Matthias Corwin

By Charlie Zimkus

Three years after Ichabod Corwin’s arrivial in March 1795, his brother Matthias followed him to Lebanon. Matthias brought his family, including four-year-old Thomas.

Tom was one of nine children of Matthias and Patience (Halleck) Corwin. Before young Tom was five years old, the family had lived in three forest homes, two in Kentucky and one in Ohio. In 1798 problems with land titles in Kentucky forced Matthias to bring his family north into the Ohio Territory. They settled about one half mile northeast of the center of what is now Lebanon, and about one half mile east of Ichabod’s cabin.

Matthias Corwin was an honest and fair man. He held several local and state positions, serving as one of Warren County’s first county commissioners and a justice of the peace. In 1804 he was elected to the first of 11 terms in the Ohio legislature and spent two of them as Speaker of the House.

But Matthias was a poor farmer, and believed he could only pay for one of his sons to be educated. He chose his oldest, also named Matthias. Tom worked on the family farm and taught himself by reading his brother’s books. Patrick Henry, Henry Clay, and Thomas Corwin are said to have been the three most eloquent early American statesmen not to have had the aid of an academy or college education.

In 1814 young Matthias Corwin was elected Clerk of Courts of Warren County and Tom left the farm to work in his brother’s office and later studied law under Lebanon lawyer Joshua Collett. In 1818 Tom succeeded his mentor as Warren County’s Prosecuting Attorney, a position he would hold for ten years. In 1821 he followed in his father’s footsteps when he was elected to the Ohio legislature.

Matthias Corwin died on September 4, 1829, of bilious fever at the age of 69. He is buried in the Baptist graveyard.