Cornish Americans

Cornish Americans
Total population
(2 million)
Regions with significant populations
California, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin
English (American English dialects) Cornish
Related ethnic groups
Cornish, English Americans, Welsh Americans, Manx Americans, Scottish Americans, Scotch-Irish Americans, Irish Americans

Cornish Americans (Cornish: Amerikanek kernewek) are Americans who describe themselves as having Cornish ancestry, an ethnic group native to Cornwall, United Kingdom. Cornish ancestry is not recognised on the United States Census. There are estimated to be close to 2 million people of Cornish descent in the U.S which is four times the present population of Cornwall in the United Kingdom.[1]

Cornish emigration to the United States

Tangier Island is an island in lower Chesapeake Bay in Virginia: some inhabitants have a Cornish accent that traces back to the Cornish settlers who arrived there in 1686.[2]

The coinciding of the decline of the mining industry in Cornwall in the 19th century and the discovery of large amounts of mineral deposits abroad meant that Cornish families headed overseas for work. Each decade between 1861 and 1901, a fifth of the entire Cornish male population migrated abroad – three times the average for England and Wales. In total, the county lost over a quarter of a million people between 1841 and 1901.[3]

Large numbers of Cornish people moved to the United States, and while some stayed in New York City and other East Coast ports after arriving, many moved inland to mining areas in California, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. One such area was Mineral Point, Wisconsin, in which the largest group of immigrants were Cornish miners attracted to the lead mining opportunities, and by 1845 roughly half of the town's population had Cornish ancestry.[4] Today the Cornish town of Redruth is twinned with Mineral Point.

Cornish culture in the United States

A "Cousin Jack's" pasty shop in Grass Valley, California

Mineral Point, Wisconsin serves Cornish food, such as pasties and figgyhobbin,[5] and Cornish pasties are sold at ex-Cornish mining towns in America, especially in Butte, Montana[6] and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

In California, statues and monuments in many towns pay tribute to the influence of the Cornish on their development.[7] In the city of Grass Valley, the tradition of singing Cornish carols lives on and one local historian of the area says the songs have become "the identity of the town". Some of the members of today's Cornish Carol Choir are in fact descendants of the original Cornish gold miners. The city holds St Piran's Day celebrations every year, which along with carol singing, includes a flag raising ceremony, games involving the Cornish pasty, and Cornish wrestling competitions.[8] The city is twinned with Bodmin in Cornwall.

Cornish culture continues to have an influence in the Copper Country of northern Michigan, the Iron Ranges of northern Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and Butte, Montana.[6]

To Kill a Mockingbird displays the lives of a Cornish American Methodist family. Their Cornish emigrant ancestor is introduced on the first page.[9]

Cornish immigrant miners are depicted in the TV series Deadwood, speaking their native language, even though Cornish had died out in the 18th century; the actors in the relevant scenes are, in fact, speaking Irish, a related Celtic language, but not mutually intelligible.[10]

Legends of the Fall, a novella by American author Jim Harrison, detailing the lives of a Cornish American family in the early 20th century, contains several Cornish language terms. These were also included in the Academy Award-winning film of the same name starring Anthony Hopkins as Col. William Ludlow and Brad Pitt as Tristan Ludlow.[11]

Notable people

President Truman, possibly a Cornish Tremaine

Several notable Americans were either born in Cornwall or have family connections to the county.

See also


  1. "迷わないメル友選び". Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  2. "BBC - Legacies - Immigration and Emigration - England - Cornwall - I'm alright Jack - Article Page 1". Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  3. Nesbit, Robert C. (1989). Wisconsin: A History. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 0-299-10804-X.
  4. "Shops & Restaurants - Pendarvis". Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  5. 1 2 "The Butte Pasty - The Foods of the World Forum". Retrieved 2016-07-30.
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-01-20. Retrieved 2007-07-05.
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-02-16. Retrieved 2012-09-24.
  8. Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-08-14. Retrieved 2011-04-26.
  10. "The Celtic Languages in Contact". p. 204. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  11. Payton, Philip. The Cornish Overseas, 2005.
  12. Kent, Alan M. Cousin Jack's Mouth Organ: Travels in Cornish America, 2004
  13. Eastman, Dick (April 8, 2012). "Last Friday's Who Do You Think You Are? with Edie Falco". Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter. Archived from the original on October 14, 2013. Retrieved October 13, 2013.
  14. "Edie Falco, Who Do You Think You Are?". Edie Falco, Who Do You Think You Are?. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
  15. Butler, Gillian; John Butler; Ren Kempthorne (2000). Karanza Whelas Karanza, The Story of the Kempthornes, 1300-2000.
  16. Trethewey, Natasha (2007). Native Guard. New York, USA: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 0-618-60463-4.
  17. "Photos from the May 8, 2007 celebration to honor Natasha Trethewey for her Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of poetry, Native Guard". The Creative Writing Program at Emory University. Emory University. Retrieved 2011-06-18.
  18. "Cornish Surnames - extensive A-Z list". Retrieved 2011-06-18.
  19. Sawyers, June Skinner Famous Firsts of Scottish-Americans Pelican Publishing, 1996; p. 11
  20. "ROOTED IN HISTORY: The Genealogy of Harry S. Truman". Truman Library. Retrieved 2016-07-30.
  21. Ancestors of American Presidents, Gary Boyd Roberts, Published by Carl Boyer III, 1995, Santa Clara CA, p44
  22. Ancestors of American Presidents, Gary Boyd Roberts, Published by Carl Boyer III, 1995, Santa Clara CA, p275

Further reading

External links

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