Cornelius Masten                         



ornelius Masten was born at Kingston in Ulster County in August, 1787. He fought in the War of 1812, acheiving the rank of Major, and acted in 1814 as aide-de-camp of Governor Tompkins. His wife was the daughter of a Revolutionary general, and he was a contemporary and friend of Martin Van Buren.

In the year 1817 he came to Penn Yan, one of a group of lawyers who came about that time and later from Kinderhook, where he had studied law under Aaron Vanderpool. Masten was the law partner of his brother-in-law A.P. Vosburgh until the latter's premature death. He was a contractor on the Erie Canal, introduced and engaged in the manufacture of a cast iron plow (known as the "Masten plow") that was one of the first used in this area.

In 1835 he became First Judge of Yates County (a title, not an indication of chronology) and served a single five-year term. He was known ever afterward as "Judge Masten." Interestingly, he is the only County Judge whose portrait could not be found to hang in the Court House a century and a half later.

Masten speculated rather heavily in wild lands in Warren County, Pennsylvania; later on, when oil was discovered there, a great many men became rich and no doubt an equal number went broke. All his lands in Penn Yan were sold in 1843 to pay his debts, but he evidently recovered enough of his fortune to continue to live in some of the best houses in Penn Yan. He died in 1850, at the age of 63.

Cornelius Masten and his wife Maria Vosburgh Masten were the parents of seven children:

  • Henry was born at Kinderhook in 1813, and married Rebecca Marten of Troy in 1845. They settled in Penn Yan and he began the practice of law but died only a few months after their marriage, without issue. His wife remarried and with her second husband went to what is now West Virginia. The husband, David Newton, was a newspaper editor in Charles Town and strongly advocated abolition there. He died in 1864, and she survived him. They had one son, Masten Newton.
  • Peter, born at Kinderhook in 1815 and married Jane Bentley, a judge's daughter from Chautauqua County. They went to live in Woodhull, Steuben County. Two of their sons were soldiers during the Civil War, as was Peter Masten himself.
  • Elizabeth A., born in August 1818 in Penn Yan. She married Adna Sawyer, settled in Rock Stream and then in Dundee. They had two children who survived infancy.
  • Abraham V., born in 1820. He married Calista Beard of Milo and they settled in Penn Yan where he became a saddler and harness-maker. They had six children.
  • Cornelius C., born in 1823. He married Ursula Schofield of Penn Yan, and lived there. He was a gas-fitter and plumber.
  • John B., born in 1825. He never married, volunteering for the Mexican War and was killed at Chihuahua in 1848.
  • James, born in 1827, and married Nancy Manning of White's Corners, Potter County, Pa. He studied medicine with Andrew F. Oliver of Penn Yan, and practiced at Medfield in Tioga Co., Pa. They had four children.


Masten was associated with:


   332 Main Street
   338 Main Street

   342 Main Street
   The southwest corner