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Police Probe Theft Of Underground Railroad Statue

Ross Olszewski of the Jamestown Police Department is pictured Monday morning taking photographs at Dow Park. A copper statue part of the "Underground Railroad Tableau" series was stolen sometime between Thursday and Monday. P-J photo by Eric Tichy

A statue part of a series at Dow Park in Jamestown memorializing the local Underground Railroad movement appears to have been stolen. The piece is one of three at the park created by the late David Poulin titled “Underground Railroad Tableau.”

The statue had just recently been cleaned, with the assistance of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation, and re-installed last Thursday. City Parks Department employees realized Monday that the statue was missing and contacted the police department.

The pieces is estimated to be worth $2,000.

Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist said he was shocked and disappointed to learn of the theft.

“To think someone would want to steal or take the statue for the Underground Railroad, especially at a time we want to embrace human rights and the ability for us to remember the actions taken to be free, it’s disheartening,” Sundquist said.

This statue honors the anonymous fugitives who touched Jamestown in the pursuit of freedom along the underground railroad.

It’s not clear how exactly the copper statue, believed to weigh between 500 and 600 pounds, was removed from the park that neighbors the James Prendergast Library and is nestled along some of the busiest streets in Jamestown. Police believe more than one person may be involved as the statue would be too heavy for one person to lift.

In a news release, Jamestown police said nearby video was being checked.

“Bizarre is the appropriate term,” Sundquist said of the apparent brazen theft.

The three-statue Jamestown Underground Railroad Tableau honors Silas Sherman, an abolitionist and acknowledged leader of the Ugrr Line that came through Jamestown; Catherine Harris, a free Black woman and station master; and the “anonymous fugitives who touched Jamestown in the pursuit of freedom along the Underground Railroad.” The statue recognizing the latter was the piece stolen from Dow Park.

Sundquist hopes the statue can be recovered and returned to the memorial.

Anyone with information regarding the theft is asked to call the Jamestown Police Department at 483-7537 or via the anonymous tips line at 483-Tips (8477) or the Tips 411 App. All calls and tips are kept confidential.

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