Military Monday ~ Wiley Eli Cornett

Posted: July 22, 2012 in Family

My great grandfather, Wiley Eli Cornett was born on April 4, 1881 and died in 1958. ( He had a son named Walter Allen Cornett Sr., and this would be my grandfather and also the father of Billy Edward Cornett, (my father). I have some genealogy papers from a family member who was researching the Cornett ancestry back in 1993, that states Wiley’s actual death date as being February 28, 1958. I can’t confirm this fact with her as she now has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t remember much. So his exact death date is just one piece of evidence that I will need to verify.

Wiley Eli Cornett (1881-1958)
Buried at New Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery (York County, PA)
Find A Grave Website (Photo Credit: Beckey and Taylor Russell) taken November 3, 2011

In honor of my great grandfather, Wiley Eli Cornett, a World War I veteran, I write this article based on the knowledge I have obtained so far. Having located Wiley’s World War I Draft Record (1917-1918), he was 37 years of age at that time; During the time Wiley was enlisted, the influenza epidemic of 1918 claimed approximately 50 million people. Not only were our soldiers dying in the first World War, but their lives and the lives of other civilians were being taken due to this influenza outbreak. (

According to his WW1 Draft Registration Card, Wiley was of medium height and build, and had dark brown hair and gray eyes. His home address was listed as Mayberry, Madawell, West Virginia as of September 12, 1918, which was the date when his registration card was signed. He is listed as a machinist (1917-1918) and his employer was listed as James Jones & Co, also of Mayberry, Madawell, West Virginia. I am not sure how long he worked for this employer and believe the company is no longer in existence. I have tried searching for the company but was unable to find anything on the business. Any suggestions on where I should look? I’m stumped on this particular piece of data. Below is a digitized copy of Wiley’s registration card and as you can see there isn’t a whole lot of detail, but there are some clues in which I can work with.

Wiley Eli Cornett Draft Record Page 1 (1917-1918)

Wiley Eli Cornett World War 1 Draft Record Page 2

I am also currently reading over two different census records where he is listed as head of household, one from the year 1910 and the other a 1920 Federal Census, respectively. When looking at the Federal Census of 1910 for St. Clair, Smyth County,Virginia, it states that he was a farmer at the age of 26 and he had his wife Izora Evelyn Cornett, aged 27, and 4 children listed under him as well. So this tells me his wife Izora was a year older than him and they had 4 children by the time they were in their mid 20’s. They had two daughters and two sons, Flossie B. was aged 9, Nina E. age 5, Charlie B. age 3, and Walter A. age 1.

On the Federal Census of 1920, in the Speedwell District of Wythe County, Virginia, Wiley is listed as head of household, a laborer on a farm, aged 36, with 5 children. The new addition to the four children from the 1910 census, was a daughter named Virgie Mae, age 5. So this tells me that Virgie was born 5 years later, so approximate birth year for her was most likely 1915 or somewhere in that range.

Event Timeline 1881-1958

1881– Alexander Graham Bell was the first person to use a metal detector.

1881– Ulysses S. Grant goes bankrupt after putting all of his financial assets into the purchase of a house.

1882– A.A. Milne is born, English author known for Winnie the Pooh books

1882– On April 3rd, Jesse James was assassinated.

1886– The first Coca-Cola is sold.

1890– Idaho became the 43rd state to be admitted to the Union.

1893– The Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown.

1897– Amelia Earhart was born.

1899– Al Capone was born.

1903Call of the Wild is published.

1906– Ford Model K is first produced, along with the Ford Model N.

1910– Kellogg’s offers first cereal prize in the form of a booklet called, Funny Jungleland.

1912– The RMS Titanic sinks after striking an iceberg.

1920– Wallstreet Bombing

1926– Marilyn Monroe was born.

1931– Hoover Dam is constructed.

1940– New York Rangers win Stanley Cup.

1946– My mother, Carolyn, was born 🙂

1952– Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis get married.

1958– My great grandfather Wiley Eli Cornett dies.

The above events may or may not have shaped Wiley’s life, but it’s also good to know the events that took place in his lifetime. There are many questions that I still do not have the answers to, but I hope one day I find them. That’s what a genealogist does right?

Find A Grave Image Source:

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