Tuesday, 21 June 2016
Collared Yales Curios
Yesterday I located this little story about A. Hyatt Verrill. This is not the first rumour of theft by AHV. He was in the 1930s, 'sacked' by Mr. Heye of the Museum of the American Indian, for reportedly selling artifacts from his Panama digs. Someday someone should write a biography of AHV since so much appears to be missing from his three autobiographies!!!/drf
Collared Yale’s Curios.
Albert Hyatt Verrill Looted the Famous Peabody Museum.
He Sold His Spoils To Museums And Relic Hunters All Over The World.
A Professor’s Son Whose Actions Have Created a Big Sensation in the Elm City.—Articles Valued at Thousands of Dollars Taken by Young Verrill Who When Cornered Acknowledged His Guilt.—Property Returned.
IT HAS BEEN A long time since anything has happened in New Haven that created so much of a sensation as the revelations during the past week of the fact that the Peabody museum, one of Yale’s world famous institutions had been robbed for years by Albert H. Verrill, the eldest son of Addison E. Verrill, M. A., professor of zoology and curator of the zoological collection at the museum.
Not even the “burning words” of Mrs. Poteat whom she asserted a short time ago that she “would as soon send her son to hell us to Yale,” aroused such a stir as did the knowledge of the robberies that young Verrill confessed he was guilty of. And despite the acknowledgment of the accused who got away with thousands of dollars worth of valuable articles, and the chain of evidence woven about him by the detectives who were at work on the case, the offender instead of being brought to justice is allowed to walk the streets unmolested, as free to do as he pleases as ever he was.
For about two years the robberies have been going on and while it was a fact that many articles of value, such as choice pieces of pottery, arrow heads and rare specimens of minerals were missed from time to time by Othniel C. Marsh, Ph. D., L. L. D. and Prof. Verrill, neither of them could account for the disappearances nor secure any trace of the thief. Not until about a month ago was the matter reported to the police authorities and immediately Detectives Cowles and Poronto were detailed to make an investigation and bring the guilty party to justice.
The officers went diligently at work and soon learned that the missing articles were evidently taken from the cases in the museum by some one who had a key, for there was no evidence that showed the cases had been broken into or pried open. Suspicion eventually fell on young Verrill who enjoyed the freedom of the museum on account of his father’s position and he was taken before his parent and a member of the faculty and questioned. He denied all knowledge of the thefts and appeared to be as innocent as the child unborn.
But the detectives were only allowing him all the rope he wanted. They had secured sufficient evidence and concluded to let him go as far as he would with his denials. When he was confronted with the fact that the officer found a quantity of the almost priceless curios in a room at his home at 19 Carmel Street, New Haven, he broke down and confessed the whole business. He was willing to do almost anything in order to get out of the trouble and gave the officers and others interested the addresses of the many different dealers in curios about the country and abroad to whom he had been sending the stolen articles. Immediately the faculty set about to recover the lost property and it is stated that so far about £10,000 worth has been discovered and returned to the looted museum.
The young man’s father and some of his friends have been doing all in their power to straighten the matter out and with the police and others endeavored to keep the affair from gaining any publicity. It leaked out, however, and has been the talk of every one in the Elm city since it became generally known.
Young Verrill, who is about twenty-five years old, resides with his wife and children in a neatly furnished home at 19 Carmel Street and heretofore he has always borne a good reputation. In the city directory he is scheduled as “A Hyatt Verrill, draughtsman and designer,” instead of “Albert H. Verrill, taxidermist,” as it was at one time. Some time ago he was an assistant to his father who resides in an elegantly furnished home at 86 Whalley Avenue. After he married Miss McCarthy, daughter of the well known wholesale liquor dealer, of New Haven, a few years ago, there was some little trouble between him and parent and he left the museum and started in business as a taxidermist in a room at 102 Orange street. The sensation and talk his marriage created soon died away and he again won favor with his father who recognized his son’s excellent work and later sent him all over the world in the interest of the work he had been following.
Verrill had access to all parts of the museum in which his father is professor, and realizing that he could make considerable money on some of the curios in the place began to purloin them. Later on some of his trips abroad he succeeded, so it is stated, in disposing of many of the relics and also got rid of many through an advertisement he had in a New York paper. He was cute enough, too, in replacing many of the articles he took with cheaper imitations and thereby prevented any suspicion from arising for a long time. The substitutes were the work of his own hands and easily passed the uncritical eyes of the students and visitors. Although the college authorities tried in every way to catch the thief when they began to miss the relics they failed and never suspected young Verrill who was fully aware of that fact as they were.
He seldom appeared to have an abundance of money whether he realized very extensively or not on the sale of the articles he stole, and so far as is known was not given to gaming or riotous living of any description. He mingled with the best society and always seemed to be well thought of. It is stated that his father has made good the losses the museum suffered from his actions and that is one of the reasons why young Verrill has not been arrested.
Every one connected with the affair is reticent about saying anything. The police authorities, while they admit that there were robberies going on at the museum for a long time, decline to discuss the matter and have taken no steps towards arresting young Verrill because no compaint has been made against him.
Prof. Marsh, who regrets that the story got out, asserts that the losses did not exceed $1,000, while the young man’s father declares they were not over $100 worth. Others are of the opinion that something like $10,000 worth of the curios were taken and sold to different museums and curio hunters throughout the world.
Verrill seems repentant since he made a clean breast of the whole business as one in his position could be. He regrets the step he took and is sorry he brought such disgrace upon his family. He avoids discussing the matter with newspaper men and has been keeping out of their reach since the discovery was made. His young wife is prostrated with grief over the unpleasant notoriety her husband has gained and cannot believe him guilty of anything wrong. Prof. Verrill is also very much distressed over his boy’s actions and declares the Peabody museum will not lose a cent by what has happened.
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- As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.