The Builder: A Biography of Ezra Cornell

The Builder: A Biography of Ezra Cornell

The Builder: A Biography of Ezra Cornell

The Builder: A Biography of Ezra Cornell

Excerpt

Striding along the "Bridle" road leading into Ithaca from the east, young Cornell's thoughts could be busy with the past and with hopes for the future even while his keen blue eyes took in the countryside. Nearly six feet tall, with a strong sinewy frame somewhat on the rawboned side, he looked mature for his twenty-one years. For two years he had been out in the world earning his way among strangers, acquiring experience if not much money.

The winter after the raising he had enclosed the house and finished off enough of the interior so that the family could move into their new dwelling. Then he had obtained his father's permission to leave home. "Mind and behave thyself in a becoming manner," Elijah had said, "and write often and come home when a convenient opportunity presents."

In high spirits the youth of nineteen had set out on foot on a bright May morning in 1826; he had $9 in his pocket and a spare suit of clothes tied up in a homespun checkered handkerchief made by his good mother. At Syracuse, thirty-three miles away, he obtained work as a carpenter. Before the week was out, a light-fingered fellow workman robbed him of his cash. ter helping to erect a couple of sawmills, young Cornell became a contractor getting out timber for shipment by canal to New York. But the dealers who owed him nearly $100 for lumber failed. Clearly there were other ways of separating a man from his money besides picking his pocket. After this experience he exercised more caution.

After a while he left Syracuse and came to Homer (Cortland County) to work in a shop which made wool-carding machinery. In his spare time Cornell studied mechanics' handbooks and made drawings of machinery. Since Homer was only twenty miles from De Ruyter, Paging . . .

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