This Week's Local History Lesson: Quentin Corley, Dallas Judge and Prosthetics Pioneer

It's been too long since we've published a photo from The Wayback Machine, so much thanks to the Friend of Unfair Park who was messing around on Flickr and found this gem amongst the treasures kept by the Library of Congress -- a photo of Judge Quentin D. Corley, for whom Dallas County's Quentin D. Corley Academy is named, but of course. Most of what's known about Corley can be found in this 1914 book A History of Texas and Texans, in which it makes mention of how the Oak Cliff High School graduate lost both his hands, as well as his right arm and shoulder -- in a railroad accident during his brief stint at a civil engineer in Utica, New York, where he worked till coming back to Dallas to pass the bar.

Hence, his rather uncomfortable sobriquet the "Armless Wonder" (per The American Magazine in 1915), which he overcame by developing and patenting the prosthesis seen here that allowed him to not only drive, but also write with a pen, type on a typewriter, light a smoke, button a collar and cut with a knife. Corley died in Dallas in 1980. But per the pro Flickr-er, this photo appeared in a 1916 issue of Popular Science Monthly accompanied by the cutline "Judge Corley can run his automobile alone, and does it because he likes to." Two years later, he would be mentioned in a New York Times story headlined "Handicaps of Fate Defied by Cripples."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky