Archive for the ‘Virginia’ Category

I have been researching the Cornett, Canute, and Sutherland family surnames off and on for the past few months. Along the way, I have met new cousins and created a few contacts, both professional and personal, as it relates to the topic of Genealogy. It seems that my family tree is one twisted tangle of little twigs. But I seem to think that there may be some vines intertwining with those twigs that cause me to search even deeper. I can almost picture myself spreading this vine curtain to see what’s inside, stepping into the past and being swallowed up as the curtain closes. Sounds like a creepy movie in a way. 

I have been reading up on the book I purchased a few months ago, titled, “Grayson County: A History in Words and Pictures”, I have also enjoyed looking at the photos of the first settlers to Grayson County, Virginia. The book encompasses a little less than 400 pages of fact written by the Grayson County Historical Society during the years 1792-1950. There are many interesting details and stories in this book that I will have to share at a later date. 
I have been most curious while searching for answers to all the mysteries of my family, I have yet to uncover the greatest mystery and a mountain of a brick wall called Alexander Sutherland. I hope to one day solve this with the help of my cousins, who happen to be also doing their own research on the same family surname. 

According to some, the Canute surname was believed to have actually been named “Carnutte”, stemming from Danish origin. There are many variations to the name and some also believe the name was of French origin. So really, who is correct? Is it speculation? How did they come up with this? I can understand the Danish part in this, as King Canute was most likely of that descent, as he was King of Denmark. But French? I’m not sure about that yet, although it could be very possible, I just need the cold, hard facts!

So if the Cornett family did descend from Carnutte, researching the Carnutte surname should be foremost on the list of priorities. It is said, and passed on from generation to generation that the Cornett family descended from King Canute II of Denmark. King Canute II was also known as Canute the Great, who reigned as King of Denmark during the time period of 995-1035. Canute the Great, being the son of Sweyn, King of Denmark.

Below is an excerpt I found on a web site dedicated to the genealogy of the Cornett family. The link source is also below if you would like to visit the site and utilize any other links on the site itself.

 If the Cornetts descended from Carnutte, one may begin with the Carnutte’s history. It is believed by some that the family is descended froKing Canutte II of Denmark. King Canutte II of Denmark “Canute the Great” (995-1035).  He was the first Danish King of England.  Under his rule Norway was conquered.  He was the son of Sweyn, King of Denmark.1 On the other hand, if the Cornetts were of French origin, it is likely that the family came across with William the Conqueror.
Erin Cornett was born in 1676 in Northumberland, England; he raised sheep. There is no record of his wife’s name. His son, Earl, was born in Southampton, England in 1696. He was a farmer and a member of the Church of England. He had seven sons: John, Roger, George, Francis, Frank, Jesse, and James. John Cornett …born in Southampton ,England in 1727. In 1740, he sailed to the Colonies with six of his brothers. They worked as indentured servants on an English  lord’s farm near Philadelphia, Pa. After gaining his freedom, John went to Henrico, Co.Va. (near Richmond) and raised tobacco for a living. He was taxed for land there on March 24,1747… His will lists that he had six sons and no daughters. His second wife was Elizabeth Bacon Mosby.She was a widow with one son… John died about 1776 at Elks Creek, Va. He was a member of St. John Episcopal Church. Four of his sons fought in the Revolutionary War (another source says six2). These four were later given land grants for their war service.William and Sam settled on Line Fork… Nathaniel and Roger settled in Benge, Clay Co.4 “[He] died about 1776 in Elm Creek, Virginia… his children were Rebecca Canute Cornett; David Cornett, born about 1750; James Canute Cornett, born about 1755; John Samuel Cornett, born about 1759; Nathanial Cornett born about 1760; William Jesse Cornett, born in 1761 in Henrico County, Virginia; and Roger Cornett, born about 1768.

My ancestors are William Jesse Cornett who died November 26, 1836 and is buried in Cornettsville Cemetary and Rhoda Gilliam, his first wife. They were married on May 7, 1787 in Washington County, Virginia”3  William Cornett enlisted twice in Virginia Revolutionary War units and received a pension (# W6723). His son, John (b. 1794) married Rachel (Smith) Kelly, and their son Russell (b. 1840) married Ailey Amburgey (b.1841), their last child being Sarah Elizabeth Cornett, my grandmother. Russell and Ailey’s brother, John J. Amburgey, had served together in Co B. of  Benjamin E. Caudill’s 13th Cavalry CSA.

