Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Robert H. Corner

Robert H. Corner ROBERT H. CORNER. When Mr. Corner arrived in Wayne Township of Edwards County in August, 1877, his eye could sweep the horizon of buffalo grass in every direction, and only two claim shanties were in view. One of those settlers was O. S. Ostrander and the other James Gray. Forty years have come and gone, and in all the wonderful development, gained through ordeals and trials that present generations hardly realize, Mr. Corner has borne a part and a worthy one, and has built and accumulated the possessions which mark the thrifty and successful farmer and citizen. He now lives near Lewis, the vicinity where he originally settled, and has a fine country home, which bears the appropriate title of "Tanglewood."

On coming here Mr. Corner entered a homestead and a tree claim, the west half of section 30, township 24, range 17. Accompanying him to Kansas were his wife and two children. Their first home was a frame shanty twelve by sixteen feet. Underneath was a sort of basement, while above was a low-roofed attic, so that in a pinch Mr. Corner could characterize his house as three stories and three rooms. To this he added a sod room sixteen by sixteen, and that combination of frame and adobe served him as a home for eighteen years or during the period of hard times in that section.

In coming to Kansas Mr. Corner traveled by railroad to Larned. He was well fitted for frontier efforts, being of a splendid stock of American pioneers. His family history is one of exceptional interest. He was born in Morgan County, Ohio, March 13, 1848, and his people were among the real pioneers of the Northwest Territory and the great Ohio Valley. On the paternal side his great-grandfather, Henry Maxon, was one of the pioneers who located at Marietta in Washington County, Ohio, on April 7, 1788, only a few years after the close of the Revolution and before the Constitution of the United States had been put into effect. Like most of those who located at that frontier post along the Ohio Henry Maxon came from New England. Seven years later, in 1795, the Corner family emigrated from England. In that family was William Corner, grandfather of Robert H. William was then six years old. They crossed the Atlantic in a sailing vessel, steam not yet having been utilized for propelling ships, and were nine weeks at sea. They landed at Baltimore, and from there walked to the head waters of the Ohio River above Pittsburg, and then took a boat down the river. There were some thirty people in the party. They hired a man with an ox cart to haul their freight, while all the emigrants walked along the trail. In this long journey over the Alleghenys the father of William Corner died, and also his sister, and both were buried by the roadside and their graves have long since been obliterated. The widowed mother had a child born during the journey, and it also was laid by the wilderness trail.

William Corner, the grandfather, lived out his life in Washington County, Ohio. He was a wagon maker and a farmer. He married a daughter of the Henry Maxon mentioned above. This daughter was born in the old fort at Marietta. Henry Maxon served from one of the New England states in the Revolutionary war. The children of William Corner and wife were: Henry, who, was born in October, 1812; Lucy, born in March, 1816, married James Anderson; Celinda married Captain J. P. Sandford; Mary, married Benjamin Posey. All of them lived beyond eighty and one was past ninety when death came.

Henry W. Corner, father of Robert H., became a cabinet maker. He was very expert with tools, and at the age of eighteen made a violin, on which instrument both he and his father played well. After following his trade some years he became foreman in a pattern shop of a foundry at McConnellsville, Ohio. He lived in a stirring period, when much of the Middle West was new and unexplored and inviting the enterprise and pioneer spirit of those in back eastern districts. The great Oregon trail was open and settlers were pouring into that country. Henry W. Corner gave up his position and started for the far Northwest. That was many years before the Civil war. There were no railroads, and he went by boat down the river from Pittsburg, up the Mississippi and Missouri to St. Joseph, Missouri. When he passed the site of Kansas City the only human habitations in sight were two Indian teepees at the mouth of the Kaw. At St. Joseph he fitted out a wagon with a string of cattle and crossed the plains to Portland, Oregon, walking all the way and driving his cattle. There were twenty-six wagons in the train. His own team consisted of twelve oxen and two cows. The cows served the dual purpose of pulling and of providing milk for the family. A few miles each day was the best they could accomplish, and it was six months before they got over the plains and mountain ranges into the green and fertile Oregon country. The journey was made without special incident so far as Indian troubles were concerned, though half the cattle were lost enroute. Henry Corner located in the Willamette Valley, but after four years abandoned that state and returned to Ohio by the way of the Isthmus of Panama. Back in Ohio, he operated a saw mill, but eventually took up farming and spent some years in that occupation. In 1879 he followed his son to Kansas, homesteading at the edge of Pawnee County, and while a very old man he managed to develop a farm and lived there until his death in 1897.

Henry W. Corner married Lucinda Robb, who died in 1886. She was a daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth (Strain) Robb. Their oldest child, Selina, married George W. Rowland and died in Ohio. Whitney was a member of the First Ohio Cavalry through the Civil war, and in 1877 he also came to Kansas and homesteaded in Pawnee County, but was a resident of Reno County when he met an accidental death. The third child was Robert H. J. Percival, the youngest, is still living on his father's old farm in Pawnee County.

