VI. Cornwell and Heitholt Families A. The Heitholt Family Tree


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VI. Cornwell and Heitholt Families

A. The Heitholt Family Tree

The original family members of the Heitholt family tree were born in Herford or Driburg, Westphalia, Germany, Prussia.

My husband's grandfather, John Henry Heitholt, his brother, Bernard Heitholt, and sisters, Anna Heitholt, and Anna Marie H. (Riepe) migrated from Germany to the United States.

After their mother in Germany died, their father remarried and he and his wife had a son. When he came to the United States to live he wasn't welcomed by his half -brothers and sisters, so he moved on to Enid, Oklahoma. He married but had no children.

On his Oklahoma farm oil was struck. He saved his money and became quite rich. At his death, according to his will, his property was willed to a clinic he had built in Enid, a clinic for prostate gland research.

After his death William F. Gibbs and Delbert Loos (grandsons of John Henry Heitholt) tried to legally break the will and to establish eligibility for the family to share in this estate. They were unsuccessful but the descendants of John Henry Heitholt are indebted to them for their research of the family tree. And, annually the Heitholts have a family reunion at the Ursa Retreat House, a time for visiting and reminiscing.

In appearance Wilmer Cornwell parents were quite different. He, William F. (Bill) Cornwell was a tall, dark handsome man with blue eyes. His wife, Carrie, had sandy hair and a ruddy complexion. She was only about five feet tall and weighed over 200 pounds.

She and their daughter Elnora, were involved in several comical situations.

On washdays the boys would remove their overalls and leave them on the kitchen floor. Elnora then would empty from the pant cuffs any chaff or debris they contained. She swept it up to burn in the fire of the kitchen range. On one occasion the debris contained some rifle bullets, “Pop! Pop! Pop!” and the stove lids hit kitchen ceiling. At another time Carrie was carrying a feather bed tick down stair steps.

She tripped and fell bouncing from step to step, still holding the feather bed tick. She became wedged in the corner where the steps turned! She was unhurt but couldn't get up. As they laughed Elnora was finally able to pull her mother to her feet.

On another day Elnora and her mother were in the basement. Elnora was in a corner making a bin in which potatoes would be stored. Her mother sat on a board that rested over a tub as she churned some cream. When the butter started to come she asked Elnora to bring her some cold water from the well outside, which she would use in washing the fresh butter.

Without thinking, Elnora had taken the board off the tub that her mother had sat on. Carrie sat down filling the tub; she was so roly poly she couldn't get out. As they laughed Elnora rolled the tub about, until finally Carrie was able to release herself. The William F. Cornwell's were a close happy family.

At the present time my husband's twin brother, Elmer, is a resident at the North Adams Home, Mendon, Illinois, where he has lived since last spring. Last Sunday for the first time he was able to go to his own home for the day and to be with his immediate family.

Now he is making plans to give a little talk at the nursing home pertaining to his life as a Cornwell twin.

B. Cornwell Relatives (Walla Walla, Washington)

When Wilmer Cornwell and I were married, we knew of no other relatives having the surname of Cornwell, with the exception of his older brother, John, and his twin brother, Elmer, and his parents (Wm. F. Cornwell),

But, he said, "I was told that my grandfather, John Cornwell, had brothers, who, as boys, had gone west to seek their fortune. It was reported later that they settled near Walla Walla, Washington",

After Wilmer's death in 1973, and when working on seeking genealogical information, I wrote to the Walla Walla, Washington, Post Office. I was sent the names and addresses of three families - one being Elmer G. Cornwell, 1258 Bryant, R#6, Walla Walla, Washington 99362.

I wrote him a letter. He answered and sent me most interesting information pertaining to his grandfather, James Cornwell, who as a young boy had left Illinois with his brother Edward, hoping to find work.

Elmer G. Cornwell
1258 Bryant R. #6
Walla Walla, Washington 99362
November 28, 1977

Mrs. Wilmer Cornwell:

I received your letter regarding the history of the Cornwell family. I’m afraid I can’t be much help in regard to their beginning but will report back as far as I can.

