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Genealogy of William Cornett

Genealogy of William Cornett's family by his first wife Rhoda Gilliam. William Cornett born in Henrico County, Va., A.D. 1761, died in Perry County, Ky. Nov. 26, 1836. He was the son of John Cornett. While a resident of Buckingham County, Va., in 1779 he enlisted in the Revolutionary War and served six months in Capt. Anthony Winston's Company, Col. Scripps Va. Regiment. In 1780 he re-enlisted as a private, and served six months in Capt. Saunders Co. Col. Patterson's Va. Regiment. He was allowed a pension on his application executed Aug. 12, 1833.(W6723)



About the year A.D. 1796, William Cornett and Gideon Ison came from Virginia to Ky., on a hunting expedition, as game had become scarce in that part of Virginia in which they lived. They had been informed that there were lots of bear, deer and other game in Ky., so they decided to come and see; though they were a little fearful as they often heard that there were still roving bands of Indians in that part of Kentucky where they had heard that the bear and deer were; but the temptation was so great that they could not resist, so they began to prepare to make the trip.

After gathering their equipment which consisted of corn meal, ax, long-handle skillet, hunting knife, powder, bullets, pouch, flints, blanket and flintlock rifles they put their packs on their horses and started for the "Happy hunting ground." When the two hunters crossed over the Big Black Mountains into" Kaintuck" they became more fearful of the Indians as the name "Kaintuck" made them think more about what they had heard, of the "Dark and bloody ground" but they were too much determined to make the trip to back out so they kept on their way.

After two or three days travel they came to the mouth of Beech Fork on Big Leatherwood, Perry County, Ky. At this point there are some twenty or thirty acres of level land which was covered with the finest timber they had ever seen and they saw signs of plenty of game, so they decided to set up their first camp in Ky.

While preparing their supper the hunters talked of the beautiful level land and of the feasibility of bringing their families and living in Kentucky. Their only question was whether or not corn, potatoes, beans and other vegetables would mature in this country. They felt pretty sure that all their native crops would mature but to be sure they decided to cut down a beech tree and come back the next month of June and if the bark on the tree had bursted from the effect of the sun that would be a sure sign that all their native crops would mature.

Early next morning the hunters arose very much enthused with the prospects of the new country. One of them decided to cut down the beech tree while the other prepared their breakfast. After breakfast they decided to make an extended hunt for bear and deer as this kind of game was the cause of their coming to Ky. After hitching their horses securely to Leatherwood bushes which were growing thick in the Beech Fork bottoms they started out for the days hunt; one going up the creek and the other down the creek in order to explore all the country possible on that day. Gid Ison had not traveled more than two hours when he came upon a smoldering fire. After investigating the surroundings it was obvious that Indians had encamped there the previous night. So the first thought that entered Ison's mind was the danger of being scalped and killed by the Indians, so he did not hesitate but retraced his steps as fast as he could back to his horse as he put great confidence in his horse carrying him out of danger.

After returning to his horse he began to think about his friend and companion; he knew that he was fleet footed and alert; in every respect able to compete with most any redskin single handed, but this thought didn't relieve him of the great fear he was under; he was fearful of the Indians capturing him or murdering him in any way they could; he finally decided to wait for him at the camp until dark and if he did not come by the time the first star appeared in the sky he would mount his horse and start for his home in Va. So he tramped about his horse the remainder of the day; such a day of worry he had never known; waiting, watching and hoping that he might see his companion coming into camp.

At last the dark shadows of night began to gather around him, he slowly unhitched his horse and leaped upon his back; he thought that his companion could be lost in the thick wooded country so he decided to leave his horse and all the camp equipment and go home. So the time had come that he had set to start back to his Virginia home; he could now see the first star. He turned in his saddle to scan the direction that he was expecting his companion to come and to his great pleasure he saw him coming toward him some distance away so he dismounted and hitched his horse the way he had left him that morning and acted as if he had suffered no uneasiness; he did not want his companion to know he had acted so silly; he never would have acknowledged it had he not been caught up in it.

William Cornett or "Billie", as he was called by his family and friends, came into camp with a small deer on his back which he had killed that evening. Usually when a hunter killed a deer they would skin one front leg and one hind leg from the ankle to the knee and take the bones out and tie the legs together and carry them shot-pouch fashion so this was the way "Billie" was carrying the little deer.

