History of Corbin                

by La Rue Watts, 8th grade [1953]                   


               Corbin was founded about seventy years ago by a colony from Missouri.

               Before the colony came here, the Hurst post office was one mile west

of here and the Santa Fe railroad ran southwest of here to Caldwell. Later the

Post office moved to where the railroad crossed and was called the Hurst Crossing.

The school at that time was called Maple Grove and was located one and one-half

Miles southwest of here.

               When the colony arrived, they purchased eighty acres of land and named

it Corbin. The first business was a mill built by Kennedy and Gooch; then a doctor’s

office and a drug store operated by Dr. W.F. Willhoit. A store was built by Kinney

and Kettering; a blacksmith shop by Bill Allen; a lumber yard by A.J. Moor; a hotel

by Andy Ruthrauff, and a jewelry store by Ben Alexander.

               Several business places, including the hotel, were destroyed by fire a few

years ago. This left only two historic buildings, the Odd Fellow building and the

Corbin School. The school was built in 1909 and is now district 114. The classes

go through the eighth grade and high school students go to Caldwell.

               The Santa Fe no longer runs trains south of here. Corbin is now served

by the Rock Island railroad and the Rock Island truck lines. No buses enter the town.

               The present buildings are the Corbin Methodist Church; the Rock Island

depot; two elevators; a lumber yard and hardware store; an oil station and bulk

station; a produce house, garage, blacksmith shop, restaurant, post office, and

grocery store. The grocery store occupies the ground floor of the Odd Fellow

building and the upper floor is used by the lodge. A bowling alley next to the

store was torn down about two years ago. Corbin’s population is around 110.

               Mr. and Mrs. O.P. Brownback, who farm at the south edge of Corbin,

were here several years before the colony settled the town. They are Corbin’s

oldest residents.

Images of the original manuscript [1.4 megabytes] by LaRue Watts are available.

A history of Corbin by Amy Shoffner was written for the History of Sumner County Kansas published in 1987 for The Caldwell Messenger by Curtis Media Corporation. It is reproduced here with permission of Pat Weber for The Caldwell Messenger.


 In June of 1878, William D. Hurst set up a post office one mile north of where Corbin now stands. He called it Hurst's Crossing. [According to a recently discovered 1878 map reprinted in the Map section, Hurst Crossing was about 1.5 miles west of the current Corbin site and on/near the Chikaskia River.] This was the gateway to the beginning of Corbin with people coming from Missouri in small groups to settle east of the Chikaskia River on the small level plains there. In late 1881, Hurst's Crossing was changed to simply Hurst. Hurst remained as a post office until the early part of the year 1883 and then it moved a mile south to be located directly on the Cowley, Sumner and Fort Smith Railroad which was built through the area in the 1880's. Land was purchased and the town of Corbin had its beginnings. Several possibili­ties are given for the name of Corbin but none are confirmed. By 1883, a prosperous businessman by the name of W.J. Kennedy arrived from Sullivan County Missouri. He purchased the area the people called Corbin and put lots up for sale. Kennedy added on to his ownership of Corbin in March 1885 by recording an addition directly south of the original town. It was called "Kennedy Addi­tion". The last addition of Corbin occurred in March of 1887, when a landowner in Downs Township by the name of Alexander Barr decided to purchase land directly northeast of the original town in Downs Township. He put it up for sale by lots as did Kennedy. Barr's addition was near the depot.

 The religion of the area was built up quickly, even before the forging of the original town. The church played a large part in building the area in the 1880's. The first services performed by circuit ministers from Wellington in 1878 were under the Western Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The first religious meetings were held in houses, sheds and mills. Before the church in Corbin was built, people traveled to the Chikaskia Church, which was about two and a half miles northwest of present day Corbin. In the year 1880, or thereabouts, the first Chikaskia Church which was built one­-half mile south of the Pleasant Valley school house and close to the little cemetery (which to this day is located 1/4 mile north of S&S Feeders.)

