Union Township

Ringgold County


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Cornwall Pioneer Home

Upstairs with

Rhoda Johnston

In kitchen with

Mary Overholzer

In Library with Connie Huff

In 1855 Elihue and Emeline Lucas Cornwall, their two sons - Avery and Herbert - and other relatives, moved by covered wagon from Ohio to their new homes in the northeast part of Ringgold County. IA. The Cornwalls lived in a log house for 11 years. In 1864, a new frame house was begun. This project required three years of part-time work. Dimension lumber, mostly native black walnut, was cut and sawed in early saw mills of the area. Finishing lumber was hauled many miles by ox-team in lumber wagons. Lime was burned in kilns in the neighborhood for plaster. Lath for the house was split by hand rather than sawed. Pin and mortise construction was used in the frame. Elihue Cornwall died shortly after the house was completed, but Emeline Cornwall, his wife, raised her family of five children in this house and completed the conquest of the wilderness farm that her husband had started. Emeline Cornwall died in 1917 and the house was occupied by various other families including her granddaughter, Addie Cornwall Eddy, and her husband, Ernest.

In 1965, Cecil Cornwall, great-grandson of Elihue and Emeline, hearing that the old home was to be razed, purchased it and moved it next to his home east of Ellston where he restored and refurnished it with loving care. In 1970, Cecil Cornwall died and the house was presented to the Ringgold County Historical Society by his brothers and sisters. In presenting the house and its contents to the Ringgold County Historical Society, the Cornwall family requested that the building be maintained in Ellston as a memorial to the pioneers of southern Iowa who, by their courage, hard work, and devotion, conquered the wilderness of the prairie and woods and gave us a heritage we must never forget. The home helps us look back to those times.

In the Parlor with Nadine Hosfield

The Ringgold County Pioneer Center is managed by the Ringgold County Historical Society under the direction of Bob and Linda Swanson, 641-783-2155.

The Life of Elihue Cornwall

Elihue Cornwall was born December 10, 1829 in Mansfield, Richland County, Ohio to father Francis Cornwall and mother Martha Cornwall. When he was 22, he married Emeline Lucas on New Year’s Day January 1, 1852 in Richland County, OH. The newlywed couple lived with his parents and Cornwall siblings for the next three years. Times were discouraging in Ohio with drought and disease. In 1855, Elihue & Emeline with their two young sons, Avery and Herbert, left Ohio, along with Emeline’s Lucas family and Elihue’s Cornwall family following, to seek the cheep rich farm ground of Iowa. Elihue, William Lucas, & brother-in law Josiah White immediately began building the Lucas log cabin at Sand Creek, Ringgold Co. IA. The 1856 census shows Elihue and Emeline living with Emeline’s parents, William & Margaret Lucas, and her siblings. Elihue was a skilled carpenter and as soon as possible, started working on a log cabin of his own, measuring 16’ x 16’. The Sand Creek area was surveyed in 1856 and Elihue, his father-in-law William Lucas and brother-in-law Josiah White traveled to the territorial office at Chariton, IA to purchase land from the government at $1.25/acre and file their papers. On June 3, 1856, Elihue bought 80 acres of land from the US government under President Franklin Pierce in section 18 & 19 and on May 1, 1858, Elihue’s purchased more public land from the U.S. government under President James Buchannan. The families made their living by farming and eating off the land, gardening and hunting. The couple had six children:  Avery William Cornwall (1852-1937), Herbert Francis Cornwall (1854-1944), LaSalle Cornwall (1857-1931), Arthur L. Cornwall (1860-1928), Lois E. Cornwall (Oct 7, 1862- Dec 2, 1862, living only one month), and Celesta A. Cornwall Dolson (1864-1945).  Eilhue was appointed postmaster of the newly opened Silver Street Post Office on Aug 6, 1858 in the northwest part of Union Township. The post office was located in his log cabin with local farmers taking turns to pick up the mail in Afton and deliver it. Elihue held the position of Postmaster until the Silver Street Post Office was discontinued in 1863. During the Civil War (1861-1865), Elihue served in the local Militia to patrol and keep settlers safe during the Civil War, although no conflict occurred. By 1864, Elihue felt it was time to move out of the log cabin and build a modern home for his wife and their five living children, so he started building a clapboard house (which was moved into Ellston, IA 100 years later to become part of the Pioneer Museum). It took Elihue three years to complete their house. Unfortunately, Elihue died on August 14, 1867 at the age of 37 and was buried in the family’s Cornwall Cemetery, Thayer, Union Co, IA. Emeline was left to raise their five children alone. After struggling for three years, she found it necessary to sell some of the farmland to raise cash to live on. Her four boys were a great asset to keeping the farm running and Celesta helped keep food on the table and clothing on their backs by gardening, milking, and mending. The children’s maternal grandfather William Lucas saw to the needs of his grandchildren’s education and religious training. Remaining close to family, Emetine was a widow the rest of her life. She passed away in 1917 at the age of 83 and was buried alongside Elihue.

Brought to you by NERA . Northeast Ringgold County Alliance. Foundation . Established in 2008 . Serving residents in Northeast Ringgold County . Iowa