Source: Mark S. Carroll/ Cornett Ancestry
Image Source: Getty Images

Ominous Sky in Grayson County, Virginia

Ominous Sky in Grayson County, Virginia (Photo credit: Dancing Arethusa)

Stuart was my great grandfather and I believe he was also the grandson of James Monroe Cornett and Mary Ann Cornett. He was born on September 22, 1881 in Grayson County, Virginia and died on February 3, 1966 in Smythe County, Virginia at the age of 84. His immediate family includes his wife, Gincy Malinda Caroline Long and their 14 children. The children’s names are Della Pauline Cornett, Grover Cornett, Mary Frances Cornett, Anna Mae Cornett, Lucia Rose Cornett, Pearl Mildred Cornett, Elbert Wayne Cornett, Charles Estel Cornett, Lillie Edna Cornett, Carl Wesley Cornett, Ora Lee Cornett, James Donald Cornett, Billy Cornett, and Claude Scott Cornett. 

Stuart didn’t like his middle name of Monroe, so he changed it to “Marvin” (although his grandfather was named James Monroe Cornett). Stuart and his wife, Gincy Malinda Caroline Long were both born in the Flat Ridge area of Grayson County, VA and were married on April 5, 1905, by Johnson Stamper. At their wedding party they said they wanted 14 children like great-grandparents David Cornett and Feby Sutherland and great-great grandparents, William and Mary Hatfield Cornett— Stuart and Gincy did indeed have 14 children- 7 sons and 7 daughters! 

They began housekeeping in a little house just over the hill from his fathers farm. They had several children when they purchased a neighboring farm from Lucinda Nelson and her son, Jasper. This is where all the other children were born. About 1938, they built a new home just “hammering distance” away and this home and farm are now owned by their son, Carl Wesley. (Curtis Cornett bought the farm in 1993). 

Stuart was a hard working, honest man who was an affectionate but strict father. He had cancer of the shoulder bone and had his left arm removed in 1960, the doctors were amazed by his speedy recovery. He managed to do almost everything for himself and did not consider himself handicapped. His special fork had a “knife” tine on the edge and he seldom asked for any help at the table. He loaned money to his children when they needed it and charged the local ones 1% interest. His children living out of state had to pay 2% because he couldn’t “see” what they were doing with the money! He and “Lindy” promised all their children $100 or a horse if they did not drink or smoke before they turned the age of 21. That was a lot of money back then and doubly hard when six sons went into service. (Some of the children claimed their prize.) 

Malinda was a good neighbor and mother who remembered each child’s favorite foods and made sure they were on the table during their visits. With 14 children, that was remarkable! She lost the sight of one eye after cataract surgery but she still quilted, embroidered, and crocheted. The family attended Bald Rock Methodist Church. Stuart, Malinda and their oldest daughter, Pauline Wright, are buried in Central Cemetery in Flat Ridge, Grayson County, Virginia.

Note:The information above was given to me by my father, Billy Cornett.
Virginia Historical Society IMG_2719

Virginia Historical Society IMG_2719 (Photo credit: OZinOH)

Today, I am researching different sources that have to do with the history of the state of Virginia; that is where  the majority of my family originated from, initially. There is a Virginia Genealogical Society which will aid in any search that may have to do with the states history and articles in which to read. I have yet to navigate through the entire site; I figure it would be a great starting point to further any current research I am doing. Membership prices can be found on this website for those who may be interested in joining. You can access publications also with your membership. But since navigating through some of the page tabs, I’m not very impressed by what the site has to offer, in terms of research. I think I can get better information through the Virginia Historical Society, but to each his own. 

Membership Prices- VGS

The Virginia Historical Society has an impressive amount of links throughout each page, that will lead the average genealogist, like myself to some of the great wonders of Virginia history. The historical society of Virginia has some really great exhibitions both on site and off. What really intrigues me about this, is the fact that I can view one of these types of exhibitions online! It’s definitely too far to travel, at least for me. Some of the exhibitions that are offered are definitely of interest to me, some of which include these topics: Jamestown, Colonial Times, the Civil Rights Movement, and several others. 

