William Cornwell's five-acre plot


illiam 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.

Cornwell 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 of 1808.

Within 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.

Sometime 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.

The 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 least.


William Cornwell bought a five-acre parcel as shown in the medium yellow above. The pale yellow shows the approximate boundary of the northeast quarter of lot 37. Wagener sold much of this part of his inheritance in relatively large pieces, to people who then subdivided them. Meredith Mallory bought 18 acres from Wagener, all east of Main Street. He sold the northernmost five acres (reaching to the east line of the lot) to John Dorman, who in turn, in 1815, sold the land to William Cornwell Jr.


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Abraham Wagener sold 18 acres to Meredith Mallory. Mallory sold five acres of this to John Dorman, who sold them to William Cornwell Jr. upon the latter's arrival in Penn Yan in 1815.


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Use the button below to find out more about the larger plot this one was made from: