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 Biographies Index  



California Genealogy and History Archives

San Bernardino County and Riverside County


ALLEN CORNELIUS was born at Williamsburg, Indiana, September 8, 1830, son of Allen and Maria (Piatt) Cornelius. His father, a ship builder by trade, went to Indiana and took up a homestead. He had no knowledge of farming, little inclination for agricultural pur- suits, and he continued to do mechanical work and turned over the management of the farm to his wife, who was very efficient.  

Allen Cornelius as a youth had limited opportunities to attend school. He worked on the home farm until 1850, when he and another boy of the same age joined a party of ten with a wagon and three horses and started overland for California. They took turns driving, one of them always walking to save the team. It was a six months trip to California. At Salt Lake they stopped and worked through the harvest to get supplies and necessary food. This made them late and storms had closed the trail, compelling them to abandon the team and, packing all they could carry, they struggled on afoot and were almost famished when they arrived on Feather River. At a place now known as Feather River Inn, Allen Cornelius rested a couple of days and then went to work in the mines, and remained here three years. When he returned East it was by the Isthmus of Panama. At that time it was customary for the natives to carry passengers over the mountain pass, but Mr. Cornelius disgusted the carriers and did his own walking. After his return to Indiana the Civil war broke out and he early enlisted in the Seventeenth Illinois Cavalry and served all through.  

In 1866 Mr. Cornelius married Miss Sarah M. Bates, who was born near Kokomo, Indiana, June 10, 1846, daughter of Isaac and Nancy (Noble) Bates. Mrs. Cornelius received a very good education for the time and had taught school before her marriage. She was about twenty when she married. Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius went to North- western Illinois and lived on a farm in Jo Daviess County, where all their children were born. In 1880 his health failed and he went to Kansas, but without relief, and then started for California, reaching this state in the spring of 1886. After several months of search for a location he settled in Ontario in August of that year and soon opened a hardware and plumbing establishment. Ontario was then a new community, with little business, and he had something of a struggle to maintain his place. Besides selling goods he did much contracting in plumbing and tinsmith work, made the plans and later installed the city water mains at Upland and was also contractor for the laying of the mains of the Ontario water system. His energy and thrift brought him a successful position in business affairs, and he enjoyed the activities of business as long as his health was restored. Mr. Cornelius died at Ontario July 26, 1913. He was a member of the Grand Army Post and a Methodist. The oldest of the four sons of Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius is Arthur Cornelius, who was born in Jo Daviess County, Illinois, October 21, 1867, and is now postmaster of a sub-station at San Francisco. He married Sarah Esdale, and they have a son, Arthur Allen, born October 17, 1906.  

Louis Noble Cornelius, born July 30, 1869, died at Ontario April 17, 1892.  

Charles S. Cornelius, born March 6, 1872, is in the plumbing busi- ness at Ontario. He and his brother Arthur enlisted for service in the Spanish-American war, going with a California regiment. Charles Cornelius married Miss Lena Akey, of Minnesota. They have five children: Charles Hazen, born at Los Angeles November 25, 1902, is a graduate of the Chaffee Union High School ; Lawrence, born at Los Angeles April 17, 1905, attending the Chaffee High School ; Lewellyn, twin brother of Lawrence, who before he was sixteen years of age enlisted as an ordinary seaman in the navy on January 1, 1921, was for three years abroad the California and is a student of radio ; Oma Marie, born March 26, 1909, in Los Angeles, and died February 8, 1917; and Ralph Chadley, born at Ontario July 11, 1910.  

Ralph J. Cornelius, fourth and youngest son of the late Allen Cornelius, was born December 4, 1876, and is associated with his brother in the plumbing business at Ontario. In 1901 he married Miss Annie Wier, a native of Canada, and they have three children : Marion, born April 27, 1902, a student in Pomona College ; Paul, born April 22, 1906, attending the Chaffee Union High School; and Jean Cornelius, born October 12, 1910.  

Mrs. Allen Cornelius occupies one of the comfortable homes of Ontario. She is a very active member of the Ontario Pioneer Society, a member of the Woman's Relief Corps, and is also active in church. From her own experience she has been a witness of all the developments in this section of the county for thirty-five years.

History of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties 
By: John Brown, Jr., Editor for San Bernardino County 
And James Boyd, Editor for Riverside County 
With selected biography of actors and witnesses of the period 
of growth and achievement.
Volume III, the Western Historical Association, 1922, 
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, ILL

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011