While the name Athens signifies great learning, and that of Sparta a famous ancient fighting spirit, the name Corinth, in the American South at least, is often most associated with the Christian faith. Corinth, Greece, is the site of one of the earliest Christian churches in Europe, and both city and church figure prominently in the Bible. Interestingly, the communities named Corinth in the American South often have a history of being first at something or taking the lead as well—and more than one of these towns was named for a “Corinth Church” that cropped up in the community first.
- Corinth, Kentucky
The Corinth, Kentucky, basketball team of 1930: state champs and third in the nation (photo courtesy of the Town of Corinth)
Corinth, Kentucky, is a prime example—named for Corinth Christian Church around which the community was built in the late 1800’s. But it wasn’t so much the church but the school that once landed this Corinth in the limelight.Nearly every place has its day in the sun, and for Corinth, Kentucky, that day was early last century in 1930. It was that year that “The Fabulous Five” and their fellow basketball teammates rose up under the skillful coaching of Ted Hornback to take not only the Kentucky State Championship but a regal third place in the National Tournament played out in Chicago. In the Corinth town history, at least, the names of William Howard, Wilbur Odor, Frank “Bear” Lawrence, Dave Lawrence, and Roscoe Rogers represent the Olympians who put little ol’ Corinth, Kentucky, on the map.
And speaking of maps, Corinth, Kentucky, is also on the rarity list for being such a small community (pop. 234) yet extending its borders into three separate counties. Like their rarin’-to-go basketball team of nineteen and thirty, apparently, the little village of Corinth just didn’t know where to stop.
- Corinth, Mississippi
Corinth, Mississippi, Crossroads of the Confederacy (photo by Ron Cogswell)
This Corinth is remembered for other glory. In ancient Greece, Corinth sat on the little strip of land connecting upper and lower Greece—anyone going north, south, east, or west went through Corinth. Just so with the Corinth in Mississippi, otherwise known as “the Crossroads of the Confederacy.” Less than a decade before the outbreak of the Civil War, two railroad lines—one stretching from Memphis to Charleston, the other from Mobile to Ohio—intersected at Corinth, making it as crucial a point for transportation as any in the South.It was here at Corinth that Confederate troops massed in 1862, eager to reclaim Tennessee and Kentucky and push the Union back out of the Western theater of the War. But when the clash at Shiloh, Tennessee, less than a dozen miles to the north presented the bloodiest contest America had ever seen, that hope began to fade, and the strategic crossroads of Corinth itself fell into Union hands not long after.
Today the bustling and thriving town of Corinth remembers the past in a remarkable way with four museums, earthworks, a national park (Shiloh is the best-preserved battlefield in America), historic neighborhoods, cemeteries, churches, and businesses. One of those businesses happens to be the oldest continuing drugstore in the state (complete with a working soda fountain), owned and operated by the same Borroum family who started it over 150 years ago.
- Corinth, Texas
Sunset on Lake Lewisville near Corinth, Texas (photo by Jason Hunter)
Corinth, Texas, is a railroad town as well, and in fact the tiny community was named by the Wichita & Dallas Railroad when it came through here in 1880. It was tiny back then, that is. Now Corinth is part of the massive Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex area, its own population at a whopping 20,000, and 150,000 within a five-mile radius. The growing city sits on beautiful Lake Lewisville and is home to some of the best-educated and wealthiest people in the area—the many multi-million-dollar homes on the lake can testify to that. But Corinth primarily prides itself on being family-centered, and they maintain over a dozen parks for their tightly-knit community.
- Corinth, Arkansas
The Old Corinth Cemetery in Howard County, Arkansas, dates back to the mid-1800’s and is on the National Register of Historic Places (photo by Valis55)
The Fates have served Arkansas’s Corinth otherwise, however. Named for the local Church of Christ, only the second to be organized in Arkansas, Corinth at one time boasted general stores, a gin, a sawmill, a grist mill, and even a short-lived Christian college, Nazareth University. It seemed to be on the way to great success—when the Depression of 1893 hit, the college closed four years later, and the town never quite recovered.But perhaps this Corinth’s greatest claim to fame is its location at the very heart of what was once one of the largest commercial peach operations in the country. If you had visited this community in the early twentieth century, you would have had to travel through about fifteen miles of solid peach orchards, no matter which direction you came from, to get there. It was a booming business for some time, but after another Depression hit, and, even more damaging, a succession of annual late freezes, the Arkansas peach market shrank exponentially, and Corinth dried up with it.
There are a few families who hang on there yet, farming cattle mostly. And there are the cemeteries. In one of them you’ll find a stone for Old Grandma Jones, a prominent ancestress of the local folk and, according to one Corinth historian, the wife of “probably the most important and wideliest known men that ever lived in Corinth, Davie Dickins Jones, who landed in Corinth . . . in 1845 and put up the first blacksmith shop. . . . It has been said, and I never heard it disputed, that his good woman cooked more grub for company and wrung more chickens’ heads off for preachers than any other woman that ever lived.” A fitting epitaph for the preeminent mother of this little Christian community of Corinth.