Corydon, Indiana

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For other uses, see Corydon (disambiguation).
Town of Corydon, Indiana
Downtown Corydon Indiana viewed from the Pilot Knob in the Hayswood Nature Reserve
Downtown Corydon Indiana viewed from the Pilot Knob in the Hayswood Nature Reserve
Location in the state of Indiana
Location in the state of Indiana
Coordinates: 38°12′46″N 86°7′31″W / 38.21278°N 86.12528°W / 38.21278; -86.12528Coordinates: 38°12′46″N 86°7′31″W / 38.21278°N 86.12528°W / 38.21278; -86.12528
Country United States
State Indiana
County Harrison
Township Harrison
 • Total 1.65 sq mi (4.27 km2)
 • Land 1.65 sq mi (4.27 km2)
 • Water 0 sq mi (0 km2)
Elevation 587 ft (179 m)
Population (2010)[2]
 • Total 3,122
 • Estimate (2012[3]) 3,108
 • Density 1,892.1/sq mi (730.5/km2)
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 47112
Area code(s) 812
FIPS code 18-15256[4]
GNIS feature ID 0433003[5]

Corydon is a town in the far southern part of the state of Indiana in the United States. It is in Harrison Township in Harrison County, just north of the Ohio River. It was founded in 1808 when Vincennes was the capital of the Indiana Territory; the capital was moved to Corydon in 1813. The state of Indiana was established in 1816, and Corydon was the capital of the state until Indianapolis took over that role in 1825. The town remains the county seat of Harrison County[6] and had a population of 3,122 at the 2010 census.


Corydon's history dates to the American Revolution, when the area was captured by George Rogers Clark from the British, bringing it under the control of the fledgling United States.

Map of Corydon from 1876 atlas

In the early 1800s Edward Smith brought his family to settle the edge of a fertile valley near a large spring, the site of the present-day county fairgrounds. William Henry Harrison, Governor of the Indiana Territory, often stopped to rest at their home while travelling to and from Vincennes. Harrison chanced on the spot where Big Indian Creek and Little Indian Creek join to become the Indian Creek. Tradition says he decided to build a town there and asked Edward Smith's daughter, Jenny, to name it. She chose the name Corydon from Harrison's favorite hymn, the Pastoral Elegy.[7]

Early history[edit]

Old Capitol Building in downtown Corydon

Harrison sold the town site to Harvey Heth in 1808, a government surveyor and large landowner. The official founding date of 1808 commemorates when Heth platted the town. Heth donated the town square for public use, and sold individual lots to settlers and the territorial government.[7] In 1809 Corydon was connected by road to Doup's Ferry, fifteen miles (24 km) to the south in Mauck's Port, providing access to the Ohio River for trade. Corydon sent a mounted militia company nicknamed the Yellow Jackets to support the territorial army in the War of 1812. They fought in the Battle of Tippecanoe, suffering higher casualties than any other unit engaged on there.

In 1811 Dennis Pennington began construction on the first state capitol, with the intent of using it as an assembly building for the territorial legislature. Pennington, a Corydon resident, was the speaker of the territorial legislature. Corydon was competing with Madison and Jeffersonville to become the new capital of the territory. Construction, using limestone from a nearby quarry, was built starting in 1811 and was completed in 1815.[8] The Governor's Mansion and First State Office Building were built in 1817. The home of Colonel Thomas Posey was also built during this time. Colonel Posey was the son of Thomas Posey, Governor of Indiana Territory from 1813 until 1816. The Grand Masonic Lodge, the first in the state, was built in 1819. Corydon became the second capital of the Indiana Territory on May 1, 1813, when it was moved there from Vincennes to be more centralized with the population of the newly reorganized Indiana Territory.[7]

The state's first constitution was drawn up in Corydon during June 1816. The forty-three delegates representing Indiana Territory's counties were charged with the writing of the state's constitution and met inside the Harrison County Courthouse. Because of cramped conditions inside the courthouse and the summer heat, the delegates often sought refuge outside under a giant elm tree next to Big Indian Creek. This tree is now known as the Constitution Elm, and its trunk is still preserved.[9] The preamble of the constitution began:

We the Representatives of the people of the Territory of Indiana, in Convention met, at Corydon, on Monday the tenth day of June in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and sixteen,...

