No longer after filing "A battle for the burning of Kingston" on Tuesday, the newsroom received a report that the Burning-bound boat "The Mercury" had been stolen. Police Chief Gerald Keller and the craft’s captain, Gene Tozzi reported the boat, which was going to reprise the role of The Lady Washington during the Burning re-enactment, was recovered late Tuesday afternoon.
I had written this before that report:
What actually happened in Kingston on Oct. 16, 1777, was this:
About 1,600 British troops under the direction of Maj. Gen. John Vaughan — who had called the then village “a nursery for almost every villain in the country” — camped out at Marist College and had one of their boats stolen by local gadfly Allan Wikman because he was angry about historical inaccuracies and because he had a lot of free time. The troops then called 911 to report a stolen boat, recovered the boat after Wikman lost it and then arrived at what is now Kingston Point Beach, which, thankfully, was open to the public that year.
Not only has Wikman admitted to taking a boat in 2007, he even gave photos of the incident to journalist Steve Hopkings, who wrote extensively about it.
The photo at right is of the 25-foot-long boat DeSager on the night the boat was stolen.
I received an e-mail today from a very tickled Wikman, who wrote:
“About 7 AM yesterday (October 13), a woman called me. 'Thought you'd like to know we borrowed 'The Lady Washington.' Had a party out on the Hudson. Left her tied up to a tree. If you have a camera and you hurry, you may get some pictures."
Wikman asked me if I wanted to see the photos, I told him yes.
There were 10 photos. The time stamp in them has them being taken between 7:51 and 8:01 a.m. Tuesday. According to police, the boat was stolen from the Maritime Museum between 7:30 Monday and 7:45 a.m. Tuesday, when it was reported stolen.
So I asked Wikman the obvious question.
He swears he didn't do it.