Samuel Finley Breese Morse, the American painter and inventor of the telegraph, died on April 2nd, 1872 in New York City and was subsequently buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenwood Heights. Years later in honor of his 177th birthday, the Morse Telegraph Club (MTC) commissioned a commemorative bronze plaque to be placed on the monument. The photograph above was taken on the morning of April 27th, 1968 during the ceremony as Officers of the MTC Jos. B. Milgrom and Carl L. Amrein tended to the dedicatory wreath.
Several years later the plaque mysteriously vanished in the night much to the dismay of Green-Wood Cemetery and the Morse Telegraph Club. A replacement plaque was promptly cast to take the place of the missing original. The theft remained unsolved.
In early January of 2012, Green-Wood received word of the plaque resurfacing in Phoenix, Arizona in the possession of a collector who had passed and left it to their family who then listed it on Ebay, of all places! The original was returned to the Morse Telegraph Club, who in turn delivered it to Green-Wood Cemetery. After 44 years of being away, the original plaque from the 1968 ceremony had returned to its rightful place! The person(s) responsible for the theft, however, remains a mystery.
For more regarding the return of the plaque to its rightful owners, check out Green-Wood Cemetery historian Jeff Richman’s blog post from 2012 here.
This image belongs to the Brooklyn Photograph and Illustration Collection. For more information please check out our finding aid here, and for more photographs from this collection check out our image gallery here.
Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery, which includes a selection of our images. Interested in seeing even more historic Brooklyn images? Visit our Brooklyn Visual Heritage website here. To search BHS’s entire collection of images, archives, maps, and special collections; visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Sat, 1:00-5:00 p.m. firstname.lastname@example.org.