Corning, Ohio

From Ohio History Central

Corning is a small community in Perry County, Ohio.

In 1879, Joseph Rodgers sold his land in Perry County to dozens of people and businesses. This land would become the site of Corning. Purchasers desired the land because the Ohio Central Railroad was to pass through the community. The Ohio Central Railroad intended to transport the area's coal deposits to the nation's various industrial centers, especially those located in northeastern Ohio.

Corning grew quickly. By 1880, 271 residents lived in the community. By 1890, the population had increased to 1,551 people. Most early residents were of Scotch-Irish, German, and British descent, but as labor strife erupted in the mid 1880s, especially during the Great Hocking Valley Coal Strike of 1884-1885, coalmine owners hired Hungarians, Italians, and various Eastern European national groups to work as strikebreakers. Violence sometimes erupted between the various nationalities, as each group sought preferential status with the coalmine owners.

The early residents of Corning also were concerned with the use of African-American miners at a mine in neighboring Rendville, Ohio. Corning's miners feared that African-American miners would drive down wages. To prevent the continued use of African-American miners, in 1880, white miners in Corning and neighboring communities descended upon Rendville, apparently hoping to drive the blacks from the community. In an attempt to mask their true intentions, the white miners smuggled firearms into the community in wagons, with the guns concealed under hay. According to newspaper accounts, no significant violence occurred, although Ohio Governor Charles Foster did dispatch the Ohio National Guard to disburse the mob. In a small skirmish, three or four protestors were injured. This event became known as "the Corning War."

Tensions between the white and black miners continued. In 1888, a mob of Corning whites prepared to descend on Rendville, following the murder of a white Corning man presumably by an African-American man from Rendville. Rendville's mayor, Isaiah Tuppins, the first black man to serve as a mayor of an Ohio community, convinced Corning law enforcement officials to disperse the mob and to protect the accused man.

Despite these racial and nationalistic tensions, Corning prospered. By 1900, many communities in the region had begun to decline due to a lessened demand for coal. Corning avoided the economic consequences of this, as the community had become an important railroad hub. By 1900, the Ohio Central Railroad, the Kanawha and Michigan Railroad, and the Zanesville and Western railroad all converged in Corning. Also helping the community economically was the discovery of oil in 1889. Today, many residents of Corning continue to earn their livings in the oil industry.

By 1950, Corning began to experience a decline. With the advent of trucks and highways, the railroad industry became less important and could not sustain Corning as it had in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The community's population slowly declined, as residents sought better financial situations elsewhere. By 2000, fewer than six hundred people still resided in Corning.

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