FLGenWeb Digital Library and Archives
CORWIN, Henry B.
Presented by Nancy Rayburn
Author: The History of Florida: Past & Present, The Lewis Publishing Co., 1923, Vol. II pg.215
CORWIN, HENRY B., a retired contractor and builder of West Palm Beach,
is a Florida pioneer, having come to this state half a century ago. He knows
different sections of Florida, particularly the East Coast, as only a man can
through long experience and residence.
Mr. CORWIN is a native of Ohio and represents the distinguished CORWIN
family of that state. He was born near Lebanon in Warren County in 1846, son
of BENJAMIN and JANE (BROWN) CORWIN. The southern branch of the CORWIN family
originated at Jamestown, Virginia. The Corwins were among the contemporaries
of DANIEL BOONE as pioneers in Kentucky. They settled in Bourbon County.
From Bourbon County JOSEPH CORWIN, grandfather of the West Palm Beach citizen,
moved about 1794 and became one of the earliest settlers in the famous Miami
Valley of Ohio. His son, BENJAMIN CORWIN, was born in Warren County in 1809.
The pioneer spirit has always been strong in the family, and it was doubtless
that spirit which actuated HENRY B. CORWIN in seeking a new home and new
opportunities for himself in Florida. One very famous member of this family
was Gov. THOMAS CORWIN of Ohio, a son of MATTHIAS CORWIN and a nephew of the
JOSEPH CORWIN above mentioned. THOMAS CORWIN was a native of Bourbon County,
Kentucky, and as a boy moved with his parents to Warren County, Ohio. He
served as governor of Ohio from 1840 to 1842, as United States senator from
1845 to 1850, was secretary of the treasury under President Millard Fillmore,
and was a minister to Mexico from 1861 to 1864. He died at Washington in
1865. He was a contemporary of Webster, Clay and other great men of that
time, and as a lawyer and statesman had a fame of national scope. In a public
address on Governor CORWIN, ROBERT G. INGERSOLL declared him to have been “the
greatest orator of his time”.
HENRY B. CORWIN grew up on the old farm in the rich Miami Valley,
famous for its beauty and its agricultural wealth. His life was on the farm
until he was twenty-one. In 1868 he left his home state, lived about a year
in Michigan, and in 1869 came South, remaining at Rome, Georgia, for a time
and then going to Selma, Alabama, where he was foreman in the railroad shops.
As a youth he had learned the trade of carpenter, and was a good all around
mechanic. After a trip to New Orleans he came to Florida in 1871. After a
short stay at Cedar Keys he crossed the state to a locality where has since
grown the town and flourishing city of Daytona. No town of any kind existed
there when he established his home in 1871, and in fact he was one of the
first settlers of what has become one of the most attractive cities on the
Florida East Coast. Mr. CORWIN was a resident of Daytona for thirty years,
and when he left the city in 1901 he was hailed as “the oldest settler”.
After leaving Daytona he spent several years with his family in Colorado and
Oklahoma, but in 1911 returned to Florida and located permanently at West Palm
While at Daytona he developed an extensive orange grove at Blake in
Volusia County, four miles south of Daytona. This industry was caught in the
freeze of 1895, and thereafter he was satisfied to let the citrus fruit
At several periods in his life Mr. CORWIN has suffered severe
reverses. Each time he has conquered his difficulties by facing new tasks
cheerfully and unflinchingly, wasting no sorrow on the past. With a man of
such spirit age has no terrors and the present is always sufficient time and
opportunity. On coming to West Palm Beach in 1911 Mr. CORWIN was practically
penniless. He began building up a business in a small way as a contractor and
builder, being then sixty-five years of age. He put into his business as much
energy and enthusiasm as any young man. The result was that he was soon on
the road to easier circumstances, and in the course of less than ten years, he
had gained a substantial competence. Mr. CORWIN owns much valuable property
in West Palm Beach. His home is at the southwest corner of South Poinsettia
and Iris streets, on the famous Dixie Highway, and is in the midst of the
city’s greatest activity. Mr. CORWIN retired from the building business in
1920, but it is still carried on by his son H. RAYMOND CORWIN.
Mr. CORWIN has seen a great deal of the United States, and his long
experience has convinced him that the East Coast of South Florida is the
finest country in the world. Mr. CORWIN has a daughter, Mrs. SARAH E.
CONKLIN, by his first marriage. His present wife was formerly ELIZA E.
CAUSEY. Their three children are H. RAYMOND, GLENN and CECIL.
This page created August 22, 2010
© 2010 Fran Smith