Thomas Williams Cornelius arrived at Holdfast Bay, with his young wife on the British Sovereign on 19 July 1847, already an experienced miner. Before his appointment at Blinman, as acting captain of the Yudanamutana Copper Mining Company, he had gained extensive colonial experience. He had mined at Kanmantoo, in the Adelaide Hills, the Victorian Goldfields, Olary and Moonta.
When appointed at Blinman he successfully introduced the Cornish tribute system. In may 1874 he was appointed at Bolla Bollana which employed more than twenty men. While living at Blinman he had been the Superintendent of the local Sunday School, whose members were very sorry to see him leave their town. However, before leaving for his new appointment the teachers and friends met at the house of the Rev Carter to present a small testimonial to Captain Cornelius in recognition of his service.
The gift he received was a handsomely bound volume of Harry Ward Beecher's "Life of Christ". Unfortunately Captain Cornelius' stay at Bolla Bollana was only a very short one, and most uncomfortable. On Friday 3 July TJC Hantke had to notify the authorities "that Thomas Cornelius had died at three p.m. on the previous day".
The following day Police Trooper Smith left for the smelters to make inquiries. He found during his investigations that, "Captain Thomas Cornelius had been suffering from pleurisy of the lungs", and noted that the Captain "had been attended to at Mount Barker by Dr. Robinson and had been ill since his arrival at Bolla Bollana, suffering from a severe cold caught whilst travelling in wet weather", from Adelaide to Blinman.
Thomas Cornelius was buried near the smelting works, but it was not until one hundred and ten years later that his grave was discovered by Hans Mincham with the help of Fred Teaque.