FBI helps recover 1757 powder horn stolen from Dearborn Historical Museum in 1952

Posted at 3:39 PM, Jan 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-15 17:33:57-05

DEARBORN, Mich. (WXYZ) — The FBI has helped recover an artifact stolen from the Dearborn Historical Museum more than 60 years ago. In a press conference, FBI Detroit Bureau Special Agent in Charge Timothy Slater was joined by FBI Philadelphia Bureau Special Agent in charge Michael Harpster, Supervisory Special agent with the FBI Art Crime Team Timothy Carpenter and Dearborn Police Chief Ron Haddad, made the announcement.

According to the FBI, the powder horn was made in 1757 and stolen from the Dearborn Historical Museum in 1952, shortly before an exhibition called "Saga of a Settler" was open to the public. At the time of the exhibition, the powder horn was on loan from the Detroit Historical Society, and was returned to the society on Tuesday afternoon.

The powder horn was made at Fort #4 in Charlestown, New Hampshire, on Jun 30, 1757, for a soldier by the name of Lt. Abel Prindel. It is engraved with his name, rank, and the date it was made. It also has the verse carved into it, reading:

"I powder with my broth ball
A heroe like do Conquer all
Tis best abroad with foreign foes to fight
And not at home to feel their hateful spite
Where all of our friends of every sex and age
Will be exposed until their creuel rage"

The powder horn was one of the most significant artifacts in the exhibit and had belonged to John Nowlin, one of the earliest settlers of "Dearbornville" which is now Dearborn. Nowlin came to Dearborn and it was in his family's possession.

At the time, Dearborn police conducted a theft investigation but couldn't find anything. In 1991, the powder horn appeared for auction at Christie's Auction House and was sold to an unknown buyer. In 2017, Dearborn PD called the FBI, and in late 2018, the FBI Detroit Division and Art Crime Team - Philadelphia Division, were able to recover the horn.