Cornelius Family


F. Cornelius Home Historical Marker               Fred C. Cornelius Family                E Cross Cattle                Cornelius Family Cemetery

Courtesy of Joe Cornelius


of Midfield,
Matagorda County, Texas
January, 1910

Printed in
Matagorda County
Genealogical Society Quarterly
Oak Leaves
February 1996

My name is Friedrick Caspar Cornelius, but since I came to this country, the U. S. of A., I signed my name thus: F. Cornelius. I was born in Rothensee, County of Hersfeld (Pro-Hessen), in Germany on the 2nd of December 1850. My father, George William Cornelius was a forester, employed by the Government; he died when I was about 17 years of age. At that time I was going to school at the gymnasium at Hersfeld and was advanced to the next highest class (secunda). After my father's death, mother put me in a dry-goods store to learn the business and I was to stay 3 years and pay $150.00 a year, besides my work. After two years we, my principal and I, could not get along, so I left him. Realizing that my career was run in that country I concluded at once to leave Germany and come to Texas. Receiving my pass from the government, I intended to sail in a short time, but owing to the war breaking out between France and Germany, quarantine was declared and no vessel allowed to leave Bremen. During this time I was like a fish out of water, so I concluded to take the first train of recruits, which were made up every few days and sent to Mainz, on the Rhine, for mustering and training. So, I boarded the first train that came along and went to Mainz to enlist as thousands of other boys were doing; but alas, they rejected me because there were more then they actually could muster out. (I wish to say right here, that a good many people thought, I ran away from Germany to keep out of the war and from being a soldier, but that is all a false conclusion; I not only wanted to be a soldier, but also held a certificate to serve only one year in the army, given to me by the school I attended.) But, to my delight, the quarantine was soon raised and I shipped on the first vessel, leaving Bremen for New Orleans, (I think it was about the middle of November, 1870), landing at New Orleans some time in December, and from there I went on a Morgan steamer to Indianola, Texas, which was then one of the finest and richest little towns on the coast, landed there about the later part of December. I knew there was a Conrad Reiffert, who was in Germany, shortly before the war between Germany and France broke out, and who got me to come to this country; he had already a job for me with H. Runge & Co., then one of the biggest firms (at Indianola) and which was composed of E. Reifert, William Froboese and E. Mueggie, three nice gentlemen. I worked and was doing very nicely, but learning English very slowly as it was nearly all Germans I had to deal with. My reader will please bear in mind, that I was ignorant of the English language as most Americans are of the German language.

Getting along as fine as anybody could, enjoying life and happy as a big sunflower, I was seized one day by a terrible spell of sickness (about a year after I came to Indianola), which lasted the biggest part of two months, and they all thought that I would leave this world, which no doubt would have been the case, if it had not been for the kindness and motherly attention Mrs. Froboese gave me constantly during that time, and may God in Heaven reward her, for what she did for me, for I never saw her after I left Indianola; she has since gone to her reward, for God in Heaven, has a reward for every good and Christian woman as Mrs. Froboese. Also, Louise Budde was very kind to me, staying and waiting on me in the day time, in fact all, who knew me and had come in contact with me, came and sat with me during the many nights. Recovered from this severe spell, I was advised by my attending physician Dr. Reuss, to leave Indianola and go to some ranch to obtain more fresh air and exercise. I went up the Carancahua Bay to a Mr. B. B. Pierce, (no kin to Shanghai, a different character), a very nice good old Texan, who was mostly engaged in the cattle business, in which I soon became very interested and which I followed up to my later days. During my stay at Mr. Pierce's I had to be on my guard continually; as I said before, I had learned very little English in Indianola, had only been to school a few months. During my stay there Mr. Rudolph Kleberg, who afterwards became our Congressman, taught me after my business hours my first English,--and, as I was somewhat green on a ranch, Alfred Bowling, a young American, and Alphonso Bonatt, a young Frenchman, (the worst two little devils I ever saw) taking advantage of all my misfortune, kept me in hot water all the time.

After leaving Mr. Pierce I went to work for a Mr. Ed. Clary, who owned a schooner by the name, "West Carancahua," or better known as "The Bully of the Woods," this boat, Capt. Clary in charge, Henry Coats, first mate and cook, myself, general roust-about, made regular trips from Carancahua to Indianola, supplying the people up and down the bay and river with supplies and anything they needed, and on our return we loaded wood for Indianola, which brought good money in those days. During this time Capt. Clary took a contract to boat quite a lot of lumber from Indianola to Carancahua, to a point called Wolf's Point, where Mr. Dan Mitchell erected a nice house and ranch in general. This was the time when I got enough of boating, I naturally was easy to make sea-sick and often couldn't raise up my head from the time we got outside the Carancahua till we landed at Indianola; and the same on our return, and if any of your humble servant's readers ever have been sea-sick, they know exactly how I felt. Quitting Captain Clary I worked for Mr. Dan Mitchell several months (and up to now I have never met Dan since), who by that time married Miss Agnes Ward, a sister of Mr. Leander and Lafey Ward now still living, Lee at Edna and Lafey at the old Snodgrass Ranch on the Carancahua.

