Artifacts stolen from the Baker Mansion in Altoona were finally returned following a decades long investigation by federal authorities
The Blair County Historical Society participated in a repatriation ceremony held by the FBI and the United States Attorney’s office at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia on Monday.
The Historical Society is just one of many organizations that are being given back their stolen artifacts that were taken back in 1973. Most of the recovered items include antique firearms such as muskets and rifles that date back to the civil and revolutionary wars. All of this due to a decades long investigation that resulted in the indictment of one individual who was found with the stolen items in 2021.
“It was really remarkable, The entire story that the upper Merion county police department had a tip on a long-lost case. They reopened this case and along with the Montgomery county district attorney’s office and they contacted the United States attorney’s office and the FBI division. All four worked together to acquire a very large number of weapons and the most that were being recovered were being returned to the Baker mansion and the Blair county historical society.”
The thought of recovering the weapons seemed slim when Lowe began volunteering at the society 15 years ago.
“I was helping with an exhibit in our military history room and I was going through the inventory and some of the items were marked as stolen, When I inquired about those, the attitude was, well that was a long time ago and we really picked up a sense that we’d never see them again.”
The Historical Society played a big role in the case, and the recovery of artifacts.
“We’ve had several volunteers at the time that were able to research and assist the FBI in their investigation and found that several of the weapons we could identify,”
Aside from a monetary loss, the historical loss of these artifacts was immeasurable.
“When something is stolen from a museum, you’re not just taking property from the museum, You’re taking property from the community. To have these come back to us is not just representing to us, it’s representing Blair County and Blair County’s history.”
The Blair County Historical Society is discussing the possibility of an exhibit to show the recovered weapons to the public.