(submitted by Gerald & Tammy Westmoreland)
Corinth Mississippi was founded in 1853 when the Memphis Charleston Rail Road crossed the Mobile and Ohio Rail Road. The town quickly grew.
In 1855, Pastor Leroy B. Gaston left College Church, at College Hill, right above Oxford, and he started the First Presbyterian Church of Corinth. He had been Pastor at College Church for 10 years.
Pastor Gaston also aimed to start a girls school there in Corinth. In 2 years, by 1857, he raised $40,000. He built Corona Female College. They had three years of high school courses, and one year of College. The College opened in 1857 with 7 teachers and 90 pupils. The building was 100 feet long by 50 feet wide, and it was 3 story brick, with 23 rooms. It looked very similar to the University of Mississippi Lyceum building.
In March of 1862, in response to Union troops landing at Pittsburg Landing, near Shiloh Church, on the Tennessee River, Confederates started gathering at Corinth. This caused Pastor Gaston to close the College, and to open the building as a Hospital. Corinth sat in a low spot, and when 45,000 Confederates gathered there, they polluted what little water there was, by going to the bathroom everywhere. This led to a near epidemic of Typhoid Fever before the battle of Shiloh. It filled Corona College with sick Confederates. When the Battle was finally fought, wounded men filled the rest of the beds, and many more men were shipped to the University of Mississippi, Memphis, Tupelo, Columbus, and to every town on a railroad in North Mississippi.
One of Gaston's 3 sons was killed as a Confederate Cavalryman, 10 days after the battle of Shiloh, while scouting near there.
When the Confederates lost the battle of Shiloh, and retreated to Corinth, they pretty quickly abandoned Corinth. Pastor Gaston refused to leave. When the yankees took the town, he offered his building as a Hospital. The Pastor and his wife stayed there and helped nurse sick Union Soldiers. When Confederate Earl Van Dorn attacked Corinth, in October of 1862, the Pastor and his wife helped to nurse wounded Union troops in their College building.
When the yankees finally left Corinth, in January of 1864, one or more retreating privates ran into the building, set it on fire, and burned it to the ground. That was the thanks Pastor Gaston got for helping sick and wounded Union Soldiers for 2 years. You can add Corona College to the tally of 46 burned towns in Mississippi, and over 100 burned farms and plantations, during the Civil War.
The College was not rebuilt, there was no money in the South after the War. Pastor Gaston was pastor at New Hope Church from 1866 to 1868. He died in 1878. There is a marker to the Gaston family in the College Church cemetery, at College Hill, right above Oxford.
GPS: 34.924627, -88.528979
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