Cornelius G. Kolff:
Real Estate Developer, Folklorist & Historian
(September 2nd 1860 – February 27th 1950)
Staten Island’s Most Obedient Servant
(This page is currently in developement and serves as a preview of forthcoming projects regarding Cornelius G. Kolff)
The life and work of Cornelius G. Kolff is a previously overlooked chapter in American history and literature. Kolff collected history, folklore, wrote hundreds of human interest stories and was the author several books including, Staten Island Fairies.
As life long fans of J.R.R Tolkien, Jessica and I have studied a vast array of Tolkien’s work and literary criticism concerning his inspirations and literary group. In our study we have become familiar with how influential The Kalevala and compiler Elias Lönnrot was on Tolkien. The methodology of Elias Lönnrot, would be of an equal inspiration to a young Cornelius G. Kolff.
As a young apprentice in Germany, Kolff received training for a career in commerce but was exposed to the life, culture, and oral traditions of Finland via Finnish clients. Kolff would shape his literary pursuits after Lönnrot and seek to preserve stories.
Additionally Kolff would build a Log Cabin on Emerson Hill in Staten Island, and found the Philosopher’s Guild and Retreat where authors, philosophers and critics would meet and discuss their literary efforts, history, politics, and would pre-date The Inklings by 20 years.
In 2009 the Staten Island Advance published an article with regard to our work and Kolff found here
As you know we ran The Northeast Tolkien Society for a number of years, the blog is still online and has an article about Kolff from one of earliest ventures into writing about him
Kolff left behind hundreds of stories, histories and volumes of folklore, which we shall be exploring in a few projects this year. More details to come.