I am Elmer Grant Cornwell, born January 6, 1898. My father was Arthur Grant Cornwell and Mother was Carrie Ingram. My father died at the age of 57. 1927. He was a wheat farmer all his life, Mother died at age 61. His brother was Oliver Cornwell who was a farm owner and State Senator for several years. He also had another brother - Charles, who was a minister, and Raleigh, and three sisters Nannie (Cation) - Laura (Robinson) and Minnie (Chaney) all to them have passed away. Their father and mother were James Cornwell, born August 7, 1841 and Mary Stott Cornwell born September 16, 1841. I do not know where they were from.

Oliver was married to Ella Crowell, they had three daughters -

Ethel, Lessie and Olive, all of them deceased.
I will be 80 years old January 6 and am a retired wheat and pea farmer. My wife s name is Ethel and she is one year younger. I was told that James (the father of my father) and a brother walked here and were farmers, but do not know where they came from. If I learn any more about them I will let you know. . Your’s truly, Elmer G. Cornwell
Elmer G. Cornwell
1258 Bryant R. #6
Walla Walla, Washington 99362
November 28, 1977

Mrs. Wilmer Cornwell:

I made some further inquiries regarding the Cornwell family. The son of Olive Cornwell Osborne who was the daughter of Oliver Cornwell had begun a history of the family, she passed away some time ago but he found the enclosed information among her belongings. His name is Kent Osborne and lives here in Walla Walla.

The print isn't too clear as it is a mimeographed copy but believe you will be able to get the necessary information form it.

All of this has been very interesting to me and if I obtain any more I wll1 be glad to let you know.

Elmer G. Cornwell


Jeremiah Cornwell- b. 1773 - d. August 18, 1844
Sarah - b. 1780 - d. March 1846

Place of birth is unknown, probably Virginia or Kentucky. On leaving Kentucky in 1815 they went first to Jefferson county Indiana. In 1830 this family with the Wilhoit family moved to Edgar County Illinois, where they took up land and became a breeder of fine horses. Both Jeremiah and Sarah were buried on this farm. There were seven sons and three daughters in this family. Allen who was born in 1820 died during the Mexican war. Payton who is the direct line must have been the oldest. Hiram had a large family as did Burgess. The others (not in order) were Edward, Simon, John, Sarah, Polly and Angeline, who was the youngest. She married one of the Wilhoit.

Payton Cornwell- b. Kentucky, 1806 - d. Illinois 1879
Elizabeth (Betsy) Moyer – d. 1843

Little is known of Payton’s early life. Apparently he went to Indiana with his family in 1815. The date of his marriage to Betsy Moyer is unknown. She was a Pennsylvania Dutch descent. When their son James was born, they were living on a farm in Orange County, Indiana. It was not until 1830 that they joined the rest of the family in Edgar County, Illinois. After his wife died in 1843 the family scattered, according to Gilbert s History there were eight boys in the family but in family record only four are mentioned, John, Francis, James and Edward.

Payton lived in both Pike County and Scott County, Illinois. While here he was in business with the Moyers running a flat boat from Peoria to New Orleans. He did this for a number of years. During this time he married a widow Elizabeth (Moyer) Watts who had nine children. When she died he returned to Edgar County and lived for a while with the Kirby family. Be remarried this time to Nellie Davidson, a widow with three children. They lived on her farm and he bought the adjoining place. He died in 1879.

James Madison Cornwell son of Payton and Elizabeth Moyer Cornwell was born in Orange County, Indiana, August, 1834. The family moved to Illinois in 1839. After the death of the mother the boys were separated. In 1852 at the age of seventeen, James and his brother Francis aged 19 decided to come west. They started from Iowa on foot with only $5.00 between them to cover the expenses of crossing the plains to either California or Oregon. On their arrival at a town on the Mississippi, James obtained a position as teamster to an emigrant that would provide his food for the trip. Francis was allowed to put his bundle in a wagon and the $5.00 went for food for him to eat along the trail.