Online Exhibits

This site includes many research articles which include books, Confederate imprints, photographs, newspapers, family and personal papers, genealogical materials, and maps. But that’s just the start. Take a look around and see what you find; you may be surprised! On the event page, if you are familiar with the site and have been here but may have missed a lecture that you were hoping to be part of- don’t worry, you can hear the lectures online too. This site is really a gem! I love the fact that you can view things like this online, it’s a great feature for those who cannot be there in person. If you just love history, this is the site for you. If you are researching family ties, I would definitely at least have a look around. There are membership fees for individuals and families alike, but I think it would be worth the money you put in, for all the features that the historical society offers you. Be sure to check out the virtual tour on the home page!

Virginia Historical Society
The Virginia welcome sign at the Virginia welc...

The Virginia welcome sign at the Virginia welcome center on I-95 employs the state bird, the cardinal, and the state tree and flower, the dogwood. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Using the Mocavo search engine, I came across the following article by New River Notes web site. It’s entitled Pioneer Settlers of Grayson County, Virginia”, written by Benjamin Floyd Nuckolls, 1914. I have never seen this article before, but think it may have something to do with my own ancestry based upon the names given. I am hoping a member of my family sees this particular blog post and can shed some light on this story. I have changed the color of the text so that it is not mistaken as plagiarism, because that is definitely not my intent, and it’s also unethical. 


“Up to about the year 1871, the Cornett family of Grayson spelled their name Canute; in all their business transactions it was written Canute, and some of the older people still spell it and pronounce it that way. The family tradition is that they are descended from King Canute of England. The following is copied from Montgomery’s English history:
Canute (1017-1035) Seveyn the Dane, conquered England (1013). “All the people,” says the Chronicle, “`held him for full king.”‘ He was succeeded by his son, Canute, (1017). He was from beyond the seas, but could hardly be called a foreigner, since he spoke a language and set up a government differing but little from that of the English.
After his first harsh measures were over, he sought the friendship of both Church and people. He gave the country peace. He rebuked the flattering of courtiers by showing them that the in-rolling tide is no respecter of persons; he endeavored to rule justly, and his liking for the monks found expression in his song:
“Merrily sang the Monks of Ely,
As Canute the King was passing by.”



