History of Benton County, Iowa
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, 1910; Luther B. Hill, Ed.
CORNELIUS ELLIS died at Vinton, June 3, 1909. His
death was the passing of one of the most notable of Benton county's
pioneers. For fifty-three years he had lived in Vinton, and he had
achieved a foremost place in business and citizenship. In business the
Ellis Lumber Company, of which he was president at the time of his
death, is one of the most important corporate enterprises in this
section of Iowa.
Cornelius Ellis was born at Willston, Alabama, on the Cherokee Indian
reservation, November 21, 1827. His father, Sylvester Ellis, was a
Presbyterian missionary among the Cherokees at that time, and was
married in Alabama to Sarah Hoyt. When Cornelius was five years old his
parents moved to Ohio, and when he was about ten the family home was
established in Indiana, near Indianapolis, where he was reared to
manhood. Sylvester Ellis became one of the early residents of Benton
county, having come here in 1855, but after several years returned and
spent the rest of his life in Indiana.
Cornelius Ellis became a resident of Benton county in 1856. He made a
homestead in the pioneer conditions of the time and was engaged in
farming for a few years. He was a carpenter by trade, and was more or
less actively engaged in contracting and building up to 1879, having
put up many of the early buildings in town and country. In 1864 he and
his brother (A. H. Ellis) established the Ellis lumber yard, the
original enterprise from which the present corporation has been
developed. It is the oldest business of the kind in the county, and Mr.
Ellis continued its active head until his death. The business was
incorporated January 1, 1898.
The late Mr. Ellis married, in Indiana, March 4, 1852, Miss Mary
Colley. She was born in Virginia but was brought to Indiana in
childhood, and died in 1894, aged sixty-seven. They were the parents of
six children, three of whom are living: W. C. Ellis, Anna Taggart and
Abbie Brown. Mr. Ellis was a member and elder of the Presbyterian
church throughout his adult years, was a liberal contributor to the
Vinton church, and gave much of his means to church and charity.
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