After leaving Mr. Dan Mitchell I worked for Mr. I. N. Mitchell, a brother to Dan and one of Carancahua's best men, who--as Charles A. Siringo calls it--gave me my first "Nest Egg" in cattle. In the spring, 1873 I went with Ged Cothrey who was in charge of a herd of beeves for Mr. Bennet to Kansas, staying the biggest part of that year in Kansas and Nebraska, close to the Platte River working cattle for Messrs. Dillworth and Littlefield. Returning in the fall, I bached and put in a small crop at Bud McDowell's place on the Carancahua, but that soon gave me all I wanted and I sold out to Mr. McDowell, after which I worked for Mr. Bob Bolling, another of the best of Carahcahua's men, not slighting Mr. McDowell, in fact, I never saw a better set of people than those living on the Carancahua from the mouth to the head; I just mention a few more: B. Q. Ward, Jesse Ewing, Plair Burrell, Mr. Branch, Steaden and Ben Brown, and Henry Hensley, of whom I was well thought of.

Leaving my old stamping ground in the spring of 1875, I worked steady for Mr. W. B. Grimes, for whom I previously worked a little, in the packery, and with Mr. N. Keller of the prairie. Mr. W. B. Grimes was those days running a packery, canning beef for northern markets and had previous to that killed cattle for the hides and tallow, killing as high as 125 a day.

During my stay on Trespalacios, I became acquainted with a Miss Annie Downer (living at the mouth of Trespalacios), through the kindness of Mr. John Pybus, an old gentlemen who lived on Casher's Creek with Aunt Clue, his wife, and whose guest I often was. He took me over and introduced me to the Downer family, that consisted of Mr. and Mrs. Downer and Miss Marie and Miss Annie, the only two children. Miss Annie being the youngest and best looking, only two years junior to your humble servant, we of course soon came to an agreement, which was followed by our marriage on the 24th day of June the same year. As I had not more than about $200.00, two horses and a few head of cattle, I was obliged to stay with the old folks for a while. I do not think Mr. Downer liked the Dutchman, as he called me, very well and often remarked that I didn't have anything but old Paint, (a cracker-Jack horse I bought from Mr. Lee Ward) and an old velvet suit I had bought in Kansas, and which I myself, thought to be a dress-suit those days for anybody. Well, things went on nicely for nearly two months, but I was not home very much, working with Mr. R. A. Partain, boss for Mr. Grimes, collecting a herd of beeves to be taken over the trail to Kansas that fall. I had seen old Shanghai Pierce, but never had been in close contact with him. Making up this herd, we camped at the old plank pen, near where the K O Ranch now is, and Mr. Pierce with his and several other crowds made up a fine bunch of cow-boys.

I was not dreaming to leave my young wife quite so soon, but I was persuaded by Mr. Grimes to take a couple of hands and sufficient horses and overtake the herd, which had gone nearly a month before, and go with Mr. A. Dowdy, who was in charge of the cattle, to Kansas. Overtaking the herd above Austin on the St. Gabriel River about ten days after I left home, everything went on nicely, only at Valley Mills we had quite a lot of rain, raining for about three days off and on, so we were not able to move, and soon after we heard of that fatal and terrible storm which swept Indianola and the entire coast country of many men, women and children and animals of all descriptions. This was my first encounter with a storm in Texas. After that we moved on very slowly, our horses and cattle not be able to be moved very fast; also we had to stop, after reaching the Indian Territory early in the evening, in order to gather "Buffalo chips" for fuel during the night to keep those on guard with the cattle from freezing; they would come in, one at a time, to warm, you know that time of the year, about the middle of October, is getting pretty chilly up towards the Territory and Kansas. Getting to Wichita, Kansas, about the middle of December we never lost much time there, but started back as soon as we had turned the cattle over to a Mr. Joe Jackson, who was in charge of the cattle Mr. Grimes had taken up there in the spring.

Landing in Columbia, the nearest railroad station to home, Mr. Dowdy and I procured a horse each and a negro to bring the horses back and we arrived home about Christmas or a little before, finding my wife and everybody in good health, but everything else still showing the effect of the storm. We soon straightened up fences and rooted up the remains of one of the best peach orchards in the country, (Mr. Downer sold pretty much every year, from $500.00 to $1,000.00 worth of peaches). I have seen the boat lying at the wharf, from three to four weeks in order to obtain the first peaches, which sold for fancy prices at Indianola and Corpus Christi, and I have never seen an orchard since, that was as good and profitable, in all this and joining country. We soon had everything in good shape, and I worked harder than any negro in slavery time. We had enlarged the field, broke three yoke of oxen, broke up the sod and fixed to put in 30 acres in corn, potatoes and watermelons. My wife and I made a full team; she was almost as good as I on horseback, and could throw the rope to catch "Mavericks" better than I could. At that time they had quite a bunch of cattle and she was the only person who attended to them, she could plow as well as I and we were planning to have a big crop and get a little start; but when we couldn't agree on sharing the crop, we left and moved on a little tract of land I had bought form Mr. John Moore about two and one-half to three miles from the Downer place on Casher's Creek, and which contained 30 acres, more or less. This was in the spring of 1876, about six months after the storm.

