The County of Wayne (named after a Revolutionary hero name Mad Anthony Wayne) was organized in 1851. A three-man committee (one each from Appanoose, Monroe & Decatur) appointed by the Legislature was given the duty of choosing the site for a county seat. The site selected was to benefit the most people. They selected a site one mile north and 1/4 mile east of the exact center of the county.
Corydon acquired its name in a rather unorthodox way. The men who selected the site and laid out the plats could not agree on a name. Springfield and Anthony were both suggested but met with disapproval, so a game of poker was suggested. The winner would then name the town. Judge Seth Anderson won the game and named the town after his old home town of Corydon, Indiana. There remain only three Corydons in all of this country in Iowa, Indiana and Kentucky.
The town of Corydon was laid out and platted in 1851. It was late that same year that it was designated as the county seat town. There had been a struggle between the citizens of Allerton and Corydon to be the county seat. It was that same year that Lewis Miles brought his family from Ohio. He purchased quite a bit of land for $1 .25/acre. Much of the town of Corydon is built on that land and many abstracts carry the Miles name. The log cabin in Dotts Park (near the Prairie Trails Museum) was built in replica of the cabin for the Lewis Miles family.
The Burlington Railroad, originally the M.I.&N, was built through Corydon in 1879. It later became the Keokuk & Western and then finally, the Burlington in 1900. The Rock Island Railroad came to Corydon in 1911-12 and was called “the Kansas City shortline”. This line was part of a longer direct line from Minneapolis to the southwest part of the country. During one of the public meetings concerning the “coming of the first railroad”, Jesse James robbed the Ocobock Bank. He was met with no resistance as all were at the public meeting.
At the close of 1853, the population of Corydon was about 100. By 1857, there were 300 inhabitants and the town incorporated. Also in that year, a frame school was built. In 1880, a “very handsome edifice” school was erected two blocks west of the square costing $13,000. Since that time, renovations and additions have occurred but the location still serves as the Wayne Community Schools (Junior & Senior High School).
Being a distance from the coal mines of southern Iowa, Corydon’s economy was primarily agricultural and later, entrepreneural small industry. Around this nucleus of business developed retail stores, churches, newspapers and recreation that has existed to this day. Leading citizens all throughout Corydon’s history have given time and money to their city of residence. One citizen gave $2000 for the only three-story brick building on the south side of the square – the American Legion building; another citizen, Allen Walden, gave the land for a park in the southeast part of town.