THOMAS G. CORNELL, president of the Farmers' National Bank, of Freeport, Armstrong county, was born May 19, 1861, in Blairsville, Pa., son of S. M. and Mary (Skeene) Cornell.

The Cornell family originated in Holland, but the name of its founder in America is not known, nor the date of his arrival in this country. S. M. Cornell, father of Thomas G. Cornell, was born in Virginia, and when fourteen years old went to Philadelphia, Pa. Later on in life he became connected with the Pennsylvania Railroad Company as a master carpenter, and still later with the Northern Pennsylvania Railroad Company as trainmaster. Leaving the latter company he located at Johnstown, Pa., to enter the employ of the Cambria Steel Company. Following this association he entered upon a general contracting business at Blairsille, Pa., where he remained in active work from 1869 to 1895. In the latter year he retired, and so lived until his death, Jan. 2, 1911. He was a Republican, hut never cared to hold office. He and his wife had six children, all of whom survive, Thomas G. Cornell being third in the order of birth. Mrs. Cornell survives, being now seventy-four years old. She is a lady of true Christian character, and a consistent member of the Methodist Church, in which she is very active.

The Skeene family had its origin in England, from which country two brothers came to the Colonies in the sixteenth century. Their names are not known. James Skeene, the maternal grandfather of Mr. Cornell, was a farmer, and lived and died in Pennsylvania, where his daughter Mary (Mrs. Cornell) was born.

Thomas G. Cornell attended the common schools until he was thirteen years old, when he became a messenger boy in the superintendent's office of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company at Blairsville, which position he held for two years. For the following three years he clerked in a drug store. Once more he entered the services of the railroad company, this time as rodman, and when he had been with them three years in this capacity he was promoted to be timekeeper in the superintendent's office at Blairsville. Until 1886 he continued in this position, leaving it to become chief clerk for the Norfolk & Western Railroad Company at Norfolk, Va., in the M. W. department. Returning to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company, he was made chief clerk of the M. W. department of that company's western Pennsylvania division, and so continued until he resigned, April 1, 1891, to engage in an undertaking of his own.

In 1891 Mr. Cornell became associated with the coal and stone interests at Freeport, Pa., operating coal mines extensively, and in 1900 he formed the firm of The Cornell Coal Company, one of the largest independent coal producing companies in western Pennsylvania. He is one of the organizers of the Farmers' National Bank of Freeport, which has a capital stock of $50,000, all of which is paid up; and a total of resources of $401,997.99, according to the statement issued Sept. 1, 1911. The hank is recognized as one of the sound financial institutions of western Pennsylvania. The officials are: T. G. Cornell, president; VV. A. Jack, vice president; W. Fred Turner, second vice president; F. K. Weaver, cashier, and W. E. Phillips, assistant cashier. Under the conservative policy of Mr. Cornell the interests of the depositors are safeguarded, while the stockholders are given a fair return for their investment. Mr. Cornell's connection with large institutions has given him a wide experience, which he is putting to practical and efficient use in connection with his banking business.

On Nov. 12, 1885, Mr. Cornell was married, in Pittsburgh, Pa., to Margaret Maher. Mr. and Mrs. Cornell have had three children. A strong Republican, Mr. Cornell has been called upon to represent his party's principles upon different occasions as an official of Freeport. Socially he belongs to the Manufacturers' Club, of Philadelphia, and the Duquesne Club, of Pittsburgh. A man of high principles, possessed of sound judgment, Mr. Cornell has forged steadily ahead, and is now numbered among the leading financiers of his part of the State.

Source: Armstrong County, Pa., Her People, Past and Present, J.H. Beers & Co., 1914
Transcribed September 2001 by Laurel Black Morris for the Armstrong County Beers Project
Contributed for use by the Armstrong County Genealogy Project (

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