March 1888: Luke Brodhead’s collection of Indian relics stolen

In my travels, I came across the below article about the theft of Luke Wills Brodhead’s collection of Indian artifacts, and it reminded me that I should consolidate some information I’ve gathered about him into a blog post. He was a very interesting man and must have been a powerful presence in his community in and around Delaware Water Gap. Autumn is here and soon the colors will be changing in that neck of the woods—a gorgeous spot on the Delaware River that he and his family held dear. Long gone are the massive summer hotels looking down from high above at the flowing waters and rolling hills. City folk have far more places to vacation now. But, this was once a hugely popular area for tourism, and Luke was in the thick of if. Seeing images from that time and his portrait (he and his brothers were extremely tall), I can almost envision him energetically walking about his hotel’s grounds, chatting with guests, and directing his staff on various matters. And then to think of all his historical interests and writings…he was truly a class act!

Philadelphia Enquirer, Wednesday, 12 September 1888*

Luke Wills Brodhead

Luke Wills Brodhead portrait from History of Wayne, Pike and Monroe Counties, Pennsylvania, by Alfred Mathews, published by RT Peck & Co., 1886

BRODHEAD’S COLLECTION. Stolen Indian Relics Traced to a European Museum.
TRENTON, Sept. 11.—The most remarkable and curious robbery on record has just been made known. It occurred at the Delaware Water Gap last March, when the celebrated collection of Indian relics and specimens of the stone age, which L. W. Brodhead spent a lifetime in gathering, were carried away. The most peculiar feature about this robbery was the fact that only the most valuable specimens were taken, and that the work was done by a student and expert.

Mr. Brodhead is well known all over the country for his excellent collection, and one that would command an immense sum of money even under a forced sale. Mr. Brodhead keeps a hotel. Adjoining his own private parlor he has a library, the chief decorations of which are his arrow heads, axes, spears, rollers, javelins, pipes and bits of ancient pottery. With much care they have been arranged in groups. The arrow heads are tacked on white boards in groups, according to chronology or topography. He takes much pride in showing them to friends. Last winter the side shutter was forced open and the cases rifled and about one-third of the collection was taken away. The most valuable and rarest pieces were taken.

After the blizzard snow had melted away in a ravine near the house, the boards on which they were fastened were found. A detective was employed on the case, and he enjoined secrecy on all members of the household. The relics have been traced to England and are now thought to be in the possession of the officers of a museum. It is also thought that the man, who sold them for a handsome sum, will soon be apprehended. He is said to be a man well known in scientific circles, who acts as a purchasing agent for several European museums.

Luke Wills Brodhead bio from Transactions of the Moravian Historical Society by Moravian Historical Society, published 1900, pp. 38-39

Luke Wills Brodhead was born Sept. 12, 1821, in Smithfield Township, Monroe County, Penna. His parents were Luke and Elizabeth Wills Brodhead; his grandfather was Luke, one of the sons of Daniel Brodhead and his wife Esther Wyngart, who lived in Dansbury, now East Stroudsburg, whither they had come from Marbletown, N. Y. […]

ny_evening_express_1867

New York Express 1867

Luke Wills Brodhead, at an early age, engaged in mercantile business at White Haven for twelve years ; returning to the Delaware Water Gap, he was appointed Postmaster there and, at the end of his term of office, he shared with his brother the management of the Kittatinny House.

In 1872 he built the Water Gap House, which he conducted until the time of his death.

Kittatinny Hotel, Delaware Water Gap, published by Detroit Publishing Company, 1898 (NYPL collections) - Wikimedia Commons

Kittatinny Hotel, Delaware Water Gap, published by Detroit Publishing Company, 1898 (NYPL collections) – Wikimedia Commons – Public domain in US

He was a man of more than ordinary ability and, by his genial personality, he made his house famous throughout the land.

He devoted much time and energy to the study of the records, historical and geological, of the Minnisink Valley, was a frequent contributor to the public press and in 1862 wrote a volume concerning the Delaware Water Gap.

