Livingston County, Illinois
The year of 1871 was an eventful one for this part of the county, as it saw the completion of a railroad through this section, and a trading point located in the midst of the township, which, within a very few years, has grown in size and influence beyond the expectations of its most enthusiastic friends. Of all the nine stations located on the road in this county, this one outnumbers in population any other more than three to one. In less than three years from the time of its survey, it had increased in population to the number required by law to organize a village government.
Some little strife was evident between parties owning land in the vicinity of the switch, as to the exact location of the business part of the town, and also as to name.
Walter B. Cornell laid out a plat on June 15th, 1871, from the southwest quarter of Section 11, and named it Cornell. Two days after, Willard D. Blake laid out, from Section 14, the town named by him Amity. And while the former name has been retained, the most of the business houses are in the portion formerly called Amity. Cornell, with other parties, built several houses on the plat laid out by him, but they have since been removed.
In 1873, the village was organized by the election of H. M. Cornell, Jason Curtis, John Withrow, George Bradley, James O. Pond and Joseph Rucker, as Trustees. At their first meeting, July 18th, Cornell was elected President ; James W. Willis was appointed Clerk ; Jason Curtis, Treasurer ; and Samuel Blake, Street Commissioner.
The ordinances of the town of Dwight were taken as a model, but modified to suit the necessities and opinions of the Board.
A peculiar feature in the history of the town has been the continued granting of license to sell spirituous liquors. However, the present year, the sentiment of the people appearing positively against it, the Board have refused authority to vend liquors of an intoxicating nature.
The Board have usually pursued a wise policy in making street and other improvements, so that the appearance of the village is such as one would expect to find in a town twice as old.
The officers of the village .at present are: I. B. Santee, E. C. Newberry, J. B. Day, Philip Armon, E. Norton, James Bradley, Trustees ; William Miner. Clerk; C. A. Herbert, Police Magistrate: J. Willis, Attorney.
The village, though not continuing its rapid growth of the first few years, has still continued to improve in size and appearance. Its present population is about 500. Several of the business buildings are of brick, and of a character seldom found in towns of the age of Cornell.
A Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows was instituted at Cornell, June 23, 1876, with J. W. A. Lilly as N. G.; B. W. Conner, V. G.; J. G. Curtis, Sec. ; Ordam Deeds, Treas.
The Lodge numbers at present twenty-two members. Meetings are held Saturday evenings of each week. P. K. Hilton is the present N. G.; I. A. Wilson, V. G.; Joseph F. Corbin, Sec, and Ordam Deeds, Treas.
Cornell Lodge, A. F. & A. M., was instituted December, 1877, the charter being granted to John Guernsey, J. J. Reeder, H. M. Cornell, A. K. Brower, E. Norton, H. H. Brower, Philip Armon, I, P. Santee, John Greene and H. Bolt — the first five of whom were Master. Wardens, Secretary and Treasurer, respectively.
The present officers are: L B. Santee, W. M.; John Jemmison, S. W.: Philip Armon, J. W.: T. Jones, S. D.: H. Bolt, J. D.: E. Norton, Treas.; J. J. Reeder, Sec: T. Coe, Tiler.
[The History of Livingston County, Illinois - Wm. LeBaron, Jr. & Co. - 186 Dearborn Street, Chicago (1878)]
Northwest of Pontiac city, and not far from the Vermilion River, lies the early "railroad town" of Cornell, which today has a population of 458.
The town has a number of retail stores, service establishments and a postoffice. It is located on the Wabash Railroad and on State 23.
Cornell was platted in 1871 by Walter B.Cornell. In that year the Wabash Railroad was built through the area. Another who aided in the development of Cornell was Willard D. Blake.
Today, Cornell is the only community in Amity Township, which has a total population of 931.
First settlers of the township were Thomas N. Reynolds, Samuel K. Reynolds and E. Breckinridge, all of whom came here in 1833 from Ohio.
[This is Livingston County, Illinois by: John Drury, The Loree Co., Chicago, Illinois (1955)]