Story of First Pottawatomie Lighthouse Keeper Inspires Play

The story of David Corbin, the first lighthouse keeper at Pottawatomie Lighthouse on Rock Island, has inspired a play debuting in St. Paul, MN, May 2.

David Corbin was appointed to serve as the first Pottawatomie lighthouse keeper in December of 1837. A veteran of the War of 1812, Corbin served 15 years at the light station before dying as a bachelor there in 1852. Before his death, an inspector visited Corbin who seemed particularly lonely living at this remote island outpost with only a horse and a dog for companionship. The inspector gave Corbin a 20-day pass to travel to the mainland with the purpose of finding a wife.

A few years ago, playwright Laurie Flanigan Hegge visited Rock Island and heard the story of David Corbin. She recently announced that she has completed a play based on his story.

Hegge spoke with Kirby Foss, Rock Island State Park Manager, about Corbin’s story. She collaborated with Marya Hart to create Twenty Days to Find A Wife, a fictionalized account of what happened when Corbin left the island.

The History Theatre in St. Paul will host the debut performance of the play May 2 – 31.

Details can be found on the theatre’s Web site at

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