We were the only family living on the east side of Casher's Creek, but on the west side there were four families: Mr. John Pybus, whom I mentioned before, Jacob Salzieger, Mr. Horace Yeamans, Sr., an old gentleman with his children: Benjamin A., Daniel, Horace, Jr., and Salie, the youngest child, and two daughters, Mrs. R. O'Neal and Mrs. Chas. Bruce, had married and gone from home when I moved to Casher's Creek; and, as far as I know the Yeamans children are still alive and all married and having large families. Mr. Alexander Morris was the last neighbor on the creek, his wife was a good woman and a particular friend of my wife; after her we named our second born, a little wee girl, Annie Elizabeth, but God took her away when she was only about one and one-half years old, and she is buried at our old place on Casher. All those old settlers have gone to their reward in a ripe old age--Mr. Pybus about 96 years, Mr. Salzieger about 70, and Horace Yeamans, Sr., about 88 or 90, the latter dying at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Chas. Bruce at Matagorda. Mr. Morris left this country and moved to Harwood, Gonzales County, where she finally died about 1878 or 1879. Charles A. Siringo moved his mother above my place, on the east side--Charles going up the trail every year and coming back in the fall; his mother resided there until 1882, when he, with his mother (an old Irish lady) moved to Caldwell, Kansas. (This is the Chas. Siringo, who is the author of: "A Texas Cowboy or Fifteen Year on the Hurricane Deck of a Spanish Pony.") He was telling me about the book then and saying he had written quite a good deal of it. I am the one who took him to Ganado soon after the Macaroni road was built to Victoria and of whom he said that I took him "in an old ox-cart drawn by two brindle oxen: and that the cart was imported from Germany in 1712, but this was a burlesque on me, because I was a German. I never have seen Charley since, but I have often heard from him afterwards, yet of late years have lost all trace of him.

While mentioning the old settlers on Casher's Creek, I will name pretty nearly all the old settlers, who lived on Trespalacios at that time. Beginning at the mouth on the west side: Mr. Downer, John Moore, Joe Pybus, W. B. Grimes, Godfrey Salzieger, Aug. Duffy, John Rowles, Mrs. McSparren, Joe McIntyre and Uncle Tom Kuykendal; on the east side: J. F. Garnett, J. B. Smith, T. E. Partain, Mrs. E. P. Pybus, R. A. Partain, W. M. Kuykendall, J. E. Pierce, Jack Wheeler, Daniel Wheeler, the father of Jack and Henry, Shady Killingsworth, Henry Wheeler, Uncle Tom Williams. In the fork of the Trespalacios and Wilson Creek: Fred Sparks, Aleck Gyle, David Dunbar and John Hicks, and Jack Elliott up on the Wilson Creek. I think that is about all of the families living on both creeks at that time, and if I am correct 18 of them have crossed the river and gone to their reward at time of this writing. Times have changed a great deal, also the country. Where we used to see 40 or 50 deer, and turkeys by the bunch, and nothing but cattle on the prairie, there are now thousands of acres of rice growing; and new towns and settlements are going up--where we old fellows, N. Keller, Jim Keller, W. E. McSparren, Jed Garnett and others have spent some of our happiest time hunting and camping out.

Now I have to take you back to Casher's Creek; as I said before I was very limited on the money question; I took the opportunity and went to Indianola and bought at a sale enough lumber to build me a kitchen, and a house and some outhouses (my only means of conveyance those says was a yoke of oxen, named King and Jerry, and a "slide").

After I moved into the little 10 X 16 kitchen with a home-made table, a bedstead made out of a head and foot-board found in the old lumber I bought at Indianola and sides I made myself, a bench and a few boxes to sit on were about our furniture, with 3 horses, a few cattle and a yoke of oxen with a slide I made myself, my wife and I felt as rich as J. Gould and as happy as we could be in our little possession. Every thing moved on nicely. I worked on the prairie and for W. B. Grimes the biggest part of the year, my wife staying at home taking care of what little we had and attending to a little crop of corn. I broke the land in the winter and planted the corn in the spring before going cow-driving. I mentioned before a yoke of oxen and a slide in our possession, which was very important to use in making our little crop and answering for our buggy team. Annie, the name of my wife, would hitch them to the slide and go over to her folks or visit any neighbors close by. Wagons were very scarce those days, and buggies as scarce as hen-teeth. There was only one covered hack in our vicinity and it was owned by Mr. Grimes, the packery magnate. I often tell it to my children and sometimes to outsiders, about the ways we used to navigate, and some think perhaps that it is a fairy tale, but nevertheless that is correct and all right.

