The Village of Corning, Missouri, had a population of 300 to 350 during the 1870s to 1900. There are now two registered voters in that political subdivision. A petition was accepted by the Holt County Commissioners to unincorporate Corning on Tuesday, December 27, 2022.

Even with everything it’s been through and witnessed, St. John’s is still a structure that commands attention, love, and respect. (Scott Holmes photo)


Pictured is Corning’s CBBQ Depot during the flood of 1920.


A group of students and adults in Corning, Missouri, in 1894.

By Margaret Slayton,

Mound City News

A petition was accepted by the Holt County Commissioners to unincorporate the Village of Corning, Missouri, on Tuesday, December 27, 2022, during a meeting at the Holt County Courthouse in Oregon, Missouri. There are two registered voters for that political subdivision and there is no functioning board. All other voters have relocated since the 2019 flood. Tax levy rates have been set as zero. Louis Byford was named a trustee for a period of one year to close out all affairs and liquidate any assets.

Nancy Peters, longtime resident of Holt County, said that a series of floods, including the 2011 and 2019 floods, caused most of the residents in northwest Holt County to leave. During the 1870s to 1900, there was a population of 300 to 350 in Corning. At first, the city was mainly a German speaking population.

“The English-speaking did not trust them as they didn’t understand that language,” Peters said. “When the people that were taking the various census records came, they were English speaking workers. They didn’t understand the Germans and vice versa. The recorders wrote down what they could understand. So when you look at those records, you have to use your imagination to find the family you want.”

She said church services later on started having a service in English at times. There were two schoolhouses, one German and one English. The German school was the parochial school for St. John’s Lutheran Church.

One of the nearby communities was Hemme’s Landing. It was situated about two miles west of Corning. There was a significant trading post for the steamboats and travelers between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Council Bluffs, Iowa, in the 1840s to 1860s. The church was originally built near Hemme’s Landing in 1860. The children in the St. John’s Parochial School used the church from near Hemme’s Landing for school. It had been moved to town on rollers in 1886. The large brick building was built in 1893. A building for the school was built about 1912 and closed in 1917. This building was then used for Sunday school classes, vacation Bible school, youth group meetings and other uses as needed. The children studied German a half day and then went to the Corning school building a half day to study English.

Corning was a prosperous community that had quite a variety of businesses for the size of town that was available. It had two general stores, flour mill, two drug stores, dram shop, bank, newspaper, furniture and undertaking business, boot and shoe shop, harness shop, two blacksmith and wagon shops, two livery stables, a lumberyard, sawmill, rope and twine factory and brick factory. There were five doctors, a dentist, two cemeteries and a saloon. Corning also had an M.E. church, grain elevators, ice houses, creamery, meat market, barber shop, millinery and dress-making shop, post office, opera house, a string band and hotels.

Corning had the river for activities and entertainment along with Manitoba Lake and Schulte Lake. Manitoba Lake had a very large 4th of July celebration for many years before it was drained. The lake no longer exists.

When Hemme’s Landing disappeared from the Missouri River, the railroad took up the slack of providing these supplies. The people living on the west side of the river would watch the thickness of the ice. They would hitch up their horses to wagons and cross over the river on the thick ice to shop and visit friends and relatives. These trips depended on the thickness of the ice.

The railroad was relied on for shipping out various items. Cattle and hogs were sent by numerous loads on the rails. Corning was a large apple producing area. One of the old newspaper articles was about Andrew Peters taking a box car of apples to Gothenburg, Nebraska. Corn was sent out, also, as well as lumber.

Corning lost its school in the 1950s and then the train depot was taken out. After the 1993 flood, the population declined and there was a loss of the post office, zip code and telephone exchange. In 2000, the census showed 21 residents.

“Flooding is one of the causes of the decline of Corning,” Peters said. “Flooding has been a constant event in the history of Corning. The Missouri River and Big Tarkio together or alone have driven families away. After each flood, the population number dropped. The flooding in 2011 and 2019 were very devastating in the depth and length that the water stayed around. The destruction has taken so much of the passion out of living and working as a bottom dweller.”