Kenneth Verne Cornish – Not Just a Set of Dates
Genealogy essentially comes down to dates. The date a person is born and the date a person dies. Baptism dates, immigration dates, marriage dates, divorce dates. Dates, dates and more dates.
Kenneth Verne Cornish, my husband’s great grandfather, was only a set of dates; April 11, 1903 to June 16, 1950. That made him 47 years old. It seemed young for a man to die at this age in the 20th century but one can never tell when there are just dates. Perhaps he was a smoker in a time when little was known about the detriments of smoking. Perhaps he passed away peacefully in his sleep from a brain aneurysm that no one could explain. Or perhaps he died of heart failure that was characteristic of his family line, something that perhaps, my husband should consider since he is a descendant. Dates, a grave stone and a few pictures. That was all Kenneth Verne Cornish was to us. Until…
About two months ago my husband came home with a photocopy of an obituary and a newspaper story. Two newspaper columns photocopied on a white piece of paper. There wasn’t any date or any mention of the newspaper it was clipped from but the words painted a picture that suddenly added humanness to an otherwise anonymous ghost. “My Aunt wanted you to have this since you are the family ‘genealogist,'” he said. The story read:
An inquest will be held in the council chamber of the town hall at eight o’clock this evening in the death of Kenneth V. Cornish of Ostrander, who died late Friday night in the Tillsonburg Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, believed to be a victim of methyl chloride poisoning.
A preliminary inquest was held at the G.A. Barrie Funeral Home on Saturday afternoon, when Coronoer Dr. R. E. Weston and the inquest jury viewed the body. The jury empaneled by Chief Constable T. I. Corbett includes W. A. Anderson, foreman, H.C. Armstrong, Clarence Ronson, Fred Yager and I. H. Crosby.
Later Saturday afternoon, a post-mortem was performed by Dr. F. W. Luney of London, provincial pathologist.
Mr. Cornish, who was in his 48th year, suffered the gas poisoning while making repairs to the refrigeration unit at the Massecar Locker Service plant at Glen Meyer, early last Wednesday evening. He returned to his home late in the evening, feeling rather ill. He suffered a convulsion shortly after one o’ clock the following morning, and was rushed to the hospital. He suffered a series of convulsions after admittance to the hospital, and never regained consciousness.
Dr. C. A.Richards, who attended Mr. Cornish, hospital authorities, and local pharmacists contacted several laboratories in an effort to find something to counteract the deadly poison. Finally Professor M. E. Watson of the University of Western Ontario suggested that molar sodium lactate might be of some assistance and a supply was rushed from Victoria Hospital, London by the Tillsonburg Police Department. A quantity of blood was also brought from London and transfusions were given.
Doctors say that there is no known antidote for the deadly methyl chloride poisoning.
Kenneth’s obituary further provided details to his life. It mentioned he was a well-known refrigeration expert and electrician, he was married to Marion Watcher, had a son Allan and a daughter, Mary who were both married and had children of their own. He was also a member of the Otter Lodge and the Canadian Legion. He didn’t die of lung cancer, aneurysm or heart attack. He died a terrible, premature death and left a wife, 2 children and 3 grandchildren behind. He was a husband, a father, a grandfather. My father-in-law was only 2 when he passed and has no recollection of his grandfather and namesake. With these 2 columns clipped from an old newspaper, we got a glimpse of who this man was.
Kenneth Verne Cornish – no longer just a set of dates.