— Writers of the Constitution of Indiana, [10]

After statehood, Corydon served as the first state capital of Indiana.[11] During the eleven years that Corydon served as a capital it was the center of politics in the state, and its residents included Davis Floyd, Governors of Indiana Jonathan Jennings and Ratliff Boon (the first and second, respectively), first Speaker of the Senate Dennis Pennington, and William Hendricks, who was the first Congressman, third governor and Senator.

Dennis Pennington and other representatives from Harrison County in the Indiana General Assembly resisted attempts to move the capital from Corydon; they succeeded in part by adding a clause to the state constitution during the convention preventing the capital from leaving the town before 1825. Ultimately, as the population center of the state shifted northward, it was no longer convenient to have the state capital at the southern extremity of the state. The capital was finally moved to Indianapolis on January 10, 1825.

Post-capital period[edit]

On September 11–14, 1860, the first annual county fair was held on Corydon's 36-acre (15 ha) fairgrounds. The fair has been an annual event since and is the longest continuously running fair in the state.[12] The fairgrounds, built in the southwest corner of Corydon, are bordered on the south and west by a large ridge; this ridge served as a natural grandstand until the first grandstand was built circa 1910.[13]

Battle of Corydon Memorial Park

Corydon was the site of the only Civil War battle fought in Indiana. On July 9, 1863, Confederate cavalry led by Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan, aided by the citizens of Brandenburg, Kentucky, crossed the Ohio River into Indiana to begin what is known as "Morgan's Raid". Morgan's 2,500 men were opposed by 400 hastily assembled home guard at the Battle of Corydon. The Union troops were quickly defeated and the town surrendered. Corydon was sacked in retaliation for Union looting in Kentucky. The town's treasury of $690 was seized, and the inmates of the jail were released. Gen. Morgan demanded from $600 to $700 from each mill and shop owner; otherwise, their buildings would be burned. Tradition says one Corydon miller overpaid by $200; Morgan promptly returned it to him.[14][15]

Corydon in 1896, looking southward from Walnut Street

The railroad reached Corydon in 1882. Corydon was connected by Southern Railways to the main line running across northern Harrison County at Crandall. The line remained open to passenger traffic until 1996. As of 2008, the line was owned by Lucas Oil.

Corydon's Old West Bridge in 1889

The town of Corydon was shocked by an attempted murder in 1889, the first in the town's history. The two alleged assailants, named Devin and Tennyson, were taken from the county jail by a quiet, orderly mob of 200 men, led by 20 masked Indiana White Caps. The two were hanged from the old Western Bridge.[16][17] Although their identities were known, the members of the lynch mob were never prosecuted.

In 1929, a new county courthouse was completed. Previously, the county government had used the old state capitol building. The old statehouse was converted into an historical memorial.

A fire in 1960 destroyed much of County Fairgrounds, including the grandstand. A grandstand was purchased from the minor league baseball team from Parkway Field in Louisville, Kentucky and is still in use. In 1969 Corydon-born environmental historian Samuel P. Hays donated the 311-acre (1.26 km2) Hayswood Nature Reserve to the county; lnown as Hayswood Park, it is the second largest nature reserve in Harrison County.

The Old Capitol Building is now a state historic site, and the downtown area was designated a National Historic District in 1973. The Governor's Headquarters, Constitution Elm, First State Office Building and Posey House are included. The O'Bannon Publishing Company prints the Corydon Democrat, a weekly newspaper. Indiana Governor Frank O'Bannon owned the publishing company, and his widow still lives nearby.

