections featuring Loco Foco and Abolitionist Parties; Whig Convention in Baltimore; telegraph; appropriations from Congress.

HIGHLIGHTS:

April 14, 1844. Ezra Cornell to Mary Ann Cornell:
"...for if I could get [Alonzo] a place at a dollar a day it would be better than some men could do, at any rate it would be better than loafing about fall Creek."

April 21, 1844. Ezra Cornell to Mary Ann Cornell:
"We are getting along with the telegraph to a good advantage, and it works well, we have got out 14.5 miles from Washington, and at that distance I can converce with Professor Morse as readily as though I was within two feet of him."

April 25, 1844. F.O.J. Smith to Ezra Cornell:
"In practical matters I do not think there ever was yoked into one team a pair of more decidedly unteachable asses than the Professor and [Vail] without your good common sense to temper their follies, the whole concern would have before this become a laughing stock to the country."

PLACES:

Ithaca; Washington, D.C.; Baltimore.

PEOPLE:

Cornell, E.B.; Smith, F.O.J.; Morse, Samuel F.B.; Burbank, David; Cornell, Mary Ann; Vail, Alfred.