 In September of the year 1884, two lots were purchased for thirty dollars apiece for church grounds for the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The United Brethren and Christian congregations also participated in the building of the church and it was a finished product late in 1890. The Christian and United Brethren separated from the Methodist Episcopal Church, South and built their own churches in the late 1890's. The Christian Church moved to a house northeast of the town and United Brethren erected a church two blocks south of the Methodist Church on the west side of Main Street. The Christian Church died out ex­tremely quickly, in a matter of a year or so, and its followers split between the two remaining churches. The United Brethren Church was located on south Main Street. It was torn down in 1939 and its bell was placed in the Methodist Church. The followers shifted to the Methodist Church. The EUB Church bell is placed in the brick sign at the Corbin United Methodist Church. In 1919, a large stucco structure was built by the Methodists on the site of the previous church building on Main Street. In 1921, the Carriger and Falls Center Churches joined with Corbin. One church which played a major role is the Chikaskia Church. It combined with Corbin to make a wonderful union which has strengthened the church in its mission. Rev. Maurice Rickard was the last minister of the Chikaskia Church before it was torn down and merged with Corbin in 1940. A new parsonage was built in Corbin in 1942 while L.G. Snyder was minister. In 1949, the Lone Star School House was purchased and moved to Corbin and used as a church Annex. In 1964, groundbreaking ceremonies for the Educational Building were held. In June 1968, the Methodist Church merged with the Evangelical United Brethren and the Corbin Methodist Church was changed to Corbin United Methodist Church. The new sanc­tuary addition was completed in the fall of 1976.

 In the early years of Corbin, an impressive list of business men guided the young prospering town. Two railroads went through the town with the addition of the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad completed in 1887. There were two express companies; the United States and Wells Fargo and Co.

 During the building up of the town, the mill played an important part providing business to most of the surrounding rural landowners. The first mill was located two blocks west of the present church along the Santa Fe Railroad. It was built late in 1881 by the various farmers around the area and used as a meeting place for churches and societies. Millers were scarce but many of the people pitched in and produced flour for the needs of the area farmers. In 1899, the mill was burned to the ground by railroad tramps. After the burning, a second mill was set up where the Wolcott-Lincoln Elevator stands today at the north edge of town. This was a smaller mill run by a gas engine. It was only in operation for a few years before a fire completely destroyed it.

 The General Store Business was plentiful in Corbin. There were a number of store operators through the years. The Cox Tra­ding Company was operated and owned by George and Jesse Cox for over thirty years while many of the others came and went. The Cox store was built in 1911 and was on the site of the present Rural Fire District Build­ing. The next General Store was owned and operated by E.E. Whitten for several years. Above this store was the Odd Fellows Hall which was a popular meeting place for many years. The present cement block building was built in 1957 by Clifford and Ruth Lungren. They operated a grocery store for three years and sold that business to Max and Orene Utterback. After that business closed years later, the Rural Fire District purchased the building to house the fire trucks.

 Hotels appeared and disappeared just as the general stores did. The Madison Hotel was built in 1911 on the southwest corner of block 8 on Main Street. The owner was James Madison. The builder, Zeen Lile, is also responsible for building the block blacksmith shop which was located on North Main Street. The Stratton House was located directly north of the Madison Hotel and is the present home of Pauline Black.

 The first and only bank in Corbin was housed in the new Madison Hotel. One of the downstairs corner rooms was set up to house the newly established Corbin State Bank. This was only for a few months or so while the red brick structure, a block south, was being built. The bank was fathered by the Stock Exchange Bank of Caldwell and had a good life before it closed in the late forties due to an embezzlement scandal.

 The history of schooling in the area goes back to 1878. Schools in the area were Maple Grove, Spring Creek, Frandlin, Pleasant Prairie, Lone Star and Corbin. In 1909, a strong, red brick structure was built and housed grades 1-10. All the outlying schools consolidated to the Corbin school. Grades 11 and 12 attended Caldwell High School. This school was the only rural school in a large area that had a hot lunch program. Louise Hess was a long-time cook and the custodian for many years was A.O. Lile. In the last several years, teachers came and went but these two continued with the school. Corbin School was closed in the mid 60's when the state unification went into effect.

