State panelists want DNA testing to prove that a stovepipe hat actually did belong to Abraham Lincoln.
The museum curator was none too pleased, and replied that the controversy is “a dead issue.”
Not all seven members of the panel voted. Chairman Sunny Fischer questioned the need for DNA testing, leaving the possibility open for when when the board next meets in June.
Tony Leone of the state Historic Preservation Agency Board wants the hat DNA tested by Illinois State’s police forensics lab. He feels the need to prove beyond all doubt that the hat did indeed belong to the late Abraham Lincoln:
“I really think we have a credibility gap with this hat.”
The museum claims Abraham Lincoln gave the hat to a Southern Illinois farmer as a token of thanks at a debate with Stephen Douglas. However, a descendant of that farmer claimed in an affidavit that her father-in-law got it from Lincoln “during the Civil War in Washington.”
According to Fox News, a comment from the museum was requested, but the museum told them:
“There’s no deception at all.”
According to Chicago Sun-Times, board member Shirley Portwood said:
“There’s a period of time where it’s not clear where the hat was, and I, as a historian, would have a problem with that. Even in a paper I was writing about it, I would have to have a footnote that said, ‘according to family lore, such and such,’ rather than it had been documented for the entire … 150 years.”
James Cornelius, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum’s curator, was angry and told Tony Leone that:
“This is a dead issue. Dandruff, bone, hair, forget it. It’s not there.”
Do you think the hat needs to be DNA tested to prove it belonged to Abraham Lincoln?
— natasha korecki (@natashakorecki) February 14, 2013