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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Spokane: Mrs. Corbin revealed the ‘humiliating’ details of the true relationship with her co-defendant

 (S-R archives)
(S-R archives)

Anna Corbin, widow of Spokane tycoon D.C. Corbin, took the stand in the arson trial of Louis Lilge, and “without hesitancy told of the most embarrassing and humiliating details of her intimacy with the man whom she employed as a chauffeur less than two years ago.”

Those details included:

  • He presented himself as “a man of means” who had made and spent a fortune on “champagne and high life.”
  • He told her that he had invented a rotary gas engine and was working on inventing an airship.
  • Lilge asked her to marry him, but she said she did not want to marry. However, they were soon living together “as man and wife.”
  • “He took advantage of me,” she told the court. “He was so much stronger than I, and in an unguarded moment I surrendered to him. He seemed to get entire control of me so that his will was entirely my law.”
  • He talked her into putting up money to invest in a gold mine. When that didn’t pan out, he convinced her to sell her Liberty Bonds in order to invest $40,000 in oil stocks, for which she later learned that Lilge earned a commission.
  • He became angry upon learning that she was going to leave him only $5,000 in her will, and he threatened to sue her for half her property on the grounds of a common law marriage.
  • Lilge “styled himself Petruchio,” the domineering man in “The Taming of the Shrew.” Mrs. Corbin replied that he was no Petruchio, because Petruchio “had used none but endearing terms in speaking to Kate.”

Corbin was scheduled to resume the stand when the trial continued.

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