 In the Corbin area, there were a few small cemeteries but most of them had unmarked graves until the Corzine Cemetery was built. This is located one mile east and three miles south of Corbin. It was originally named the Spring Creek Cemetery, but that name was unfortunately changed because it was getting confused with another Spring Creek Ceme­tery just south of Falls Township in Oklaho­ma. It was changed to Corzine Cemetery because it was surrounded by Corzine farm land.

 An annual early-day event was the Day­ton's Grove Reunion held at Dayton's Grove along the north side of the Chikaskia River by the low water bridge, south of Corbin. This 3-4 day event was held each August for several years between 1910 and 1917. Fami­lies traveled many miles and rode the train from Caldwell or Wellington. At the river crossing, the train would stop and let the people off for the day and stopped in the evening to pick passengers up. This was an opportune time for the politicians to appear and speeches from various political persons were held all day. The speakers spoke from a wooden structure without benefit of public address system. A Merry-Go-Round was available for children for 5¢ a ride. The ride used a gasoline engine as power source. Along the north road, horse races were held. Concession stands selling hamburgers, hot dogs and pink lemonade were set up. This was a time for family reunions and families would gather separately for a noon basket dinner. Some people brought tents and camped for the three days but most went home at night via horses and buggies or the train only to return the next day. There were no nighttime activities because there was no light.

 In later years, Corbin activities changed. A big event in Corbin every Saturday night was the band concert. The band concerts were held in the band stand which was constructed by Kennedy near the Madison Hotel. Corbin had an excellent brass band under the direction of James Liston. They played on any occasion possible as well as competed at Band Contests. They also played at Dayton's Grove for community celebrations.

   The first known ball field in Corbin was east of the schoolhouse in the Brownback pasture. This area was mainly a "sandlot" field and used after school and on Sunday afternoons. In the 1930's, softball really got a start in Corbin with the development of a ball field west of the elevator at the northwest part of town. Because of the railroad tracks on the west and the elevator on the east, this was not a choice spot. It was not unusual for a hit softball to bounce off the elevator tanks. But for years Corbin Softball Tournaments were held there. During the war, the sport declined. But in the mid-40's teams reorgan­ized and a new area was chosen for a ball field. Jerie Murphy offered a large area he owned to the ball club to use. A backstop was put up on the northeast comer of the block and in a few years new backstop and lights were put up in the southeast comer of the block. This is the present site. Outfield lights were added to the field in 1979. New backstops were built and installed in the summer of 1985. The portable concession stand was made in 1977 and is used at the church for the Corbin Men's Sausage Supper and moved to the ball field in the summer for the softball games.

 The Red Ball Oil Company was located in Barr's Addition adjacent to the depot. A group of Corbin businessmen bought out Red Ball and renamed it Corbin Oil. A fire destroyed Corbin Oil in the mid 1920's. Ten years later, Murphy Oil Co. bought out Corbin Oil and relocated it at the present bulk station. Bob Rice bought in with Jerie and Beatrice Murphy and the business was renamed Corbin Oil Inc. Murphys sold out in the 60's to Bob Rice. In 1975, Corbin Oil Inc. was renamed Rice Oil Co. when Bob became a distributor for Mobil Oil. In 1976, he became a distributor for Getty Oil also. Within a few years, Bob's sons Bill and Brent joined Rice Oil. Brent bought the Corbin Service Station from Pauline Black in 1984.

 Corbin has had many changes in the 100 years since W.J. Kennedy first purchased land at Corbin. In 1987, there are about 35 residents, two grain elevators, Rice Oil, Corbin Service and L.P. Gas and an active UMC Church. Two weeks every summer the softball tournaments are held. The Corbin Hardware and Lumber closed in the summer of 1986. The post office was closed and metal post office lock boxes were installed across from Rice Oil. The community around Cor­bin continues to support the town.                                                                                                  

by Amy Shoffner