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5 What’s in a Name?

Cornell Theatre, Cornell Pharmacy, Cornell Hardware Company, Cornell CarQuest & Cornell BP Express.

These are a few of the businesses in the city of Cornell, Wisconsin. No people named Cornell in the wafer-thin White Pages however.

A quick Google search turns up a few more Cornells. There is Cornell, Michigan, Cornell, Illinois, and, of course, Cornell College.

Let’s start with the College.

Cornell College is a private liberal arts college in Mount Vernon, Iowa. Originally called the Iowa Conference Seminary, the school was founded in 1853 (12 years before The University) by Rev. Samuel M. Fellows. Four years later, in 1857, the name was changed to Cornell College, in honor of iron tycoon William Wesley Cornell, a distant relative of Ezra. For fun check out the College’s webpage: “We’re Not in Ithaca.”

Our University doesn't have a page: "We're Not in Mount Vernon," which people would more likely confuse with Virginia than Iowa.

Cornell College was recently ranked by Forbes as one of the top 25 Liberal Arts Colleges in the US. Cornell College also has the top 16th theater program in the country as well. A director of physical education was Glenn Cunningham, 1936 Olympian and one of my childhood heroes after I read a short biography that described how a gasoline explosion in his youth rendered his legs useless (doctors recommended amputation) but Glenn rehabilitated his body and set a world record in the mile.

Cornell, Illinois – no connection to Ezra – named for Rhode Island born Walter P Cornell in 1873.

And there is Cornell, Michigan, in the northern peninsula (near Escanaba).
You gotta enjoy this story.

Now I love my alma mater as much as the next alumnus (maybe a bit more), but George Mashek wins the loyalty award. Cornell, Michigan was first settled by Marcell Adhland and Edward Hollywood, both farmers, in 1886. The town was founded by George (Michigan town name book states initial "H" but it was probably "M") Mashek, an Escanaba lumberman (naturally), and Edward Arnold about 1887, and named for the University which Mashek (Class of 1891) had attended (for one year!); for Mr. Arnold, who didn’t get to name the town, the consolation prize was to become the town's first "Got another annual fund appeal from Cornell, George" postmaster.
By the way, it looks like George returned to Cornell: George Milik Mashek attended from 1887-89 and 1890-91. He is listed as Class of 1891, but in the 1891 register, he is shown as a sophomore. No confirmation that he received a degree though we know he studied, appropriately, mechanic arts. The Cornell Alumni News (Vol XXXIII No. 34, July 1931) shows George M. Mashek (1891) at 7x4 South Tenth Street, Escanaba, MI.

And there is the Cornell School District, Coraopolis, Pennsylvania. No idea why it is called Cornell. Maybe someone liked the alliteration: “Cornell in Coraopolis.”


GoodWorks said...

Cornell University archivist, Elaine Engst writes:

"George H. Mashek attended Cornell from 1887 to 1889 and from 1890 to 1891 in Mechanical Engineering, but apparently did not graduate. At Cornell, he was a member of Chi Psi. He was born in Kewannee, Wisconsin on Feb. 18, 1871, but after Cornell seems to have lived in Escanaba, MI, where he died on June 17, 1938.

"It was a big Cornell family. George’s son, William Mashek attended Cornell from 1929 to 1932; a brother Vojta Frank Mashek graduated in 1889, and a nephew, Vojta Frank Mashek, Jr. in 1929. There’s also a Margaret Mashek Ludlow, who may have been a niece.

"According to a hand-written obituary in his alumni file, “A pioneer lumberman of the upper peninsula, he was engaged [in] the production of cedar and cedar products since 1898. He founded the towns of Cornell, Watkins, and Mashek and in recent years [1938] devoted his time to the land business.”

Rod Chu said...

Thanks for this fun and informative blog!

My classmate, Bill Zimmer, JGSM'71, prides himself on having both his degrees from Cornell: his BA in history from Cornell College, and his MBA from "the other Cornell." He's often been my example of "what do you do with a major in history," having pursued a very successful career as a bond trader.

Daniel Mansoor said...

I received an email from a reader yesterday that noted another "Cornell connected name" in northern Wisconsin known as "Cayuga, WI."

The simple entry on the web and in the Wisconsin Historical Society records states: "Cayuga is in Ashland County. The community was named by Cornell University, which owned land in this area. Cornell overlooks Cayuga Lake in Ithaca, NY."

Latitude: 46.2443962
Longitude: -90.6824045
Elevation: 1,453 feet