At St. Joseph, Missouri, both brothers obtained work as teamsters in a train bound for Oregon, with food for the journey as payment, but with the understanding that, in addition, they were to remain in service one month after arrival James had mountain fever after they crossed the Platte. The party employing the boys was professional men with their families. They arrived at Fort Boise late in the Fall short of provisions. The leader of the train became frightened and told the teamsters that they would have to shift for themselves.

Eight teamsters, including the Cornwell boys, set out on foot with three days rations and the nearest point at which to obtain food was The Dalles, Oregon, three hundred miles away. Days and nights came and went and their food was used up and, as they came down the west slope of the Blue Mountains on Meachem Creek, they came upon an immigrant whose food likewise was gone, so they killed one of his lean oxen and feasted.

Half of their journey still lay ahead of them. They struggled on until Alkali Flat was reached east of the John Day river. One by one the boys weakened and lagged until finally the two brothers went on alone. Hand in hand they staggered on. They met an Indian with a small fish and James traded his shirt for the fish even though it was bitterly cold.

A t the DeChutes River there was a ferry but the boatman was not willing to take them across without pay. The boys had little to offer for their fare except an old pistol. While they were bargaining with the boatman, they were overtaken by the six traveling companions that they had left for dead. The boatman threatened to have the Indians massacre the boys if they would not pay the boat fare. When he decided that they really did not have any means of paying the fare and that being massacred by the Indians did not frighten them, he took them across the river.

After enduring torture, hunger and cold, they arrived at The Dalles. The Commissioners there were holding a small amount of food for orphans of the trail. Jlames was desperate. He told the Commissioners that, if there was an orphan between the two oceans it was he. The heart of one of the commissioners softened and he gave James two pounds of flour, which a kind immigrant woman later baked into bread,, and the two brothers were able to go on to Portland.

Upon the boy’s arrival at Portland, a couple of kind hearted farmers from the Willamette Valley took them in to rest and gain back their strength. One of the benefactors was Thomas Anderson Stott, an emigrant of 1851. Francis was not able to survive the hardships of the trip and died a few years later. During his last illness, he was cared for by the Stott family in their home.

James took up a farm in Washington county Oregon. He married Mary Ann Tucker who died shortly after the marriage. There were no children.

On October 20tb 1859 James married Mary Ann Stott, the eldest daughter of his benefactor. Two years later, hoping to better his lot, be left his wife and baby in Oregon, while be made a trip into eastern Washington. He went first to the Oregon mines in Idaho. Coming back to Walla Walla, be worked in a mill making boards while he looked for a suitable farm for his family. He took up land in Valley Grove, north of Walla Walla. In 1862 he brought his family here. Several years later be sold this farm and bought another near Dixie which became the family home.

It was here that the family grew up. The Cornwells were well known for their kindness to their neighbors’ both white and Indian. The Indians called her Doctor Mary because of her help with sick children.

James made one trip back to his old home in Illinois, when he went to Philadelphia to attend the Centennial.

In 1881 be was elected representative to the territorial Legislature and again in 1889 he served as representative to the first state legislature.

In 1891 they built a new home in Walla Walla. Mrs. Cornwell died in 1891 and Mr. Cornwell in 1899.

Laura Francis (Robinson)

Oliver Thomas
Nancy Elizabeth (Nannie Cation)
Charles Edward
Arthur Grant
Minnie G. (Chaney)
Raliegh (died 1894)

Oliver Thomas - b. March 23, 1863 - d. June 7, 1935
married Aug. 17, 1888
Ella Crowell – b. February 24, 1868 – d. February 23, 1924

Oliver Thomas Cornwell, son of James and Mary Ann Cornwell, was born on a farm in Valley Grove district of Walla Walla County. As a young man he went into Whitman County where he was employed as a cowboy. Later he owned a cattle ranch near LaCrosse, Washington.

He returned to Walla Walla, Washington and became a farmer on the family place. Over the years he bought more land and various business enterprises. He followed his father into politics and served three terms in the State Senate.


