Kirkpatrick Pottery stolen from collection - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Kirkpatrick Pottery stolen from collection

Kirkpatrick Pottery stolen from collection
By: Arnold Wyrick

Mound City, IL - Mention the name Kirkpatrick Pottery and the ears of collectors and antiquity dealers across the nation perk up.  In recent years the Southern Illinois pottery has gained a lot of popularity.

Now a large collection of the pottery in Mound City is the center of a criminal investigation, and a community dispute.

It all began 11 years ago as an excavating crew was digging on Steve Crain's property.  They unearthed what's believed to be the first place that Kirkpatrick Pottery was produced in Southern Illinois.

Crain donated 6 of those pieces to the Mound City Library.  But late Monday night someone broke into the library stealing the most valuable piece of the collection.

"It was just a sickening feeling because it's part of our history," says Mound City Library Board President Dana Bode.

"To think that somebody thought that they needed that more then we needed it, it's sad.  They're very important to the community.  And they just represent part of our history.  Which in a small community, your history is everything," Bode said.

For Crain news of the artifact being stolen was unsettling.

"It was devastating.  It was upsetting that someone could be that selfish," Crain said.

"I think the artifacts have significant historical value for the local community.  Of course they're nationally known.  I think they are early evidence of the ingenuity and the capability of our early community."

But there's even more controversy surrounding the big blue jug that bore the name of the town on it, and date of 1850.

Ned Gunn is the one who dug up the collection.  As he was working for an excavating contractor on land leased to Consolidated Grain Bin, on Crain's property.

"I didn't want to get rid of it then.   And I don't want to get rid of it now.  But they were asking if it could be displayed in the library.  And I said sure for schools, and stuff like that it would be good," Gunn said.

"But after Mrs Bode, the lady I was talking to passed, I figured I didn't have anything in writing.  So I figured I might as well go ahead and try to get it back," Gunn said.

It wasn't that easy though.  And the library board rejected his claim to the piece of pottery.

Gunn tells Heartland News that he didn't have anything to do with the piece of pottery stolen from the library.

"If I was going to take it, I would've taken it years ago when I first started trying to get it.  Not at this date and time.  But I wish I'd had it now, instead of it sitting in there, and someone else getting a hold of it," Gunn said.

If the piece is every found.  It could be up to a judge to decide who the piece really belongs to.  Meanwhile due to the robbery of the collection, the remaining pieces will no longer be on public display.  They'll be locked up in a secure location.

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