Cornelius Whitcomb, my great great-great-grandfather, was born on March 6th, 1837, on the family farm in rural Vermont. He was raised by a father and mother who had him working as soon as he could walk, and he took a liking to making and fabricating various tools and basic machinery. He found the idea of taking various parts and creating a more valuable whole fascinating, and always took pride in sourcing local materials as part of way to connect with the land and environment around him.
At the age of 16, he left the farm to head west for more opportunity, finding himself in Hastings, Michigan, about 130 miles west of Detroit, and just outside the city of Grand Rapids. There, he became entrenched in the manufacturing industry. He immersed himself in making various machines as the area was known for its lumber that was pulled out of the Grand Rapids river. His Vermont roots made him comfortable in a lumber town, and his upbringing taught him loyalty and a work ethic that was admired by many.
Though the mid 1800s, he became a staunch patriot, and in 1864, enlisted as a Private in the 13th Michigan Infantry during the Civil War. He was honorably discharged in 1865, and returned to Hastings where he became a blacksmith and a wagon maker, opened his own business, married and began to live his own American dream. He passed away just after his 65th birthday, in March of 1902, joining his wife, my great great-great-grandmother who had passed a few years earlier. He lived a rich and full life, setting the stage and paving the way our family to live ours the same way.