Cornelius is a city in Washington County, Oregon, United States. Located in the Portland metropolitan area, the city's population was 12,147 at the 2010 census.
In 1845, Benjamin Cornelius immigrated to Oregon with his family, traveling with Joseph Meek. The Cornelius family settled on the Tualatin Plains, near what is now North Plains. The same year, Benjamin Q. Tucker andSolomon Emerick staked land claims and established farms on the land that would eventually become Cornelius. At that time, the area was called Free Orchards; there was no actual community, but the name referred to the orchards on the 107 acres (0.43 km2) of land.In 1871, Benjamin Cornelius's son Colonel Thomas R. Cornelius learned that Ben Holladay planned to extend the Oregon and California Railroad right through Free Orchards. Holladay had been told by Forest Grove andHillsboro that they would not allow the railroad free right-of-way, so Holladay planned to bypass them, and build Free Orchards into a new city that would become the new county seat of Washington County.In 1893, Free Orchards was incorporated and renamed "Cornelius", to honor the man who spent many years helping build the community.