This is the story of the man who shot the man who shot President Abraham Lincoln.
And the strange tale ends in Kansas.
It all starts well before the day Lincoln was assassinated.
A born-again Christian after his wife died in childbirth, Boston Corbett let his hair grow long in imitation of Jesus and became a street-corner preacher, according to an article in American Scholar.
The streets were “full of sin” and he was young, 26, and lonesome. He was worried he’d be tempted by prostitutes, so he took scissors and carefully castrated himself.
“Then he proceeded to a prayer meeting, had dinner and took a walk before seeking emergency aid at Massachusetts General Hospital.”
During the Civil War, he became a cavalry sergeant. Lincoln was shot April 14, 1865 by John Wilkes Booth in Ford's Theatre. Corbett's unit went on a search for Booth. The soldiers surrounded the barn where Booth was hiding, and Corbett was the man who eventually shot the assassin.
Corbett, who was going insane, eventually made it to Cloud County where he homesteaded 80 acres. Local residents noted he was strange but a good shot. A lawmaker arranged for him to take a job as a doorkeeper in the Kansas House. But a few months after taking the job, he drew a pistol and threatened the speaker of the House.
He was taken to an asylum but eventually escaped, and it was never really known what happened to him.
As for Corbett being “as mad as a hatter,” it could be true. Corbett worked in the hat trade for a few decades. Over the years, doctors began to realize the poisonous side effects of mercury, which was used in the trade. On Dec. 1, 1941, the U.S. Public Health Service banned the mercury process in hat making, according to the American Scholar article.
Ruts from Corbett’s dugout site can be seen southeast of Concordia, according to “The Kansas Guidebook” by Marci Penner.