The Plats of Old Corning!
The plat of the Town of Corning was recorded in 1882 in the court records of Western District Clay. The plat being a duplicate of the original that was recorded in the ledgers of Clay County in 1873 and transferred to Boydsville in 1877 when the county seat was moved. Those ledgers burned in the fire that ruined the Eastern District frame courthouse in Piggott, January 16, 1893. Why the county records were not stored in the fireproof vault that night is one of those intriguing 64 dollar questions.
The plat that saved our historical beginning shows the town that the Cairo and Fulton surveyed in 1872 at the completion of the line from St. Louis to Little Rock. A town of 48 blocks was surveyed, equally divided East and West by the Cairo and Fulton, and North and South by Main Street. The streets were 60 feet wide, save Main, which was an 80 foot thoroughfare. Alleys were North and South, 16 feet wide, with a few running East and West in the business section. The blocks were numbered North and South, beginning with 1 on the West to 8 - S-N from 9 to 16 LS 17 to 24. The same numbering on the East Side with Block 48 in the Northeast corner of the town. 12 lots, 50 x l50 were platted on each block, 6-11 and 22. Because of a bayou from West Third to Fourth, making a street impassable, those blocks were lengthened to 20 lots, giving Vine Street its present location. Thanks to this switch from normality, Corning acquired Hop Alley, our first mall, running from West First to West Second and the legend that anyone who walked through would return at some future date to walk again, if you drink the waters of Black River - the legend is infallible!
The Cairo and Fulton Depot was located in the center of Main Street. A small wooden building, it survived the demands of the citizens for a better terminal from the early until 1926, when the new depot appeared at the foot of West Vine. The Slow Train through Arkansas was matched the retarded speed of the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern, and successor the Missouri-Pacific is spending money for passenger conveniences!
Although the plat showed 48 blocks, many of them never got beyond the platting stage! On the West side the six blocks in North Corning remained in fields, as for the East Side, the town never made it South of Elm. Staley Lake took over at that point and East Second ended at the Elm Street intersection. One must conclude that the surveyor surveyed the East Side in one of the town's three saloons with plenty of firewater on hand for the watery task!
The plats were taken off the market when Levi Hecht, James Carpenter and James Stephens filed a Swampland grant on most of the blocks. A South Corning was platted in the P. H. Young Addition, pictures with this article. [not included in the paper.] Blocks 8-9 and 24 were changed to match the numbers of the new addition and it was the part of Corning that was incorporated in 1877. Upper Corning was not annexed until the Land Grant Titles were declared void. Upper Corning was annexed in the election of August 16, 1880 by a vote of 21 for and 1 against - well, there's always ONE in every community!
East to West streets in Upper Corning read North to South, Laurel, Hazel, Walnut, Main, Elm, Vine, Pine in the Young Addition; Olive, Market, Chestnut, Arnold and Myrtle. Block 93 became court square and the struggle to get the county divided into Eastern and Western Districts was on.