YORK, Pa. — A priceless piece of history has vanished from York.
Two historians recently visited York to do research on a decades-long project when an irreplaceable artifact was stolen out from under them.
Rev. John Henry Hector was a noted Temperance speaker, a minister, a Civil War soldier, a father, and an international traveler, among other things. And although he was born in 1845, he feels like a family member to Philip Merrill and Veronica Carr.
"I live and sleep and breathe this stuff, 24/7," Merrill said.
Merrill and Carr have been studying and documenting Rev. Hector's journey for the past 15 years. Their research brought them to York last week, which is his final resting place at Lebanon Cemetery, and the last place he ever lived.
"It's one thing doing the research and another thing being able to walk in his actual steps," Carr said. "You do feel a strange connection to this man who literally died over a century ago."
With them were two notebooks. One with background information, documents, and certificates. The other was a blue binder with archival sleeves, carrying seven rare and original photos.
While they were taking photos of Rev. Hector's last home, now the Parliament Arts Organization, Merrill and Carr were invited inside. They forgot to lock their car door.
"We were all excited so I said, 'let me go to the Jeep and get my business card because I want to say in touch with you,' so I go to the Jeep. I get the card, and I'm like, 'uh oh. Where is the blue book?'" Merrill said.
They searched everywhere. Merrill's iPad and Ray-Ban sunglasses weren't taken, but their blue binder was.
"I felt as though someone punched me in the stomach," Merrill said.
Now there's a reward with an undisclosed amount for anyone who finds the blue binder.
"All I want, no questions asked, is the archival binder with the photographs, to be returned," Merrill said. "It's a big part of the project, and I worked on collecting those images for 15 years."
If you have any information, you can email Veronica Carr at firstname.lastname@example.org