Adair was born Cornelia Wadsworth on April, 6, 1837, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was one of six children. Adair grew up in a wealthy family who owned over 50,000 acres of land near Geneseo, New York. She became an accomplished horserider which encouraged her interests in traveling across the prairies of the western United States.
She was married to Montgomery Ritchie from 1857 until his death in 1864 from complications after serving in the Civil War. They had two children. In 1869, she married John George Adair. Following the wedding, the couple moved to Geneseo, New York.
- My diary, August 30 to November 5, 1874 introduction by Montagu K. Brown, illustrations by Malcolm Thurgood. Austin, Texas & London: Texas University Press, 1965. OCLC 556673646
- Letters of a cattle baroness, San Antonio, Tex., 1984. OCLC 310367842
- Massey 2006, pp. 148,161.
- Jones, Nancy Baker (June 9, 2010). "Adair, Cordelia Wadsworth". Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved November 3, 2019.
- Massey 2006, p. 148.
- Lyons, Chuck (March 23, 2018). "Cornelia Adair's Journey to the JA". HistoryNet. Retrieved August 20, 2019.
- Massey 2006, pp. 153,161.
- "Cornelia Adair | Saints' Roost Museum". Retrieved August 20, 2019.
- Massey 2006, p. 151.
- "Cornelia Wadsworth Ritchie". Cowgirl Hall of Fame & Museum. Retrieved August 20, 2019.