Robesonian

Pieces of history lost to crime

LUMBERTON — Two historical pieces are missing after burglars broke into the Proctor Law Building this week, which itself is historical, considered the city’s oldest building.

Missing from the building, which is located at Sixth and Elm streets, were medicine bottles and a sword.

“We reported this past Monday, so it probably occurred Sunday night,” said Collen Brown, president of Historic Robeson Inc.

This is the second time the Proctor Law Building has been broken into.

“About three years ago vandals shattered the windows but they did not get very far, as nothing was stolen,” Brown said. “However, this time the thieves took two bottles of medicine from the early 20th century as well as a Masonic Knights Templar sword that originally belonged to Dr. H.M. Baker Sr.”

The medicine bottles originated from McMillan Drugstore and Hedgpeth’s Pharmacy. McMillan’s was opened in Lumberton in 1876 and operated for more than 75 years. Hedgepeth’s Pharmacy was opened in 1957.

One of the medicine bottles contained liquid, which was poured into a trash can inside the Proctor Law Building.

“I’m not exactly sure what the medicine was, but I think it might have been Mercurochrome,” Brown said.

Mercurochrome is a mercury-containing liquid that was used to treat cuts and scrapes. The U.S. Food and Drug administration declared in 1998 that the drug was not safe or effective, so it has not been used much since.

The main piece that was stolen from the building was the sword.

“We are certainly very sad that it’s gone,” Brown said

The sword was part of a set that included a coat, hat, and riding boots that Baker wore during the early 20th century.

“These types of swords can be valued anywhere from $50 to over $100,” Brown said.

There is an online market for items of the Knight Templar category, and the thief could try to sell the sword online, she said.

“We are just thankful that they did not vandalize or destroy our other exhibits,” Brown said.

Windows that were damaged to gain entry have been repaired and other security precautions have been taken to avoid another break-in, she said.

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By English Watson

Staff writer

Reach English Watson at englishw@live.unc.edu.