A township and a village, named for Corydon Township in McKean County. With the building of the Kinzua Dam and Allegheny River Reservoir, Cordon was wiped off the map in 1965 in preparation for the waters of the dam


By Ernest C. Miller

contributed by Cindy Bigelow

Inside the Rouse Home, protected by a glass case, you can see the charred leather boots he wore when the burning oil fire cased his death. This is really how it happened; several months ago I was shopping in a Warren market when someone tapped me on the shoulder. Turning around I found myself looking into the eyes of a gentleman I have known a long time and he said to me, "Why don't you write something about Corydon, especially now that it doesn't exist any more?" I told him I would look into the matter and this is what I was able to come up with.

The boundary line between Warren and McKean counties was in dispute and by an act of the legislature April 16, 1845, a commission was appointed to settle the matter. Andrew H. Ludlow of Warren, and John Williams and Jonathan Marsh of McKean County, constituted the commission to establish the new line. On March 26, 1846, the new boundary having been established, part of Corydon Township of McKean became the newly formed Corydon Township of Warren County.

The area that became our Corydon Township had been a pretty wild section, located generally between the Seneca Indian Reservation in New York State and the Cornplanter Indian Grant in Pennsylvania. There has long been confusion as to how the place was named but it seems likely that the name corydon was adopted from Greek and Roman poetry as this was the name of the shepherd in Theocritis's "Idyls" and Vergil's "Ecogues," and became virtually standardized as the typical name for an enamored rustic.

The first settler was Philip Tome who came from Lycoming County in 1827 although he had resided briefly in the Kinzua area as early as 1815. A famed hunter, and interpreter for Chief Cornplanter and Governor Blacksnake, chiefs along the Allegheny, he is best remembered today as the author of the book titled "Pioneer Life, or, Thirty Years a Hunter." It was written with the aid of a school teacher relative, and makes fascinating reading.

Some years ago Mayme Marsh described some of the popular pastimes in the township when she was growing up there. She said, "Bordering the river were cattails, willows, thistles, fragrant blossoms, arbutus, ladyslippers, marsh marigolds, wintergreen berries, and in the autumn, chestnuts, which were plentiful then, and bittersweet prized for winter bouquets." The gathering of these was a popular pastime.

For hunters there were deer, bear, wolves, and a few panthers. And the Allegheny River supplied adequate fish as well as ice in the winter.

Dr. Benjamin Blodgett was the second settler and before the days of mail routes and postage stamps, he served as the first postmaster and he was also the first physician. Later, when the mails become more stabilized, Bolivar Case was appointed the first official postmaster on October 16, 1849.

As the settlers increased in number, a plank school house was built in 1818-29; the planks were placed in a horizontal position and dovetailed at the corners for want of nails. The school term was six months. This rough school was only 16 by 20 feet in size. By 1831-31 a larger school was erected, paid for by subscriptions.

Early in Corydon's history two men from Vermont named Clark and Sanderson, bought 17.000 acres of timberland in the township for which they paid $75.000. As a result large mills were built and lumbering became an important industry and continued so until after 1845.

Bottom lands were slowly cleared for farming and oxen were heavily used. Buckwheat, potatoes, and corn were the main crops. As there was no grist mill, the corn had to be taken into New York state where a grist mill did operate.

A stagecoach from Steamburg, New York, came through Corydon carrying mail, passengers, and light freight at times. It was the chief connection with the outside world.

All this changed in 1881 with the grading of the Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia Railroad past the place. The town and area boomed again, lumber mills were again built and lumbering became important. The largest industry was reported to have been the Jamestown Woodpulp and Paper Mill.

Fraternal organizations existed and were very active and included the Good Templars, Odd Fellows, Lady Rebeccas, Equitable Aid Union, and Knights of the Maccabees. It was this last organization that sponsored the ox roast held annually from 1890 through the early 1900 years. The Woodbeck grove was leased for the affair and over 2.000 people were served at the yearly function.

At the turn of the century Corydon had two hotels, the Dalrymple Hotel at the eastern edge of town and the Griffin Hotel at the other end, close to the river. There were eleven stores, a livery stable, several blacksmiths, a grist mill, and a handle factory.

Baseball was popular and the area had a fine team and visiting teams arrived by stage or train. One team played the St. Louis Stars and a tarpaulin was place around the playing field and spectators were charged one dollar to see the affair.

In 1902 a bad fire destroyed part of the business section of the town and in 1918 an ice jam in the river caused considerable damage to many houses.

With the building of the Kinzua Dam and Allegheny River Reservoir, Corydon was wiped off the map in 1965 in preparation for the waters of the dam. The leading church, the Methodist, founded in 1883, had its final service in 1962 and its first pastor, Rev. John Akers, had given the church a pulpit Bible; at the final service the same Bible was presented to Ralph Akers, grandson of the initial pastor.

The old Corydon school bell was given by Mr. and Mrs. Burgett of Edinboro, Pennsylvania, to this writer for presentation to the historical society where it can be seen today.

And the small acreage of Corydon Township not flooded by dam waters has been attached to Mead Township for political and legal purposes..

Contributed for use by the Warren County Genealogy Project (

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