“Canute’s plan was to establish a great Northern empire, embracing Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and England.
To facilitate the government of so large a realm, he divided England into four districts: Wessex, Mercia, East Angelo, and Northumbria, which, with their dependencies, embraced the entire country.
Each of these districts was ruled by an Earl invested with almost royal power. For a time the arrangement worked well, but eventually discord sprang up between the rulers. Their individual ambitions and their efforts to obtain supreme authority imperiled the unity of the country.
William Canute, Sr., was an early settler on Elk creek, now Grayson county, Virginia, and is said to be a descendant of King Canute, of England.
He married Jennie Sutherland, a daughter of John Sutherland, Sr., and wife, Elizabeth Bryan.
In the history of the Bryan family, written by the wife of William Jennings Bryan, she states, “The great grandfather of William Jennings Bryan bad a brother, Francis Bryan, and a sister, Elizabeth Bryan, that moved west from Eastern Virginia, and the family has lost trace of them.”
In the early settlement of Southwest Virginia, Francis Bryan and his sister, Elizabeth Bryan, came to Fort Chiswell and the Lead Mines; from there they crossed the Iron Mountain and settled on Elk Creek. Elizabeth Bryan married John Sutherland, Sr., and brought up a family of sons and daughters. Francis Bryan married Phoebe Woodruff, and moved from Elk Creek to Ashe county, North Carolina.
John Sutherland’s family were originally from Scotland.
William Canute, Sr., and wife, Jennie Sutherland, had a large family; all settled on Elk Creek.
Their first son, Col. Eli Canute, married Sena Hale, daughter of Richard Hale and wife, Elizabeth Stone. They have two sons: first, Capt. William Cornett; second, Wiley Winston Cornett. They also had six daughters: Matilda, Elizabeth, Amanda, Elvira, Theresa, and Jennie.
The second son, Levi Cornett, married Olive Hale, daughter of Dudley Hale and wife, Mary Burroughs. They had seven sons: first son, Francis Cornett, married first, Miss Austin, of Elk Creek, Virginia; had sons and daughters; his second marriage was to Miss Jane Daniels, of Elk Creek; they also had sons and daughters.
The second son of Levi Cornett and wife, Olive Hale, George W. Cornett, married first, Miss Herbert; they had one son, Thomas. He married the second time, Miss Sarah Gentry, daughter of Col. Allen Gentry and wife, Rebecca Reeves. Judge Cornett is a lawyer, represented Grayson county in the Legislature, and was judge of the county court. He has been a useful and worthy citizen of Grayson county for many years.
He has four daughters and one son, by his second wife. His son, Munsey, is a lawyer; married and has children. First daughter, Myrtle, married Rev. Kelly Boyer, member of the Western North Carolina Conference.
Second daughter, Rebecca, married first, Mr.-, of Richmond, Virginia.
The second time married Frank Sanders, son of John L. Sanders, Chilhowie, Virginia.
Third daughter, married Prof. Morgan Cheek, Principal of Elk Creek High School.
Third son of Levi Cornett, William, first married Callie Delp; had one daughter, who married a Mr. Copenhaver, of Smyth county, Virginia. William second time, married Miss Fisher Asbury, Wythe county. One son, Thomas, married Miss Lundy, daughter of Ellis Lundy and wife, Alice Hale.
Fourth, Zach. M., married Gazilda Cecil, of Pulaski county, Va. and lives there; has children.
Fifth, Miles Foy, was a noble young man; died single.
Sixth, Lewis K., married Nannie Warrick; he was representative in Legislature of Virginia from Grayson county the second time; has two children.
Friel, the youngest son, who lives at the old homestead, is a worthy citizen; he married Miss Hester Ring; one son, Romulus Ring; four daughters; first, Isabella, married Col. William Mitchell; two daughters; Martha married John Cecil, of Pulaski county; moved to Texas; have children. Nancy married Mr. Steffy, Wythe county, Virginia.
Second, Nancy, married Lewis Perkins; no children.
Third, Elvira, married James Cornett; live on Elk Creek; have children.
Fourth, Theresa, married Carson Andis; one daughter, married Robert Carson; one married Noel Tomlin, Jr.
The third son of William Canute and wife, Jennie Sutherland, was Francis Cornett, Sr. He married Miss Catherine Fulton, daughter of Samuel Fulton and wife, Miss Martha Powell-Jones. (See Fulton and Jones families.)
There were three sons: First, Samuel Monroe Cornett, married Jane McCarty, of Elk Creek. Prof. Fielden R. Cornett married Malissa Copenhaver, of Smyth county, Virginia.
The third son of Francis Cornett and wife was Peyton H. Cornett, who married Amelia Cox, daughter of Enoch Cox and wife Susan Thomas, of Bridle Creek, Virginia.
There are also two daughters of Francis Cornett and wife: the first, Amanda, married Van Buren McCarta; the second, Martha Powell, died single.
The fourth son, Col. Alexander Cornett married Jemima Rhudy. Their sons: Friel N., James P., William J., Stephen H., and Eli C.; daughters: Martha, Elizabeth, Theresa, Charlotte, and Nancy.
William Cornett, Sr., and wife, had three daughters: First, Charlotte D., married William Rhudy; had a family of sons and daughters.
Lucy H. married Andrew Porter; they had sons and daughters; lived on Elk Creek.
The third daughter of William Cornett and wife was Margaret. She married Rev. Abraham Elliott, a local Methodist preacher. Mr. Elliott and his wife first settled on Meadow Creek, near Grayson C. H.; afterward moved to Elk Creek to the Cornett mills; from there to Independence, Virginia. For some time they kept Hotel Elliott at Independence. Mr. Elliott was a tinner by trade; was a useful, industrious, good man; he and his wife both died and are buried at Independence. They brought up a family of sons and daughters; all settled in and around the town of Independence. Their youngest daughter, Margaret, married William Wright, editor of the “Grayson Journal.” Mr. Wright has been editor of this paper for over forty years at Independence, Virginia.
William Cornett, Sr., was an energetic, enterprising citizen, and brought up and trained his family for useful, industrious citizens of their country.
Elk Creek is a bold, swift mountain stream, flowing through a beautiful valley, and emptying into New River, furnishing fine water power.
William Cornett, in the early days, built a mill for grinding grain, also a saw mill, and a carding machine for carding wool. These mills were on the banks of Elk Creek, and were used by the settlers for many miles around.”

If this is indeed my family, I am very pleased to have found something like this. If it’s not, then I hope this helps someone else in their search for their ancestors. 🙂

Nuckolls, Benjamin Floyd. “New River Notes.” New River Notes-Since 1998 – Historical and Genealogical Resources for the Upper New River Valley of North Carolina and Virginia. Jeffrey C. Weaver, 1998-2006. Web. 14 Jun 2011. <;.