Seems we share a part of a family tree (Lettice was my 5g grandmother). Noticed some discrepancies in your list in the ancestry of William Cornelius (RWS) and thought I'd pass along an article from the Cornelius family geneology newletter about our grandfather William that you might be interested in. It clears up some of the discrepancies regarding his parentage.
All the best,
The following was written by Robert C. Johnston, Past President of the Four Families Reunion in September
2003 issue of the Cornelius newsletter. It summarizes all that is known at this time.
“For years now, we have seen and heard, online and off, that the father of our Revolution War Soldier (RWS),
William Cornelius, was a man named “William C. Cornelius”. This name was first published in a 1958 book
called “Genealogy of the Bynum Family” by Mary Lou Bozeman Howard, with no mention of where that name
came from. All of the years I’ve been trying to document my Cornelius line, I have never been able to locate one
document anywhere that contained that name, so I started searching for other possible names for the father of
William Cornelius. The only document I had seen that mentioned a parent of our William Cornelius (RWS)
was the mysterious bible record of our Cornelius family, as mentioned in a letter back in 1930 by O. B. (Oscar
Bluford) Cornelius. Even though it hasn’t been seen for 100 years, this 1930 letter about the family information
found in the bible, as seen and reported by his brother some 30 years earlier, gave us the name “Ann Cornelius”
as the possible mother of our William Cornelius, but the name of the father was illegible or torn out, according
to O. B. Cornelius. A couple years ago, I started seeing theories that William’s mother might have been Ann
Dodson Cornelius Phillips of Pittsylvania Co., Virginia. This was covered briefly in Velva Cornelius Cort’s
newsletter, Cornelius Crossroads, several years back, so I started doing some investigation on my own, looking
for documents that might help solve this old mystery. I finally found a copy of the book by Benton Beverly
Cornelius called “History of the Cornelius Family” ca. 1910’s in which he identified his grandfather, William
Cornelius (RWS), as being one of “seven sons and three daughters”. On a trip to Greenville, SC a couple years
ago, I found all the land records of last name “Cornelius” recorded in that county from 1785-1820 - which I
transcribed for the September 2001 issue of Four-Families Newsletter. These land records provided proof that our
William Cornelius did indeed live in Greenville County, SC as early as 1786, and that he was acquainted with a
Jeptha Cornelius of the same County. These two were involved in land transactions together on a couple of
occasions. I also knew that a widow (living alone) by the name of “Anna Phillips” lived four doors down from
William Cornelius (RWS) in the 1800 Greenville County Census, but she disappeared by 1810 Census -
which would explain the 1807 death date in the mysterious Cornelius bible. Finally, after a couple years of
searching, I have found some interesting documents that should help pull all this together which will hopefully,
and finally, bring to rest, once-and-for-all, who the father of William Cornelius (RWS) really was.
1800 Greenville Co., SC, pg 25
Anna Cornelius Head of Household
Female 45-Up = 1.
Rev. Silas Emmett Lucas, Jr., one of the most respected publishers in Genealogy, along with a Mrs. Sherman
Williams, complied and published a book “The Dodson (Dotson) Family of North Farnham Parish, Richmond
County, Virginia: A History and Genealogy of Their Descendants – Volume One”, which I have a copy of.
On page 14 of this book, the authors discuss the 18th Century family of Fortunatus Dodson and his wife Alice
Goad, both of Richmond Co., VA. Fortunatus Dodson was the son of a Charles Dodson and Grandson of a
Charles Dodson. He was born about 1700 in Richmond County and died Sept. 9, 1737 in the same County.
He married Alice Goad on Sept. 9, 1726. All of these dates were recorded in the North Farnham Parish record
books. Fortunatus and Alice had, among others, a daughter named Ann, whom the authors claim was married
first to a Moses Cornelius and second to a George Phillips, and that she lived in Pittsylvania County. She had a
son by Moses Cornelius and he fought in the Revolutionary War. With these leads, I went searching in Pittsylvania
County, Virginia for concrete proof of this family and their relationships. Here is what I found.
September Court 1760, Halifax County, Virginia: John Owen, Plaintiff, vs Thomas Terry, Defendant, In trespass,
assault, and battery. This day came the parties by their Attorneys, and thereupon came also a jury, to wit, David
Crew, Joseph Farguson, Robert Robinson Hunt, Edward Holder, John Sutton, William Roberts, Thomas Duncan,
John Bynum Jr., Moses Cornelius, Ephraim Hill, William Roberson, and Thomas Roberson, who say that the
Defendant is guilty as charged, and assess Plaintiff’s damages to 40 shillings. Judgment to Plaintiff for the
September Court 1760, Halifax County, Virginia: Cornelius Cargill Sr., Plaintiff, vs Thomas Cobbs and
Susanna, his wife, Defendants, In Case. This day came the parties by their Attorneys, and thereupon came also
a jury, to wit, Joseph Farguson, Robert Robinson Hunt, John Bynum Jr., Moses Cornelius, Ephraim Hill,
David Crew, William Cornelius, John Owen, James Stewart, Daniel Obar, Edward Holden, and William
Goore, who say that said Defendants are not guilty. Judgment for Defendants for their costs.
