On January 1, 1855 Lucinda Lenore Merriss began keeping a daily diary. She was 22 years old, single, and lived with her parents on a farm in Hilliard, Ohio.
In late December of 1864 she married John Bishop Cornell, and moved into his family home in Westerville. Lucinda bore him eight children, six of whom survived to adulthood.
After John died unexpectedly of Bright’s disease in 1885 Lucinda managed to keep the farm going. With the help of John’s Civil War pension she was able to provide for her large family, including their education. Four of her children attended nearby Otterbein University, three of them graduated, and son Otto went on to get a medical degree and became a physician in Westerville.
In 1908, owing to age and poor health, Lucinda’s son Roy and his family moved back to the family home and took over both the farming and the household duties.
On October 2, 1911, Lucinda Lenore Merriss Cornell passed away. She was four days shy of her 80th birthday. Her son, Otto, wrote one final entry in her diary, ending with the word “finis.”
The diaries remained in the Cornell family for many generations. In the 1970s Carol Kilmer Cornell allowed transcriptions to be made of the diaries by two members of the Westerville Historical Society,
Otterbein professor and local historian Dr. Harold Hancock and Marian Snavely. The culmination of this project came in 1979 with the publication of a book of excerpts, titled “From the Cornell Diaries.”
In 1993 Mrs. Cornell donated the diaries to the Otterbein University Archive. Since then Otterbein’s archivists and numerous students have contributed to the transcription and digitization of the diaries and associated ephemera.
Browse the The Lucinda Lenore Merriss Cornell Collection (1855-1911) Collections:
The Lucinda Lenore Merriss Cornell Diaries