posted on July 14, 2011 12:15
The Holland Land Office Museum deals with many artifacts from Batavia’s past, so they never really know what’s going to come through the door.
But an item of theirs that was stolen in the 1960’s? Now that’s surprising.
The Museum recently recovered a ticket to a criminal execution that dates back to 1866 – when executions were apparently still a public show, and tickets were issued.
Museum Director Jeff Donahue explains that the ticket came back from a couple who’d purchased it in 1973 for $1.25.
"They wanted it to come back to an institution in Western New York – so they donated it to the Genesee Country Museum," says Donahue. "Peter Wisbey, their curator of collections called me up...and we drove down and took possession of it on Monday.
The ticket was issued by Sheriff-of-the-time Parley Upton. It was for the execution of a Levi Mayhew. According to internet records, Mayhew was hanged at Indian Falls on a murder conviction. It was reportedly the last execution ever held in Genesee County.
"It's great for this item to be back home here in Batavia," Donahue said, "and it will be going in our 'Crime and Punishment' exhibit."
That exhibit incidentally includes the actual gallows upon which Mayhew was likely hung (see photo below). Six other men were hung in Genesee County, the last being in 1881.
PHOTO, inset: County Clerk Don Read, HLOM Board President Bob Turk, Museum Director Jeff Donahue, and Genesee Country Museum Curator Peter Wisbey with the execution ticket (submitted by Jeff Donahue)