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Author Topic: Lincoln Herald, Boston Corbett's English family  (Read 129 times)
Steven G. Miller
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« on: November 13, 2017, 06:55:28 AM »

As you know, I've been interested in Sgt. Boston Corbett for years, probably since I got two of his letters with the Millington-Parady Papers in the mid-1980s. Thousands of articles and two biographies of Corbett have been produced, but there are virtually no details of his immediate family or his early years in England. Curious as to how this time might have influenced his later life, I set out to learn what I could about his family in London. It took a very long time, and there were a few stumbles along the way, but I was able to turn up quite a lot of new material. The Lincoln Herald has just published part one of my findings about the Corbett family of Yorkshire and Piccadilly, London. The saga of the Corbett’s in America will appear in a later issue.
This research on the Corbett family was the subject of my speech at the Surratt Conference in 2006, and I updated what I had found in my talk on historical sleuthing in the digital world at the same gathering five years later. It turns out that I was barking up the wrong family tree (so to speak) about Thomas’ brother John. I was able to correct this, however, in the presentation I did before the Kansas State Historical Society in 2013.
In the years following my trip to Kansas, I was able to tap into British newspaper archives online and mine dozens of advertisements about Father Corbett’s business in London, his early life in Yorkshire and his activities in The North after closing the museum in Piccadilly. I was able to detail some of his involvement with the doomed heir to the British throne, point out some of the landed gentry who he helped with their natural history collections, raise the possibility that he once was a “publican” (manager of a public house), and discuss where to view several dozen of his two-hundred year old “preserved” specimens today. I may even have solved the mystery of Boston’s full and accurate birth name. (I suspect that he was named Thomas Harrison Corbett in memory of his great-great grandfather, the “carpenter of Catterick.”)
« Last Edit: November 13, 2017, 08:45:35 AM by Steven G. Miller » Logged
Joe Gleason
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« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2017, 07:33:53 AM »

Steve,
I attended the Surratt Conference when you gave your talk on historical sleuthing in the digital world. I still use
many of the tips you offered on how to search using keywords. Genealogy can be tough nut to crack sometimes,
but your research shows that it can be done successfully. When that happens we get a chance to look back through their lives and sometimes we pretty amazing family ties. Thank you for sharing your research on Boston Corbett's lineage-ties. ... and thanks for the tips!  Wink

 Congratulations on your latest work just published in the Lincoln Herold!  Smiley

Keep 'em coming!

  
« Last Edit: November 13, 2017, 07:35:54 AM by Joe Gleason » Logged
Randal
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« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2017, 09:17:05 AM »

I was there, with you Joe, at that conference, and he taught me as well how to really do a better "Search" on the computer and I learned a lot from him.
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Joe Gleason
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« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2017, 11:32:59 AM »

I remember that! Wow, it's been a while since we've gotten together. It's great that we can still hang out here and share stories, thoughts and information. I've been looking into a particular subject for about a week and it's turning out to be a fairly good example of Steve's keyword method.

Give me just a little while, because if I don't go out and rake up the leaves on our lawn, the only keyword my wife is going to let me search is DEATH!
« Last Edit: November 14, 2017, 03:51:21 AM by Joe Gleason » Logged
Randal
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« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2017, 08:00:17 PM »

WOW!   Cheesy
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Randal
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« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2017, 08:02:36 PM »

IMO, you need to post this on the Main page!  Angry  hahahaha!
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Joe Gleason
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« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2017, 03:56:46 AM »

Done!  Smiley  

Steve, we all enjoy your stories about Boston Corbett. more!... more!  Wink

One thing I'm curious about is an anonymous letter sent to Stanton and Johnson. Did Boston Corbett worry that
people were out to get him? Was there ever an instance where he was confronted?  
 
New York, May 13, 1865


           My dear Sir,

                 I notice you have moved the body of Booth that brave man to be thrown in the middle
                of the Potomac River and you also have his head and heart in a museum. Why have you.
                Then and there answer me that, if not I will tell you. Because he was a brave man. It was
                the best thing ever done. For Lincoln was a plague to the country. It ought to have
                happened four years ago.

                With him and his N** and for Boston Corbett who shot Booth, if ever I see him his life is
                short and I am well acquainted with the officers who sunk Booth's body. May the Lord have
                mercy on his soul, Amen. Publish this if you like for I wish you would.




