|Birth: ||1802, USA|
South Carolina, USA
The Old Cornwell Home at Cornwells where the trains stopped for dinner.
OLD CORNWELL HOUSE BUILT OVER 100 YEARS AGO IS RICH IN HISTORY
By Arthur Cornwell
In driving from Chester to Columbia on the Columbia highway, about eight miles from Chester, you will pass a large rambling colonial house reminiscent of yesteryear, calling to mind stage coaches and weary travelers. They say that on a frosty morning, when the red and grey fox are darting
through the wooded hills of the Cornwell community, a person, with keen ears, can still hear the faint echo of the hunters' "Tally-ho".
This house was built in 1841 by Elijah Cornwell and his wife, Frances Pratt Cornwell. He bought his first tract of land, one hundred and twenty acres, on October 6, 1841 from Samuel Mills. This land joined lands of Moses McKeown, Jonas Reap, Jesse Goings and James Strong. Later he continued to buy land and enlarged his original plantation from purchases from Catherine and Benjamin Wages, James Reap, Jacob, Samuel and John Ramsdale and others including a plantation of one hundred and sixty acres, which was deeded to Elijah by William A. Rosborough, Sheriff for Chester County. This land formerly belonged to John McAliley. All of these deeds' are recorded in Deed Book r1 E.E." in the office of the Clerk of Court for Chester County.
There are seventeen rooms in his house, and the sitting room and dining room are extra large; the dining room being the larger. There are eleven rooms on the upper floor and downstairs the basement has six rooms. Five doors open into the house from the front porch. There is a narrow hall in the back of the house. This leads to all of the bedrooms.
The house was called "The Inn" for stage coaches stopped, daily, between Charlotte and Columbia for meals. The horses used to draw this stage were kept at the Young place, later owned by Mr. Charlie Bell, but now the property of Mr. W. W. McKown.
In 1850 the first railroad was built through here and the station was called "Well Spring", but was so confusing with "Ridge Spring"--a station between Columbia and Augusta--then it was changed to "Corn-well" for the family living there. After the railroad was built the train crews continued to stop, until a hotel was built near the South-ern Railroad station in Chester. It was located just opposite the
present building of Thomas & Howard on Lancaster Street.
"The Inn" seems to me like a ship that has steadily, forwardly voyaged through time. Almost a hundred and twenty years, today, since the launching. From having forged through storms, sheered its way past reefs and pulled clear of whirlpools it has accumulated organic confi-dence. Yet, also, it is a house, founded very deep. From its daylit rooms and green surrounding lands a succession of sorrows,
deaths, trails, debts, disappointments have somehow evaporated like mists in sunshine. Hopeful as to its being, in spite of all, it begets hope; serenity is the constant.
The house stand in a lovely setting, with the huge trees nestling close to protect it from the sun and wind. And, I wonder, looking out from the front porch at the railroad and the fine highway, busy ribbons of progress stretching throughout this wonderful country of ours, what Elijah and Frances Pratt Cornwall would think today of the electric lights and appliances, the telephone, the automobile, radios, television, airplanes and the powerful atomic bomb.
The Inn stands as a sentinel in the march of time. It has served many a traveler and not only fed and housed him, but has taked care of his mount and fed and bedded down for the long winter night, saddled and fresh in the morning for the next leg of the tiresome journey, which can be covered today in a few hours with the modern automobile. In these inns of Colonial days are registered the beginnings of the modern hotel business.
Certainly we have come a long way from the old Colonial inn with its pitcher of cold water and porcelain wash bowl resting on a wash-stand, with its deep feather beds, piles of quilts, cold rooms, possibly an open fireplace in the best rooms. No inside toilet facilities, In those days there was no bell service except a klang, klang dinner bell to call all the guest to the community dinner table piled
high with many delicious things to eat, most of which were either grown or raised locally. Blackberry jelly was put up in gallon stone jars; gallons of wild goose plum butter and the homemade salt rising and yeast bread that was a treat the modern bakery and traveler see so seldom. There were no breakfast foods with fancy names, no oranges and bananas, in fact hardly and food except those the locality furnished.
Today we eat our breakfast which comes out of a small cardboard box, covering the contents with cream and sprinkling with sugar from far away isles. In the old Colonial days New Orleans sugar was used often than the then new fangled can sugar. They also used a great amount of maple sugar obtained from the abundant hard maple trees of the New England states. In those bygone days there was no telegraph service except what we might term the underground
gossip of travelers, who were listened to around the big open fireplace. The wholesome odors that came from the cooking food made every single one of the guests gnawlingly hungry. The weary traveler in those days was the telephone and the newspaper of the nation. Story telling was an art,
which nowadays seems to have been lost with the passing of the old inns. Our story telling has become modernized and we read with wide opened eyes the dozens of monthly magazines setting forth the same sort of tall tales the old Colonial traveler spun with such dexterity.
While we are soliloquizing, I often wonder in my own mind if we are any better off with our telephones, automobilies and the high speed nervous tension of today. Our forbears were rugged, happy, healthy and they certainly had their good times as well as we do today. It seems to me that in
spite of all these conveniences we are laboring under a nervous load that breaks many of us down and heart trouble strikes us when we least expect it.
One of the things you may think about, as you look at the non-committal facade of "The Inn" built in 1841 by Elijah Cornwell, is the people who stopped there. There were quite a few, down through the years, and they set you thinking. John C. Calhoun and Wade Hampton are two of the famous South
Carolina men who stopped at The Inn. And, of course, there was romance in the quaint old house. Stephen Burdette Massey was the conductor and William Vandiver, the engineer, for the Charlotte and Columbia Railroad. They made "The Inn" their treasured stop. Mr. Massey married Mary Cornelia, daughter of Elijah and Frances Pratt Cornwell, and they had two sons: Oscar Mitchum and John Agurs. Louise, another sister, married William Vandiver and they had one daughter, Sally, who met a tragic death. She was playing around a cotton gin and was accidently killed.
Early railroad trains ran at the speed of a trotting horse. Now some passenger trains run faster than one hundred miles per hour and freight trains run half as fast. In August, 1851 the first train pulled into Chester, the road being then completed from Columbia as far as Chester. The great mass of people had never seen a moving railroad engine and train of cars. Great preparations were made for the reception of this first train In the woods (present site of the Springsteen Mill and Village) near the Southern Railroad depot a grand barbeque was prepared for the crowd, which began to assemble the night before. It was estimated that eight thousand people flocked in to see the wonder and enjoy the feast. About 11 o'dlock that morning, the whistle of the engine announced the ap-proach of the train, and it soon came in sight, bearing banners and evergreen and a number of people from Columbia and Winnsboro. The president of the railroad company, the Honorable Edward G. Palmer, then addressed the people from the platform of the car, amidst great applause. All then went to the grave and feasted upon such barbeque as only the people of Chester can prepare. The tables were erected on the three sides of a square and in measurement was of great length. Such an assemblage of people at a feast had never been seen in Chester before. Thousands inspected the engine and cars with great curisity and admiration.
Eli Cornwell (1766 - 1848)
Rhoda Colvin Cornwell (1771 - 1843)
Frances Pratt Cornwell (1810 - 1856)*
Hannah Frances Cornwell Kersh (1829 - 1901)*
John Pratt Cornwell (1831 - 1862)*
Louisa Adline Cornwell Vandever (1832 - 1910)*
Eli Elijah Cornwell (1836 - 1910)*
Mary Cornelia Cornwell Massey (1839 - 1898)*
William Jesse Williams Cornwell (1841 - 1910)*
Created by: Cindy Cornwell McCachern
Record added: Jan 19, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 33047292