Lessie Leone (Mushett)
Ethel Lorraine (Blankenship)
Olive Ella (Osborne)


I – Raleigh C. Cornwell m Lucy

A – John m Sarah
B – Stephen m Betsy
C – James
D – Lewis
E – Thomas
F – Ansal
G – Richard
H – Sarah
I – Betsy
J – Jeremiah C. m Sarah
1 – Allen m Sarah
2 – Hiram m Polly
3 – Edward m Angeline (Wilhoit)
4 – Simon
5 – Burgess
6 – John
7 – Payton m Elizabeth (Betsy) Moyer
a – John
(Cornwell, father of Mary Webster and
William F. Cornwell)

b – Francis (died)
c – Edward (According to Civil War pension record
went to Walla Walla, Washington)
d – James Madison Cornwell m Mary Ann Stott
d1 – Laura Frances m Robison

d2 – Charles Edward (minister)

d3 – Nancy Elizabeth m Cation
d4 – Arthur Grant m Carrie Ingram
d41 – Elmer Grant m Ethel
d5 – Oliver m Carrie Ingram
d51 – Lessie Leone m Mushett
d52 – Ethel Lorraine m Bankenship
d53 – Olive Ella C. m Osborne
5d3a - Kent
d6 – Minnie m Chaney
d7 - Raleigh

The continuation of the tree was compiled and returned to Walla Walla, Washington.


I. – Mary Cornwell m Lowell (Hod) Webster

1 – Ev Webster m Clara Jennings (son – Wilmer Leo Webster
21245 Nuba Street
Covina, Ca.)
2 – Jess Webster m Louell Stevens (daughter – Goldie Wilson
1018 Hayward Street
Hannibal, Mo.)
3 – Albert Webster m Mabel(?)
4 – John Webster m Elinor (Willard, Albert, and Laurence)
5 – Horace (Hod) Webster m Zelda
51 – Edith m Ralph Dodge
52 – Violet m Powers
53 – Everette St. Joseph, Mo. Died in World War II
54 – Junior Leren Hamburg, Iowa

II. – William Francis m Carrie (Johanna Fredericka Karolina Heitholt

1 – John H. m Floy Earel
11 – Dorothy m Alfred Dedert
a – Kent m Jane Smith
1 – Alan m Denise Schmelzie
a - Heather Deanne Dedert
b – Chad Alan Dedert
c– Molly Rae Dedert
2 – Jeanne m Steven Drebes
b – Dean m Carolyn Leading
1 – David m Joyce Schmeideskamp
2 – Amy
3 – Beth

12 – Richard m Doris Adair

a – Connie m Ray Corrigan
1 – Mark
2 – Stacy m Ken Gray (Ray David
and Luke Anthony)
3 –Brent m Cynthia Ann Frese
(Christin Lea)
4 – Tony
b – Dennis m Linda Schweiter

1 – Paula

2 – Lori Lynn
3 – Aaron
4 – John Lewis
c – Lyle m Marcia Latham
1 – Kelle Anne
2 – Kristen Lea
3 – Katie
4 – Kasey
d – Alan m Bethany Keith
1 – Jason
2 – Jamie Beth
3 – Jenna Marie
e – Brian
13 – Carlene m Robert Rouse
a – John (Jay) Robert m Niki Schaeffer (Roberta
b – Jana m Curtis Davis
c – Russell (Rusty) Earel

2 – Elnora m Glenn Wright

21 – Elene m Lloyd Frazier
a – Gary m Peggy Gentry
1 – Chad James
b – Rodney m Jorja Fritzen
1 – Carrie
2- Jolie Elene
c – Greg m Pamela Aldag
22 – Waneta Wright m Edwin Jenkins
a – Van m Vickie Johnson (divorced)

3 – Elmer m Harriet Evans

31 – Merle m Alice June Johnson
a – Johnson m Tammy Hess
b – Patrick m Mary Walz
4 – Wilmer m Lucy Wood
41 – Helen Virlee m Harold Slater
a – Brad m Carolyn Sue Proctor Perry
1 – Randy Heinzel
2 – Greg Heinzel
3 – Thomas Edward Perry
4 – Kerri Virlee
b – Luan m Stan Durham
1 – Eric Jason

c- Tara J.