In the 1767 List of Tithables for Pittsylvania County, Virginia taken by John Dix, a Moses Cornelius is listed
as giving one (1) tithe. The next Tithable list available for Pittsylvania County was in 1770 and Moses
Cornelius is not listed.
July Court 1768, Pittsylvania County, Virginia. William Cornelius, Plaintiff, against Moses Cornelius,
Defendant, on an attachment against the Defendant’s estate. The Plaintiff not appearing to prosecute, on the
motion of the Defendant by his attorney, ordered that this attachment be dismissed and that the Plaintiff pay
the Defendant his costs.
On June 24, 1768 (Pittsylvania Co. Court Records Book 1, 1767-1772, page 60)
a court case between Richard Conner against Moses Cornelius, was recorded…
Conner vs. Cornelius
“Richard Conner, Plaintiff, against Moses Cornelius, Defendant
“This day came the Plaintiff by his attorney and came also William Wynne, the Garnishee, who in his solemn
Affirmation saith that there is an unsettled amount between him and the Defendant which, when settled, will
leave effects in his hands and the Defendant not appearing, the Plaintiff proved his demands for six pounds, five
shillings to be just. Therefore it is considered by the Court that the Plaintiff recover against Defendant his debt
together with his costs. And it is ordered that whatever balance of money or other Effects shall appear to be due
from the Garnishee to the Defendant on a settlement, be condemned and that he pay the same to the Plaintiff
toward satisfying his judgment.”
On the next day, in the June 25, 1768 Court of Pittsylvania Co., VA (Court Records Book 1, Page 64), the
court case of “Wynne vs. Cornelius” was dismissed. William Wynne was the Plaintiff and Moses Cornelius
was the Defendant.
In the September Court of 1773 Pittsylvania County Virginia (Deed Book 2, Page 246), the following record
Cornelius’s to be bound out:
ORDERED that the Church wardens of the Parish of Camden in this County do bind out Moses and Jepheth
Cornelius Orphans of Moses Cornelius deceased in such manner as the law directs.” This record means that
Moses Cornelius died sometime between June 25, 1768 and September, 1773 in Pittsylvania Co., VA, more
than likely between June, 1768 and 1770, since he wasn’t listed in the 1770 Tax List. This record proves that
Moses and Ann Cornelius had at least two sons named Moses and Jeptha Cornelius. Since Jeptha Cornelius
is not a common name and the only one found in Virginia records, it is assumed he was the same one found in
land records with our William Cornelius (RWS) in Greenville Co., SC.
On September 1, 1780, Ann Cornelius of Pittsylvania County, VA was granted by the State of Virginia,
202 acres of land on both sides of Buck Branch on Frying Pan Creek in northern Pittsylvania County (Land
Office Patents “E”, 1775-1776, 1780-1781, page 786).
On January 30, 1790, the above mentioned 202 acres on Buck Branch of Frying Pan Creek, was sold by Ann
Cornelius and two of her sones WILLIAM CORNELIUS and JEPTHA CORNELIUS. This deed was
recorded in Pittsylvania County, Virginia Deed Book 8, pages 526-527. A transcription of this deed, with
spelling and punctuation intact, is provided here:
“THIS INDEBTURE made this 30th day of January one thousand seven hundred and ninety Between Anne
Cornelius and William Cornelius and Jephtha Cornelius of Pittsylvania County of the one part and
Daniel Kreyder of the same place and County aforesaid Witnesseth that the said Ann Cornelius Wm Cornelius
and Jephtha Cornelius for and in consideration of the sum of one hundred pounds to them in hand paid by said
Daniel Kreyder, the receipt whereof the said Ann Cornelius, Wm Cornelius and Jeptha Cornelius doth hereby
acknowledge hath bargained granted sold ----- and confirm and doth by these presents bargain, grant, sell, ----
and confirm unto him the said Daniel Kreyder his heirs Executors and Administrators forever a certain tract of
land lying and being in the County of Pittsylvania containing two hundred and two acres on both sides of Buck
branch of Frying Pan Creek, be the same more or less and adjoining the lands of Jacob Barger, David Ross and the
order land and bounded as followeth to wit, Beginning at a white oak thence new lines South fifty and half degrees
east eighty poles crossing a branch to a small white oak North forty seven degrees east one hundred and eighty
poles to pointers North forty six degrees West one hundred and eighty four poles to a white oak South fifty
seven and half degrees west one hundred and forty poles to a white oak South twenty one and half degrees East
one hundred and forty poles to the first Station, to have and to hold the said bargain and granted premises with
all the appurtenances and previlidges thereunto belonging to the said Daniel his heirs and assigns to his or their
own proper use and behalf’s forever. And the said Ann Cornelius Wm. Cornelius and Jephtha Cornelius
doth by these presents warrant and forever defend the said land unto the said Daniel Kreyder and his heirs forever
against the lawful claims or demands of any person or persons whatsoever in Witness whereof we have hereunto
set our hands and seals the day and year first above written.
