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John F. Corbett

A pioneer of 1877 in Wyoming, and a mighty Nimrod through all this north western country, having braved all dangers of the section and endured all privations incident to his wild life, with a competence of this worlds wealth, one by his own thrift and enterprise, a town being named in his honor as proof of his public spirit and his permanent impress on the very body of his time, John F. Corbett, of Meeteetse, in Bighorn County, remains among us as a distinct and worthy type of that fast fading personage, the real frontiersman and pioneer who blazed the way for the advancing arm of civilization in that part of the world and first commanded the wild luxuries of nature to subjection for the uses of mankind. Mr. Corbett was born of Irish parentage and Welsh ancestry on his father’s side. His grandfather, an Irish major in the British Army, in that service well sustained the prestige of his forefathers, which they won on many a bloody field. Mr. John F. Corbett’s parents were Matthias and Johanna Corbett. They were born and reared and married in Ireland. Soon after their marriage they came to the United States and settled in Mass., where their son, John F., was born on December 28, 1846. He received a limited common-school education in his native place, and when he was seventeen years of age went to Tennessee, where he endeavored to enlist as a solider in the Union Army, but was rejected on account of the frailty of his health. He then secured government employment as a teamster, in this capacity reached Kansas City, Missouri, and later was transferred to Lawrence, Kansas. There he determined to become a scout, and for years thereafter he was employed in this thrilling but dangerous duty, serving in turn all the renowned men of the west who stood in need of his ability in this direction. He scouted with many noted personages, portions of the time being in the service of the United States, and portions in that of the several territories and of private parties. He also hunted buffalo and other game on an extensive scale. The life was full of difficulties, but his body and soul were hardened to meet them. It was beset with dangers, but these were the very spice of it. The wilderness, rough, harsh and inexorable, had for him, as it had for many another, charms more potent then all the lures of luxury and sloth. In June 1868, a company of scouts was organized, under command of Major Forsyth and Lieut. Beecher, consisting of fifty-three citizens. They fought the well-remembered battle of the Riccara, on the middle fork of the Sweetwater, Mr. Corbett joining then after the battle, In August, when the band was recruited to its normal size, under the command of Lieut. Papoom, of the 10th. U. S. Cavalry with Melcolm Graham next in command as acting Sgt. Major. Among other prominent pioneers in this troop were Judge Stillwell, Jim Curry, French Pete, Jack Donovan, Joe Lane and others. He had here breathing room and scope for his adventurous nature. So it was not to be wondered at that he returned to this life after a short respite, in 1877, as a clerk in a store at Cheyenne, which year marked his advent into Wyoming as a permanent resident. From there he went to the Powder River, and for two years was engaged in hunting on the Crow Reservation. Here the game was abundant, worthy of this prowess. In one section, with two other hunters, he killed 552 deer and great quantities of other game. But he tired of this life at last, and, on September 10, 1880, he came to the Bighorn Basin, determined to settle down to more quiet pursuits, and, locating on the site of the present town of Cody, he carried on a brisk trade with the Indians, incidentally doing hunting at times. Four years later he moved to the head of Meeteetse Creek, and they’re opened a general store, which he conducted with success for six years. In 1890 he took up his residence at Meeteetse, and he has since then made that town his home. He owns much valuable property within its limits, and, also, much at Corbett, which was named in his honor. His life is now passing pleasantly towards its sunset, being in peace after so many conflicts, in safety after so many dangers, an living in agreeable association with his fellow men, after so much companionship with nature; and, both on account of his record and his character, he is secure in the esteem of all good men. As a member of the order of Modern Woodmen of America, he finds profitable enjoyment in fraternal relations, and as a citizen of patriotic devotion to the home of his adoption, he has enduring pleasure and satisfaction in the evidences of advancement and improvement he see developing all around him in the community, in aid of which he has given freely his own contributions of time, service and substantial nutriment.

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