This article was found pasted into a scrap book prepared by Dorothea ‘Dottie’ Mc Dole.
Name of newspaper was not noted.
Transcribed by Lynn McCleary, July 2, 2014

Toolesboro items are ‘irreplaceable,’ officials say

June 9, 1996

Toolesboro (AP) – the theft of an irreplaceable collection of artifacts from a southeastern Iowa Indian historical site is raising security concerns about other collations in the state.

Thieves punched out locks on doors to the visitors’ center at Toolesboro Indian Mounds late Wednesday or early Thursday and stole about 70 artifacts from the displays, officials said.

The Toolsboro site, in southeastern Louisa County, is one of the eight historic sites administered by the State Historical Society of Iowa.

The Toolesboro artifacts dated from the Hopewell culture which existed nearly 2,000 years ago. Lore McManus Solo, a spokeswoman for the historical society, said the Hopewelian mounds are among the best-preserved remnants of an ancient culture that flourished from about 200 B.C. to A.D. 300.

“They broke in and basically took everything we had,” she said. Archaeologists and museum professionals were alerted to the theft.

Experts said they were aware of thieves who were hitting Midwestern museums that don’t have the sophisticated security systems of larger museums.

Jim Rudisill, executive director of the Louisa County Conservation Board and manager of the Toolesboro site for the historical society, was angered by the burglar. “We’ve read about people going around hitting small museums so we’re not surprised they got this one,” he said. “A few people are going to enjoy the artistry of the (stolen) pieces, and the history of them will be lost to the rest of us. They are robbing us of our heritage and culture,” Rudsill said.

Even though a few of the items were reproductions, most were authentic and irreplaceable, officials said. Among the items taken wee stone arrowheads, pottery and examples of trading goods. Historical society officials said it was impossible to estimate how much the artifacts are worth.


Break-in Reported at Toolesboro Indian Mounds Museum
June 12, 1996

Toolesboro Indian Mounds, one of eight historic sites administered by the State Historical Society of Iowa (SHSI), is missing most of its ancient Indian artifacts following a burglary. The break-in was reported to the Louisa County sheriff the morning of Thursday, June 6. The Toolesboro break-in-occurred at the visitor’s education center is located on the Great River Road (Highway 99) between Wapello and Burlington.

Burglar(s) punched out locks on two side-by-side doors. The exhibit cases wee pried open, apparently with a sharp tool. The burglar(s) took nearly everything, a total of about 70 artifacrs, from the displays including specimens of trading goods, stone arrowheads, spear points and knives, pottery and pottery pieces, an ax and stone tools.

Although a few of the item were reproductions, most were authentic and irreplaceable, dating from the Hopewell culture which existed almost 2,000 years ago. It is impossible to place dollar value on the loss.

Jim Rudisill, executive director of Louisa County Conservation Board and site manager for SHSI at Toolesboro, contacted the State Historical Society of Iowa to inform state officials of the burglary. Dr. Bill Green, State Archaeologist, has also been informed about the situation. Green will alert other professionals about the missing historical items. The Iowa Department of Public Safety, department of Management and Governor’s Office all have been informed.

Steven Ohrn, SHSI historic sites manager says security has been provided at a level standard to most small historic sites or museums. But Ohrn also says that security is always a difficult issue. Worldwide, facilities such as these – because of limited funding and personnel as well as because of their rural location- have been vulnerable to theft and vandalism.

A neighbor had driven by the site the evening of Wednesday, June 5 and was unaware at that time of any break-in. Neighbors also had heard dogs barking in the night.

The Louisa County Sheriff’s Office has nearly completed an on-site investigation. Chief Deputy Curt Braby says physical evidence was left at the scene. Clean—up is needed since mud and other debris were dragged in during the burglary.

Toolesboro Mounds had open for the tourism season the third week in May. The State Historical Society has decided Toolesboro Mounds visitor’s education center will remain open as usual – noon to 4 p.m. daily – until October 31 when it typically closes for the season. Visitor can visit the three earthen burial mounds year-round.

The Iowa Historical Society’s goal is to make the site open and accessible to the public and continue educational efforts about this early Indian culture. The Society hopes to eventually create a new exhibit at the education center. A source of funding has not been identified for such a project.


Probe Turns Up Stolen Indian Artifacts
By Rick Smith, Gazette staff writer
June 1996

The undoing of a man suspected of stealing Indian artifacts from a small Iowa museum came after he allegedly tried to sell stolen projectile points to a Burlington antique dealer, authorities say.

Scott McClurg, 21, was arrested Wednesday evening after investigators say they found stolen property during a search of his West Burlington residence.

Sgt. Deborah Leasch of the West Burlington Police Department said Thursday that some of the stolen property came from a burglary and theft in West Burlington.

Indian artifacts also found in McClurg’s residence are believed to have come from last week’s break-in at the Toolesboro Indian Mounds Museum, said the deputy Curt Braby of the Louisa County Sheriff’s Department. Braby said investigators have recovered about 30 of the 70 artifacts stolen from the museum. He added that there are leads to at least some of what is still missing.

McClurg was taken to jail charges of burglary and theft that relate to items allegedly stolen in Des Moines County. McClurg has not yet been charged with the Toolesboro museum burglary.

On the night of June 5, a burglar or burglars forced open a door at the museum and then pried open display cases and emptied them of ancient Indian artifacts.

Among items believed recovered are pottery pieces, some nearly 2,000 years old, stone projectile points, axes, a clay pot and an effigy pipe.

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