In 1885 we moved from Casher's Creek to Juanita, my present place, where Mrs. Downer and I had bought the W. C. Clapp one-quarter league of land in 1882 from Shanghai and John Pierce. In those days I looked upon every man as an honest and upright man and never once thought that the land I bought was not ALL there, but I am sorry to say, that when I had it surveyed by Mr. F. C. Robbins four or five years after I bought it, it only contained 766 acres instead of 1040 acres which ought to have been there. They also coveted 170 acres of land out of the J. H. Scott survey, which I had bought of R. A. Hasbrook, (from whom the forks of Trespalacios and Juanita has the name of "Hasbrook Bend" to this day), in all they succeeded to rob me of 444 acres, today worth at least $20.00 per acre or a net sum of $8,800. They knew every tract of land and kept a surveying corps in the field the greatest part of the time securing the most disreputable surveyor. (a Mr. Hopp, who was afterwards run out of the town of Matagorda, never to return) it was no trouble for them to secure all kinds of lands; and lands being cheap and money being scarce, a poor man had but little chance to hold or secure much land in those days, in fact nobody cared much about land.

Later on Mrs. Downer and I bought another tract of land, a three-fourths interest in the L. P. Scott survey, joining the W. C. Clapp survey on the north. In 1885 I bought Mrs. Downer's interest, and in 1909 I bought out the last heir of the L. P. Scott survey, giving me about 2,100 acres of land at the time of this writing (January, 1910).

Before or soon after I moved to Juanita, the land sharkes, with the help of the legislators, had a law passed, the most abominable law as Judge William Burkhard termed it, there ever was or ever will be, called the limitation law. This law, I venture to say has been the means of many poor widows and orphans losing their lands in this country.

In August 1888 we had the second storm I experienced, as bad as the one in 1875 if not worse, and I had the full benefit of it, living at that time on the east side of Juanita, almost isolated from everybody. The only neighbor I could get to was Mr. Tom Kuykendal, about one mile and a half northeast on the Trespalacios River; the water rose so high in the creek, and in a gulley I lived on, that the water washed under my house, reminding us of being on board a boat, and in my sheep-pen, on top of the hill, the water was so deep that several of my sheep drowned before I could remove them, the water reached my oldest boy, Willie, about nine years old, up under the arms.

About the time, or a little before, the Kountze Brothers secured an immense body of land from my place on the south to El Campo on the north, in the same manner as above stated, I mean to say by having surveyors out the biggest part of the year. The first years they came to this country, they found out all the vacant land in that territory mentioned, and secured great bodies of same.

Well, from that time everything moved along very smooth until spring 1894, when my wife and oldest daughter took very sick with pneumonia, from which my wife succumbed on the 2nd day of April, while Dora recovered very slowly. This affliction cost me more than my circumstances almost were able to bear. Dr. Dobbin, a notorious man, my attending physician, seemed determined to down me, and being indebted to Dr. Pelton in the sum of $800.00 still due on my land at that time, and he about to close me out, besides having seven children (four boys and three girls--the baby, a boy about one and a half years old) it almost caused me to give up all hope ever to see my way out again. But troubles never come single-handed and the next year following, 1895, the 14th of February we had the worst snowstorm ever known in this country, which was the cause of animals of all kinds and sizes dying by the wholesale. I lost a great deal of what little stock I had. Well, this was enough to down anybody, but still that was not all. The 24th day of May following came the climax, hail as big as my hand fell for about twenty minutes, the most frightful time I believe, I ever experienced in my life. Window panes and sheets of ice, as I said, as big as my hand, flying through the room where my children and I were assembled; and my presence of mind almost leaving me, I piled all my children on my bed, which stood in the northwest corner of the room where the hail could not strike them, and covered them with quilts and told them to be quiet, which they very readily obeyed, being almost frightened to death. This was between 10 and 11 o'clock that night, and next morning everything looked almost indescribable. My rooms were full of ice and window glass, 108 windowpanes being broken at both places. Mr. Wilson, a gentleman, who farmed at my place and living on the east-side of Juanita, had all his corn and cotton laid even with the ground, not leaving a dozen stalks standing in the whole field. The corn was silking and tasseling, and the cotton blooming and having a good many bolls. After that Mr. Wilson moved over to live with me in my house, Mrs. Wilson keeping house for me during their stay there, my daughter Dora not being strong as she ought to have been, yet up to this time she had been my general manager, since her recovery, and as a mother to the rest of her brothers and sisters. Dora always was, when she was a little girl, a noble, gentle, good hearted girl, more like an older person than any of the other two girls. Sick at heart and disgusted with the country, Mr. Wilson soon left me. From that time, things ran smoothly and everything promised a bright future, and with the help of an old bachelor, Mr. R. Orr, a noble hearted gentleman, who was baby's nurse, we got along as nicely as could be expected without a companion.

