Stolen musket returned to Warwick Historical Society

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:47

    WARWICK-An important part of local history, a missing firearm, has just been returned. Last week The Warwick Advertiser ran a front page story and photograph reporting that a French Flintlock Charleville Model 1763 musket with bayonet was discovered missing from the historic Baird Tavern on Main Street. The museum building, once visited by General George Washington during the American Revolution, is owned by the Historical Society of the Town of Warwick. The Charleville musket, owned by a member of a local family, was the Colonial Army's most widely used firearm during the War for Independence. On Monday morning, March 7, Sybil Skinner, the Society's office manager, discovered that a flintlock musket was leaning against the copy machine in the Baird Tavern. A bayonet was resting beside it. Skinner immediately realized that it was the missing musket because of the large initials, "CP," (Colonial Property) engraved in the stock. "This is marvelous," said Michael Bertolini, curator for all the museum buildings owned by the Historical Society. "This musket is very important to our collection." Bertolini credits the mysterious return of the stolen gun to local media coverage as well as sending a detailed description of the musket to the Art Loss Registry and local antique and gun dealers. "With all this publicity," he said, "it would have been almost impossible to sell this musket to any responsible collector." Most members of the Historical Society agree the theft was an inside job. "There was no sign of forced entry or ransacking," said Raey Webster, assistant treasurer of the Society. "It has to be someone who had regular access to the Tavern." The Historical Society has already taken additional security measures. Locks on all the buildings and the alarm codes are being changed. Measures have also been taken to upgrade the security systems as well as the records of those with access to Historical Society buildings. Warwick Police also are investigating the theft.