About Us

The Cornish American Heritage Society

Who We Are…

Down on the southwest tip of Great Britain is a land of mystery, myth, and magic … a land of a Celtic people, the Cornish! The Cornish are fisherfolk, farmers, miners and merchants, scholars, saints, and sometimes law-breakers. Above all, they are people of an extraordinary clan in an extraordinary land — and they know it. They revere it and love it. They celebrate their present in light of their past, looking always to the future for the generations to come.

And so do we. We are the descendants of Cornish people who emigrated to the Americas. Though we are no longer in the land of our heritage, we are linked to Cornwall by blood and by the tug of our hearts. Some of our members are Cornish people still living in Cornwall, joined to their cousins in the Americas for the good of all. Wherever you are in the world, whatever your Cornish ties or interests, you are welcome here.

The people of the Cornish American Heritage Society (CAHS) celebrate Cornwall and the Cornish people in many ways. Our members search, save, create and pass on to the rest of us Cornish songs, poetry, legend, history, photos and food. We do love our food. 🙂

Many of us are involved in tracing our family trees, so genealogy and record-keeping are important to us. We each get to have some part in maintaining the ties between Cornish people around all the world, if only through this site. Whatever way you want to take part in all this, we are more than glad to have you.

Wander around the site, email your questions, become a member. Let the CAHS be your introduction to all things Cornwall. And let our gatherings, whether in local society, the Gatherings of Cornish Cousins in the Americas, or the Grand Homecoming to Cornwall called Dehwelans — let these be moments that will help you form a long and lasting relationship with all things Cornish.

The Cornish American Heritage Society Mission Statement

The mission of the Cornish American Heritage Society is:

  • To recognize the courage of the Cornish immigrants
  • To recognize the contributions they made in the places they lived and worked
  • To encourage and help members in the pursuit of their family histories
  • To provide information and support to local Cornish societies in Canada, the United States, and Mexico
  • To encourage informational and social gatherings on a scheduled basis
  • To enhance our past and present relationships with Cornwall, our Homeland, and strengthen connections to all Cornish communities around the world.

Our History

Photo of Saint Mawes Castle in Cornwall, EnglandThe Cornish American Heritage Society (CAHS) was founded in 1982 through the efforts of Dorothy Sweet, a founding member of The Cornwall Family History Society, and member of this organization here in North America. Paul Liddicoat was the first president of CAHS.

Primarily begun as a genealogical organization, the society has continued to grow to our current membership of 500+ members. The society offers information about diverse aspects of Cornish and Cornish North American heritage and culture (including genealogy), immigration to North America, the many Cornish settlements dotting the North American landscape, music, crafts, Cornwall today, and more.

The past 18 years has seen individual Cornish organizations spring up in areas of Cornish settlement in North America (the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Southwestern Wisconsin, Northwest, Montana, California, British Columbia, etc.) and in many more areas, as well. CAHS is affiliated with most of them.


CAHS Officers for 2021-present

Thomas Rusch

Carolyn Haines

Media Specialist
Chris Haines

Johnny Trestrail

Dot Hosking Huntley

Thomas Rusch



Along with the society’s newsletter Tam Kernewek (“A Bit of Cornish”) distributed quarterly, the CAHS also publishes The Cornish Circle, a quarterly publication aimed at the Cornish societies themselves, providing information on fundraising, program ideas, how-tos on subjects such as non-profit filing, news from the local societies, and more.

While we learn about the history, dance, music, language, food, legends, and people of Cornwall, our focus is on our Cornish immigrant ancestors who emigrated to Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

Why did they come? Where did they immigrate? What did they do? What records did they leave? What can we uncover, preserve, and share?

We will record and publish what we learn. We want to insure that the Cornish presence in North America is known and appreciated wherever they lived.

The Gathering

The biennial “Gathering of Cornish Cousins”, sponsored by the Cornish American Heritage Society, takes place every two years near a place of Cornish settlement (if available) somewhere in North America. Talented speakers and performers from Cornwall and throughout North America bring their own expertise to share with the 300+ in attendance. Starting with a weekend “Gathering” in 1982, the Gatherings now consist of four or five days of workshops, talks, music, singing, dance, a pasty picnic, Cornish church service, banquet, tours and various other activities.

The first “Gathering of Cornish Cousins” was held in suburban Detroit, Michigan in 1982. Enthusiastic Cornish descendants from all over the United States and Canada took part. The event included talks, singing, a pasty dinner, the exchange of lots of genealogical information, and support to organize a society to bring Cornish descendants from North America together.


Formally set-up in 1993, the Cornish American Heritage Society Archives contain over 400 books, pamphlets, journals, and journal articles. The archive also has a collection of over 115 Cornish parish history booklets, from Morwenstowe in the north to St. Just in the south. Through the generosity of our members and others, the archive has grown steadily each year.

The CAHS archives are on loan to and are being stored at the Area Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Materials in our collection are non-circulating. You can contact the library staff by mail, phone or email to access anything in the CAHS inventory list.

The UW Library staff will research and make photocopies for you. Their rates are quite reasonable and are as follows:

  • Corresponding research:
    • The first hour of research is free
    • After the first hour of research, the fee is $10 per hour
  • Copying charges:
    • In House: 10 cents per copy
    • Corresponding: $3.00 minimum. This increases by 10 cents per copy after 30 copies

Contact Information:
Southwest Wisconsin Room
University of Wisconsin-Platteville
One University Plaza
Platteville, WI 53818

Phone (608) 342-1719

You can also access the CAHS archives in person, but it is advisable to email or call ahead of your visit so the materials can be brought out of storage for you.

Download the Cornish American Heritage Society Archive Inventory List here [Adobe Acrobat PDF document – requires the free Adobe Acrobat Reader, available here].

The Inventory List is 29 pages long as of November 4, 2011. An index for the inventory list will be available in the future.

Donations to the CAHS archives are gratefully accepted. Our CAHS archives ensure the safe preservation of our collective ethnic and personal history. Photocopies of your family history in our secure archive will be an asset to present and future researchers. Questions about donating items to the CAHS archive should be directed to the historian: Thomas Rusch, 528 Autumn Crest Drive, Watertown, WI 53094-5916.