John Corn’s marriage to Mary Wade (known as “Polly”) Carter was recorded in Rabun County, Georgia as occurring on November 10, 1836 with the Rev. Robert Wood, also a Justice of the Peace, performing their marriage ceremony. Polly’s parents were Jesse Carter and Lavina Sams Carter. The Carter line went back to Edward Carter from Oxfordshire, England who settled in Pennsylvaniaabout 1682. Before Jesse and Lavina Carter moved to Rabun County, they had lived in Buncombe County near Cullowhee and their daughter Polly and John Corn knew each other then, and probably fell in love. He went to Rabun County to court and marry her in 1836. Polly was about three years older than John, having been born September 20, 1810 on the farm where her parents then lived at the Atkins Branch of the Big Ivy River near Cullowhee, NC. The young couple made their home at first at Cullowhee, but then when Adam Corn, John’s father, decided to migrate to Union County, Georgia to secure land available for settlement there, John and Polly decided to move, too.
We have seen from previous stories about Adam and Alfred that Rev. Adam Corn baptized his two older sons in the Hiawasee River near Macedonia Baptist Church in 1841. John Corn’s license to preach was issued by Macedonia Church on December 17, 1842. Two years later, on November 16, 1844, John Corn was ordained to the gospel ministry by that same Macedonia Church. Serving on the presbytery and ordaining council to question John were his father, Rev. Adam Corn, and neighboring pastors Rev. James Kimsey and Rev. Singleton Sisk.
A very significant event took place in Augusta, Georgia in May of 1845. Messengers gathered from states having Baptist Conventions and cooperating Baptist churches to discuss and act upon the proposal to form the convention and establish a Board of Domestic Missions, of Foreign Missions, of Education and other benevolent entities. Four friends discussed the importance of the meeting in advance, and they were made messengers from their respective churches in Union County to attend the organizational meeting. They had been given credentials for voting on proposals presented at the Augusta meeting. The men rode in Major Josiah Carter’s carriage drawn by two fine horses. With the routes available then from Blairsville to Augusta, we can imagine they went provisioned to camp out along the way since it would have been a several-days journey. In the group were the Rev. John Corn, the Rev. Elisha Hedden, the Rev. Elijah Kimsey and Major Josiah Carter. Major Carter was a brother-in-law to Rev. John Corn, the brother of John’s wife, Polly Carter Corn. Not only did these four men from Union County vote to form the Southern Baptist Convention, but Major Carter himself pledged there to contribute to foreign missions. Not only would he hold true to his pledge, but three of his granddaughters and one great grandson later became appointed foreign missionaries. The long trip to Augusta for these three ministers and one layman had far-reaching effects.
Rev. John and Mary Carter Corn lived in the Upper Hightower section of Towns County, a portion taken in when Towns was formed from Union in 1856. There they had a farm and reared their family: Lucinda Caroline who married Lafayette McKinney and Rev. Will Eller; Hannah Lavina who married Marion Stonecypher; John Heatherly who married Sarah Elizabeth Dillard; Mary Adeline (an invalid) who never married; and Nancy Elizabeth who married Ransom Smith.
Rev. John Corn was pastor of the Upper Hightower Baptist Church in his community for many years. It was said that, because that church was in his home district, he would never accept money for his services. Other churches he pastored were Old Union and Bell Creek in Towns County, and at Franklin and Valley River in North Carolina. He was listed as the first moderator of the Hiawassee Baptist Association when it was organized in 1849.
But farming and preaching were not the only two interests of the Rev. John Corn. When the Civil War was looming and the secession of Georgia from the Union seemed eminent, Rev. John Corn and Rev. Elijah Kimsey were elected representatives from Towns County to attend the secession convention held at the state capitol, then located at Milledgeville, Georgia, a four-hundred miles round trip by horseback from Hiawassee. Each of these representatives voted against Georgia’s seceding from the Union.
Rev. John Corn was a slave owner. He bought two young slave girls from his brother-in-law Major Josiah Carter. Harriet, a slave girl, age 7 was purchased for $750 in 1861, and Susan, age 14, for $1,600 in 1863. He purchased a 17 year old slave lad at a slave auction in South Carolina for $850 in 1862.
When he was 48, Rev. John Corn was drafted into the Confederate Army and served, according to his pension record, as Captain of Company D, 24th Regiment of the Georgia Volunteers. His service lasted from June 21, 1861 through May 22, 1862. When the elder Rev. John Corn resigned his commission, his son John Heatherly Corn enlisted in the Georgia Cavalry, Company A of the Sixth Regiment and served until the end of the war.
In 1874, Rev. Corn was elected as Towns County’s representative to the Georgia Legislature. By then, the state capitol had been relocated from Milledgeville to Atlanta. While inroute to his legislative duties, he became ill and had to return home. He died from complications with pneumonia at his home at Upper Hightower on January 2, 1875. He was interred in the Corn family cemetery at Upper Hightower near his home. Mary Polly Corn died January 14, 1879 and was also laid to rest in the family cemetery.
A special election was held through orders of Georgia Governor James Smith, and Samuel Y. Jameson, the great-uncle of Dr. S. Y. Jameson, President of Mercer University, Macon, was elected as Rev. John Corn’s successor to represent Towns County in the Georgia Legislature. Just as John Corn’s son, John Heatherly Corn, followed his father’s example and served in the Civil War, so he entered politics, becoming Towns County legislator for the 1884-1885 term. John Heatherly Corn also served as postmaster of the Visage post office in Towns County from 1875 through 1913, the entire life of that post office. The Corn families contributed much to early development of both Union and Towns Counties.
c2012 by Ethelene Dyer Jones. Published March 29, 2012 online with permission of the author at the GaGenWebProject. All rights reserved.