Marshall S. Cornwell
|Marshall S. Cornwell|
|Born||Marshall Silas Cornwell
October 18, 1871
near Springfield, Hampshire County, West Virginia, United States
|Died||May 26, 1898
Romney, West Virginia, United States
|Indian Mound Cemetery, Romney, West Virginia, United States|
|Citizenship||United States of America|
|Occupation||newspaper publisher and editor, journalist, writer, and poet|
|Parents||Jacob H. Cornwell
Mary Eleanor Taylor
|Relatives||William B. Cornwell (brother)
John J. Cornwell (brother)
Stephen Ailes (great-nephew)
Marshall Silas Cornwell (October 18, 1871 – May 26, 1898) was a 19th century American newspaper publisher and editor, writer, and poet in the U.S. state of West Virginia. Cornwell served as the publisher and editor of the Gazette newspaper in Petersburg and of the The Inter-Mountain newspaper in Elkins. During his convalescence from an illness, Cornwell began writing poetry, a volume of which was published posthumously in 1899 entitled Wheat and Chaff. Cornwell was a younger brother of railroad and timber executive William B. Cornwell (1864–1926) and West Virginia Governor John Jacob Cornwell (1867–1953).
Early life and education
Marshall Silas Cornwell was born on his family's farm on South Branch Mountain (also known as "Jersey Mountain") near Springfield, 12 miles (19 km) from Romney, in Hampshire County, West Virginia on October 18, 1871. He was the third-eldest son and child of Jacob H. Cornwell and his wife Mary Eleanor Taylor. Cornwell's older brothers were railroad and timber executive William B. Cornwell (1864–1926) and John Jacob Cornwell (1867–1953), who served as the 15th Governor of West Virginia (1917–1921).
Cornwell grew to adulthood on his family's farm and although he did not have access to a liberal education, he received his education at home and in rural schools. As an autodidact in various subjects, he was well-read, exhibited an "insatiable thirst for knowledge," and possessed a remarkable memory.
Upon leaving his family's farm, Cornwell began editing and publishing the Gazette newspaper in Petersburg in Grant County. The Gazette became a successful newspaper under Cornwell's leadership, and its success and his editorials received the attention of United States Senator Stephen Benton Elkins. Elkins invited Cornwell to take charge of The Inter-Mountain newspaper in Elkins in Randolph County. Cornwell accepted the position from Elkins and made a success of the paper just as he had done with the Gazette in Petersbug. During this time, Cornwell filled a position as an assistant clerk during a session of the West Virginia Legislature.
Declining health and death
Cornwell's health began to fail and in 1896, he gave up his career as editor of The Inter-Mountain. He sought relief during the winter of 1896 in Florida where he began studying the "character of the country and people." It was during his convalescence in Florida that Cornwell began writing poetry.
Cornwell began a correspondence with American writer and poet James Whitcomb Riley. In a letter dated March 12, 1897 from Indianapolis, Indiana, Riley commended Cornwell on a collection of poems he had sent him, with special attention given to his poem "Success." Riley further wrote Cornwell regarding "Success," "...your gift seems genuine and far above that indicated in verse, meeting general approval."
Following Florida, Cornwell travelled to the Rio Grande before returning home to West Virginia, where he died on May 26, 1898 at the age of 26. He was interred in Indian Mound Cemetery overlooking the South Branch Potomac River in Romney.
Cornwell's volume of poems Wheat and Chaff were published posthumously in 1899 as a memorial to Cornwell by his surviving brothers William B. and John Jacob Cornwell. It consisted of "verses, letters, and extracts" of Cornwell's writings. According to West Virginia historian Virgil Anson Lewis in his History and Government of West Virginia (1912), Wheat and Chaff was Cornwell's "best and most enduring monument." Cornwell's poem "Success" was published in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and republished in The Railroad Trainman in 1906.
- Munske & Kerns 2004, p. 161.
- Lewis 1912, p. 271.
- Maxwell & Swisher 1897, p. 448.
- "Indian Mound Cemetery: Hampshire County's Most Historic Cemetery – List of Interments", HistoricHampshire.org (HistoricHampshire.org, Charles C. Hall), retrieved September 28, 2013
- Ancestry.com (1880), 1880 United States Federal Census; Year: 1880; Census Place: Springfield, Hampshire, West Virginia; Roll: 1403; Family History Film: 1255403; Page: 534D; Enumeration District: 29, retrieved September 28, 2013
- Painter 1907, p. 322.
- West Virginia Department of Archives and History 1906, p. 274.
- Maxwell & Swisher 1897, p. 449.
- Ambler 1933, p. 497.
- Callahan 1913, p. 567.
- "West Virginia Authors & Other Appalachian Authors", West Virginia Storytelling Guild website (West Virginia Storytelling Guild), retrieved September 28, 2013
- Painter 1907, p. 321.
- Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen 1906, p. 809.
- Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen 1906, p. 812.
- Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen 1906, p. 816.
- Ambler, Charles Henry (1933). A History of West Virginia. New York City: Prentice Hall. OCLC 1990398. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
- Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen (1906). The Railroad Trainman, Volume 23. Cleveland, Ohio: Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen. OCLC 7865800. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
- Callahan, James Morton; Semi-Centennial Commission of West Virginia (1913). Semi-Centennial History of West Virginia: With Special Articles on Development and Resources. Charleston, West Virginia: Semi-Centennial Commission of West Virginia. OCLC 1079905. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
- Lewis, Virgil Anson (1912). History and Government of West Virginia. New York City; Cincinnati, Ohio; etc.: American Book Company. OCLC 609213478. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
- Maxwell, Hu; Swisher, Howard Llewellyn (1897). History of Hampshire County, West Virginia From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present. Morgantown, West Virginia: A. Brown Boughner, Printer. OCLC 680931891. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
- Munske, Roberta R.; Kerns, Wilmer L.; The Hampshire County 250th Anniversary Committee (2004). Hampshire County, West Virginia, 1754–2004. The Hampshire County 250th Anniversary Committee. ISBN 978-0-9715738-2-6. OCLC 55983178. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
- Painter, Franklin Verzelius Newton (1907). Poets of Virginia. Richmond, Virginia; Atlanta, Georgia; etc.: B. F. Johnson Publishing Company. OCLC 2170843. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
- West Virginia Department of Archives and History (1906). Biennial Report of the Department of Archives and History of the State of West Virginia, Volume 2. Charleston, West Virginia: West Virginia Department of Archives and History. OCLC 1586332. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
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