Bio: Charles Cornelius (1854  - ?)

Contact: on Tue, 13 Feb 2001




----Source: 1918 History of Clark Co., WI, by Franklyn, Curtiss-Wedge

      Charles Cornelius

CHARLES CORNELIUS, president of the First National Bank of Neillsville and interested in several of the leading financial institutions in St. Paul and Minneapolis,. has been an influential figure in Clark County life for over four decades, and has won a commanding position of respect and importance. His efforts at beautifying Neillsville will be held in grateful remembrance for generations to come. Born on an isolated farm among the woods of Grandville Township, Ozaukee County, this state, Jan. 1854, son of Conrad and Amelia (Hentschel) Cornelius, he was taken to Sheboygan County as a young boy, and was reared to manhood in a picturesque home on the banks of the Sheboygan River. There, attending school and working on a farm, he received much of that love of beauty which was to characterize his later life. As a youth he received the groundwork of his mercantile and salesmanship experience as clerk in a store at Glenbeulah, and as a sewing machine, piano and organ agent.


It was in 1876 that he came to Clark County, making his way on foot from Marshfield to Mapleworks, near the present site of Granton. With keen business acumen he foresaw the future possibilities of the county, and accordingly, purchased the little Grange store there and started to build up the hamlet by bringing in several skilled artisans. In time he added to his growing business the sale of agricultural machinery and implements, and established a branch of this department at Neillsville, renting a barn on the site of his present bank. This branch became of such importance, that in 1887 he decided to devote his entire attention to it, and accordingly sold out his Mapleworks business and moved to Neillsville.


His acquaintance throughout the county rapidly increased, his fair dealing and companionable disposition won him many friends, and in the fall of 1896 he was elected by a good majority to the office of county registrar of deeds, a position he filled so acceptably that he was three times re-elected. In the meantime he acquired extensive timberland interests in Oregon, and in 1904 he resigned his office to give these holdings more of his attention.


In 1907 he removed to Boston, Mass., with his family in order that his daughter might have the advantage of the excellent educational opportunities in music of that city. While there, he himself took advanced courses in commerce and finance at the Boston Commercial Business College, in order to thoroughly perfect himself in the banking business, in which he had determined to embark. With this preparation he returned to Neillsville and laid his plans. Purchasing the site of his former place of business from P. J. Walk, he started the erection of his present sightly bank building in 1909, and two years later added a duplicate building at the south, so that it is now a commodious structure, housing the bank and a store on its first floor, and a series of modern offices on the second floor. In front of this building he placed an ornamental clock, which furnishes the municipal time of the city, and chimes every quarter hour. At the same time that he started his bank building he purchased a commanding site on a rise of land in the southern limits of the city, and started the erection of his beautiful home.

        Charles Cornelius Residence

The First National Bank, the first and only national bank in the county, opened its doors Jan. 17, 1910, with Mr. Cornelius as its president, founder and active manager. For four years previous to this, he had been vice president of the Commercial State Bank of Neillsville. He helped to organize, and was president of the Farmers & Merchants Bank of Greenwood, and aided in the organization of the farmers Exchange Bank of Thorp. He is now vice president of the Continental State Bank of Minneapolis, on the board of directors of the Exchange State Bank of South St. Paul, and a stockholder in the Mercantile State Bank of Minneapolis and in the Peoples Bank of St. Paul, all in Minnesota. He is president of the Wisconsin-Louisiana Land Company, which has extensive holdings in timber lands in Richland Parish, Louisiana. In Neillsville he helped to organize the Farmers Co-operative Elevator & Lumber Co. and the Neillsville Canning Factory, and was influential in advancing the local interests of the Oatman Condensery which was established in Neillsville in 1916.


For several years, Mr. Cornelius served on the city council. Fraternally he is a member of the Neillsville Lodge, No. 63, A. F. & A. M., Neillsville Chapter, No. 66, R. A. M., Neillsville Comandery No. 36, K. T., and Marshfield Lodge, No. 665, B. P. 0. E., as well as an honorary member of the Beavers at Neillsville His activities in these various directions have made him a strong factor in the commercial, business and social development of the community and his reputation stands high as a capable man of affairs.


Mr. Cornelius was married at Mapleworks, this county, Sept. 9, 1886, to Theresa A. Nitzche, born in Fillmore Township, Washington County, this state, daughter of Carl and Amalia Nitzche. Carl Nitzche was successfully engaged in the milling and bakery business in Germany before bringing his family to this country, and consequently had a good start here.


Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius have one daughter, Lydia, now the wife of Raymond A. Clements. Mrs. Cornelius has been an able and sympathetic helpmate in all of Mr. Cornelius' various undertakings. Both are members of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Boston, and are active in Christian Science Circles in Neillsville. Both are also active in the affairs of the Eastern Star at Neillsville. Their greatest delight is in their home. This beautiful structure is the handsomest residence in Clark County. It is finished in Colonial style, and furnished with every comfort and convenience that good taste can devise. From its windows, a beautiful view of the surrounding country may be seen, while its spreading lawns, with shrubbery, flowers and hedges make one of the beauty spots of the city. In connection with the home, Mr. Cornelius has established a park, with an artistic fountain, pretty walks, and growing trees, a tribute to his public spirit and love of nature. He has also planting an orchard, and in other ways beautified the entire section in which his home is located.



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