Henderson County, Kentucky Community


Submitted by Lisa Hallmark Pounders
Published in The Legacy, March 1996

One of the first settlers to build a cabin in the area known today as "Corydon" was Dr. John Nicholas DORSEY and his wife Patsy ATCHERSON. Mrs. DORSEY suggested that the town be called Corydon after an old ballad called "Sweet Corydon". Corydon was first established in 1851 and then incorporated in 1867.

A weekly mail delivery was established and brought to Corydon by the residents of Smith Mills. Dr. DORSEY served as the first postmaster.

In 1850-51, William L. DORSEY, brother to Dr. DORSEY, laid off lots using a "grape vine" for the standard measure. The best lots sold for $5.00 each. In the 1850s an acre of land was valued at $4.50; in the 1880s the same land was valued at $30.00 an acre.

The principle cash crops in the late 1800s were tobacco, corn, wheat and beef cattle.

In the 10th United States Census, Corydon's population was listed at 2,789 with the town having 544 residents.

On 10 Mar 1884 a major fire struck the town, destroying a dozen businesses and houses. Fire struck again on 09 Apr 1887, this time destroying sixteen businesses and other buildings.


The DORSEY'S established the first store in Corydon.

In 1853 a tobacco stemmery was built by W. B. PENTECOST. Two more stemmeries followed, one was built by Mr. WILSON and the other by Mr. ELLIOTT.

In 1880, Corydon supported:


Four Doctors: G. L. COMPTON, S. C. SMITH, W. D. NEEL, W. A. WILLIAMS (dentist)


Dry Goods - J. F. POWELL, C. L. KING

Grocers - Edward KING & Co; Joseph OWEN

Shoemaker - William WOHRMAN

Painter - R. C. BICKNELL, J. F. TURNER

Carpenters - J. C. BURNETT, A. J. CRAWFORD, M. T. O'BRIEN


Fruit Grower - R. D. SMITH

Undertaker - Herman KNOLL

There were numerous farmers in the Corydon area, the three largest were: J. E. DIXON with 2,055 acres; G. W. McCLURE with 1,600 acres; and John TRIGG with 1,200 acres.

George W. McCLURE opened a flourmill in 1881; it was later bought by A. WALLER Company. A second flourmill was opened in 1886 by W. H. HANCOCK, it was operated by L. O. & J. E. STAPP.

There was a cooper shop operated by Charles POLK and Dorsey WEST. They made barrels for the flourmills.

In 1884 a coalmine was opened by B. M. POWELL, it was later sold to Lloyd & Wright of England. Another mine was operated by E. D. BALL, later sold to CANABA of Alabama. The coalmines did a very brisk business.

The Ohio Valley Railroad was built to and beyond Corydon. The first ticket agent was Mr. DOUGLAS. The first train arrived in 11 Feb 1886 and a great celebration ensued. Ohio Valley Railroad was sold to Illinois Central in 1889.

Soon after the railroad came to town, telephone and telegraph offices were established, as well as a daily mail delivery.

S. E. MAJORS owned the Hotel Optimus. The weary traveler could rent a wellappointed room for $2.00 per day in 1886.

KING'S Opera House was formed in 1887. Many fine shows were featured. The theater could handle up to 600 patrons.

The Corydon Deposit Bank was established 01 Oct 1894. Charles L. KING served as president and G. W. CRUTCHER served as cashier. In the panic of 1907, Corydon Deposit Bank was the only bank in the area not to limit the amount of withdrawals. The bank merged with First National Bank of Henderson on 07 Oct 1942(3).

Ralph QUINN started the first newspaper in Corydon about 1897, it was called "The Monitor."

METHODIST: First formed in 1810, two miles from town on Rock Spring Road, known as Pleasant Hill. In 1869 the congregation moved to Corydon on a lot donated by John WILSON.

CHRISTIAN: 1) Built in 1852 on a lot near the bank, donated by Thomas W. and Elizabeth POWELL. Trustees were William GREEN, James KING, H. A. POWELL, Samuel QUINN and George KING. 2) built in 1871 on a lot donated by John WILSON. 3) C. L. KING donated a building in 1897 to be used as the Livesy Memorial Christian Church, named for Mrs. C. L. KING.

PRESBYTERIAN: Built in 1878 on a Main Street lot donated by Dr. John DORSEY. The congregation disbanded about 1910 and the lot was sold to P. W. TRIGG.

MISSIONARY BAPTIST: Formed in 1878 with the Reverend J. P. BROOKS serving as pastor. The place of worship was located at Seventh and Main Streets until 1897. A new church was erected in 1898 at Sixth and Main Streets at a cost of $3,024.00 and $500.00 for the lot.

GENERAL BAPTIST: Built in 1891 on a lot donated by Syd BALL.


Baxter CHEATHAM taught at a school located two miles from Corydon toward Smith Mills.

In 1854, on land donated by Thomas Whitehead POWELL, Mr. POWELL and his brothers Harrison and Harbert built the POWELL School. The teachers were Mr. STREET and Miss Betty COOK.

Later, a private school was built by Professor HART, a graduate of the Boston Conservatory. The building stood until 1925.

A charter was granted to Corydon for an independent school system on 25 Mar 1872. the school board first met on 06 Apr 1872. The school opened September 1875. The courses offered at the high school were of the same caliber of any college. Thirteen years of schooling were required before graduating. The teachers were paid $30.00 - $45.00 per month. The first graduation was held on 07 Jun 1878.


Contributed by Lisa Hallmark Pounders, HCH&GS
Copyright 1996 HCH&GS