42 – William E. m Betty McGinnis
a – William A.
b – Jill Ann m Richard John Liesen
c – Neal E. m Lori Dittmer
d – Steven Paul
43 – Gerald E. m Darlene Diseron
a – Lon
b. – Blain
44 – Larry Wilmer m Sara Finke
a – Brent David
b – Krista Lynn
c – Michelle Ann
d – Todd Michael

FAMILTY GROUP No. 1 Husband’s Full Name: John Cornwell

Source of Information: Data Date Location and Additional Information

Mar. Ellen Sackett
Place of Residence
Church Affiliation

Record from Walla Walla, His Father Payton Cornwell (1806-1879)

Washington Mother’s Maiden Name Elizabeth Moyer (d. 1843)

Wife’s Full Maiden Name Ellen Sackett
Source of Information: Data Date Location and Additional Information

Birth In Tenn.
Death Apr. 1894 Home of son, Wm. F. Cornwell, East of
Marblehead, Craigtown, Fall Creek
Tombstone Burial Thompson Cemetery, Fall Creek
Township, Adams County, Ill.

Lucy W. Cornwell
2504 Lind Street
Quincy, Ill
Date 1976-78

Children’s Name in Full: Data Date Location and Additional Information

1. Mary Iva Cornwell Birth 1864

Spouse Mar.
Lowell (Hod) Webster Death 2/28/36 Hamburg, Iowa
Burial High Creek Cemetery, Watson, Mo.

2. Wm. Francis Birth 2/2/66 Pike Country, Ill.

Spouse Mar. 10/16/92 Bluff Hall Church, Fall Creek Twp.
Carrie Heithold Adams County, Ill.
Death 10/15/33 Mendon, Ill., Adams Co., home of Elnora
Burial Greenmount Cemetery, Quincy, Ill.

FAMILTY GROUP No. 2 Husband’s Full Name: Washington M. Seehorn

Source of Information: Data Date Location and Additional Information

Birth: 1/27/49 Adams County, Ill., Fall Creek Twp.
Mar. 11/5/71 Saverton, Mo.

Death 8/30/86

Place of Residence
Church Affiliation
His Father James M. Seehorn
Mother’s Maiden Name Jane L.

Wife’s Full Maiden Name Ellen Sackett
Source of Information: Data Date Location and Additional Information

Birth In Tenn.
Death Apr. 1894 Home of son, Wm. F. Cornwell, East of
Marblehead, Craigtown, Fall Creek
Tombstone Burial Thompson Cemetery, Fall Creek
Township, Adams County, Ill.

Lucy W. Cornwell
2504 Lind Street
Quincy, Ill
Children’s Name in Full: Data Date Location and Additional Information

1. Eva Grace Seehorn Birth 1/6/74 Marblehead, Illinois

Spouse Mar. Had 7 children
Death 12/19/35 Boca Raton, Fl.

FAMILTY GROUP No. 3 Husband’s Full Name: William Francis Cornwell

Source of Information: Data Date Location and Additional Information

Obituary Birth: 2/5/66 Pike County, Ill
Mar. 10/16/92 Fall Creek Twp – Bluff Hall Church
Death 10/15/33 Home of Elnora Wright, Mendon, Ill. Cancer Burial 10/17/33 Greenmount Cemetery, Quincy, Ill
Place of Residence Fall Creek, Melrose, Mendon, and
Ursa Townships and Quincy, Ill.
Occupation Farmer
Church Affiliation Salem Church, Quincy, Ill.
His Father John Cornwel

Mother’s Maiden Name Ellen Sackett

Wife’s Full Maiden Name Carrie Heithoit
Source of Information: Data Date Location and Additional Information

Court House Record Birth 3/6/67 Bluff Hall, Fall Creek Twp., Adams Co., Ill. Obituary Death 8/14/32 Blessing Hosp., Tonsil operation

Tombstone Burial 8/16/32 Greenmount Cemetery, Quincy, Ill.
Place of Residence Fall Creek, Melrose, Mendon, and
Ursa Townships and Quincy, Ill.
Church Affiliation Bluff Hall Church and Salem Church His Father John Henry Heithoit
Mother’s Maiden Name Wilhelmina Lisetta Grotegut
Lucy W. Cornwell
2504 Lind Street
Quincy, Ill
Children’s Name in Full: Data Date Location and Additional Information

1. Infant son Birth

Spouse Mar.
Death ?

