Bio-History of Santa Clara , page 486

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 and wide.

 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