                
« Last Edit: November 14, 2017, 04:47:29 AM by Joe Gleason » Logged
Steven G. Miller
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« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2017, 12:53:21 PM »

Corbett's deed was not universally praised. Even in 1865 some of the "Copperhead" newspapers criticized him for shooting Booth, including one in Albany, NY, one of Corbett's previous homes. Some folks said that there were enough troopers at the barn that they should have been able to capture him easily. In early May, 1865, there were reports that BC had been ambushed and killed near Relay, MD, but that was quickly refuted. About that same time Corbett received a threatening message from someone who identified himself as a former Confederate office and threatening that he was going to kill the sergeant for shooting Booth. I've never been able to confirm the story, but he later told people that he was robbed of his share of the reward money right after he got it from the U.S. Treasury.

In 1874, if my memory serves me correctly, he attended a Soldier's Reunion in Caldwell, OH, and was involved in an incident with several of the attendees. Someone said to Corbett that Booth hadn't really been killed and that he could prove it. Words were exchanged and Corbett was called a liar. The rowdy men made a lunge at Corbett but he drew his ever-present revolved and they took to their heels.

Two other sergeants of the 16th were plotted against right after the end of the war. One, Sgt. Oliver Lonkey of the Garrett's Farm patrol, was nearly ambushed in Virginia by an unreconstructed local schoolteacher who apparently mistook him for the sergeant who had shot Booth. The other, Sgt. William Collins, was stabbed in Washington and it maybe have been another case of mistaken identity.
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Joe Gleason
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« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2017, 03:33:41 PM »

Thanks Steve,
That's a really interesting story. Gives us an idea of what Louis Wiechmann faced after he testified against Mary Surratt.
Big difference between the two men though.... Corbett wouldn't hesitate to shoot anyone.
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Steven G. Miller
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« Reply #9 on: Today at 08:36:33 AM »

Thanks for the kind words about my researching on line tips. I recall getting some quizzical looks when I discussed "strawberry runners" and the "Quote Mark brothers, Left and Mr. Right".

I must insist on a Point of Correction, however. Corbett has a bad rap for being trigger happy, but in reality he only fired his weapon when pushed to the limit. Case in point: during his second enlistment in the 12th N.Y. Militia he was constantly harassed by fellow soldiers for his outward display of religion. A couple of members of the unit recalled this years later, but a musician from the Twelfth recorded this and it was published a couple of years after the war.

These troopers recorded that Bos' was pelted with rotten fruit, stones and pieces of mud. For the most part he remained unfazed by it. This was in his second enlistment, during the Antietam Campaign. The diarist, a musician in the regiment, reported that he (the writer) had been treated incorrectly for a skin infection and that Corbett was doing his best to comfort and treat him. During a deployment to Winchester Corbett was the target of harassment again and was even physically attached by several fellow soldiers. The diary-keeper was bunking down in a building at night when the torment started up. It ended when a rock was thrown through a window in an effort to injure Corbett, but the diary keeper was badly cut by broken glass.  The company officers had mostly ignored the attacks, but finally had to chase the men off.

Corbett was armed, but didn't resort to his weapons. He fought against the soldiers, but was outnumbered.

A few days later, while riding on a train, the attacks continued and rocks were thrown at Corbett. After enduring this for a bit, Corbett finally reached his limit and shot one of the troublemakers through the fleshy part of his leg. This landed him in trouble, mostly when a sergeant tried to blame Corbett for the problem. Corbett leveled his reloaded musket at the sergt. but did not pull the trigger.

This pattern of drawing weapons when he felt threatened, but not using them, continued for most of his life. This was true during the war, in the incident in Ohio in the 1870s and at the State House in Kansas. He "drew iron" when he perceived danger to his person, but did not fire.
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Randal
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« Reply #10 on: Today at 12:49:39 PM »

That's a great post. I, too, have seen it written or suggested in papers and books that B.C. was "trigger happy" and disobeyed orders not to fire on Booth, but I never believed it. L. Baker was the source of some of those stories, if I recall. Who knows? I'm old now!  Wink
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"Go to Heaven for the Climate, or go to Hell for the Company". Mark Twain
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