The financial interests of Denison and this part of the state find a worthy representative in Loren Cornwell, president of the Crawford County State Bank. In the management of this institution he displays sound judgment and enterprising spirit and in the control of other business interests he also has proven his ability and progressiveness.
He was born in Fulton county, New York, February 10, 1838, and has therefore passed the seventy-third milestone on life's journey. His parents were Timothy and Elizabeth (Kenyon) Cornwell, natives of Connecticut and Rhode Island respectively. The father was a son of Ashbel Cornwell, who was born in the Charter Oak state and followed the occupation of farming. He lived at that period when an old time courtesy prevailed and when men bore the picturesque dress of velvet coat, knee breeches, silk stockings and buckled shoes. When the call to arms sounded and America attempted to throw off the British oppression, he became a soldier of the Revolutionary war, participating in the battle of Bunker Hill, and aided in the attainment of liberty. Both he and his wife, who bore the maiden name of Elizabeth Gaylord, lived to very old age and reared a family of six children, including Enoch, Ashbel, Titus, Timothy, a daughter and another child who died in infancy.
The maternal grandfather of Loren Cornwell was Barnabas Kenyon, who was born in Rhode Island and also made farming his life work. He married a Miss Clark and both reached old age. Their family numbered two sons and two daughters, Asa, Randall, Elizabeth and Susan.
Timothy Cornwell, father of Loren Cornwell, engaged in tanning throughout his entire life, having a tannery at Broad Albin, in Fulton county, New York, where he died in 1871 at the age of eighty years. His wife survived him and passed away in 1877 at the age of eighty-three years. They were both earnest, Christian people, holding membership in the Presbyterian church. Their family numbered three sons and two daughters, of whom two lived to maturity, Ashbel, who died in 1888, and Loren. The others, Richard, Sarah and Lucy, died in childhood.
Loren Cornwell was reared to manhood in Fulton county, New York, and through the period of his youth worked in his father's tannery and also attended the village school. After completing his education, his entire time was given to assisting his father until he attained the age of twenty years, when in 1858, with his brother Ashbel, he came west to Iowa, settling in Butler county. His brother engaged in the hotel business, while Loren Cornwell turned his attention to merchandising. Ten years later, in 1868, they came to Denison and built a flouring mill on the Boyer river about a mile and a half southwest of the town, operating it for five years. On the expiration of that period Loren Cornwell was elected county treasurer and took up his abode in Denison, occupying the office through reelection for ten consecutive years, his record being one of which he has every reason to be proud. He discharged his duties with promptness, fidelity and capability, and his fellow townsmen gave indication of their faith and confidence in him by reelecting him.
After his retirement from office he divided his time between farming and banking. He was associated with Leslie M. Shaw, J. P. Conner and J. P. Miller in organizing the Crawford County State Bank in May, 1884, with a capital stock of fifty thousand dollars, which has since been raised to one hundred thousand dollars. In 1886 Mr. Cornwell was chosen president of the bank and has since been at the head of this institution which is conducted along safe and conservative lines, commending it to the confidence and support of the public. In addition to banking he improved six or seven hundred acres of land which he has since sold. In this way, however, he contributed largely to the agricultural development of the county. In 1880 he built a beautiful residence in Denison which he occupies through the greater part of the year, although spending the winter months in California.
On the 24th of November, 1881, Mr. Cornwell was united in marriage to Miss Lydia J. Dennis, who was born in Fulton county, New York, a daughter of Eli and Mary Ann (Kennedy) Dennis, the former a native of Rhode Island and the latter of the Empire state. Mr. Dennis was a son of Joseph D., who was also born in Rhode Island and was of English descent. He was the owner of mills of different kinds and was well known in his locality. He married Lydia Hart. His father was Thomas Dennis, a soldier of the Revolutionary war.
The maternal grandfather of Mrs. Cornwell was Robert Kennedy, a native of the Empire state who married Jane Palmerton. Their daughter, Mary Ann, became the wife of Eli Dennis and unto them were born three daughters; Mrs. Cornwell; Martha A., now the deceased wife of Zalmon Gilbert; and Mary, the wife of Herbert Drake, of Gloversville, New York.
Mr. and Mrs. Cornwell are members of the Congregational church, and Mrs. Cornwell is connected with the Daughters of the American Revolution. Mr. Cornwell holds membership with Sylvester Lodge, No. 505, A. F. & A. M., and gives his political support to the republican party. He was originally a democrat for many years and upon that ticket was elected county treasurer in a strongly republican county. His views upon the money question, however, led him to give his support to the republican party in 1896, and he has since voted with that organization. He is classed today with the prominent and representative men of his part of the state. His energies have been so directed that he has not only won individual success but has also contributed to the prosperity of the community. In matters of citizenship he holds to high ideals and gives his support wherever he believes practical methods will obtain desired results. In business affairs he has sustained an unassailable reputation for integrity as well as enterprise and at all times has employed constructive rather than destructive methods, his labors constituting an important factor of the sum total of progress and successful accomplishment in Crawford county.
Source: History of Crawford County, Iowa. Vol. II. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1911.