Corsicana, county seat and largest city of Navarro County, is in the central portion of the county fifty-eight miles southeast of Dallas at the junction of Interstate 45, U.S. highways 75 and 287, and State highways 22 and 31. It was established in 1848 to serve as the county seat of newly-established Navarro County. Jose Antonio Navarro, a hero of the Texas Revolution after whom the county was named, was given the honor of naming the new town; he suggested Corsicana after the island of Corsica, the birthplace of his parents. David R. Mitchell, an early area settler, donated 100 acres for a townsite, and with the assistance of Thomas I. Smith, platted the land and began selling lots. The new town was centered near a log tavern built in 1847 and owned and operated by Rev. Hampton McKinney. The first courthouse, a two-room log structure, was constructed in 1849, and served as a church, meeting hall and civic center until a new frame building was constructed in 1853. The first school, taught by Mack Elliot and a man named Lafoon, opened in the old courthouse in 1847, and a short time later the Corsicana Female Literary Institute began operating. Within a few years of the town's founding, a large number of mercantile establishments opened on and around the courthouse square, and new brick courthouse a symbol of the town's growing prosperity was erected in 1858. The first newspaper, the Prairie Blade, was founded in 1855; it was replaced by the Express in 1857, which in turn was replaced by the Observer on the eve of the Civil War.

By 1850 Corsicana's population had already grown to some 1,200, 300 of whom were reportedly black slaves. Not surprisingly given the town's large number of slaveholders, Corsicanans supported Breckinridge over the Fusionist slate of candidates in the presidential election of 1860; and in February 1861, when had the election was held on the secession issue, the vote was almost unanimous, 213 in favor and only three opposed. At outbreak of the war in April 1861 townspeople held a mass demonstration on the courthouse square in favor of the Confederacy, and appeals were made for volunteers to serve in the Confederate Army in Virginia. The first company, the "Navarro Rifles" commanded by Capt. Clinton M. Winkler, was organized in August 1861; four additional companies were organized in the town by 1863. After the war Union soldiers, commanded by Capt. R. A. Chaffee, occupied the town. Corsicana, however, witnessed little of the bitter strife experienced by many Texas towns during Reconstruction: Chaffee enlisted a number of former slaves as policeman, but avoided provoking the townspeople, and at one juncture even came out in support of former Confederate officer C. M. Winkler who had caned a Union soldier after the man had insulted him. The town's economy suffered a serious setback during the war and the early Reconstruction years, but by the beginning of 1870s business had begun to recover. In 1871 the town's first bank opened, operated by two men named Adams and Leonard, and in 1874 Union troops finally were withdrawn.

CORSICANA STATE HOME. Corsicana State Home, formerly the State Orphans' Home, was established in 1887 by an act of the Twelfth Legislature to support, educate, and care for orphan or dependent children. It opened on July 15, 1889, and housed fifty-four children the first year. In 1932 the home reached a peak enrollment of 890. During the 1940s the enrollment began to decline, and by 1945 the facility housed only 443 children. By 1948 the orphanage, located three miles west of the Corsicana business district, had twenty-one brick structures and a number of small frame cottages, barns, and outbuildings on 417 acres. In its early years the home operated its own independent school district with a grade school, junior high, and high school. In addition to academic subjects the school offered courses in various vocational fields, including cosmetology, mechanics, printing, agriculture, home economics, and business. Until the 1960s the institution also operated its own farms, dairy, creamery, laundry, cannery, store, power plant, bakery, kitchen, and hospital. Older children worked part-time in these operations and thus received practical training. In 1957 the institution was renamed Corsicana State Home. The home was integrated in the mid-1960s and is now operated under the administration of the Texas Youth Commission. After World War II the school was closed down, and children from the home began to attend the Corsicana public schools. In 1989 the institution served sixty-six children.

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