Biography of Daniel Corbett


son of John and Mary Burke Corbett,
was born in the workhouse in Scariff,
County Clare,
on 6 Mar 1867.

Remains of the Workhouse, Scariff, County Clare - the site of Daniel Corbett's birth

He was the 2nd of 6 children. His father emigrated to Oswego, NY around 1873, found work on the railroad, and saved enough money to send for his wife and four children the following year.

Mary sailed aboard the SS Adriatic in December 1874, arriving at New York on the night of 28 December 1874, having spent Christmas at sea in the north Atlantic with her children Ellen, Daniel, Mary Ann, and Bridget.

painting of SS Adriatic, painted by George Parker Greenwood, 1889

Adriatic, launched in October, 1871 was the flagship of the White Star line, and the first liner to be equipped with gas lamps, which were fueled by illuminating gas (carbon monoxide) manufactured aboard ship from coal and fed by pipe throughout the ship from a central generator.  The system developed multiple leaks during heavy seas and was abandoned in favor of time-tested oil lamps.

In October, 1874, Adriatic was departing from New York harbor enroute to Ireland (and Grandma) when the vessel sideswiped the Cunard Liner RMS Parthia, also leaving New York.  Competition between the two lines was fierce, and it is possible that Adriatic's captain was intent on besting the Cunard vessel. 

Although damage to the Parthia was minimal, the collision had driven the fluke on one of Adriatic's hanging anchors completely through her side, and she had to return to New York for repairs.  She sailed for Cobh later that month, where Mary and the children boarded for their journey to America.

Between March, 1875 and July, 1878, Adriatic was involved in three major accidents, ramming the American schooner Columbus in New York Harbor, and sailing vessels Harvest Queen and G A Pike in separate incidents off the coast of south Wales, sinking all three ships causing the death of the captain's child on Columbus, the loss of the entire crew of Harvest Queen, and the deaths of five sailors from the Pike.


Adriatic                                          Harvest Queen

The family settled in Oswego, NY where two more children (sons John and James) were born.

Downtown Oswego, about 1900 (from and old postcard)

Daniel attended school in Oswego, and eventually became a machinist in a shop operated by a relative of his mother's. He moved to Watertown, NY on April 1, 1889 at the age of 22., and there was married to Josephine Edna Lagoe, a native of Williamstown, Oswego Co.

They were married at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church in Watertown on 25 May 1892. (Coincidentally, his parents were wed in Sacred Heart Church back in Ireland.)

They built a home at 523 Mohawk Street in Watertown, a house that has now been in the Corbett family for about 100 years.

523 Mohawk St

Daniel was employed for about 25 years as a boiler maker by the Portable Steam Engine Company, then, when Portable Steam Engine Co closed, constructed a building on outer West Main Street in Watertown, where he built and repaired boilers.

Daniel also constructed the massive standpipe which stood in Watertown's Thompson Park for many years. The water tower was a city landmark until it was replaced in the early 1970's. Daniel was active in local politics, and was a member of the Democratic Party. He served on the Board of Health during the construction of much of the city's sewer system, and was elected alderman from the 9th Ward in about 1913. He was also an early member of the North Side Improvement League, Inc. now the oldest non-partisan civic organization in New York state. Lawrence Corbett, Daniel's great-grandson, served as president of the group in 1996 and 1997.

John's parents remained in Oswego, where Mary Burke Corbett died on Christms Eve, 1901. Her husband moved to Watertown, where he also worked at the Steam Engine plant until it closed. He died of heart trouble on October 17, 1918, in the midst of the Great Influenza epidemic.

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