- Edward L. Lach, Jr.
Cornell, Ezra (11 January 1807–09 December 1874), entrepreneur and founder of Cornell University, was born at Westchester Landing (now the Bronx), New York, the son of Elijah Cornell, a potter and schoolteacher, and Eunice Barnard. Both parents were Quakers, and his father struggled to make a modest living in various communities around New York City. Seeking to better their fortune, the family moved in late 1818 to a previously purchased farm in the community of De Ruyter, in upstate New York. Establishing themselves in a Quaker enclave on the outskirts of town, Cornell’s father tried his hand at farming and also taught during the winter at the local school. Ezra Cornell assisted his father in his work and also sporadically attended school, finishing his formal education in De Ruyter at the age of seventeen. Having learned the carpenter’s trade and after achieving some success locally, Cornell then became a journeyman carpenter. He spent the next few years traveling throughout upstate New York, working in a number of communities, including Syracuse and Homer. Learning of the prosperity that existed in the town of Ithaca, Cornell arrived in what would become his lifelong home in April 1828....