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CORN

Corn, a German-Russian Mennonite community, is located on State Highway 54A thirteen miles northeast of Cordell in Washita County. Originally named Korn, the town officially anglicized its name to Corn on October 21, 1918, due to anti-German sentiment arising from World War I. Favorable reports from a Mennonite missionary to Arapaho living along the Washita River near Shelly attracted the first settlers. In 1892 a vanguard group of eighteen Mennonite homesteaders set into motion a wave of migration that resulted in the establishment of Oklahoma's largest Mennonite settlement. By the end of 1893 the Mennonites numbered at least ninety-one family heads, with many more yet to come. Most of these Low German-speaking immigrants had originally settled in central Kansas. On April 27, 1896, the Korn post office was established in Charles and Mary King's home, two and one-fourth miles north of present Corn. Subsequently the post office was moved three miles north of the original site to James Kendall's Store. When Kendall's planned townsite failed to develop, he relinquished the post office to George B. Flaming, who in 1903 moved it to his merchandise store in present Corn.

Korn emerged as a thriving trade center, once boasting a cotton gin, wheat elevator, and flour mill. The Washita Mennonite Brethren Church, organized in 1893, built its first sanctuary at the present Corn site in 1894. As a result of geographic and population expansion, seven additional Mennonite churches were organized within a ten-mile radius of Korn. Three of those early Mennonite churches were still active in 2003. In 1902 the Mennonite Brethren established Korn Bible Academy, which has continuously educated students into the twenty-first century. The Washita County Enterprise, first printed in Colony, moved to Corn in December 1920. This newspaper still publishes a weekly edition. In 1933 a public high school graduated its first class.

In 1948 the Corn Mennonite Brethren Church developed a Home for the Aged, now known as the Corn Heritage Village. At the end of the twentieth century the facility accommodated 104 residents, providing a range of services from assisted living to full nursing care. In 1949 parishioners organized the Corn Calvary Baptist Church. The town was incorporated in August 1954. The first census report in 1960 indicated 317 residents. In 1969 the Corn and Colony school districts merged to form the Washita Heights District, with the schools situated in Corn. By 1980 the population had grown to 542 and stood at 591 in 2000.

SEE ALSO: GERMANS FROM RUSSIA, SETTLEMENT PATTERNS.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Agatha Funk, "A History of the Corn Community Pioneer Days (unpublished manuscript)," Vertical File, Corn Museum, Corn, Oklahoma. Don Heinrichs, "Chips off the Old Block," Washita County Enterprise (Corn, Oklahoma), 1997-2004. Jacob P. Kroeker, "A Personal History of the Corn Community, 1894-1975," Vertical File, Corn Museum, Corn, Oklahoma. 100 Years Corn Mennonite Brethren Church (Corn, Okla.: Mennonite Brethren Church, 1993). Lloyd Chester Penner, "The Mennonites on the Washita River: Culmination of Four Centuries of Migrations" (Ed.D. diss., Oklahoma State University, 1976). Vernon R. Wiebe, Come Let Us Stand United (North Newton, Kans.: Mennonite Press, Inc., 1977). Vernon R. Wiebe, Corn is Born: An Incomplete History of a Dutch-German Settlement in Western Oklahoma (N.p.: Vernon Wiebe, 1993).

Don Heinrichs

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