Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens


WILLIAM C. CORNELL. It is not everyone that can make a success of the real estate business. Some men fail at it no matter how long and hard they may try. Those who enter this line of endeavor should study themselves carefully, weigh their good and bad qualities accurately and be influenced rather by sound reason than by impulse. If he has a mind capable of grasping situations quickly and accurately, if the arithmetic is the easiest to him of all text books, if he likes the work better than anything, else, and, finally, if he is willing to he uniformly courteous, pleasant and honest, then he may open an office and announce the fact that he has entered the real estate field as his serious occupation. We do not know whether William C. Cornell did all this or not, but as manager of the National Land and Investment Company, of Springfield, he has shown himself to be capable real estate man in every respect, well suited by nature for the work which he has chosen.

Mr. Cornell was born in Greene county, Missouri, January 3, 1874, and he comes of one of our honored old families, being a son of Leonard W. and Elizabeth (Witherspoon) Cornell, the latter still living at the age of sixty-seven years, the father having died in 1914 at the age of seventy-two years. He was a son of Charles Cornell, a native of the state of Michigan, who died there at an advanced age.

Leonard W. Cornell was a soldier in the Union army, having enlisted in 1861, soon after the outbreak of the Civil war, in a Michigan cavalry regiment, but owing to sickness overtaking him he did not get to the front and was discharged for disability, but upon his recovery he re-enlisted in a different company and regiment and served until the close of the war with an excellent record. He is remembered as a quiet, home loving man and a good neighbor. Our subject's maternal grandparents were William and Mary Witherspoon, who were well known Greene county farming people, the former having died in 1882, but the latter is still living, having attained the unusual age of ninety-four years, and she is in possession of all her faculties and enjoying good health. To Leonard W. Cornell and wife seven children were born, four sons and three daughters, namely: Arthur, John, Hiram, William C., Mrs. E. O. Rogers Mrs. Nettie Jones and Mettie Cornell.

William C. Cornell spent his early life on the farm, removing with the rest of the family from Greene county to Kansas when he was young, and in that state he attended the public schools and later was a student at Union College, Lincoln, Nebraska. His father was engaged in the wholesale hay and grain business, and our subject assisted him in this work until he was twenty-three years of age, and then began life for himself by engaging in the livery business in Springfield, Missouri, for two years, after which he was associated with the Deering Harvester Company until this concern consolidated with the International Harvester Company, and he continued with the last named firm until 1909, giving eminent satisfaction to both. In that year he began his career as a real estate dealer in Springfield and has continued in this line to the present time with ever increasing success, and is at this writing manager of the National Land and Investment Company, which is doing an extensive business under his able guidance.

Mr. Cornell was married on October 21, 1897, to Della Berry, a daughter of James and Elizabeth (McCurdy) Berry, both still living in Greene county, at the home where the subject of this sketch was born. They were among the early pioneers of this county. Mr. Berry was born in North Carolina, January 1, 1841, and he made the long overland journey from that state to Greene county, Missouri, with his parents when he was eight years of age, and he has since resided in this county. The original farm, which the grandfather entered from the government, is still in possession of the family. Elizabeth McCurdy was a daughter of Thomas McCurdy, and she was born in this county, February 3, 1842, and here she grew up and married Mr. Berry in 1860, shortly before the breaking out of the Civil war, in which he served as a member of the Home Guards of Springfield. His father, William Berry, was a native of North Carolina, where he spent his earlier years and married. He spent his latter years in Greene county, dying here at the age of seventy-four years. To James and Elizabeth Berry the following children were born: O. D., R. P., G. F., J. B., Mrs. L. F. Patterson, and Della, wife of our subject.

The union of Mr. and Mrs. Cornell has been without issue. Politically, Mr. Cornell is a Democrat. He belongs to the United Commercial Travelers, and is a member of the Presbyterian church.

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