Joseph Kernell, or Cornell, depending on which descendant you ask, first lived in Nashville, Tennessee before moving to Stewart County, Tennessee. Some online family trees have inaccurate information about Joseph and his family, so this blog post lays out what we know based off of records.
Joseph Kernell was born about 1830 in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee to Mary “Polly” Wilcox and John Kernell. [Source: 1850 Census] At age 19 in 1850, he was living with his parents and siblings in Nashville.
On September 7, 1857, Joseph marries Arena Tucker in Stewart County, Tennessee. This is the first mention of him in Stewart County records. [Source: Family Search Tennessee Marriage Records]
Joseph is listed on the 1859 and 1860 tax list for Stewart County in District 7. [Source: Family Search Stewart County Tax Lists Non-indexed] No other Kernells are listed in Stewart County, Tennessee at this time.
The 1860 census skipped several families in Stewart County, so it’s not a good source to use to prove residency.
On November 28, 1861, Joseph, about age 31, enlisted at present-day Fort Donelson in Dover, Stewart County, Tennessee to join the Confederacy as a Private in 50th Tennessee Infantry, Company H. (More about the 50th Tennessee Infantry here.) He was enlisted by H.C. Lockhart for a one-year period. Tennesseans at the time had no idea the war would last as long as it did. Learn more about Fort Donelson, including its construction, at the NPS website.
Joseph was present at the Battle of Fort Donelson on February 15 – 16, 1862 where the Confederates unconditionally surrendered. Some 13,000 men were taken prisoner, including Joseph. He was sent to Camp Douglas in Chicago, Illinois.
In September of 1862, prisoners of war were traded in Vicksburg, Mississippi. On September 23, 1862, Joseph was enlisted for two years or the war by E.G. Sexton in Jackson, Mississippi for the 50th Tennessee Infantry, Company H.
On December 20, 1862, Joseph was appointed to First Corporal. During the time Joseph would have taken part in various conflicts in Mississippi and Louisiana.
Joseph made the decision to desert from camp on June 26, 1863. Muster rolls give his place of desertion as Vernon and the Big Black River, Mississippi. From there it appears Joseph was trying to go home. On July 31, he was captured in Pocahontas, Tennessee, which borders Mississippi. The Union notes, “he gave himself up to pickets”. Pickets are soldiers posted on guard in front of an main army’s camp. The rolls do not indicate if he was trying to surrender or if he just happened to run into the pickets.
In August 1863 at Corinth, Mississippi, a Union report states that Joseph had taken the oath of allegiance and was “passed home”.
Back in Stewart County, 35-year-old Joseph married 14-year-old Frances Rotia Page on December 2, 1865. I don’t know what happened to his first wife, Arena Tucker.
Frances and Joseph had at least six children:
John Vance Kernell Cornell, 1867–1934, married to Anna Annie Mayes
Nancy A Kernell, 1869–1906, married to John A Page
Joseph Kernell Cornell, 1870–1940, married to Jane Calhoun
Emaline Kernell, 1873–uknown, possibly married to Burrell Powers
Mary Kernell Cornell, 1876–1941, married to James Marion Colson
William Kernell, 1879–unknown
Joseph and Frances are not on the 1870 census, but still live in the Stewart County area. In 1880, the family lives on Dyer’s Creek.
On March 18, 1883, Joseph passed away and was buried in Newberry Cemetery. According to descendant Benny Page, Newberry Cemetery is located on private property and is inaccessible in a wooded area. The cemetery was overgrown in 2001 and the only tombstone located was the one belonging to Joseph and Frances.
If you are a descendant or have info to contribute, please email me!
Originally posted September 27, 2018