F. E. CORNELL
Bio-History of Santa Clara , page 486
Surnames: WARNER, MURPHY, CARROLL, SMELD, HAZELTINE, PAYNE
No more interesting pioneer than F. E. Cornell can be
found in all Santa Clara County, and certainly no citizen of Sunnyvale
is more worthy of honor within the bounds of that rising municipality,
for he had much to do with the very beginning of things here, and a
great deal to do with blessing the town with a name which is truly
descriptive of this beautiful and withall historic spot, which has
recently taken in new life, by attracting a large number of energetic
and well-to-do settlers, many of them having brought large means with
them from their former homes in the middle west, as well as several very
substantial manufacturing concerns whose varied products being added to
the luxuriance of its fields and orchards have made this place known far
A worthy representative of colonial Holland-American stock,
Mr. Cornell was born at Byron, Fond du Lac County, Wis., on August 4,
1861, the son of James and Emaline (Warner) Cornell. He grew up on a
Wisconsin farm, attended the country schools, and when he was ready for
the undeveloped Pacific Coast, the Coast was waiting for him. His
father, James Cornell, lured by the great gold discovery had come out to
California from Wisconsin across the plains in 1849, but after two years
returned to Wisconsin, married and settled down to farm life. No wonder
young Cornell's heart was in California, so he came to San Jose in 1889.
Determined to succeed, he lost no time but took the first job offered
him and engaged in the shops of the San Jose Street Railway Company for
two years. Thereafter, for five years, he was employed in the ladies'
furnishing establishment of Orvis and Cornell at San Jose.
He came out
to Murphy's Station (now Sunnyvale) in 1897, and quickly perceived a
promising future in the simple environment greeting him, he started a
general merchandise business here in October, 1897. The Southern Pacific
Railroad Company had retained the name of Murphy's Station, so called
from the fact that this was the home of Martin Murphy, Jr., who had
built one of the first really good residences in California at this
place, in the very early days, from plans and specifications and lumber
already cut in the East and shipped around the Horn, all ready to be put
up in California. This house is still standing and is still in excellent
shape, and is the commodious summer residence of Mrs. Mary Carroll, a
daughter of its builder. Martin Murphy, Sr., and family and Martin
Murphy, Jr., and family were the first two white families from east of
the Rocky Mountains to settle permanently in California, making their
settlement within the confines of what is now Santa Clara County in
1846. Before the advent of the railroad, all the lands upon which
Sunnyvale now stands was a part of the broad and fertile acres of the
Murphy Ranch, originally owned by Martin Murphy, Jr. As the settlers
grew in numbers they renamed the place Encinal on account of the many
beautiful live oak trees which flourished at this place.
Mr. Cornell was appointed its first postmaster in 1898, the name of the
post office being Encinal, while the name of the railway station was
Murphy's Station. The name Encinal might have proven satisfactory enough
and might have been that the company had already given that name to
another station on their line. This situation led to a request to Mr.
Cornell and other early settlers to suggest a new name. Together with
Horace E. Smeld, Mr. Cornell submitted three other names but they were
all rejected for various reasons.
A happy thought occurred to the postmaster and
fellow-townsmen--Sunnyvale--and no sooner had they become convinced that
such a name would best describe the locality, than Mr. Cornell in his
official capacity, proposed the name for the town. The authorities of
the government, as well as of the railroad company, hastened to accept
it, and it has certainly proved a happy designation. Mr. Cornell
continued to be postmaster, and served from March 18, 1898 to April,
1915. Always sincerely interested in the welfare of the place, he is now
serving on its Board of City Trustees, filling the vacancy caused by the
resignation of Karl S. Hazeltine.
He is the efficient and popular teller of the Sunnyvale branch of the
Bank of Italy, and is also the keeper of the records and seals in
Sunnyvale Lodge, K. P. In whatever field he is active, he has the esteem
and confidence of everybody.
In April, 1897, Mr. Cornell was married to Miss Gertrude Payne, and
their union has been blessed with three children, Mildred, Elton, and
James, the two eldest being students at Stanford University. Mrs.
Cornell shares with her husband the distinction of being a leading
citizen at Sunnyvale, and at present is serving as one of the five
trustees of the Sunnyvale Free Public Library. Mr. and Mrs. Cornell
reside in an attractive home on Murphy Avenue, and all who know of their
historic association with the town feel a pride in their presence as
high-minded citizens and warm-hearted neighbors and friends.
Transcribed by Joseph Kral, from Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California, published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 486
SANTA CLARA COUNTY PIONEER BIOGRAPHIES
SANTA CLARA COUNTY HISTORY