Sunday April 29, 2012, the Mankato Free Press ran a pair of articles (see the “In the News” tab at the top of this page) opening the latest chapter in the story of the mystery beam at the Blue Earth County Historical Society. Based on the old photo of the beam shared by MHS and the documentary evidence I summarized in my Execution Artifacts Report (permanently filed under “Research” above) BECHS now believes their beam is the same one John F. Meagher donated to the University of Minnesota in 1881.
Does that mean that this beam is from the 1862 gallows? Meagher made that claim for his beam and at this point, I have no concrete reason to doubt him. So my working hypothesis is that the beam’s attribution is genuine.
But in 2012, we don’t have to take Meagher’s word on it. BECHS has announced it will lead scholarly research based on the best evidence: the beam itself. That’s exactly the outcome I hoped for and I’m pleased.
BECHS has devoted a web page to their research on the timber so the public can follow along.
They’ve also asked me to help. I’m happy to. This is what public history is all about.