In 1897, April 7th, Dora married Mr. G. A. Duffy, a good industrious young man raised right here among us, and who had previously worked for me; and after he and Dora were married they still remained with me. In the fall of 1898 Mr. Alex Olliphant, a nice young man, and I bought 160 acres of land from the K. O. People, about one and a half miles south of El Campo, located on the highest ground around that place, now one of the best and prettiest towns in the country. We at once put up a barn and windmill and that winter fed quite a bunch of oxen and bulls and other stock cattle at that place. Mr. Olliphant, wishing to go home at Christmas to see his wife and to sell his place in Oklahoma City in order to defray our expenses, came back shortly after without that he went after. He, therefore, concluded to sell out to me. We soon came to an agreement and settlement; and soon after he went back to Oklahoma City. I visited him afterward on a return trip from Kansas City, where Willie, my oldest son, and I had been with a shipment of our fed cattle; Willie had previous to this trip been to Kansas City with two cars of fed oxen and returning home about the 12th day of February, 1899, he contracted a bad case of measles. Not having the least idea of the disease being in his system, we started home to the 5F ranch, twenty miles below El Campo, on the 14th day of the same month in one of the old-time blizzards--the kind the young and newcomers have never seen. It was freezing and sleeting, ice around the mouth of the horses, and icicles on my mustache touching my breast. This was one of the coldest days I have ever experienced in the Sunny South. Cattle died by the thousands, I losing a good many myself on the range. My cattle at El Campo, being fed, stood it better than I expected on that hill, losing only one or two, but several froze their hind legs below the hock, so they broke open, and remained so until late in the summer, from which several lost their hoofs and tails from the effect of the cold. Willie, being only about 19 years old, had to get off and walk to keep from freezing, but we would never have reached home, if we hadn't been going with the wind, and when we came home our clothes were stiff with ice, my mackintosh, shredded with ice was almost a complete wreck, when taken from me by Dora and the other children. This spell lasted about a week or more, for I remember, as if it happened today, we brought a sack of cabbage with us from El Campo, and this was a solid lump of ice for over a week, and some of the trees and limbs in the woods were breaking from the heavy loads of ice hanging upon them.

Well the germs of the disease, the measles, in Willie did their work and soon were getting the best of him, leaving him the sickest boy you almost every saw, it being the worst type of measles I have ever seen. From that time one by one fell a victim to the disease till all but me were down with it. As I said before I had seven children, and by this time I had two more to care for, my son-in-law and a little baby girl, Dora's, about 5 or 6 weeks old--nine in all down with the measles; and what a fix I was in I will leave to you, whoever might get hold of this little book to determine. This was the time when I felt I needed a companion, and if it had not been for Robert Murrey, a half-brother to Geo. Duffy, who came to my rescue, I don't know what I would have done. He and I did everything we could possibly do for the sick. We cooked, waited on the children, in fact did everything that had to be done, no one coming near us, people being scared of the measles. You see, dear reader, we must have been good doctors and nurses, not losing a single one of our patients. Bob, as he was always was called, was a healthy, strong, robust young man not knowing what sickness was, and he often remarked that measles wouldn't bother him; but alas, he soon became the sickest boy you ever did see, almost sick enough to die, and we were obliged to call Dr. Scott, who was a practicing physician in this neighborhood at that time. Well, Bob got well, got married and is still living at this time.

Times as well as money changes; a good many things will often change even characters, resolutions and lives; also, I was changed to some extent at that time. My whole mind was set on my children; they were all I had in the world to care for, and cared for at that time. But the idea arose in my mind: What shall become of you, when all your children leave you? Dora, my house--keeper, was married. Julia thinking about it, and I knew Helen would as soon as she became of age do likewise; so you see one by one dropping off would leave me finally to myself, nobody to care for me and nobody to love, leaving me to be content with a cheerless, desolate fire-side for the balance of my days; and besides who would take care of me in sickness? Who would I consult? Who would keep house for me? and to give up housekeeping and live by the mercy of my children--going from one to another, no one could ever persuade me to do so.

October 24, 1899, was another great event in the history of my life. I was then married to a Miss L. E. Gainer, as good a woman as ever walked on earth, but much junior to my age. Nevertheless, up to this present time we have lived as happy and content as any two married people could live. During this time was born to us three boys and one little girl: F. C., the oldest boy, named after your humble servant, was nine years old in January, 1910, Juanita, the girl, is about seven, Levy Leon about five, and Jimmie three years old.

Going back to the beginning of our marriage, I think it must be natural for children to dislike their step-mother. Soon contentions arose; Willie left me that winter following. George and Dora left me in the spring of 1901 and moved to El Campo, on the place where Olliphant and I bought in the fall of 1898, and they are still living there. Louis, the second boy, left me, when he was about seventeen years old. Tommie the third boy, is still with me, and Babe (Young his correct name) left me September 7, 1909, very much to my sorrow. Babe being the youngest, a little fellow when his mother died, and, being a cute little fellow, was petted and humored more than any of the rest of the children. Thinking to make a great man of him, I sent him to school as soon as he possibly could go, but after a while he was getting into all kinds of mischief, and I sent him to El Campo, and afterwards sent him to Palacios College, where he stayed one session. But knowing he was not learning nor doing what he ought to do, I made arrangement with the Methodist School in Georgetown to send him there at the beginning of the school term in September, 1909; yet to my grief and greatest disappointment he left me one morning before I got up to call him. I always tried to teach my children to be straight, upright and honest, to treat everybody with respect, and to be good citizens, but I may not have had the gift of teaching or approaching them the way I ought to have done. Yet God knows in my heart I always meant it ALL for their best; and every child that honors his father and mother, God gives a long life and a place to live in, which is the command of the Fifth Commandment.

