Cornwell Jr. bought this five-acre plot as soon as he came to Penn Yan,
about 1815, built a house on it, married, and began the practice of medicine.
His father and most of his siblings moved to the area from Delaware County
a few years later, but all of them settled outside of Penn Yan.
purchased the land from John Dorman, who bought it originally from Meredith
Mallory. Mallory got it from Abraham Wagener, part of his 18-acre purchase
a few years Cornwell bought a second large plot of three acres immediately
to the south, as well as the lot adjacent to the north, where the Vosburgh
house stood, and which Cornwell seems to have called "the small lot".
Of course it was small only in relation to his other lands.
prior to 1824 Cornwell built himself a second house, on the three-acre parcel,
and moved there. He then sold the five-acre parcel to John VanPelt Jr.,
whose spectacular bankruptcy occurred soon thereafter. The land was plotted
out into house lots and sold in 1834, by the agent VanPelt's creditors had
appointed, the lawyer Henry Schermerhorn of Geneva.
lots that fell into this five-acre parcel were those presently comprising
from #325 (where Cornwell's first house still stands, much altered) through
#315. For some reason Cornwell's initial purchase of this parcel was remembered
years and years later, to the exclusion of his other land holdings. Even
Cleveland thought the house at #311 (his second house, which stood on the
three-acre parcel) was on the original plot and was therefore his original
house. There are many references in later histories of William Cornwell's
Five Acres, none at all to his three acres. Frank Swann realized #325 was
his original house, but thought he died in it and that his son built #311
after his father's death. Yet Cornwell's three purchases of land are very
plain to see in the County's land records; a cautionary tale, at the very