Skip to comments.Sword stolen from Lincoln's Tomb statue
Posted on 11/12/2011 4:06:39 PM PST by markomalley
Not even Lincolns Tomb is immune to the spree of copper thefts that have hit the Springfield area.
A copper sword brandished by a statue of a Civil War artillery officer atop the tomb was stolen sometime between September and early November.
The theft is believed to have been a first to state property at the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site since 1890, said Dave Blanchette, a spokesman for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.
A tomb employee noticed the sword was missing last week.
The sword was part of a statue grouping mounted on the terrace of the tomb. There are four such groupings on the balcony, one each representing the artillery, cavalry, infantry and navy during the Civil War.
We just cannot imagine why someone would even think about doing it, let alone climb up the steps and actually do it, Blanchette said.
Site officials plan to repair the statue, he said.
The theft probably occurred after Oak Ridge Cemetery was closed to visitors, Blanchette said, noting that a chain blocks daytime visitors from climbing the stone stairs to the balcony level.
Anyone who would have gone up would have been noticed by a worker, he said.
The thief broke off the roughly 3-foot-long sword at the handle. No significant damage was done to the rest of the statue.
Thefts of state property at the site are extremely rare, Blanchette said.
The last incident is thought to have occurred 101 years ago, he said, when the same sword was stolen from the artillery group. That sword would have been bronze, the metal the statues originally were all cast from (much of the raw material for the statues came from melted-down Civil War cannons).
The bronze sword is believed to have been replaced by the copper version recently taken, he said.
Outside of those thefts, the tomb suffers an incident of vandalism about once every decade, Blanchette said. The most glaring example was in 1987, when racist graffiti was spray-painted on the tomb. Five teenagers were arrested for the crime.
A security guard was stationed at the tomb overnight in response to that incident, Blanchette said. However, within a couple of years, budget problems forced lawmakers to eliminate the position, he said.
Some time in the not-so-distant future, entire cemeteries will be dug up and looted for metal.
Bronze military service plaques will be first to go.
It happens at every interregnum.
Oh great, now Lincoln’s mummy will stalk the land looking for those who desecrated his tomb. And if he’s afoot, Grant, Sheridan and Sherman will be on the march with their armies of river demons.
Or at least it would be one heck of a CGI movie.
Wait until they go after diamond wedding rings. Our country is sick. Isn’t is sad?
Don’t screw with zombie Lincoln.
Lincoln: Vampire Slayer will be in theaters in June, 2012.
Fate must’ve been sleeping that night. Because that would’ve been a beautiful time for a thief to slip and fall on the thing he was stealing.
“It happens at every interregnum.”
Most people will think you exaggerate.
What diamond wedding rings??? Do you know a poor undertaker. LOL
Before Secret Service agents guarded the president, they chased counterfeiters. Their assignment did not formally shift until 1894, when a handful of agents served as Grover Cleveland’s bodyguards. But there is an earlier example of the Secret Service getting involved in presidential security, albeit briefly, and in a posthumous kind of way.
In 1876, Abraham Lincoln’s body lay within an aboveground white marble sarcophagus in a handsome tomb on the grounds of Springfield, Ill.’s Oak Ridge Cemetery. Oak Ridge was a rural cemetery located about 2 miles outside of the town. No groundskeeper lived there. No night watchman patrolled the area around the president’s tomb. And the only thing standing between Lincoln’s body and any would-be grave robbers was a single padlock on the tomb’s chamber door. Not even the president’s sarcophagus was burglarproof: Its lid was sealed, not with cement but with the less permanent plaster of Paris. To the distinguished gentlemen of Springfield who were members of the National Lincoln Monument Association, the organization charged with maintaining Lincoln’s tomb, the absence of rigorous security measures seemed perfectly reasonable. After all, who would want to steal Lincoln’s body?
Comic caper. The answer to that question was a gang of Chicago Irish counterfeiters led by a small-time crime boss named Big Jim Kennally. Early in 1876, Kennally’s best engraver of counterfeit plates, Benjamin Boyd, had been sentenced to 10 years in the state penitentiary in Joliet, Ill. To pressure the governor to release his man, Kennally recruited two members of his gang, Terence Mullen, a saloonkeeper, and Jack Hughes, a sometime manufacturer of counterfeit nickels, to kidnap Lincoln’s body. For ransom, they would demand $200,000 in cash and a full pardon for Boyd.
Given the cemetery’s minimalist approach to security, the gang actually had a better-than-even chance of pulling off the heist. But they made a significant mistake. Neither Mullen nor Hughes had any body-snatching experience, so they invited a man named Lewis Swegles, who they thought was a grave robber, to help them. They couldn’t have made a worse choice, because Swegles was a paid informanta “roper”of the Secret Service.
Swegles played his part as double agent well, reporting every detail of the plot to his boss, Patrick D. Tyrrell, chief of the Chicago district office of the Secret Service. On the night Swegles accompanied Mullen and Hughes to Oak Ridge Cemetery, Tyrrell and his agents were lying in wait for them at Lincoln’s tomb, witnesses for the comedy of errors that soon began. Although Mullen and Hughes were career criminals, they couldn’t pick a lock, so they had to cut through the padlock with a file. Once inside the tomb chamber, they found they could not lift Lincoln’s 500-pound cedar-and-lead coffin. The inept grave robbers were considering their options when a detective’s pistol accidentally went off outside. Mullen and Hughes bolted, but it wasn’t much of a getawaythey headed straight back to their saloon in Chicago where Tyrrell arrested them a couple days later.
Meanwhile, back in Springfield, the custodian of the tomb, John Carroll Power, was in a state of panic. If hapless amateurs could come so close to carrying off Lincoln’s body, what would happen if professional body snatchers targeted the tomb? The only solution Power could think of was to hide the body where no one could find it. So after dark, Power and five friends buried Lincoln in a shallow, unmarked grave in the tomb’s basement.
Code of honor. None of the men who buried the coffin that night had known Lincoln. They were ordinary guysone was a railroad ticket agent, another was a hotelkeeper, and a third worked as a bank clerk. Yet it had fallen to them to safeguard the remains of Lincoln, and they took that obligation seriously, swearing never to reveal the location of the martyred president’s body. And in the years that followed, they kept that secret faithfully.
They were finally relieved of their obligation in 1901, when, under instructions from Robert Lincoln, the president’s only surviving child, Lincoln’s body was placed inside a steel cage, lowered into a 10-foot-deep vault, and buried under tons of wet concrete. He’s still there, in his tomb on the grounds of Oak Ridge Cemetery.
I got a cigarette lighter from a funeral home, “Thanks for Smoking” imprinted on the lighter. I was seriously considering undertaking as a profession. I went into industrial engineering. Our choices, well, what can you say?
“A copper sword brandished by a statue of a Civil War artillery officer atop the tomb was stolen sometime between September and early November.”
Uh??? How’d they know that time frame?
No, Paterno...he’s everyone’s latest villain
A-ha! Probably the same thief this time!
Some crackhead wanted that $3 per pound of copper. Earlier this year right on Main St. in Rochester, NY somebody cut the brass rails off the Monroe County Building. I had some thieves steal about 300 pounds of aluminum siding this summer. They came back daily until my bud the contractor knocked one of them out.
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