Lest We Forget Corydon

By a native of Corydon

In Memory of those who served from Corydon

Kinzua County is often spoken of as a beautiful place and attractive to tourist. Nearby, to the north, was a little town that had its attractions too, now swallowed up with water and seldom spoken of. The name Corydon.

We do not know how Corydon got its name. It was located on the Allegheny Plateau in a fertile valley through which the Allegheny River flows. It was situated between two Indian reservations, Seneca to the North and Cornplanter to the south. Along the shore were many interesting plant, cattails, willows, thorn-like plant, and fragrant blossoms. Here and there towering trees grew. People enjoyed boating and fishing on the Allegheny, gathering bluebells on Brown's Island, gathering wild crabapple blossoms, getting arbutus, lady slippers, marsh marigolds, wintergreen-berries and, in the autumn, bittersweet which was prized for the winter bouquets. Chestnuts were plentiful then as well as wild plums.

A Californian who visited Corydon, years ago had this to say: "The Corydon, Warren and Bradford area of Pennsylvania is as lovely in natural beauty, residential appeal and genuine hospitality as any spot I have yet seen. Through the Allegheny Valley I have seen the fundamentals of real living and unblemished works of nature at its best. The Pennsylvanians of this area are blessed with a setting for the unexcelled".

During the 1880's Corydon was a busy little town. H.A. Ostrander had a lumber mill up Willow Creek to the ease a few miles. He employed forty of fifty men. There were times when the men have a day off and at such times they were seen in the village shopping or celebrating. At this time there were two hotels located to the east, near the Pennsylvania station, and the Griffin hotel to the west, near the river. The Griffin hotel was built and operated for a number of years by Joseph Hale. Under Hale the hotel was famous for dances, shows, meeting, ect. These were held on the third floor of the hotel. Mr. Griffin, who succeeded Hale, continued the same practice. The shows sometimes lasted a week or more, during which time medicines and bead-work were sold. Rolling Thunder and other Indians put on such a show. This show was well patronized. Rolling Thunder wore long hair and he had a very attractive wife.

For many years Corydon had no railroad facilities. A stage coach was used between Steamburg, New York and Warren, Pennsylvania. This stage coach carried mail and passengers. It's arrival was looked forward to with much anticipation. It continued to serve the community until 1882 when the B.N.Y. and P.R.R. ran its first mixed passenger and local freight train. This placed Corydon on the map. The lumber industry revived and Corydon became a thriving village. This railroad connected Olean and Oil City. It wasn't very long before passenger trains were put on, and four passenger trains ran through each day or two. North to Olean and two south to Oil City.

Two ferries were also located in Corydon, the Webb Ferry, north near the State Line and on near the town to the south. John Taggert operated the Webb Ferry and Mr. Sparks the other one. These ferries gave people access to the Cornplanter Reservation and Quaker Hill.

The Onoville Bridge was built about 1902 and that was another way of crossing the river. Onoville was a short distance north of Corydon in New York State.

In the early 1900's some of the Corydon businessmen got together and persuaded Homer and Fred Ensign to come to Corydon and start a handle factory. The Corydon people furnished the land and helped build the factory. The Ensign brothers operated this factory for several years and employed about twenty men. Finally the timber ran out and it closed. The Ensigns moved their factory to Michigan. At this time Corydon had two general stores and one grocery store two hardware stores, a furniture store, a funeral place, two drug stores a livery stable, a shoe repair shop, a grist mill, and three blacksmiths.

An important event held every year was the ox roast, held in Woodbeck's grove. The roasting started the night before. There were baseball games in the afternoon and dancing in the afternoon and evening. Carlos Knapp and Austin Woodbeck were in charge of the roasting, and later O.J. Tome. The first ox roast was held about 1890 and probably the last one in 1903. They were sponsored by the Knights of the Maccabee and the Ladies of the Maccabees helped. Many people attended the ox roasts and they came from far and near.

Baseball was an important recreation and Corydon had many fine athletes. One was Ray Caldwell, who used to play in the big leagues. He got his training with the Corydon team.

A band concert was held once a week at the corner of Main and River Street. They had a band for the occasion. Fred Cooks was one of the outstanding players.

About 1890 Corydon had a bad fire. Many places on the west side were burned and were not rebuilt. Then, in 1912, Corydon suffered from the effects of a disastrous flood. In the early spring the ice jammed up and instead of going down the river, it went through the center of town, carrying several homes and parts of other with it. The following homes were destroyed: S.C. McClintock, furniture and house; Frank Kennedy's home; J. M. Turney's; Mellie Caldwell's cottage; and E.D. Everts Hardware store and house; and parts of the homes of Frank Fitzpatrick; Jay White and Maria Reeves.

In 1828 the first schoolhouse was erected. Build of planks, it's dimensions were 16 x 20. It was located on the river banks near Church Street. Sabra Blodgett was the first teacher. Due to increased population, three years later a larger and more substantial school house was build. The last school was built in 1883. This was in existence at the time of the building of the dam in 1962. It became a high school in 1901 and five students finished the course. At this time there were three rooms : Primary, Intermediate and High School. Corydon had many competent teachers through the years. Outstanding ones I would like to mention were D.L. McMurren and Mrs. McMurren. They served the community for eleven years and during that time they trained teachers who went out and founded county schools in the area and taught in other schools in Warren and McKean Counties. Many of these teachers did very good work in training the children.

The leading church was the Methodist Church. It was founded in 1883. Needless to say the contributions made by this church to the community were invaluable. Rev. John Akers was the first pastor and presented a Pulpit Bible to the church. Many outstanding ministers followed Rev. Akers and they all left a good imprint on the lives of the people of the community. The final service was held in 1962. The Bible was given to Ralph Akers, the grandson of Rev. Akers. He was present to receive it.

The church bell and the hymnals were given to the Duke Center congregation as they lost their church by fire the previous January. The piano, pews and pulpit were sold to the Celoron Church in New York State. The Oregon was given to Mrs. Paul Duntley, who had served as organist for many years.

In 1962 this nice little town was taken over by the United States Ggovernment. It was deemed necessary when the Kinzua Dam was built. About sixty families were forced to move, via to Bradford, ; Warren; Frewsburg, N.Y ; Jamestown, NY; Randolph, NY; and other places. The Willow Bay Marina, now popular as a part of the Recreation Area, is on the farm formerly owned and operated by J.P. Marsh. In the words of Maude in "A bit of Heaven, " I am glad my childhood was spent in village so small that I can carry the hole of it within my heart for the rest of my life.