Support the Burwell School

Cornelia Elizabeth Williams


« return to database list

At a Glance

Research on this student is ongoing. Please check back.


Cornelia Williams of Person County, NC attended the Burwell School with her cousin, Margaret,  "Mag,"  Pointer, also of Person County, NC. Cornelia was then 16. Cornelia and Mag joined the school for the spring session of 1856, according to Mrs. Burwell's February 4 letter to her daughter Fanny. Mrs. Burwell wrote:  "Miss Williams is the image of Mary Jeffries -- only prettier."  (Mary Jeffries of Caswell County, NC attended the school earlier in the 1850's.)

Cornelia's father was a prosperous landowner and slaveowner in Person County, NC, which borders Virginia directly north of Orange County. At the age of about 20 Cornelia married the widower John Marshall Owen, approx. 29 years old and the oldest child of prominent landowner and farmer, Robert Easley Owen of Mayo plantation in southern Halifax Co, VA. The Owens made their home in Mt. Carmel township where John was a merchant. However, he was listed on the 1870 US Census as  "retired"  at age 39, which may mean that he was suffering some sort of illness, for he died soon after, in February of 1871, leaving Cornelia with seven children under eleven years of age.

The 1880 US Census shows the widowed Cornelia's household in Black Walnut, Halifax Co, VA, with five of her seven living children in her household, (Robert, Jennie, Lizzie, Mary and John). Robert, at 19, is listed as  "farming"  for the family.

We know little of Cornelia's life after the death of her husband, John, except that she apparently continued to live in southern Halifax County near her husband's many relations as she raised their seven children in that tightly-knit community.

Cornelia Williams' father in law, Robert Easley, who saw his magnificent home burned to the ground by US troops during the Civil War, returned to prosperity and upon his death left a considerable estate including $1000 in value of Halifax County bonds to each of his many grandchildren.


US Federal Census for 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880 for Halifax Co. Va and Person Co., NC

Manning, W.H., Jr, and Manning, Edna Anderson, Our Kin, Augusta, GA, Walton Printing Co.,1958,

Engstrom, M.C., The Book of Burwell Students, Lives of Educated Women in the Antebellum South, 1979, The Historic Hillsborough Commission, Hillsborough, NC., 2007 Virginia, Marriages, 1740-1850 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 1999.

NC State Bd of Health, Death Certificates for Laura Levine Williams Pointer, Samuel P. Williams, and Phillip Haywood Williams, Virginia Carrington Owen Easley,

The Bee newspaper, Danville, VA, March 27, 1934 issue, wedding announcement for Virginia Owen and Roy R. Shotwell,

Biographical Data

Important Dates

Cornelia Elizabeth Williams was born on October 19, 1840. She died on January 5, 1912.

Places of Residence

Schools Attended