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About the Ezra Cornell Papers

Chronology

  • 1807, January 11 - Born, Westchester Landing, son of Elijah and Eunice Cornell.
  • 1819 - Family relocates to DeRuyter. Elijah Cornell operates pottery.
  • 1824 - Elijah has new pottery building constructed. Ezra Cornell learns the carpenter's trade.
  • 1826 - Leaves home for Syracuse where he finds work building sawmills and as contractor for getting out timber for shipment by canal. Moves on to Homer to work in shop making wool-carding machinery. Studies mechanics handbooks.
  • 1828 - Arrives in Ithaca where he finds work as a carpenter and then as a mechanic for Otis Eddy cotton mill on Cascadilla Creek.
  • 1829 - Begins working for Jeremiah S. Beebe overhauling and repairing plaster mill on Fall Creek. Other industries on Fall Creek at this time included paper and flouring mills, a machine shop, and establishments for making chairs, iron castings and plows.
  • 1830-1831 - Plans and supervises construction of Fall Creek tunnel for a new mill race.
  • 1831 - Marries Mary Ann Wood. Builds the Nook at Fall Creek and begins housekeeping.
  • 1832 - First child, Alonzo B. Cornell born. Cornell takes charge of Beebe's concerns at Fall Creek.
  • 1833 - Second child, Charles Carrol Cornell born. Cornell working for Beebe and speculating in real estate.
  • 1835 - Elizabeth Percival Cornell born.
  • 1837-38 - Builds new mill for Beebe and constructs stone dam on Fall Creek (forming Beebe lake). Cornell is active in local politics and is delegate to Tompkins County convention of the Whig Party. Charles Carrol Cornell dies. Son Franklin Cuthbert Cornell born.
  • 1839-1840 - Beebe sells mill properties on Fall Creek, Cornell leaves his employment and turns to farming. Son Charles Carrol Cornell (second child with this name) born.
  • 1841 - Ithaca's prosperity declining. Beebe, Speed, and others decide to send a representative to New York City and New England to lay before capitalists and manufacturers the advantages of Ithaca as a manufacturing site, particularly for cotton and woolen mills. Cornell makes two trips representing Ithaca. Charles Carrol Cornell dies.
  • 1842 - Purchases patent rights to Barnaby and Mooers side hill plow for the states of Maine and Georgia. Travels to Maine planning on selling the patent rights county by county to machinists or merchants who would manufacture and sell locally. Meets F.O.J. Smith, publisher of the Maine Farmer. Son Oliver Hazard Perry Cornell born.
  • 1843 - Travels to Georgia. Does much traveling on foot, 40 miles a day.
  • 1843 - July Returns to Maine, meets with F.O.J Smith and learns of need for pipe-laying and trench digging machine to be used for the laying a test line of telegraph from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. Cornell designs the needed machine.
  • 1843 - August Samuel F. B. Morse goes to Maine for demonstration of pipe-layer and approves the design.
  • 1843 - October Goes to Baltimore and Washington to begin work on laying the telegraph line. Spends winter evenings in Washington studying works on electricity and magnetism.
  • 1844 - May Test line in operation between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. Cornell presents telegraph exhibitions in Boston and New York during the summer and autumn.
  • 1845 - Magnetic Telegraph Company organized for the extension of the telegraph from Baltimore to Philadelphia and New York.
  • 1845-46 - New York, Albany & Buffalo Telegraph Company has line built from New York to Buffalo, Cornell erects portion of line between New York and Albany.
  • 1846 - Telegraph industry expands as incorporated companies form under which lines are extended form New York to Boston, Buffalo and Pittsburgh, and with in the next three years to nearly every important town in the United States and Canada.
  • 1846 - October-1847, January Employed as the Superintendent of the New York, Albany & Buffalo Magnetic Telegraph Company. Submits resignation to Theodore Faxton in January.
  • 1847 - November Sick with typhus, Daughter Mary Emily Cornell born.
  • 1847 - Erects line of telegraph from Troy through Vermont to Montreal, under contract with the Troy & Canada Junction Telegraph Company. Cornell produces an assignment from Smith making him and J.J. Speed sole agents for the Morse Patent in the five western states. Organizes the Erie & Michigan Telegraph Company to provide a line of telegraph between Buffalo and Milwaukee, by way of Cleveland, Detroit, and Chicago.
  • 1848 - Erie & Michigan line completed. Cornell organizes the New York & Erie Telegraph Company for the purpose of building a line of telegraph from New York to Dunkirk through the southern tier of counties of New York.
  • 1849 - New York and Erie line completed. Son Ezra Clayton Cornell born. Daughter Elizabeth Percival Cornell dies.
  • 1851 - New York & Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company started by Hiram Sibley and Judge Samuel L. Selden. Cornell's son Ezra Clayton Cornell dies.
  • 1852 - New York & Erie Telegraph Company fails, Cornell buys it back and renames it the New York & Western Union Telegraph Company. Cornell works as Superintendent of the company. Daughter Emma Pettit Cornell born. Cornell family leaves the Nook and moves into the village of Ithaca.
  • 1855-1856 - Has accident and severely injures his arm. Cornell meets with Sibley and associates and joins his interests with theirs. Western Union Telegraph Company is formed.
  • 1856 - Goes to Pittsburgh as New York State delegate to the first Republican National Convention.
  • 1857 - Purchases farm of about 300 acres, adjoining the village of Ithaca. Moves family there and names farm "Forest Park." Plants orchard, conducts agricultural experiments, and raises short horn cattle, and sheep. Organizes Ithaca Farmers' Club.
  • 1860 - Visits oil wells in Titusville, involved in telegraph business, coal oil business, and the New York State Agricultural Society.
  • 1861 - October 24 Western Union completes the first transcontinental telegraph.
  • 1861 - At home in Ithaca, involved in the Tompkins County Agricultural Society, The Farmers Club, raising sheep and cattle and collecting agricultural statistics. Travels to Washington and attends Lincoln's inauguration.
  • 1862 - July 3 Morrill Act passed.
  • 1862 - Elected to the New York State Assembly. Also elected president of the New York State Agricultural Society. Attends the Great International Exposition at London and travels extensively through England, Scotland, and Wales as well as through France, Switzerland, Holland, Germany, and Austria.
  • 1863 - Serves second year in New York State Assembly. Construction of Cornell Library underway. Nominated and elected State Senator.
  • 1865 - February Andrew Dickson White introduces bill in the Senate to establish the Cornell University and to appropriate to it the income of the sale of public lands granted to New York State.
  • 1865 - April Cornell University Bill formally passed in the Assembly and Senate.
  • 1866 - Takes trip to Wisconsin to locate lands. Involved in University.
  • 1866 - December 20 Dedication of the Cornell Public Library Building.
  • 1867 - Cornell declines reelection to State Senate, after four years as State Senator representing Broome, Tioga, and Tompkins counties.
  • 1868 - Cornell University opens for the reception of students.
  • 1869 - Spring Construction starts on Cornell villa. Cornell moves downtown to the corner of Tioga and Seneca.
  • 1869-1873 - Cornell involved in photo-lithography business, Albany Agricultural Work, development of the University and western lands.
  • 1874 - December 9 Death of Ezra Cornell.