Monday, July 1, 2013

Lament Bacon Corbin (1813-1872)

Lament Bacon Corbin, from the collection of the Massachusetts State Library Archives.

  With beard aplenty and a truly hilarious name to match, we visit Worcester County, Massachusetts to highlight the life of Mr. Lament Bacon Corbin, a little-known shoemaker who served two terms in his state's House of Representatives. While one could endlessly poke fun at his funny name (Lament Bacon? Who would ever lament such a delicious food?) Corbin's unusual cognomen probably didn't raise too many eyebrows in 19th century Massachusetts......or then again, maybe it did!
   The life of this obscure Bay State resident began on September 1, 1814 in the town of Dudley, Massachusetts. The son of Timothy (1780-1845) and Ruth Albee Corbin (1781-1848), it has been lost to history why the couple decided to bestow the unusual names "Lament Bacon" upon their seventh born child, and it will most likely remain a mystery! Nothing is known of Corbin's early life or education, and it is presumed that the latter occurred in schools local to his hometown of Dudley. He married in Oxford, Massachusetts on May 31, 1840 to Ms. Melezenda Pierpont Stone (1819-1898), a resident of that town. Lament and his wife were married for over thirty years and had one son, Luman Boyden Corbin (born 1843) who died at age 20 in June 1863. 
   Despite the dearth of information mentioning him, Corbin was a prominent cobbler in Worcester county for the majority of his fifty-eight years and founded the L.B. Corbin Co. with partner Allen L. Joslin in 1860. This Oxford-based shoe-making business is recorded by Duane Hamilton Hurd's History of Worcester County, Volume II as employing "forty-five workmen, and produces shoes to the value of $80,000 a year", a considerable sum for the time. Corbin also served as a director of the Oxford National Bank for a number of years. 
   Active in public affairs in addition to his business, Corbin served as a selectman for the town of Oxford for nearly sixteen years, holding his seat from 1855-1868 and 1870-1871. He was elected to his first term in the Massachusetts General Court in 1856 from his home county of Worcester, serving in the following year's legislative session. During his term, he held a seat on the joint standing committee on Manufactures, appropriate when one considers his successful shoe-making business.
   The early 1860s saw Corbin continuing in his businesses pursuits. Despite being too old to enter military service, Lament Corbin did his patriotic duty during the early months of the Civil War, serving as first selectman as well as town recruiting officer. Mary DeWitt Freeland's Records of Oxford, Massachusetts (published in 1894) gives note that "through the efficiency of Lament B. Corbin, first selectman, as recruiting officer, all demands for men were promptly met. In June 1864, the town by unanimous vote expressed its thanks to him for the ''energetic, faithful, and patriotic manner'' in which he had performed the duties."
   In November 1867 Corbin was elected to a second term in the General Court and began his term at the beginning of the new year, being named to the committee on Parishes and Religious Societies. At the conclusion of his term in 1868 Corbin returned home to Oxford and in 1870 the partnership between he and Allen L. Joslin was dissolved, with Joslin later continuing in the manufacture of shoes under his own name. In May 1870 Corbin is recorded as serving as Chief Marshal in a Memorial Day Procession occurring in Oxford. Sources of the time acknowledge that Corbin was "an active and respected citizen of Oxford" and was a "liberal supporter of the Methodist Church."
   Lament Bacon Corbin died in Oxford on July 1, 1872, at age 58 and was shortly thereafter interred at the South Congregational Church Cemetery in that town. His wife Melezenda survived him by twenty-six years, dying in 1898 at age 79. She too was interred at the South Cemetery, alongside her husband and son.

From the 1868 Journal of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

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