It’s been nearly 150 years since John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. Many people are unfamiliar with the name Thomas P. Corbett and his involvement in the events following the assassination. Thomas P. Corbett, who went by the name Boston Corbett, was a member of the 16th New York Cavalry as they pursued John Wilkes Booth. Corbett shot and killed Lincoln’s murderer on April 26, 1865, while he hid in a barn on a Virginia farm.
Corbett moved to Kansas in 1878 and lived in a dugout (photograph below) near Concordia, Kansas. In 1887, Corbett was given the position of assistant doorkeeper for the Kansas House of Representatives. However, when he brandished his pistol during a session of the legislative that same year, he was arrested and sent to the State Insane Asylum in Topeka. He escaped a year later and his whereabouts remained unknown.
The Boston Corbett collection is now available on Kansas Memory. The collection includes letters that Corbett received, military records documenting his promotion to sergeant following five months spent at Andersonville Prison, a subpoena for the trial of John Wilkes Booth’s accomplice David E. Herold, pension documents from his military service in the Union army during the Civil War, personal documents including a pocket diary, reminiscences from two individuals who encountered Corbett, the correspondence of his court-appointed guardian George Huron, and papers relating to his impersonation by John Corbit.