2. John H. Cornwell Birth 6/7/94 Fall Creek Township, east of Marblehead, Adams County, Ill.

Spouse Mar. 2/26/16 Quincy, Ill. By Rev Riggs (Methodist)
Floy Earel Death 5/12/53 Ursa Township, Adams Co., Ill. - Suicide
Burial 5/15/53 Memorial Park Cemetery, Quincy, Ill.

3. Elnora Cornwell Birth 10/14/95 Melrose Twp, east of Marblehead,

Adams County
Spouse Mar. 9/20/16 Quincy, Ill Methodist minister
Glenn Wright Death 8/12/72 Home, 2502 Lind, Quincy, IL - Heart attack

Burial 8/16/72 New Providence Cemetery, Ursa, Ill.

4. Elmer W. Cornwell Birth 1/19/97 Melrose Twp., N.E. of Marblehead, Ill.

Adams County
Spouse Mar. 2/19/25 Quincy, Ill. in home of Rev R. O. Gibbons
Harriet Evans Death

5. Wilmer E. Cornwell Birth 1/19/97 Melrose Twp., N.E. of Marblehead, Ill.

Adams County
Spouse Mar. 12/20/23 Quincy, Ill. in home of Rev R. O. Gibbons
Lucy Wood Death 9/20/73 Blessing Hospital, Quincy, Ill. - Cancer
Burial 9/24/73 Memorial Park Cemetery, Quincy, Ill.

FAMILTY GROUP No. 4 Husband’s Full Name: Wilmer Edward Cornwell

Source of Information: Data Date Location and Additional Information

Obituary Birth: 1/19/97 Melrose Township, N. E. of Marblehead,
Ill., Bluff Hall Church, Fall Creek, Twp.
Mar. 12/20/23 Quincy, Ill., in home of Rev R. O. Gibbons
Death 10/15/33 Bleesing Hosp. , Quincy, Ill. - Cancer
Burial 10/17/33 Memorial Cemetery, Quincy, Ill
Place of Residence Melrose, Quincy & Ursa Townships
Ursa and Quincy Rural Route and
city of Quincy, Ill.
Occupation Farmer
Church Affiliation Ellington Francis Cornwell
His Father John Cornwel
Mother’s Maiden Name Carrie Heitholt

Wife’s Full Maiden Name Lucy Wood
Source of Information: Data Date Location and Additional Information

Birth Certificate Birth 8/19/02 Sec. 10, Houston Twp., Adams Co., Ill.

Christened St. Thomas Church, Camp Point, Ill.


Place of Residence Houston, Ellington, Melrose and
Ursa Township, Adams County,
Augusta, and Quincy, Ill.
Church Affiliation Ellington Presbyterian Church
His Father Samuel Edmund Wood
Mother’s Maiden Name Helen D. Dunlop
Lucy W. Cornwell
2504 Lind Street
Quincy, Ill
Children’s Name in Full: Data Date Location and Additional Information

1. Helen Virlee Birth 1/12/25 Blessing Hospital, Quincy, Ill. – Reg. Nurse Spouse Mar. 2/26/16 Ellington Memorial Presbyterian.

Harold Slater Death

2. William Edmund Birth 5/15/28 Blessing Hospital, Quincy, Ill.

Spouse Mar. 10/16/54
Elizabeth (Betty) Death
Carol McGinnis Burial

3. Gerald Elmer Birth 8/6/30 Blessing Hospital, Quincy, Ill.

Spouse Mar. 11/9/52 Presbyterian Church, Clayton, Ill.
Darlene Alyce Diseron Death

5. Larry Wilmer Birth 7/29/41 Blessing Hospital, Quincy, Ill.

Spouse Mar. 6/15/63 St. Peters Church, Quincy, Ill.
Lucy Wood Death

C. The Cornwell Twins

Elmer G. Cornwell's letter from Walla Walla, Washington, gave me valuable information pertaining to the William Francis Cornwell's family lineage.