Signed, Sealed and delivered} Ann + Cornelius, L.S.
In presents of us..} mark
Jos Robinson, James + Henson William Cornelius, L.S.
Jacob Berger Jeptha Cornelius, L.S.
At a Court held for Pittsylvania County the 19th day of April 1790 The within Indenture was proved by the
oaths of the witnesses thereto to be the acts and deed of the above named Ann Cornelius, William Cornelius
and Jeptha Cornelius and the same was ordered to be recorded by the Court.
Will Tunstall C.C.
We know from Military records on file in Washington and the NC State Archives, that our William Cornelius
(RWS) served in the Continental Line of Washington’s Army during the Revolution in Capt. Kingsbury’s
Artillery, a North Carolina raised company, from 1776-1778. William enlisted in this North Carolina Artillery
Company as a Matross on July 15, 1776. This would have been three years after his younger brothers were bound
out. He served in this artillery unit until he was wounded in June, 1778. Since Pittsylvania County is located in
the southern end of Virginia on the North Carolina line, it is possible he heard about a company being raised across
the state line and went off to join, possibly with friends or cousins unidentified, leaving behind his widowed
mother and younger siblings in Pittsylvania County. Since we know from Census records that our William
Cornelius (RWS) was born between 1750-1760 (no exact birth date has ever been proven, and not to be confused
with the like name from MD who was born in Feb., 1754, it is assumed that our William was one of the
oldest, if not the oldest son of Moses Cornelius; therefore he could have been the only child to go off and fight
in the war.
I have found no concrete evidence that this Cornelius family ever lived in North Carolina. There was another
William Cornelius living in Rutherford County, NC, but he is proven to not be of our line [Rowland Cornelius’
line]. I believe when Ann, William, and Jeptha sold their 202 acres of land in Pittsylvania Co., Virginia, they
had no other ties to this county, and therefore moved to Greenville County, South Carolina. We know that our
William Cornelius (RWS) was already living in the old 96th District of South Carolina (now Greenville County)
on March 6, 1786 when he was granted 500 acres on Checheroc River “including the improvements wherein he
now liveth” (SC State Grants Vol. 9, Page 157). In the 1790 Census for Greenville County, South Carolina,
“Jafter Cornelius” was listed with a wife, one son and one daughter, and our William Cornelius was living in the
same County with four sons and three daughters. In the 1800 Greenville County, South Carolina Census, William
Cornelius is listed with three sons under the age of 10, two between 10 and 15 years of age, two daughters under
10 with William being over the age of 45 and Lettice being between 26 and 44 years old. As mentioned above,
there was an “Anna Phillips” living four doors down from William in 1800. She was living alone and over the
age of 45. Jeptha is not listed in 1800. He had moved out west and was one of the first settlers near the present day
Arkansas and Missouri border.
If this is indeed the family of our William Cornelius (RWS), and if the mysterious Cornelius bible is correct,
sometime between 1790 and 1800, Ann Dodson Cornelius married a Phillips. This Phillips could possibly be the
George Phillips, son of Hannah Goad and Tobias Phillips of Pittsylvania County, who was previously married,
but he would have to have died before 1800, since Ann Phillips is listed as a widow in the 1800 Census for
Greenville County, South Carolina. Ann is not listed in the 1810 census for she died October 4, 1807. No other
proof of this death date has been found other than what is listed in the mysterious Cornelius bible last seen 100
Even though these records don’t provide 100% concrete proof, beyond-a-reasonable doubt, that our William
Cornelius was indeed the son of Moses Cornelius, I feel it is as close as we have ever come to knowing the real
identity, without stepping back in time. If this is the same family, then these records would also explain why our
William Cornelius (RWS) named his two oldest sons, Jesse and Moses. Jesse is an old nickname of Jeptha, which
was his brother’s name, whom he must have been very close to if he named his oldest son after him. Moses is the
name of his father who died when William was only a young adult, soon to go fight in a new war for Independence.
There is so much more to discover out there, but time has been limited on my part. I hope these records will come
in handy for others reading this, and will others advance their research and correct any undocumented information
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