This city of Cornelius is full of a rich history. It’s history begins long before it was incorporated into a city thanks to the arrival of the railroad. It should be noted that the railroad played a big part in the beginnings of several other cities on the Westside of the Portland Metro area as well, North Plains, Forest Grove and Banks to name a few. While the railroad helped to bring folks to the west many of the settlers to the area faced the hardships that came with traveling along the Oregon Trail.
The City of Cornelius is named after one of those successful settlers, T.R. Cornelius. He settled in to the Tualatin Valley and upon hearing about the Whitman massacre joined the Washington County Volunteers where he fought with them in five battles. As the need for volunteers decreased Mr. Cornelius moved to California to follow the gold rush.
As a Sgt. he returned to Oregon and was was promoted to Captain, eventually becoming a Colonel of the Washington County Company D after the retirement of Colonel Nesmith. At the conclusion of the Indian War Col. Cornelius spent 20 years working in the Territorial Legislature. At the end of his time with the Territorial Legislature in 1871 he returned to the 1,300 acre farm that he had built over the years. His farm housed a grain warehouse, two sawmills, a grocery store, creamery as well as several homes and barns that stretched across the 1,300 acres.
During this time Ben Holladay was building a railroad depot that was going to house the post office and telegraph office in an area known as Free Orchards. Farmers in the area began to enjoy the railroad depot and Cornelius’ warehouse. Farmers would line their wagons up all throughout the day to unload the grain into the warehouse as it waited to be shipped. In later years everyone in the town agreed that the town should be named in honor of T.R. Cornelius to recognize the many contributions he made that allowed the community to develop.
The City of Cornelius was incorporated in the spring of 1893 and the first Council meeting was held on May 5, 1893. Folks today enjoy living in Cornelius for it’s close proximity to Forest Grove and Hillsboro in addition to the average price of homes in Cornelius being in. It allows for small town living close to it all.