Now taking you back to 1899, this was the year of the third storm I experienced. In June we were all visited with one of the biggest rains that ever fell in this part of the country. Danevang getting a cloudburst that floated and drowned chickens, and cotton was so completely covered with water that the people, I was told, rode in skiffs all over the cottonfields above the stalks. In September, 1900, about the 8th day, was the storm that almost devastated Galveston. About 10,000 people drowned and a great deal of property was destroyed, and many people drowned all along the coast. This was the fourth storm I experienced in Texas. About the 12th day another occurrence took place, which put gloom over the entire community. I do not mention this because I wish to tear open old wounds, but as I said before, Julia was thinking of getting married. This was the fatal day on which Jimmie Partain, to whom Julia was engaged to be married in a few days, drowned. Jimmie was, in his days, the most refined and loveliest character I ever knew, and the only child of Mr. and Mrs. T. E. Partain. I never shall forget the day in all my life, when G. B. Garnett, an old friend of mine, came opposite my house (the Juanita Creek was way over the banks so he could not get to my house) and told us the news of the fatal accident. It almost killed Julia and I took her around by Deming's bridge, the place where he was drowned, to the house of his father. After that Julia never lived with me any more, but God may forgive her as I have long ago. Afterwards she married a young man, H. P. Taylor, who is now living in New Mexico.

My youngest daughter, Helen, a lovely little girl and always my pet, married a young and industrious man, Will Milbourne, who lives at El Campo.

As I had to mention Deming's Bridge before, and as it used to be our postoffice name, I feel I ought to tell you all about the history of the name. Mr. Deming, who used to live on the south side of Juanita Creek and west side of Trespalacios long before my time, (I never knew Mr. Deming personally, but my wife being well acquainted with him and family, informed me all about it), was the originator of the postoffice in this county. In those days it was not like it is in our days, having a postoffice every few miles; but when I came to this country postoffices were few and far between. I remember we used to get our mail from Texana, Elliott, Pierce Station and El Campo, and Mr. W. B. Grimes used to get it from Indianola by boats. Well, Mr. Deming built a bridge across Trespalacios, went to San Felepe, which used to be our capitol, and procured permission for the postoffice and gave it the name of Deming's Bridge, with himself as postmaster. After Mr. Deming left this country and the Pierces started Ranch Grande, as they called the place which John Pierce now owns, they procured permission from the Postoffice Department to move the office to their ranch with the understanding to keep up the old name, Deming's Bridge, which name it went under when I came to this country, and under which it was known far and near, being one of the oldest offices in the State. But about ten years ago, when Col. Pierce, as some call him (about as much colonel as I am) in honor of Representative Hawley, through whose influence his son Abe had procured a position in the Navy as assistant paymaster, had, without the old settler's knowledge, written up a petition, signed by a few of his suckers, and the old name of the office was changed to Hawley, thus showing Mr. Deming (who ought to have all the credit and honor) and the old settlers very little courtesy. Honor to those that honor is due, and not to those who falsely reach honor.

This is the 4th day of January, 1912 a dreary, bad, cold day with intervals of little sunshine. As I have been confined to my room for over two weeks and am somewhat lonesome, I thought about my past unfinished history not being quite finished; so will say a few words about the division of my estate in case I haven't mentioned the settlement of my estate before. Everything is almost finished and settled except El Campo, Midfield and Markham properties, which are the worst propositions in my opinion and cost me more worry than all the rest of my estate. I will say right here that I gave the children of my first wife half, except half of one-seventh the portion of Julia's part of my estate, which amounted to about five or six thousand dollars, to each of the other six children, Julia's part, one-seventh of one half, I had previously bought from her for $1,500.00 and O how my heart bled when it was said that her husband thought he could do better than I with her portion, but the reader will readily see the difference--who lost or who gained, I always felt sorry for Julia and since we divided I gave her a policy of $1,000. I don't know how the others will like it, when they find out what I did; but nevertheless, what is written is written. They never did show any appreciation of what I did for them--that is the most of them. To prove my statement, I have to mention my favored horse, Dick by name, which I would not have mentioned in my short history if it had not been for this occurrence. I often thought before we divided the horses, what they would do about old Dick--make me a present of him or have him divided like the balance. So not asking any favors, I let him go with the rest. They, therefore, gave me the first pick and I chose Dick, Lizzie and Jane, the old mules who have stayed with me so faithfully for twenty-five years and helped make a good portion of my property. I can truthfully say I never had anything I called my own before divided, but thanks be to God, I have something I can call my own now.

Now, in conclusion, I think as St. Paul, when he said, "I have fought a good fight and finished my course," and I wish I could say like him, "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness," but God in Heaven knows my heart and knows I always wanted to do right and if I failed and have done things I ought not to have done, and left things undone which I ought to have done, I pray God in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to forgive me. Amen.

