History of Chester County, Pennsylvania, 1881

Samuel  Cornett Biography

Samuel Cornett, of Schuylkill township, Chester Co., Pa.

John Cornett, an emigrant from Ireland, early in his life settled in this county, and married Jane Knowles, by whom he had nine children, - Samuel, William, Joseph Latta, James Alexander, Sarah, m. to Samuel L. Rhoades, of Berks County; Jane, Joseph P., and Elizabeth Ann. John and his wife Jane were members of the Great Valley Presbyterian Church, in which faith they reared their children. John, by his industry and economy, was enabled to raise an interesting and amiable family, of which he was long spared to be an honored head. He died March 24, 1847, and his wife Jane, Aug. 26, 1874.

Samuel, their oldest child, was born Dec. 8, 1808, and in addition to a good common-school education enjoyed the educational facilities of the Chester County Academy. After leaving this school he followed his trade of stone-mason for fifteen years, when he accepted a position from Whitaker & Garrett, at their iron-works in Cecil Co., Md. He afterwards returned to Phoenixville, in this county, and commenced the mercantile business, under the firm-name of Cornett & Whitby, which continued for five years, when, upon the dissolution of this partnership, he assisted, for a short time, Joseph Whitaker in the Phoenix Iron-Works. He then re-entered the mercantile business, under the firm-name of Cornett & Co., with John Vanderslice and James Mellon as partners, afterwards Reeves & Cornett, which was for twenty years a well-known and well-patronized store, on the corner of Main and Bridge Streets, Phoenixville.

His close confinement to business caused his health to give way, and he sold out his interest to John F. Starkey, and purchased his father's old homestead and farm, one mile west of Phoenixville, where, by his wonted and close attention, he is now known as a very successful and enterprising farmer. He also owns considerable real estate in Phoenixville, and no man is better known or more highly respected in this part of the county.

In early life he was a Democrat, and held the office of postmaster in Phoenixville under Jackson and Taylor. From the formation of the Republican party he supported its nominees until the question of the legal suppression of the liquor traffic became a political issue, and finding that the Democratic and Republican parties were unwilling to support the principle of prohibition, and upon the repeal of the local law, becoming convinced of their determined hostility, he has acted with the Prohibitionists. All his life Mr. Cornett has bean a total abstainer and active temperance man, and from education and principle was prepared to receive the platform of the Prohibition party, both National and State, and actively participated in the campaigns of 1875, '76, '77, '78, '79, '80. He was the candidate of the Prohibition party in 1877 for State treasurer, and in 1880 for Congress. He is a man of great probity of character, large and varied business experience and acquaintance in Chester, Philadelphia, Montgomery, and Delaware Counties, where he commands the confidence and esteem of the people, hence his party did wisely and well in often selecting him as one of its standard-bearers.

Of his brothers and sisters, the only ones living are Jane C., Elizabeth Ann, and Dr. Joseph P. Cornett. Another brother, Dr. James Cornett, was in the 5th Pennsylvania Cavalry in the Rebellion, was taken prisoner on Wilson's raid, taken to Andersonville, and died shortly after his return home. Dr. Joseph P. was first lieutenant in Company G, 176th Pennsylvania Regiment, re-enlisted in 99th Regiment, and was at the capture of Lee at Appomattox. Samuel Cornett was many years a director in the Iron Bank of Phoenixville, and is now vice-president of the Mutual Benefit Association of that place.

Source: History of Chester County, J. Smith Futhey and Gilbert Cope; Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts & Co.; 1881.

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