Robert H. Corner grew up in Ohio and at the age of twenty-five, on September 27, 1873, married Miss Lizzie J. Hoffman. Her parents were Henry and Alice (Birchall) Hoffman. Her paternal grandfather, Christian Hoffman, and her maternal grandfather, John Birchall, came to America about the same time, the former from Germany and the latter from England. They located in Noble County, Ohio. The ten children of Henry and Alice Hoffman were: Margaret A., who first married Dr. John McClasky and afterward John Morris, and now lives near Marietta, Ohio; John was a soldier in the First Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, and died near Marietta; Lavina married John Riley, who was in the same company of the First Ohio Cavalry, and she is still living near Marietta; Thomas is a resident of Kinsley, Kansas; Mrs. Corner, next in age, was born October 30, 1849; Louisa married Leroy Thorniley and lives near Marietta; William is a resident of Lewis, Kansas; Anna is the wife of Henry Pape, living near Marietta; Albert has his home at Marietta; Marilla married Ben Pape, also of Southeastern Ohio.

Mr. and Mrs. Corner came to Kansas with two children. Eva L. is the wife of Delmer Mundhenke of Edwards County, and has two children, Ernest and Elbert. Nellie married James L. Cross. Another daughter, born after they came to Kansas, was Lucinda, who married George Countryman and died in Edwards County, without leaving children.

Returning to Larned, where Mr. Corner and family left the train and began their Kansas experience, Mr. Corner bought a yoke of steers and hauled his household goods from there to his claim. There were no roads, and at the same time there were no fences to obstruct travel in any direction over the prairies. For two and half years he used oxen to do his farm work. At that juncture his father and brother brought out from Ohio in a car a mare and its colt. Mr. Corner then bought another horse, and thus acquired a horse team. While an ox driver and when wishing to go to Kinsley or to Larned for provisions he hitched his cattle to a sled or borrowed a wagon from a neighbor. The neighbors likewise had oxen, and those who possessed a wagon were glad to lend it in order to get errands done in return. The articles and commodities produced were chiefly butter and poultry. Nothing in the way of field crops grew worthy of mention. When Mr. Corner came to the state he joined two neighbors in leasing a car, and among other things constituting the load he had two cows and a half dozen chickens. From these cows he gradually developed a stock of cattle, and the chickens were also the nucleus of the large flock that subsequently ranged over his farm. Four of the cattle he still has are descended from those two cows, and three of the four horses he maintains are likewise descendants of the mare his father brought.

Like other settlers, Mr. Corner was poor in purse and was put to many shifts in order to make a living. After getting his horse team he went east to grain localities and hauled grain back into Edwards County to sell to sheep men. He also made a number of trips south, sixty miles away, where he picked up dead timber from public lands and hauled it home for fuel. At the same time he always kept a big supply of buffalo chips. In his early cropping experience he found millet a good resource, and he raised some corn and his cane matured for feed. In the summer of 1878 he threshed a small crop of wheat. That lasted him for several years for his own flour supply, and from it he sowed again in 1878, 1879 and 1880. But it was not until 1881 that he secured another such crop. With his supply of wheat and with his cows, chickens and hogs it was not difficult to make a living so far as provisions were concerned.

Practically all the embarrassing circumstances of the pioneers were experienced by Mr. Corner. Times were hard, but he had faith that conditions would improve by and by and was contented to wait for the coming of prosperity. He had burned his bridges behind him when he left Ohio, and he was convinced that a return back East would profit him not at all and he could not be any worse off in Kansas than in Ohio. He kept on working, waiting and hoping, and in time his expectations were justified. He exercised his full right in taking land, and after a few years entered a pre-emption. He proved up this, but sold it to satisfy some of the obligations incurred in Kansas. He never placed a mortgage on his land for any purpose. However, after he had been here four years he could not have sold out and paid 50 cents on a dollar of his debts.

His ambition never led him to accumulate large land holdings. He was content merely with his half section. That he has improved and made a splendidly productive and a most satisfying home and farm. His community connections show him to have been a township officer for thirty years, either as clerk or as treasurer. He assisted in organizing Wayne Township, and also school district No. 11. For about thirty years he helped conduct elections. He is of republican faith, and he was never identified with the Farmers Alliance and the Populist uprising. Any offer of nomination for county office he steadfastly declined. Mr. and Mrs. Corner have no church membership but have contributed toward the moral upbuilding of the community, and their only connection is with the Patrons of Husbandry. Mr. Corner is opposed to secret societies. He is a splendid representative of that type of citizen who reclaimed Western Kansas and laid the foundation for the abundant prosperity now enjoyed there.