Water Gap House, Detroit Publishing Company, 1905 (Illinois State Library Collections - non-commercial use permitted)

Water Gap House, Detroit Publishing Company, 1905 (Illinois State Library Collections – non-commercial use permitted)

He was a member of the Moravian Historical Society, the Historical Societies of Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Georgia and Kansas, the Minnisink Historical Society and the Numismatic and the Geographical Societies of Philadelphia. He was also a member of the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution.

Mr. Brodhead was twice married – in October, 1850, to Leonora Snyder, who departed in 1877, and in 1881 to Margaret D. Coolbaugh. His son, Dr. Cicero Brodhead, died in 1884, and two daughters, Mrs. John Ivison, of Coatesville, and Mrs. H. A. Croasdale, of Delaware Water Gap, together with his widow survive him.

He was an active and interested member of the Presbyterian Church and by his modest, generous, unselfish and courteous manner he made hosts of friends.

View on roof of Water Gap House by Albert Graves - stereocard -no known copyright restrictions - Boston Public Library collections

View on roof of Water Gap House by Albert Graves – stereocard -no known copyright restrictions – Boston Public Library collections

For some years he had been suffering from chronic bronchitis, although his final illness was very brief. He died on May 7, 1902, and his remains were laid to rest in the Water Gap Cemetery.

[Find a Grave link to grave site]

Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. XXVII, Philadelphia: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1903, p. 447-228

[…] Luke W. Brodhead was a man of more than ordinary ability, and for many years was deeply interested in the history and genealogy of the Upper Delaware and Minisink Valley. His published contributions comprise the following:

The Kittatiny House and the Water Gap House - Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

The Kittatiny House and the Water Gap House – Detroit Publishing Co., ca 1900 – Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

“The Delaware Water Gap: Its Scenery, its Legends, and its Early History;” “The Minisinks and its Early People, the Indians;” “An Ancient Petition;” ” Tatamy;” “Settlement of Smithfield;” “Portals of the Minisink: Tradition and History of the ‘Walking Purchase’ Region and the Gateway of the Delaware;” “Early Frontier Life in Pennsylvania: Efficient Military Service of Four Brothers;” “George Lebar;” “Historical Notes of the Minisinks: Capture of John Hilborn by the Indians on Brodhead’s Creek;” “Pioneer Roads, the Old Mine Road, Early People, etc.;” ” The Old Stone Seminary of Stroudsburg in 1815;” “Indian Trails;” “Soldiers in the War of 1812 from the Townships of Smithfield and Stroud;” “Almost a Cetenarian: The Last of the Soldiers of the War of 1812 in Northern Pennsylvania;” “History of the Old Bell on the School­-House at Delaware Water Gap;” “Indian Graves at Pahaquarra;” “Half-Century of Journalism;” “The Depuy Family;” “Early Settlement of the Delaware: Was the Upper Delaware occupied before Philadelphia? Early Occupation of the Upper Delaware;” “Sketches of the Stroud, Van Campen, McDowell, Hyndshaw, Drake, and Brodhead Families.” He was also associate editor of the “History of Wayne, Pike and Monroe Counties.”

In addition to his connection with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Mr. Brodhead was a member of the Numismatic and Antiquary Society, the Geographical Society, and the Pennsylvania Society Sons of the Revolution, of Philadelphia; the Minisink Valley Historical Society, the Moravian Historical Society, the Georgia Historical Society, the Kansas Historical Society, and several college literary societies.

*************************************************************************
Links
Antoine Dutot Museum and Gallery
Spanning the GapPDF newsletter – US Dept of the Interior National Park Service
NJ Skylands “Million dollar highway” by Robert Kopenhaven
Pocono history website

*Article from http://www.fultonhistory.com

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Categories: Brodhead, Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania | Tags: , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “March 1888: Luke Brodhead’s collection of Indian relics stolen

  1. Wow, hard to imagine the European museums hiring thieves, but then again, considering the Elgin Marbles, maybe not. 🙂 I always enjoy the beautiful British Museum but try not to think too much about how they obtained their treasures. –Curt

    Like

  2. Most interesting! Hmm, no records of the apprehension of the criminal(s)? Makes you wonder where the pieces finally ended up! (Okay, so I grew up on Nancy Drew!)

    Like

  3. Barbara Brodhead

    I found this gem of an article tucked away between emails. Very much enjoyed reading it! Thank you!

    Sent from my iPhone

    Like

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