John Hamilton Cornish papers, 1833-1966.

Creator: Cornish, John Hamilton, 1815-1878.
Collection number: 1461
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Abstract: John Hamilton Cornish (1815-1878) was an Episcopal minister of Aiken, S.C. Cornish left his home in Michigan Territory in 1833 to attend Washington College, Hartford, Conn., from which he graduated in 1839. He then studied at the General Theological Seminary in New York City but did not complete his education. He became a tutor on an Edisto Island, S.C., plantation and later ran an academy there. He was ordained in 1843 and thereafter served in many Sea Island and Low Country churches before becoming rector of Saint Thaddeus in Aiken in 1846. He married Martha Jenkins of Edisto Island and had several children, including Rhoda Cornish, Mattie Cornish, Mary Cornish, Sadie Cornish, Ernest Cornish, and Joseph Cornish, who also attended the General Theological Seminary. John Hamilton Cornish’s diary, 1833-1877, and family papers. The diary describes his education, his experiences teaching and preaching in the South Carolina Low Country, plantation life, and the treatment of slaves. The extensive family and church correspondence augments the diary and includes letters from John’s brother, Andrew Cornish, who was a minister at Pendleton, S.C., and letters from the various Cornish children at schools and colleges in the North and South. The courtship of Joseph Cornish and Mary Tuttle, which ended abruptly and without an engagement, is documented in a three-year exchange of letters. Also included are scattered sermons and writings; record books of church observances and memoranda; a register of African American members of an Episcopal church on the North Santee River, 1843; Cornish’s manuscript history of ritual music at the Episcopal Church on Sullivan’s Island, 1846; and a history of Saint Thaddeus Church, Aiken, S.C., 1842-1966.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: The diary records Cornish’s experiences and thoughts on teaching and preaching in the South Carolina low country. He includes his observations of plantation life and the treatment of slaves as well as of the black community’s attendance of church services in Charleston and on Edisto Island, both in South Carolina, and mentions services held specifically for blacks. The collection also includes a register of black members of an Episcopal Church on the North Santee River (1843). Microfilm available (in part).