Cornelia Jay, born in 1839, was the daughter of John C. Jay and Laura Prime, and the great-granddaughter of John Jay (first Chief Justice, US Supreme Court; 1789-1795). She lived at the family home in Rye, and kept a diary from 1861 to1873. Two of her brothers fought in the war, and her life at the time was much taken up with war work and following war news. On April 10, 1865, she wrote:
"Last night I stayed awake till midnight. The silence of the street was broken by the cry of 'Extra,' 'Surrender of Lee's Army'… Peace, magic word, is on everybody's lips."
One week later, President Lincoln was assassinated. Cornelia wrote of attending church the following Easter Sunday and hearing a sermon preached on the text of "I know that my Redeemer liveth."
"As [the Bishop] began the bright sun clouded up and he said it was a fit emblem of the cloud that had come over our Easter joy."