Soon after "Billie" Cornett came into camp he began to prepare the venison for supper. Ison stood by not having much to say, the great strain that he had labored under for the last six or seven hours had left him almost speechless. At last Billie Cornett broke the silence by asking this question. "Gid what was you on that horse for awhile ago? Gid Ison then knew that Billie Cornett had seen him on his horse and he then began to talk freely, telling about the Indian sign and that he had imagined that they had killed him and that he was aiming to start for home soon as he saw the first star; then Billie Cornett broke into the conversation saying "Damns to hell if I didn't see one's head stuck over a log to day". He said that the Indian was in front of him as he was coming toward the camp and that he walked straight ahead pretending that he did not see the Indian until he passed him, then he started to run; after running a short distance , he looked back to see if the Indian was after him and saw him running a thigh speed in the opposite direction. So they prepared and ate supper very quietly and then began to pack their camping outfit preparatory for an early start for home next morning.

The thought that the Indians might attack them during the night was so impressed on their minds that they did not try to sleep but sat quietly by their packs all night and when the light of day began to show on the eastern sky they mounted their horses with their scanty belongings and were immediately on their way back to their Virginia home.

We have no history of their returning to the Beech Fork bottoms to see if the bark on the Beech tree which they had cut down had bursted but we do know that they soon came back to Kentucky and that Gid Ison settled on Line Fork in Letcher County and William Cornett settled at the mouth of Full Creek in Perry County.


During the last few years of William Cornett's first wife's life Mary Everage lived near their home with her two little girls. She was very industrious and was always ready and willing to help Mrs. Cornett with her work, so they became good friends. When Mrs. Cornett became sick (which was unto death) Mary Everage stayed with her and cared for her all the time that she could.

After Mrs. Cornett had been sick for some time she decided that she could never recover so one day she called her husband to her bedside and said to him: "Billie, it looks like I am going to die. When I am gone you will have a hard time raising the children by yourself. I think that it would be well for you to get you another wife to help you raise them. Mary Everage is a good woman and would make you a good wife; you and her could raise your children up together and get along all right. I think it would be the best for you". "Billie" Cornett could not speak for some time. Finally he said, "Rhoda, I don't think that I will ever want another wife . I cannot consider that now." She said, "Well, I think that it would be well for you to consider it."

It was not long after her death that Billie Cornett began to see the need of a mother's hand; there was no one to cook his meals, no one to take care of the children while he was working in the field or outhunting, no one to wash their clothes or clean the house; he felt that life was not worth living under such circumstances though he was determined not to marry any more. One Saturday morning Mary Everage learned that "Billie" Cornett was compelled to be away from home that day on particular business and would be gone all day, leaving the children to take care of the home, so she decided to take her two little girls and go up to his home and stay with them that day.

When she arrived at the house she readily saw that Billie Cornett was a bad housekeeper, so she began to work, the larger children helping her; by late evening she had cleaned the house, washed the children's clothes and had everything looking like it did in Rhoda Cornett's days when she was able to work. She ironed the children's clothes and had them to wash themselves and put on the clean clothing. After this she cooked their supper and departed for home. She felt very tired as she walked toward home but at the same time felt enthused over the thought of having done one more days work for her good friend and neighbor, Rhoda Cornett.

Billie Cornett arrived at his front gate just as the shadows of night began to fall on the threshold of his home, one of his little girls came running to meet him, crying out, "Look here I am all cleaned up, Mary Everage has been here with us all day. She left just a few minutes ago."

Billie Cornett walked on into the house. When he beheld his children in their clean clothes, the house cleaned and everything looking so much like he had so often seen it during his wife's life, he almost felt that a mother's hand had been there. The children had many things to tell him about Mary Everage having them to help her about the work and their many experiences during the past day; but their father did not have but little to say to them. His thoughts were running on the council that his wife had given him, "Mary Everage would make you a good wife."

He did not sleep but little that night, his mind seemed to be taking a new lease on life. He could see in his visions Mary Everage going about the duties of a mother in his home, directing and counseling his children and the thought of his dead wife's advise had turned him upside down. He arose early next morning and cooked a hurried breakfast. After eating breakfast he instructed his children as to their work for that day , told them that he would be back home that evening and then started with quickened step down the road toward Mary Everage's home.

When he arrived, she met him at the door and asked him to come into the house. He answered "No, I just came to see you about a little matter." "All right," she said, "what is it?" His heart seemed to choke him; finally he said, "Mary, I never courted but one woman in my life and I never expect to court another, but if you will marry me and help me raise my children, I will help you raise yours and I will go and get the license today." She agreed to the proposition and they got married.

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