In the late 1880s to 1890s, the Thomas J. Cornelius family came to live in Jackson Township, Brown County, south of the present-day intersection of Upper Oak Ridge Road and Three Story Hill Road.
Their son, George Thornton Cornelius, started the first post office there. It was named Cornelius. He ran the post office until about 1893. George’s family sold out and moved to Johnson County.
Residents in the area wanted to keep the post office going, so Samuel F. Long decided he wanted to be the new postmaster.
It was decided to move the post office a few miles to the southwest to the area known as the village of Cottonwood. In honoring the Cornelius family, the new post retained the name of Cornelius. Long opened the first official post office in the Village of Cottonwood on June 19, 1893.
The next postmaster was James L. Turner on July 16, 1896, followed by Andrew Long on March 15, 1902, Lewis Long on July 13, 1904 and John C. Hughes on Nov. 21, 1904.
In 1905, the post office closed and mail was then sent to Morgantown. It was then that Cornelius went back to being called Cottonwood, which is on Lick Creek Road about two miles north of Helmsburg. It consisted of a church, a one-room school, the Hughes Store, the home of the store’s proprietor, and three other homes. John C. Hughes was a dealer in general merchandise.
Mr. Hughes had a barber chair in the combined post office and store. He cut hair and sold items such as hardware, clothing, shoes, notions, feed and sundries. He was a good businessman and often made trips to Indianapolis with furs and small wild game he gathered from the area.
The last store was built in 1914 by Mr. Hughes. It replaced an earlier, smaller store building. He, and later his son, Orville, ran the business until 1959, the year of death of both father and son, according to his daughter, Mrs. Iva Robertson.
— Pauline Hoover and Rhonda Dunn, Brown County Historical Society