Present town[edit]

The historic town square
The Harrison County Court House in 2006

Because of its historic nature, Corydon is a well-known regional tourist destination. The town hosts weekly events from early spring until late fall, usually centered on the historic town square. Some of the better-attended events include the annual Halloween Parade, the Harrison County Fair, summer Friday night band concerts, an annual reenactment of the Battle of Corydon and a long string of country and bluegrass performances. The week-long county fair, held the last week of July at the Harrison County Fairgrounds, is one of the more popular events, with attendance usually over 3,000 per night. The fair includes 4-H exhibits, a midway, demolition derbies, harness racing, and musical entertainment and has been run consecutively since its inception in 1860, making it the longest, consecutive-running fair in Indiana.[18]

In 2008 Corydon began celebrating its bicentennial anniversary with a year of events and the unveiling of a $200,000 bronze statue of the late governor and citizen of Corydon, the Honorable Frank O'Bannon.[19]

The current town board President is Fred Cammack. He has served in this position since 1975.

Corydon Historic District, Kintner House Hotel, and Kintner-McGrain House are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[20]


Corydon is located near the center of Harrison County. Indiana State Road 62 passes through the town from east to west; Interstate 64 passes in the same direction less than a mile north of the town. The state capitol of Indianapolis is about 120 miles (190 km) to the north, and the city of Louisville, Kentucky is about 25 miles (40 km) to the east. Indian Creek passes through the town; the creek continues to the southwest where it empties into the Ohio River.[21]

According to the 2010 census, Corydon has a total area of 1.65 square miles (4.27 km2), all land.[1]


Historical population
Census Pop.
1850 462
1870 747
1880 763 2.1%
1890 880 15.3%
1900 1,610 83.0%
1910 1,703 5.8%
1920 1,785 4.8%
1930 2,009 12.5%
1940 1,865 −7.2%
1950 1,944 4.2%
1960 2,701 38.9%
1970 2,719 0.7%
1980 2,724 0.2%
1990 2,661 −2.3%
2000 2,715 2.0%
2010 3,122 15.0%
Est. 2015 3,144 [22] 0.7%
U.S. Decennial Census[23]

2010 census[edit]

As of the census[2] of 2010, there were 3,122 people, 1,341 households, and 716 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,892.1 inhabitants per square mile (730.5/km2). There were 1,491 housing units at an average density of 903.6 per square mile (348.9/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 96.7% White, 0.7% African American, 0.2% Native American, 0.2% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.9% from other races, and 1.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.6% of the population.

There were 1,341 households of which 26.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.6% were married couples living together, 11.9% had a female householder with no husband present, 5.9% had a male householder with no wife present, and 46.6% were non-families. 41.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 20.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.14 and the average family size was 2.88.

The median age in the town was 40.8 years. 20.5% of residents were under the age of 18; 8.7% were between the ages of 18 and 24; 24.9% were from 25 to 44; 22.4% were from 45 to 64; and 23.4% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the town was 45.6% male and 54.4% female.

2000 census[edit]

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 2,715 people, 1,171 households, and 674 families residing in the town. The population density was 1,708.1 people per square mile (659.3/km²). There were 1,271 housing units at an average density of 799.6 per square mile (308.6/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 97.27% White, 1.14% African American, 0.41% Native American, 0.11% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.85% from other races, and 0.18% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.88% of the population.

There were 1,171 households out of which 25.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.4% were married couples living together, 13.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.4% were non-families. 37.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 19.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.17 and the average family size was 2.81.

In the town the population was spread out with 20.1% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 24.3% from 25 to 44, 20.7% from 45 to 64, and 24.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 83.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 80.2 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $33,823, and the median income for a family was $41,630. Males had a median income of $29,159 versus $21,699 for females. The per capita income for the town was $20,740. About 9.8% of families and 10.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.2% of those under age 18 and 14.3% of those age 65 or over.

List of historic sites[edit]

The Constitution Elm as seen in the summer of 2006
  • Old State Capitol
  • Governor Hendricks Headquarters
  • Constitution Elm
  • First State Office Building
  • Coburn-Porter Law Office
  • Posey House
  • Battle of Corydon Civil War Memorial Park
  • The Kintner House Inn
  • Branham Tavern
  • Westfall House
  • Cedar Glade
  • Leora Brown School
  • Heth House
  • Cedar Hill Cemetery
  • Flags Over Corydon
  • Harrison County Fairgrounds

Notable people[edit]

Spier Spencer was born in Virginia circa 1770. After his marriage in Kentucky, he moved to Vincennes, and in 1809 was appointed the first sheriff of Harrison County and moved to Corydon. He fought in the Battle of Tippecanoe and was killed in action on November 7, 1811. The town of Spencer and Spencer counties in Indiana and Kentucky were named for him.