Five years have elapsed since I finished my little story of my life, and as I am still in the land of the living, in good health and enjoying life, and during this time, two more little boys have been born to us, I will in conclusion mention their names in order to have all the children mentioned in this little sketch of my life. Foncie, who was named after a lovely young lady, Miss Foncie Barrett, in Garrison, Texas. Her mother kept a boarding house in that place, my wife and I boarding at her house during the time I had a cancer removed which so suddenly appeared on my nose. Right here I wish to mention how I got to Garrison to have my cancer removed. Mrs. Mary Garrison, God bless her, the mother of W. Y and Frank Garrison, two big hearted gentlemen still living in Garrison, Texas, of whom I bought 1,000 head of cattle, got me to go and see an old gentleman, Rev. U. W. Jarrell, in that place who removed the cancer while we boarded at Mrs. Barrett. May God bless that old gentleman, who, with Mrs. Garrison, was the instrument of saving my life.

Well, coming back to the little boy, only a few months old then, Miss Foncie thinking him the cutest and sweetest little fellow, would nurse him every spare time she possibly could find, asked us to be sure and name him after her, Foncie, which we gladly did. He will now be five years old the 28th day of January, 1915.

Now, Eugene, the baby, also a black-eyed little boy, will be two years old the 16th day of February, 1917, was not quite so lucky as Foncie M. to have a young lady to name him but was named by a good old lady, Mrs. Ilbery, his nurse. Now, as I didn't start in to write a big book, which I easily could have done, I will tell you all adieu.

Yours very truly,






Requested to finish my Reminiscences up to my present time, 1938, will mention a very few important and hurtfull events. In 1922, Feb. 13, my beloved second wife, Lula, the pride of my life, which the Lord thought fit to take away from me by death, which almost broke my heart. That left me a widower 72 years old. I felt I could not live without a helpmate so I married a nice-looking lady after two and one-half years, much Junior to myself, Miss Mary Josephine Janzen, a nurse, which no doubt prolonged my life up to this time. We have no children, but are enjoying life as well as anybody could. I am still Supt. of our S. S., my wife a teacher, going to Midfield S. S. every Sunday.

The next fatal event happened Dec. 24, 1924. We experienced a terrible rain, sleet, and snow storm, which killed thousands and thousands of cattle in this coast country. This County, Matagorda, used to be one of the finest stock counties and still is. It did not take many years to replenish what we lost.

In 1930 all my children, by my second wife came of age and I made a full and complete settlement in District Court by giving them one-half of all I possessed. That settlement made me a free independent owner of all I now possess.

Well, all my children are married and gone away from home, only Eugene G. the youngest if still single. They are all pretty good children, doing well and coming to see me quite often.

I mentioned in my first biography all the first settlers in my part where I still live. There are three of us living; Jim Keller of Bay City, my age; Henry Coats of Edna, not quite as old; and your humble servant, looking forward for the eighty-eighth Reunion, Dec. 1.

The Lord our God has been kind to me in preserving my life up to this time thank God. I still ride my old horse, looking after what little stock I have, thank the Lord.

Now in conclusion I wish to tell you about how many grand, and great grand children I have by this time. There are 26 grand children and several nice looking girls, who call me grandpa, and eleven great grand children. May God bless them all to become God fearing and honorable citizens.

As this is very likely to be my last writing, I wish to tell all my friends and no friends to forgive me, if I have any one offended. So will tell you all good bye, and ask the Lord Jesus Christ to bless you all, which is your humble servant's prayer.


Good bye, your friend,





 The passenger list of the Frankfurt which left Bremen in November, 1870, bound for New Orleans lists:


308 Friedr. Cornelius 19 male  Prussia  Steerage Upper State Room




Thursday Morning  December 10th A. D. 1891


No. 1786  Ex. parte


F. Cornelius }    Be it remembered that on this day F. Cornelius appeared in open Court and applied to said Court to be admitted to become a citizen of the United States of America, pursuant to the provisions of the several acts of Congress in such cases made and provided. And the said applicant having thereupon produced to the Court such evidence made such declaration and renunciation, and taken such oaths as by the said acts required. Thereupon it was ordered by the Court that the said applicant be and he is hereby admitted to become a citizen of the United States of America, and the Clerk of said Court will issue to him said applicant his letters of citizenship in accordance with this decree.




1) Dora, b 1 Apr 1876 d 17 Mar 1952 m George Andrew Duffy 7 Apr 1897
2) Annie Elizabeth, b 23 Mar 1877 d 23 Oct 1878
3) William Daniel, b 20 Jan 1879 d 2 Nov 1960 m Mary Ethel Johnson 18 Dec 1918;
4) Julia Blanche, b 4 Feb 1881 d 6 Aug 1975 m Henry Ples Taylor 10 Feb 1904
5) Louie Casper, b 18 Jan 1884 d 19 May 1960 m Ellen Roberts
6) Helen, b 3 Nov 1885 d 3 Jan 1979 m William Casey Melbourn 27 Jun 1906
7) Not named b 15 Feb 1888 d 16 Feb 1888
8) Thomas Edward, b 29 Aug 1889 d 28 Feb 1964 m Nancy Esther Davis __ Apr 1912
9) Young "Babe", b 12 Jul 1892 d 31 May 1963 m Ruth Montgomery






