Special Examiner Thomas H. MacBride arranged to have three witnesses give testimony about Benjamin F. Black and Randolph B. Corbin. Two of them knew the real Randolph Corbin.
The first two witnesses gave testimony on the same day that Cynthia did, apparently at the same location, either at her home east of Walton, or perhaps in the town of Walton itself.
Refer to the Benjamin F. Black Location Map for details on all the towns mentioned in this series of posts.
First we hear from J. LeGrand Brooks:
I am or will soon be 54 years of age, live in Walton, Boone Co. Ky, am a hotel clerk. I knew Randolph B. Corbin in his lifetime. Have reason to believe he was a Mexican War soldier as I saw him in the uniform right in this town. I was young but knew him very well.
He died at Henry Corbin’s about Union, Boone Co. Ky and was buried I understand at Big Bone Cemetery. Mr. Wm. Boggess was at the funeral, he is now dead. He was at the funeral . What was upon … from the … when Corbin had been friends [hard to read the handwriting here].
Wm. Boggess was a brother of Harrison Boggess mentioned by claimant to you.
I have known Benj. F. Black since the “forties” he was one person and Corbin was another. I don’t know whether Benj. F. Black was in the Mexican War or not.
Mr. Brooks mentions another Corbin character – Henry Corbin – presumably a relative but the relationship is not described.
Remember last time, Cynthia mentioned Benjamin’s brother-in-law Harrison Boggess, married to Benjamin’s sister Catherine. Mr. Brooks tells about Harrison’s brother William, who attended the funeral of Randolph Corbin. I guess the point that Brooks is making is that even Benjamin’s own family knew Randolph Corbin! There’s no way that they are the same man!
Next up is Cynthia’s own attorney, Mr. Cyrus Y. Dyas:
I am 43 years of age, or will be in January. Resides in Walton, Boone Co. Ky which is my P.O. address. I am an attorney. I knew Benj. F. Black during his lifetime. I never new him till he was married to his present widow here present. Never knew him to go under any other name than Benj. F. Black. I never knew any Randolph B. Corbin. Have heard from Capt. J. M. Riddell a saddler and harness maker of Willaimsburn [Williamstown] and W. G. Stansifer of this town (Walton) told me that Randolph Corbin was a soldier in Mexican War and died two years after its close and that he was a sergeant at that War. Stansifer died in 1892 but Riddell is living, far as I know. The way I came to know this was as follows: I took Mrs. Black’s pension case and she brought over her husband’s pension certificate and I know by the certificate that it read Benj. F. Black alias Randolph Corbin. Squire Stansifer was by me at the time and he said “there is something wrong about that” and then he told me what I tell you. I heard of Corbin subsequently. I inquired further and heard from Capt. Riddell the same thing. Riddell happened to be visiting this town. Both Riddell and Stansifer lived at Burlington Ky at time of Mexican War and knew Corbin and I understand Black also. Corbin had lived at Union Ky. which is between Florence and Burlington. I don’t remember as either told me where Corbin died, but I understand Capt. Riddell to say Corbin died a couple of years after that war was closed.
The body of the letter signed by Mrs. Cynthia A. Black dated Walton, July 26, 1892, was made by me in my handwriting and was based upon information gained from Riddell and Stansfield. That letter except the signature is in my handwriting.
So now we get some insight into how Cynthia stumbled into accidentally revealing the whole disaster! It sounds like Mr. Stansifer was in Mr. Dyas’ law office as Mr. Dyas was reviewing the documents. Note that Dyas refers to him as Squire Stansifer, which I understand could mean that Stansifer was either an attorney or a justice of the peace. After Stansifer alerted him to the problem, Mr. Dyas did some of his own investigating, including a conversation with Capt. Riddell. He then drafted the letter that Cynthia had sent in July of the previous year.
On hearing this testimony, Mr. MacBride decides that it would be worthwhile to have a conversation with Capt. Riddell. I suppose it took a while to make arrangements; it wasn’t until October 3, 1893 that Capt. Riddell gave his deposition:
I am 70 years of age, reside in Williamstown, Grant Co. Ky which is my post office address. I am in [the] saddling and harness business. I was not in the Mexican War, but I knew Randolph B. Corbin was. I don’t know his Co. or regiment but I know he left Petersburg, Boone Co. Ky as orderly Sergeant of Capt. James A. Pritchard’s Company to go into that war. I never saw him again.
Albert Corbin of Bellevue (Grant Co.) Ky was a member of the same company and I think can inform you all about Randolph Corbin’s death. My knowledge of his death is obtained only from hearsay. I know he died many years ago; can’t say how long.
I have known Benj. F. Black since 1847. He moved west and returned to Kentucky a few years ago, he lived near Walton, Ky near the Kenton Co. line. I saw him five or six times in past 6 or 7 years and know that he also is dead. From what I know about Black I don’t believe he was ever in the war with Mexico. I saw Black in summer of 1847 at Union, Boone Co. Ky at a battalion militia muster and think I saw him occasionally in Kentucky during the active service of Prictchard’s Co. which lasted about 12 months.
Of one thing I am positive, and that is this: that Randolph B. Corbin and Benjamin F. Black were two different persons, and my reason for thinking Black was not a soldier in war with Mexico if from seeing him during that period, and it was commonly reported at the time that Black and one Lampton intended to go in the war with Mexico, but refused to be mustered and did not go, and a Louisville paper at the time, read by me at the time, that Black and Lampton were both drummed out of camp at Louisville Ky as the account stated.
Don’t know that I ever heard where Corbin was buried, nor of what he died. I don’t know whether Albert Corbin was kin to Randolph or not, but he was a comrade.
Corbin was a handsome man about 5 ft. 10 inches height, black hair, dark complexion and was as fine a specimen of a man as you will see. Weight at that time about 180 pounds.
Black was a slender man probably 5 ft. 8 or 9 inches, sandy complexion and would weight at the time 160 to 165 pounds.
I have heard about Mrs. Black’s formal description of her husband and I think she has got him too tall. I may be a little wrong in my estimate of his stature, but Corbin was the taller of the two as I now remember.
Oh some good juicy stuff here! We hear yet another Corbin name again – this time, it’s Albert Corbin who was another member of the same company as Randolph. Riddell says he saw Black back home in Kentucky during the time that the regiment was supposedly off to war. There’s also something about a dust-up in Louisville that made the papers. What’s that about? And then Riddell is adamant about the physical differences between the two men, and takes exception to Cynthia’s description of his height. Riddell seems anxious to describe Corbin as bigger and stronger than Black.
Now that MacBride has heard from these three witnesses, there’s one more man he’d like to talk to.