Clark Cornwell was mayor of Ypsilanti (1886-1888) and active in the operations of his father Cornelius Cornwell's mill.
Vee Cornwell may have inherited a futuristic imagination from her father, Clark Cornwell, the son of Cornelius Cornwell, who founded the city’s first paper mill. An “early adopter” of technology (and mayor from 1886-1888), Clark was the first person in Ypsilanti to have a phone installed in his home, in 1878. It was linked to Clark’s paper mill at Lowell, northwest of the city, and to another at Geddes.
- Ypsilanti one of the first Michigan cities to enjoy benefits of the telephone, James Thomas Mann, Ann Arbor News, August 2008.
Cornwell was so impressed with the telephone that he pushed for its use by the community and worked to have an exchange installed in Ypsilanti and in Ann Arbor. By 1881, his efforts were making progress and each city had its own exchange. At this time anyone making a call had to call the operator at the exchange to make the connection. There were no numbers, and operators had to remember all of the subscribers and the points of contact of their lines.