1) Fredrick Casper, Jr., b 23 Jan 1901 d 3 Apr 1979 m Elva Wyona "Dee" Raleigh 26 Feb 1919
2) Juanita Winifred, b 2 Feb 1903 d 3 Dec 1990 m Herbert Graybill 8 Jul 1933
3) Lafey Leon, b 15 Feb 1905 d 8 Jul 1989 m Queenie Maye Watts 31 May 1929
4) James Taylor, b 16 Nov 1906 d 6 Jun 1982 m Nellie Louella Nygard
5) Foncie Milo, b 28 Jan 1912  d 29 Sep 2004 m Lyla Warren 22 May 1934
6) Eugene George, b 16 Feb 1915  d 15 Mar 2003 m Merle Moore 6 Jun 1971.



F. C. Cornelius
Dies at El Campo
April, 4 1946

F. C. Cornelius Sr., 96, a native of Germany, who came to the United States at the age of 20, died at El Campo Tuesday, according to word received here by relatives. Mr. Cornelius, the father of 13 children, was a resident of Midfield. He lived at Indianola, Carancahua bay, Trespalacios, Casher's creek and Juanita.

Burial will be at the family cemetery in Midfield.

Surviving children are Mrs. Dora Duffy of El Campo, Willie Cornelius of Markham, Mrs. Julia Taylor of Aztec, N.M.; Louie Cornelius of Blessing, Mrs. Helen Melbourn of Port Lavaca, Tom and Fred Cornelius of Midfield, Young Cornelius of Sargent, Mrs Juanita Graybill and Leon, James, Foncie and Eugene Cornelius of Houston.

Courtesy of Joe Cornelius

Annual Reunion Of Cornelius Family Held Sunday

The annual reunion of the Cornelius family was held in the school house at Midfield Sunday. This has been an annual affair for many years and relatives and friends from miles around attend.

The menu was covered dish styles with bountiful tables of meats, salads, vegetables, pickles, pies, cakes and most everything good to eat.

Among those present were

Mrs. Lizzie Reeves, Bay City
Mrs. Roberta Watkins and daughter Betty, Houston
Mr. and Mrs. Frank Lake and boys, Houston
Emmett Seale and family, Houston
Beulah Arnold Cornelius, Alice
Henry Cornelius, Alice
Helene Cornelius Click, Alice
Dorothy Melbourne Shillings
Paula Shillings, Port Lavaca
Joe Shillings, Port Lavaca
Skeeter Shillings, Port Lavaca
Nonie Henke, Port Lavaca
Artie Henke, Port Lavaca
Neil and Myra Banfield, Rosenberg
Mrs. Cleo Jarrett, Marshall, Houston
Helen Melbourne, Houston
Jewel Cornelius Emmett, Houston
Lynda and Nelda Emmett, Houston
Charles Emmett, Houston
Peggy Cornelius, Houston
Eugene Cornelius, Houston
Josephine Janak, Houston
Charles V. Dobbs, Houston
Dave and Lucille Bolling, Palacios
Helen Bolling, Palacios
Ellen Cornelius, Blessing
Louie Cornelius, Blessing
Teddy Davant, Blessing
Gene Davant, Blessing
Mrs. Boyd Fojtik, Palacios
Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Harrold, Victoria
Mr. and Mrs. Wade Rucker, New Braunfels
James M. Cornelius and Jerry L. Cornelius, Deer Park
Maggie Hopper, El Campo
Mrs. Esther Cornelius, Midfield
Tom Cornelius, Midfield
L. C. Cornelius, Blessing
G. A. Duffy, El Campo
Maxine, Hoyt, Joyce Stuart and Deean Johnson, Houston
Juanita and Herbert Craybill, Houston
Lula Grace and Monkey Chiles, Midfield
Mr. and Mrs. Jim Cornelius, Juanita, Ardell, LaNell and Frederick, Midfield
John B. Williams, Houston
L. C. Nygard, Bay City
Dora Faye Cornelius, Houston
Fred and Dee Cornelius, Midfield
Rev. and Mrs. O. O. Moore, Markham
Rev. Walter Langham, Prairie Lea
Jean Chiles, Brazoria
Molly Bullard, Midfield
Violet Brhlik, Palacios
Mr. and Mrs. Foncie Cornelius, Houston
Mrs. Mattie Slate, Bradley, Oklahoma
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Cobb, Suzanne, Priscilla, Cornelia and Darla, Bay City
Mr. and Mrs. W. D. Cornelius, Markham
Mr. and Mrs. W. D. Cornelius, Jr. and Bill, Markham
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Bullard and Molly, Midfield
Mr. and Mrs. Simon Cornelius, Bay City
Daniel, Julie, Bill Cornelius, Markham
Marvin Rodgers, Van Vleck
Juanita Cornelius, Bay City
Norrene Jarvers, Houston
Walter Jake, Houston

Matagorda County Tribune, December 9, 1955

Cornelius Family Cemetery                    Cornelius Store Picture









Copyright 2006 - Present by the Cornelius Family
All rights reserved

Jan. 8, 2006
Sep. 16, 2014