Historical Details

Costlow Collection Part 5, Cornelia M. Stillman Lusk

Courtesy of Library Archives, 11/30/-0001

Mrs. James Washington Lusk, mother of Mr. Frank Stillman Lusk
Source: "Women of Wyoming", Mrs Alfred M. Beach, Published 1927

Of New England stock, Cornelia M. Stillman was born at Parkman, Ohio November 17, 1832, daughter of John Davis and Sarah Marilla (Doty) Stillman, the former born in 1808 in Rhode Island, the latter in 1811 in Aurora, New York. They were married at Parkman, Ohio, in the year 1831. In the early 1700's the ancestors of this couple were living in Saybrook, Connecticut and Nantucket and an old genealogical record gives the following: "Mr. Benjamin Stillman and Sarah, daughter of Captain Samuel Doty of Saybrook, were married August 29, 1727 by Mr. Azariah Mather." These were great-great aunt and uncle. Members of both these families were Revolutionary soldiers.

The marriage of Cornelia M. Stillman to Mr. James W. Lusk took place in Cleveland, Ohio in 1854. At this time Mr. Lusk was a partner in the Commercial College of Bryant, Lusk and Stratton, but later disposed of his interest to Bryant and Stratton who continued them. He then devoted his time to the perfection of the Spencerian System of Penmanship, which he converted from the personal teaching in the schools, by Platt R. Spencer, to a system which could be taught from copy books as well as by individual instructors. As a testimonial of admiration and appreciation to Mr. Spencer who had taught him to write well after his reaching the age of nineteen years, he named his system Specerian. While introducing this system in the colleges and public schools, he was connected with the book publishing firm if Ivison and Phinny of New York, his interest in the Spencerian System represented five-eighths of the ownership, the balance being owned, one-eighth each by Messrs. Ivison, Bryant and Stratton. Mr. Lusk died, however, in the year 1863 before the Spencerian System was profitably established, as it has since been.

Mrs. Lusk then removed from New York to Cleveland, Ohio, with her two children and made her home with her mother at the old home on Euclid Avenue, about three miles from the Public Square and taught in the Euclid Avenue Public School, just three doors east of the old home, for many years. Later she taught at the East Cleveland High School.

In 1876, her son, Frank Stillman Lusk, came west and engaged in the cattle business, and later, in the early 80's, persuaded his mother to take up her residence in Denver (Colo), where she lived for several years.

In the year 1886, he built a home for her in what had become the town of Lusk, Wyoming, and there she resided until her death in 1921.

It needs no stretch of the imagination to realize that from the very beginning of her residence in this little western pioneer town a woman so well equipped in education and experience along educational and social lines found many opportunities to serve her community. She was active on behalf of the church, being one of the founders of the Congregational Church (although a member of the Christian church), and at the election held after the formation of Converse County (1889) she was elected County superintendent of Schools and was probably the third woman elected in the territory of Wyoming (Wyoming was admitted to the Union of States in July 1890) to such office. Mrs. Tisdale having been elected County Superintendent of Sweetwater County in the fall of 1884 and Mrs. Paxton at Sheridan, 1888.

Mrs. Lusk was not a pioneer in the way of a very early residence (in Wyoming) except in the community to which she had come, yet she was one of that noble army of women who contributed no little to the advancement and development of the state and who helped to make Wyoming a fine place in which to live. Her influence for good that will last.

Mrs. Lusk's daughter was an invalid and died many years ago. Her son married Louse Buchanan Findley at San Francisco in 1894; they maintained their legal residence at Lusk until 1909 when they moved to Missoula, Montana. They have no children.

Mrs. Lusk was recognized as an important factor in Wyoming politics and practically all leading Representatives made it a point to call upon and confer with her at different times.

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Related/Linked Records

Record Type Name
Obituary Davis, John (06/16/1898 - 04/22/1967) View Record
Obituary Davis, John (02/05/1900 - 10/21/1966) View Record