Cornelia Adair

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Cornelia Adair
Portrait Cornelia Adair, by Edoardo Tofano
Cornelia Wadsworth

(1837-04-06)April 6, 1837
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
DiedSeptember 22, 1921(1921-09-22) (aged 84)
Corsham, England
Occupation(s)Rancher, diarist
(m. 1857; died 1864)
(m. 1869; died 1885)
Children2, including J. Wadsworth Ritchie
RelativesJames Wolcott Wadsworth (brother)
James Wolcott Wadsworth Jr. (nephew)
Charles James Murray (cousin)
James Wadsworth (grandfather)
Gabrielle Keiller (granddaughter)

Cornelia Wadsworth Ritchie Adair (April 6, 1837 – September 22, 1921) was a Texas ranch landowner.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Born Cornelia Wadsworth on April, 6, 1837, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she was one of six children of James S. Wadsworth and Mary Craig (née Wharton) Wadsworth. Adair grew up in a wealthy family who owned over 50,000 acres of land near Geneseo, New York and built a 13,000 square-foot house there in 1835.[2] Her father was a Union general in the American Civil War who was mortally wounded in battle during the Battle of the Wilderness of 1864. Her brother was U.S. Representative James Wolcott Wadsworth,[3] and her sister was Elizabeth S. Wadsworth, who married Arthur Smith-Barry, 1st Baron Barrymore.[4]

Through her brother James, she was an aunt of U.S. Senator James Wolcott Wadsworth Jr., who married to Alice Evelyn Hay, daughter of former Secretary of State John Hay.[5] Her Wadsworth ancestors established Hartford, Connecticut, after moving from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Her paternal grandfather was James Wadsworth, one of the largest landowners in New York.[6] An aunt, Elizabeth Wadsworth, married the British diplomat Sir Charles Murray, and was the mother of Charles James Murray, MP for Hastings and Coventry.[7]

Life and ranch[edit]

She became an accomplished horserider which encouraged her interests in traveling across the prairies of the western United States.[8] In 1876,[6] her second husband, John George Adair, became a partner with Charles Goodnight to found the JA Ranch. When her husband died, she became partner.[9] She enjoyed hunting and participated at roundups.[10] She founded a hospital, and supported building the Clarendon YMCA building.[11]

In addition to her life on the ranch, Adair "spent much of her time in her fashionable house" on Curzon Street in Mayfair district of London,[12] where she often entertained Edward VII (the son and successor of Queen Victoria) when he was Prince of Wales.[13] She also stayed at a Rathdaire, Ireland, cottage and at her Glenveagh Castle in County Donegal, Ireland.[14] In retirement, she built a home in Bath, England.[12]

Personal life[edit]

In 1857, she was married to Montgomery Harrison Ritchie (1826–1864), the son of Andrew Ritchie and Sophia Harrison (née Otis) Ritchie (a daughter of U.S. Senator Harrison Gray Otis). Before his death in 1864 from complications after serving in the Civil War,[15] they became the parents of two children:[16]

In 1869, she married John George "Jack" Adair (1823–1885), a Scottish-Irish businessman and landowner. Following the wedding, the couple moved to Geneseo, New York.[22] The couple divided their time between Ireland, England, and New York until his death in Missouri in 1885.

Adair died at Corsham near Bath in England on September 22, 1921.[23][13]


Through her son James, she was a grandmother of Gabrielle (née Ritchie) Keiller (1908–1995), the golfer, art collector, archaeological photographer and heir to Keiller's marmalade through her marriage to archaeologist Alexander Keiller.[24][25] She bequeathed a large collection of Dada and Surrealist art to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.[26][27]

She was also a grandmother of Montgomery Harrison Wadsworth "Montie" Ritchie (1910–1999), whose daughter, Cornelia's great-granddaughter, Cornelia Wadsworth Ritchie,[28] continued the family's ownership of JA Ranch.[12]


  • My diary, August 30 to November 5, 1874 introduction by Montagu K. Brown, illustrations by Malcolm Thurgood. Austin, Texas & London: Texas University Press, 1965. OCLC 556673646
  • Letters of a cattle baroness, San Antonio, Tex., 1984. OCLC 310367842



  1. ^ Massey 2006, pp. 148, 161.
  2. ^ a b Jones, Nancy Baker (June 9, 2010). "Adair, Cordelia Wadsworth". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
  3. ^ "WADSWORTH TO CELEBRATE; James W. Sr., 79, and Wife to Observe Golden Wedding Anniversary". The New York Times. September 11, 1926. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  4. ^ "LORD BARRYMORE DIES; Yachtsman, 82, Left a Widow, Formerly Mrs. Arthur Post of New York". The New York Times. February 23, 1925. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  5. ^ "JAMES WADSWORTH, EX-SENATOR, 74, DIES; Represented Upstate New York in Senate and House for 30 Years Before Retirement". The New York Times. June 22, 1952. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  6. ^ a b "Painting of Mrs. Adair Placed in Museum". The Canyon News. Texas, Canyon. February 28, 1935. p. 5. Retrieved August 4, 2020 – via
  7. ^ "Sir Charles Augustus Murray, 1806 - 1895". National Galleries of Scotland. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  8. ^ Massey 2006, p. 148.
  9. ^ Lyons, Chuck (March 23, 2018). "Cornelia Adair's Journey to the JA". HistoryNet. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
  10. ^ Massey 2006, pp. 153, 161.
  11. ^ "Cornelia Adair | Saints' Roost Museum". Retrieved August 20, 2019.
  12. ^ a b c Liles, Deborah M.; Venable, Cecilia Gutierrez (2019). Texas Women and Ranching: On the Range, at the Rodeo, and in Their Communities. Texas A&M University Press. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-62349-740-8. Retrieved August 4, 2020.
  13. ^ a b "MRS. CORNELIA ADAIR DEAD. Aunt of Senator Wadsworth was Chatelaine of Glenveagh Castle". The New York Times. September 24, 1921. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  14. ^ "Irish Castle of Gen. Wadsworth's Daughter Is Looted by a Band of Armed Raiders". The New York Times. April 20, 1921. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  15. ^ "Major Montgomery R. Ritchie". The Yonkers Statesman. November 17, 1864. p. 3. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  16. ^ a b Anderson, H. Allen (June 15, 2010). "RITCHIE, JAMES WADSWORTH". Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  17. ^ "PLANS FOR THE RITCHIE-TOOKER WEDDING It Will Take Place in Newport the Last Week in August" (PDF). The New York Times. June 29, 1895. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  18. ^ "FOUND DEAD IN ASYLUM SON OF WEALTHY WOMAN KILLED TRYING TO ESCAPE Arthur Ritchie's Fate After Being Confined Several Times in Sanitarium". The Spokesman-Review. July 29, 1909. p. 1. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  19. ^ "IN BOSTON BARBER SHOPS. Only Two Occasions When Arthur M. Ritchie Was Robbed in the Course of All His Life". The Boston Globe. November 28, 1902. p. 7. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  20. ^ "A. M. RITCHIE A LUNATIC | Committed to Bloomingdale Asylum by Judge McAdam". The Sun. January 19, 1895. p. 9. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  21. ^ "NO CLUE TO DEATH OF INSANE PATIENT.Arthur Ritchie Was Son of a Noted Society Leader of England". The Fresno Morning Republican. July 29, 1909. p. 10. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  22. ^ Massey 2006, p. 151.
  23. ^ "Cornelia Adair". Journal and Courier. Indiana, Lafayette. October 29, 1921. p. 6. Retrieved August 4, 2020 – via
  24. ^ Brown, David (January 12, 1996). "Obituary: Gabrielle Keiller". The Independent. Retrieved September 22, 2017.
  25. ^ Ewan, Elizabeth L.; Innes, Sue; Reynolds, Sian; Pipes, Rose (June 27, 2007). Biographical Dictionary of ScottishWomen. Edinburgh University Press. p. 190. ISBN 9780748626601.
  26. ^ Cowling, Elizabeth; Calvocoressi, Richard; Clifford, Timothy; Grã-Bretanha; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Edimburgo) (1997). Surrealism and after: the Gabrielle Keiller collection. Edinburgh: Trustees of the National Galleries of Scotland. ISBN 090359868X. OCLC 959084816.
  27. ^ Magic Mirror: Dada and Surrealism from a Private Collection (Exhibition); Cowling, Elizabeth; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art; Royal Scottish Academy, eds. (1988). The magic mirror: Dada and surrealism from a private collection. Edinburgh: Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. ISBN 0903148811. OCLC 35599364.
  28. ^ "Cornelia Wadsworth Ritchie". Cowgirl Hall of Fame & Museum. Retrieved August 20, 2019.


  • Massey, Sarah (2006). Texas Women on the Cattle Trails. Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 978-1-585-44543-1.

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