Now our great-grandchildren can trace their Cornwell family ancestors back for nine generations (Now (1983) there are 21 male Cornwells in William F. Cornwell family).

Wilmer's (my husband) grandparents were John and Ellen Sackett Cornwell. They had two children: Mary, who married Lowell Webster, Hamburg, Iowa, and William F. Cornwell, my father-in-law.

After her husband, John Cornwell, died (1871), Ellen married Washington Seehorn, in Saverton, Missouri. They had seven children. The four daughters that we met were:

Lola Seehorn who married Louis Zimmerman, Boca Raton, Florida,

Hazel Seehorn who married Walter Biddenstadt, Keokuk. Iowa.

Evelyn Seehorn who married Leo McKinley. South Bend, Indiana.

Harriet Seehorn French who married William Felkner, Hawthorne, Calif.

Life for William F. Cornwell after his mother remarried was not easy.

As their house was small, he slept on a cot in the woodshed. He helped his mother in the care of his young stepsisters and stepbrothers.

Later he worked as a farm laborer for a prominent Fall Creek farmer, John Henry Heitholt and his wife Wilhelmina Grotegut Heitholt. There he met, and later married their daughter Carrie (Johanna Fredericka Karolina) in the Bluff Hall Church. Their four children were John H. Cornwell, Elnora Cornwell Wright, and the twins. Elmer W. Cornwell Wilmer Edward Cornwell.

Ellen Sackett Cornwell Seehorn died in 1894 in the home of her son, William F. Cornwell who lived east of Marblehead, Illinois in Fall Creek Township. She was buried in the Thompson Cemetery located on the bluff not far from the village of Fall Creek.

The births of the William F. Cornwell children were so close together that during part of the year they were only about a year apart in age.

The birth of twins was unexpected, but Mr. Cornwell had hired Minnie McCraken to help his wife care for her family, also, Mrs. Slottberg, a midwife, to help at the birth of a new baby. At this time the Cornwell’s lived on the hill just east of Marblehead.

The twins were born at home while their father had ridden horseback to Payson to secure a doctor, Dr. Edward Gabriel.

Elmer was the first of the twins to be born. As Mrs. Cornwell still felt very uncomfortable still having labor pains, she asked to be placed on a slop jar. There the second baby, Wilmer, made his appearance, January 19, 1897.

The twins always felt very close and experienced almost everything together but most of the time Elmer was the leader.

When the children entered school the family lived on their farm a few miles north of Marblehead, Illinois, in Melrose Township.

The name of the school was Linn Grove and was located east of the South Bottom Road on the Mississippi River bluff.

Elmer and Wilmer completed their grade school education at Rock School in Ellington Township. Later they attended Gem City College in Quincy, Illinois.

The Cornwell boys give credit to their teacher, George Smith, at Linn Grove, for influencing them not to drink alcoholic beverages. They kept that promise. They never drank or smoked tobacco in any form.

The Twins

The Cornwell twins were identical. Not only did they look and act alike, they had many common interests and experiences.

Like most young boys they were mischievous. While they still lived north of Marblehead and attending Lind Grove School, they did a trick that got them into trouble. They inserted straws into the cows' udders which caused the milk to flow out freely. When a neighbor saw what was happening, he reported it to their father. You can be sure they never did that again!

In 1911 the boys' father bought a farm five miles southeast of Ursa.

Neighbors helped the family move 18 wagon loads of their possessions to the Ursa farm. It was not until the next day that the neighbors returned home. The moving caravan came directly through Quincy on 24th Street, which was then just pasture land. The twins now 14 years of age, rode on a load of hay and helped with the cows and calves.

As teenagers the twins each purchased a horse and buggy in which they went to church activities, or to court some young ladies. They sometimes would try to confuse the girls by switching partners, as they dressed and acted so much alike. At one time they hoped to find twin sisters that they might marry. When they replaced their buggies with Model T Ford roadsters they sometimes raced each other out on East State Street.

The boys loved sports. They played baseball in almost every town in the county. Elmer was a pitcher and Wilmer the catcher. They also liked to hunt and with their dog hunted for quail and rabbits when in season.

