So Minnesota: The great Hinckley fire mystery
For more than a century, there’s been a mystery surrounding the death of a man in the great Hinckley fire and his connection to President Abraham Lincoln.
Tom Corbett appears on the list of the dead but questions remain if he actually died in the blaze.
"Still a mystery," JoAnn Bernard with the Pine County Historical Museum said. "Mystery’s are a good thing."
On an April night in 1865, Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed by John Wilks Booth. Corbett, a Union Army Soldier from New York was sent to join the intense manhunt to capture Booth. In a Virginia barn, Corbett shot and killed Booth despite orders from the Secretary of War that Booth be captured alive.
After killing Booth, Corbett was arrested and appeared before the Secretary of War to be court marshaled. Corbett maintained Booth had intended to shoot his way out of the barn and that he acted in self-defense.
Corbett was released and given the nickname Lincoln’s Avenger and became a national hero.
Over the next three decades, Corbett showed signs of erratic behavior and paranoia. Corbett was arrested and a judge sent Corbett to an insane asylum.
"He escaped from there on horseback," Bernard said. "He said he was going to Mexico but he never showed up, but then he showed up here."
Corbett is believed to have settled in the forests near Hinckley and worked in a logging camp. Corbett’s life allegedly ended on the day of the Hinckley fire in 1894. Several small fires combined into a firestorm burning an area of 200 thousand acres.
"When the fire came some of the people he worked with were running from the fire, he at the time was 62 years old and couldn’t get away from it," Bernard said.
Although there is no proof, the name Tom Corbett appears on the list of dead and missing.