William T. Zenor was born near Corydon. He studied law in New Albany and practiced law in Corydon. Later he was a judge from 1885 to 1897, and was elected to the United States House of Representatives, serving from 1897 to 1907. After this he returned to legal practice in Corydon. He died in 1916 and is buried in Corydon.

James Best

James Best was born in 1926 in Kentucky; at the age of three he went to an orphanage, then was adopted and was raised in Corydon. He joined the Army after World War II. In the 1950s he became an actor, appearing first in a western and then in a variety of film genres. He also appeared many times as a guest star in various television shows including The Andy Griffith Show and The Twilight Zone. He is best known for his role as Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard.[24]

Arville Funk was born in Harrison County in 1929 and attended school in Corydon. He taught high school history for 10 years starting in 1955. Like William Zenor, he studied law in New Albany, and returned to Corydon and practiced law; in 1965 he joined a partnership with Frank O'Bannon. He was also active with Indiana historical and genealogical societies, and wrote many books about Indiana history. He died in 1990, and is buried in Corydon.[25]

Frank O'Bannon was born in 1930 and was raised in Corydon. He attended Indiana University, where he earned degrees in government and law; he also served for two years in the U.S. Air Force. He was a state senator for 18 years and served as the lieutenant governor for 8 years before becoming governor in 1997. In 2003, he died in Chicago from complications from a stroke before his second term was ended; he was 73 years old.[26]

Samuel P. Hays was born in Corydon in 1924 to a 6th-generation Corydon family. He attended Swarthmore College and Harvard University, becoming a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, pioneering the history of the conservation movement in the U.S.[27][28][29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "G001 - Geographic Identifiers - 2010 Census Summary File 1". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2015-07-16. 
  2. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2012-12-11. 
  3. ^ "Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2013-06-25. 
  4. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  7. ^ a b c Federal Writers' Project, p. 181.
  8. ^ Lemmon 1891, p. 7.
  9. ^ "Indiana History: Indiana, the Nineteenth State (1816)". Center for History. 
  10. ^ "FULL TEXT OF THE 1816 CONSTITUTION". State of Indiana. Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  11. ^ Lemmon 1891, p. 5.
  12. ^ "154th Harrison County Fair begins Sunday". Clarion News. July 10, 2013. Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  13. ^ Federal Writers' Project, p. 184.
  14. ^ ISBN 0-394-46512-1 The Civil War: A Narrative Volume III By Shelby Foote
  15. ^ Federal Writers' Project, pp. 181–182.
  16. ^ Roose, William H. (1911). Indiana's Birthplace: A History of Harrison County, Indiana. New Albany, Indiana: The Tribune Company, Printers. p. 62. 
  17. ^ "Strung to the Bridge, Corydon's Murderers Lynched". Indiana State Sentinel. 19 June 1889. Retrieved 17 April 2016. 
  18. ^ Alan Stewart. "Fair a-buzz with activities". The Corydon Democrat. 
  19. ^ Spieth-Saylor, Jo Ann (June 11, 2008). "Corydon celebrates 200 years". Clarion News. Retrieved October 24, 2014. 
  20. ^ Staff (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  21. ^ Google (24 October 2014). "Corydon, Indiana" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 24 October 2014. 
  22. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2015". Retrieved July 2, 2016. 
  23. ^ "Census of Population and Housing". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  24. ^ "Bio for James Best". Retrieved 2012-01-21. 
  25. ^ Thompson, Donald E., ed. (1974). Indiana Authors and their Books, 1917–1966. Crawfordsville, Indiana: Wabash College. p. 225. 
  26. ^ "Indiana Governor Frank O'Bannon (1930-2003)". Indiana Historical Bureau. Retrieved 2012-01-21. 
  27. ^
  28. ^ "BookDetails". 
  29. ^ "Samuel P Hays b1924 Corydon Harrison I". Mocavo. 

External links[edit]