AMELIA CORNISH - ADVENTURER
by Kate Johns (Mem. No. 75)
Amelia was born in May 1852, the youngest of the twelve children of Thomas Cornish (born 1808) and Martha Wills (born 1809) of Greensplat, Perranarworthal, Cornwall. Her brothers and sisters were: William (b.1832), Elizabeth & Mary (twins b.1833), Thomas (b.1834), John (b.1835), Johanna (b.1837), Eliza (b.1840), Richard (b.1842), Maria (my 2 x great grandmother, b.1844), Joseph (b.1848) and Catherine (b.1850).
In 1874, when 22 years of age Amelia married William Card (Jack) a sailor. Shortly after their marriage Jack and his ship were lost at sea.
Amelia's five brothers were miners at the Gwennap pits and after long periods of unemployment during the collapse of the tin mining industry, John and Richard emigrated to Victoria, Australia and Thomas and Joseph emigrated to Ishpenning, Michigan, U.S.A. In the early years of his marriage Joseph and his wife returned to Cornwall for a visit and took Amelia back with them, supposedly as a housekeeper. She had not been in Michigan long when she met William Henry Taylor, himself a miner, strong Methodist and lay preacher from Tywardeath, Cornwall. They married on 6th October 1883 when Amelia was 31.
They remained in Ishpenning for a while before moving to Dakota to try farming. Before leaving Michigan the community presented them with a beautiful family Bible (with Crudens complete Concordance), fine leather and bound in gold leaf and bearing the name W.H.Taylor on the front.
On their ranch in Dakota, William was often away for days rounding up cattle or prospecting for gold. At such times Indians would occasionally visit the ranch and if Amelia saw them she would ride into the hills. Amelia's visitors gave her no trouble and she related in later years of finding an Indian in her kitchen looking through the Bible. William does not appear to have been too successful at prospecting although some of the gold he mined was made into a solid gold "Hunter" watch and chain by a New York goldsmith, and was engraved with his name. This watch was still in the family in the 1930's.
In the 1890's, William and Amelia decided to return to Cornwall. Before they left their ranch, they were presented with a full Indian headdress by the Indians they had befriended.
On the journey home their sailing ship foundered off the coast of Ireland and Amelia and William were taken off the wreck by breeches buoy. The next day they recovered some of their possessions including the Bible which had thoughtfully been packed in it's own box.
Amelia and William settled in Par, Cornwall and when William died in 1915, Amelia moved to Newton Abbot, Devon to live with her sister Maria. Amelia died on 19th March 1924 at the age of 72. She is buried in Wolborough Church Yard, Newton Abbot with her parents Thomas and Martha who had also moved to Devon in the 1880's.
The hunter watch and the Indian Headdress have long since passed out of the family, but as Amelia and William had no children, the family Bible has been passed down to my father Richard Owen Johns and hopefully will continue to be passed down through the generations along with Amelia's adventurous life story.