The Ellen G. White Letters and Manuscripts: Volume 1


CORNELL, James (1832-1897) and Roxanna (1837-1895)

James Cornell was born in Ripley, New York, and moved with his family to Tyrone, Michigan, in 1834 or 1835. His better-known older brother, Merritt E. Cornell, a prominent evangelist, became a Sabbatarian Adventist in 1852, and it is possible that James also made that decision about the same time. 1EGWLM 811.3

In 1857 James Cornell married Roxanna Bacheller. Roxanna, originally from Vermont, had worked at the Review and Herald press since 1852, first in Rochester, New York, and later in Battle Creek, Michigan, until her marriage. Roxanna was very well acquainted with Ellen and James White, having boarded in their home during the Rochester years, together with her brother John Warren Bacheller and mother, Cynthia Bacheller. James Cornell was a shoemaker and lived in several locations in Michigan. In 1876 the Cornells moved to Texas, but both their business and their health suffered; when Ellen and James White visited them in 1878, they found James earning “but little” and “suffering with rheumatism,” while Roxanna had been “almost dead with asthma.” “I gave each of the Cornell girls a dress,” recounted Ellen White. “I cannot see want and misery and enjoy the comforts of life.” Encouraged and led by James White, the Cornells, together with several other Adventist families, left Texas in April 1879, traveling by mule-drawn caravan through Indian Territory and Kansas, arriving in Boulder, Colorado, some six weeks later. The Cornells appear to have spent their remaining years in Boulder. 1EGWLM 811.4

Ellen White wrote several serious letters of admonition to Roxanna and to James. In 1879 she compared James's life to “the barren fig tree, destitute of fruit” and made a strong call for a “most thorough reformation in the parents and children.” That he heeded this call is suggested in James Cornell's obituary, which notes that “his religious experience during the last few years has been especially bright.” 1EGWLM 811.5

See: Obituary: “James Cornell,” Review, Mar. 8, 1898, p. 162; obituary: “Roxanna Cornell,” Review, Dec. 10, 1895, p. 799; obituary: “Cynthia Bacheller,” Review, Jan. 15, 1884, p. 47; 1880 U.S. Federal Census, “James Cornell,” Colorado, Boulder County, Boulder, p. 18; Frederick Clifton Pierce, Batchelder, Batcheller Genealogy (Chicago: W. B. Conkey, 1898), p. 577; Franklin Ellis, History of Livingston Co., Michigan: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of its Prominent Men and Pioneers (Philadelphia: Everts & Abbott, 1880), p. 396; Everett N. Dick, “For Health and Wealth: The Birth of Seventh-day Adventism in Colorado,” Adventist Heritage, September-November 1982, pp. 18-27; Ellen G. White, Lt 8, 1856 (Jan. 21); Lt 63, 1878 (Dec. 26); Lts 37, 38, 39, 1879 (c. 1879, Jan. 16, c. 1879). 1EGWLM 811.6