Thomas Cornell (politician)

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Thomas C. Cornell
Thomas C. Cornell - Brady-Handy.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 15th district
In office
March 4, 1881 – March 3, 1883
Preceded byWilliam Lounsbery
Succeeded byJohn H. Bagley Jr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 13th district
In office
March 4, 1867 – March 3, 1869
Preceded byEdwin N. Hubbell
Succeeded byJohn A. Griswold
Personal details
BornJanuary 27, 1814 (1814-01-27)
White Plains, New York
DiedMarch 13, 1890 (1890-03-14) (aged 76)
Kingston, New York
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Catherine Ann Woodmancie

Thomas C. Cornell (January 27, 1814 – March 30, 1890) was an American politician and businessman. During the American Civil War, he was commissioned as a major in the New York Militia. He served two terms in Congress running on the Republican Party line, first from 1867 to 1869, and again from 1881 to 1883.


He was born in White Plains, New York on January 27, 1814 to Peter Cornell (1780–1860) and Margaret Gedney (1786–1829). He was a descendant and namesake of Thomas Cornell, the progenitor of the Cornell family in North America.[1]

After attending public schools, Thomas C. Cornell was drawn to Rondout, N.Y. by his uncle, Thomas W. Cornell, Peter's brother. Thomas W. came to the Rondout area in 1822 and opened a general store in New Salem. When the Delaware and Hudson canal opened in 1828 his business grew rapidly.

In the 1830s, Thomas C. Cornell worked for David P. Mapes of Coxsackie, NY. Mapes' enterprises foreshadowed Cornell's business success. Mapes owned the sidewheeler General Jackson which had the contract to haul barges for the D&H Canal Company and he also owned a stage line running from Rondout into the Catskills.

In 1837, with his own sloop, Cornell started what was to become the Cornell Steamboat Company. In 1850, he obtained the contract for towing D&H Canal Company barges. Following the Civil War, the Cornell Steamboat Line virtually monopolized freight traffic on the Hudson River, dominating the towing of barges well into the 1900s. While the Steamboat Company was the heart of his empire, Cornell engaged in many other related enterprises.

In 1866, he incorporated what was to become the Ulster and Delaware Railroad (U&D). He was involved in the construction and operation of several other railroads including the Wallkill Valley and the Rhinebeck and Connecticut Railroad.

In 1868, along with other business leaders in Rondout, he founded the Rondout Savings Bank.[2] He is also reported to have been a founder of a commercial bank.

Cornell at one time owned the Grand Hotel, a luxurious hotel set on the border between Ulster and Delaware counties. The Grand Hotel had its own station, Grand Hotel Station (today known as Highmount) on the Ulster and Delaware Railroad.

He died in Kingston, New York on March 30, 1890 and was interred at the Montrepose Cemetery.

Personal life[edit]

Thomas Cornell was married to Catherine Ann Woodmancie (1822–1898) on February 27, 1840. They had four children, Mary Augusta Cornell (1842–?), married Samuel Decker Coykendall who Cornell partnered with in many business ventures; Peter Gedney Cornell (1846) died in infancy; Hiram Schoonmaker Cornell (1849) died in infancy; Cornelia Lucy Cornell (1854–1902), married Robert Bayard Carpenter.


  1. ^ Cornell, Thomas Clapp. Adam and Anne Mott: their ancestors and their descendants. A.V. Haight, 1890, pages 348-351.
  2. ^ "Rondout Savings Bank: About: History".
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Edwin N. Hubbell
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 13th congressional district

Succeeded by
John A. Griswold
Preceded by
William Lounsbery
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 15th congressional district

Succeeded by
John H. Bagley, Jr.

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website