One of the genial and typical western pioneers of the Pipe Creek country is A.D. Corning, the subject of this sketch, who settled on his present farm in 1868. Upon meeting Mr. Corning for the first time the writer remarked that he was included among the first settlers of the community. Whereupon he replied in pioneer parlance, with a majestic wave of his hand toward a range of hills across the creek to the westward, "Do you see them hills yonder? Well, when I came here those hills were holes in the ground. Mr. Corning's farm was not the traditional, but the real Indian camping ground in the days of the redman. They were attracted there by a large spring on Pipe creek, which runs through his land. This desirable claim had been secured by some roaming buffalo hunters who had built a dugout and turned the sod on twenty-seven acres of ground. Mr. Corning traded a yoke of oxen for the relinquishment of this homestead. In 1869, from a twelve acre wheat field cultivated with a yoke of steers and a single-tooth harrow, he threshed four hundred bushels of wheat. He also raised three hundred bushels of corn that year and rejoiced in the belief that he had discovered the Arcadia of the "new world."
Mr. Corning is a native of Boone county, Illinois, born in 1848. He received his early education in the graded schools of Caledonia, Illinois, and took a two years' course in the Beloit, Wisconsin, High school. At the age of seventeen years he drove a team from Illinois to Denver, a distance of one thousand two hundred miles. This gave him a taste for pioneer life and in the spring of 1867 he came to Solomon City, where his father had preceded him one year and operated a portable saw mill as far up the Solomon river as the town of Delphos. A.D. Corning was active during Indian uprisings. Upon one of these occasions John Jones was sent to deliver a message of warning to the settlers. His horse gave out and the errand was carried out by Mr. Corning, who says he raced over the prairies and warned them "good and plenty."
Mr. Corning is a son of William and Lydia (Ingersol) Corning. From his mother's maternal ancestry he is a lineal descendant of the Hamlins, who were a distinguished old English family. William Corning was a wagonmaker by trade, born in Columbia, New York, in 1824, and as before stated came to Solomon City, Kansas, in an early day. He now lives in Minneapolis, Ottawa county, at the age of seventy-seven years. This venerable couple celebrated their golden wedding in 1896. The Corning family came to America from England, among whom was Samuel Corning, our subject's grandfather, of Albany, New York, who was born in 1616, and all the Cornings in this country are supposed to be from one or the other of these branches.
A.D. Corning is one of six children, five of whom are living: Rosaltha, deceased wife of William Chappel, a farmer of Ottawa county, Kansas. Mrs. Chappel died in 1900, leaving two daughters, Alice and Edna. Clara, wife of Al Johnson, an elevator engineer of Enid, Oklahoma. Elva, wife of Jerome Hollingsworth, of Minneapolis, Kansas. Fred, a ship carpenter of Stockton, California. Myrtle, wife of Will Fann, a cabinetmaker and ship builder of San Francisco, California.
Mr. Corning was married on the first day of the new year, 1875, to Nettie Coffin, a daughter of Abner Coffin, originally from a Quaker settlement in New York. Mrs. Corning enjoys the distinction of having taught the first school in Meredith township. The Coffins emigrated to Illinois in 1866, removed to Kansas two years later and homesteaded the farm in Meredith township, now owned by Ezekial Jones. In 1891 he went to Oklahoma, where he died in 1896, and where the wife and mother still resides. The Coffin family were New Englanders. Mrs. Corning was the oldest of ten children, five of whom are living: Orrin, a farmer living near Puyallup, Washington; Frances, wife of Henry Yount, a farmer near Dover, Oklahoma; Jesse and Lewis, the two youngest sons, are farmers, also living near Dover, Oklahoma.
To Mr. and Mrs. Corning have been born five children, three of whom are living: Bessie married to Earl Holph, a farmer of Meredith township; Dicie, deceased in 1885, at the age of seven years; Hazel, a very bright and promising girl, died in 1897, at the age of fifteen years; Burt, a school-boy of fourteen years, and Leah, aged thirteen.
Mr. Corning now owns three hundred and ninety acres of land, with two hundred and thirty acres under cultivation, and is one of the most desirable farms in Cloud county. He has thirty acres of timber, which is superior to that generally found this part of the state, he furnished the first bridge timber at Concordia, and considerable that has been used for the various bridges throughout the country. His farm is in a high state of cultivation with in abundance of fruit. Mr. Corning has been very successful in hog raising. Since 1875 he has sold twenty-five thousand dollars worth of hogs. He keeps a herd of from forty to fifty head of native cattle. He built the first frame house (of cottonwoods) on Pike creek in 1870, and the first frame barn in 1873. In 1882 he added on to and remodeled the house, and they now have one of the finest residences in Meredith township, a commodious eight-room house, beautifully situated in one of the bends of Pipe creek.
Mr. Corning's farm was in the line of the hail storm which came in 1889, and chopped through the shingles of the roof, tore through the screens and broke the window glass, killed twenty-two hogs and many chickens that were sheltered by the trees. He had one hundred acres of corn in hard roasting ear, from which not one ear was saved. Grass was pounded into the ground and a scene of desolation presented. Mr. Corning is a Democrat in politics. He served three terms as trustee of Meredith township and is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows of Delphos Lodge No. 149. Mr. Corning is one of those, hale fellows well-met, whose friends are legion.
Transcribed from E.F. Hollibaugh's Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas biographies of representative citizens. Illustrated with portraits of prominent people, cuts of homes, stock, etc. [n.p., 1903] 919p. illus., ports. 28 cm.
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