During one fall they helped harvest a potato crop for a farmer in Monte Vista, Colorado. At another time they went to North Carolina and worked for

a lumber company that was clearing land that was for sale.

Even army service failed to separate the twins. They were with the last registrants to go into the army in September, 1918. They were sent to Camp Forrest, Georgia to serve with an engineering unit. They were being readied to be sent over seas when the Armistice was signed, November 11, 1918. Then in December they received an honorable discharge.

After they returned from service they attended Gem City College for a short time. Then they started to farm jointly the Dayton Ranch, located two miles, northwest of Fowler, near Bloomfield, Illinois. They were here together until the spring of 1925.

Through the years the boys have both worked hard, Elmer, on the same farm near Mendon, and Wilmer, living in different communities, farming or engaged in other employment.

Even though living under different circumstances, they both have had the same lifetime goal - to make his community a better place in which to live.


Elmer Cornwell

December 1983

Elmer and Wilmer Cornwell twins, were born January 19, 1897 in Melrose township cast of Marblehead, Illinois. Their parents were William and Caroline (Heitholt) Cornwell The twins had an older brother, John and sister Elnora.

They attended Linn Grove School east of Marblehead. When they were 9 years old, a school director came to school, he had been drinking, he caused quite a ruckus which made a great impression on the twins. On their way home from school that day, they made a promise to each other never to take a drink of liquor in their lifetime. They both lived up to this promise.

When the twins were 14 years old, they moved from the Marblehead area to a farm south of Ursa and east of Walnut Corner. It took 18 teams and wagons all day to make the trip. They traveled right up 24th street in Quincy. What is now 24th Street was all pasture land then. The neighbors and horses all stayed the night as it was an all day trip.

During their early days they bad several interesting things happen. One of interest was when the twins took a load of oats to Quincy. The twins did a lot of wrestling when they were young men. Upon taking a load of oats to Quincy one day to sell at the mill, the mill operator offered them less than what Elmer thought he should get. The operator offered him only 60 cents a bushel and Elmer knew it should be 62 cents a bushel so Elmer finally said to the operator, I’ll just wrestle you for the 2 cents. In just a few seconds Elmer had the man on his back. The operator said to Elmer go ahead and unload, the price is 62 cents.

Both boys enlisted in the army in 1918. They were able to stay together while in the service. They were stationed in Georgia and were just ready to go overseas when Armistice was signed. They were in the army three months.

Wilmer was first to marry. He married Lucy (Wood) Cornwell December 20, 1923. They had four (4) children Virlee, Bill, Jerry, and Larry. Elmer married Harriet (Evans) Cornwell February 19, 1925. They had one son, Merle. Elmer has two grandsons and 2 great grandsons.

Elmer and Wilmer were very community minded. They believed in working on projects and in organizations to make their communities a better place to live.

The twins played a lot of baseball. Elmer was the pitcher and Wilmer the catcher. They coached 4-H teams, one of their outstanding teams went to the state finals in Champaign, Illinois, some of the players were Bill Cornwell, Aaron Stockheche, B111 Duncan, Don Peters and Jr. (Bill) Binger. One story is told about Bill Duncan making a outstanding play in the field, catching the ball then throwing it in to second base for a double play. Jr. Binger was known for his bunting ability. He could place the bunt into any weak spot and beat it out to first base.

The twins were both very active in their individual churches. Elmer in the Mendon Congregational Church. Elmer worked very hard to keep the doors open when it was about ready to close. Wilmer attended the Ellington Presbyterian Church. He was active as Elder-Trustee.

Another interest of the twins were the community organizations. Both were Charter members of Legion (Bear Creek Post). Both were members of Lions Clubs and Farm Bureau. When school consolidation was talked about in the late forties, Elmer and Wilmer worked for the formation of Unit 4.

Elmer was very instrumental in the forming of the North A dams Nursing Home, just west of Mendon, Illinois. The home is sponsored by all the churches in the community. When they call for help, everyone always responds.

Elmer made a pledge to Wilmer that no matter whatever happened, they would meet in heaven.

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