THE DAY PRICELESS OLD EDGEFIELD POTTERY WAS DISCOVERED MISSING
The police report and a person early on-the-scene reveal details.
A Continuing Special to The Advertiser by Katharine Walton
103-104 Courthouse Square is the address a curious tourist would GPS if looking for any of three: The Welcome Center, hosted by the expansive and philanthropic Edgefield Civic League, and also their former housemates,The Old Edgefield District Genealogical Society,an archivist organization, like the PBS-TV show Finding Your Roots, with deep dives into genealogy.
The Old Edgefield District Genealogical Society is known by its initials that get easier to say over time:
O – E – D – G – S.
Everybody on the scene the Monday morning the pottery was discovered and reported missing, was with the OEDGS and didn’t need directions. They worked there and already knew the Civic League over the weekend had changed the locks on three of the four doors.
Carol Hardy Bryan, a former editor of The Quill, and still a dedicated OEDGS member, said she heard the locks had been changed by Beth Thornton, the current president of the Civic League, sometime during the afternoon of Saturday, June 4. (Bryan had been called by Tonya Guy, a key staff member hired to welcome tourists, aid researchers and assist with general needs of the Welcome Center. Guy has been president of the OEDGS now since this January.)
Bryan said by Sunday her plan was to stop by the office right at 9 a.m. Monday morning, just to see if she’d be let inside.
“Beth and George (Thornton) were on the outside and opened the door in front of me,” she said. “And Justin (Guy) and I walked in together.”
Justin’s wife Tonya Guy, was working nearby at her other job (at the County Courthouse as an archivist), like she usually does in the mornings, Bryan said. So she wasn’t there.
When the Thorntons, who had opened the doors,left with the keys, Bryan said, others who had stopped by the office pulled their chairs toward each other to talk.
What was going on here? Who has done the work here?! If we take our stuff with us, then what have they got?
It was Carol Hardy Bryan who looked up and outside the circle of office chairs towards the shelves facing her.
Something wasn’t right to her eye. She thought a moment and then said aloud: “There are pots missing.” Bryan stayed seated and Justin Guy stood up to take a look.
Before, the shelves were “pot to pot to pot,” but now there was “a pot and then a hole or two,” Bryan said.
The state of confusion that had begun with the news of the “lock out” over the weekend was now about the pots. “I don’t give a hoot about the pottery,” she said, rephrasing that several times for emphasis. “I wasn’t going to spend the day there, so I left for lunch.”
THE POLICE REPORT
Bryan didn’t overhear Justin Guy phone the police, she’d left for lunch. The report says the call was a “911 Call” at 3 p.m. June, 6, 2022.
Justin Guy said he first made a number of calls, to see if anyone knew anything, before calling the police.
The Officer Incident Report was shared by Chief Ronnie Carter of the Edgefield Police Department, without the filing of a FOI (sometimes pronounced “fwa” for FOI, meaning a Freedom of Information Request). It was written by Reporting Officer George Shultz.
To read this is to learn that on June 6, it was first stated 21 pots were missing, then 24 pots. By time the Midlands Crimestopper’s new release was written by South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), the number was up to 39.
The report clearly states that it was Justin Guy who called to report what was filed as a “Larceny/Theft” — not someone from the Civic League, the owner of the conjoining buildings at 103-104 Courthouse Square.
In the report, Justin Guy named Danny Timmerman—not the OEDGS or the Civic League—as the victim.
Not part of the report but background: Danny Timmerman is said to be the owner of the pottery, he inherited from his father, that stayed on display at 104 Courthouse Square, which is often simply thought of as The Tompkins Library, where some in town say they’ve senttheir boxes of old books, photographs and papers—not to an organization, but to “The Library.”
In the report, the “Narrative” filed by Reporting Officer George Shultz on Tuesday, June 7th is quoted here:
“Upon arrival R/O spoke with Justin Guy, who stated there were approximately 21 pots missing from inside the building. Mr. Guy then stated the collection of pottery was on loan from Danny Timmerman and he had pictures of all the pottery that was located on the shelves. Mr. Guy also stated that the pottery was there on Saturday, June 4th, and was found to be missing on Monday June 6th. Mr. Guy then stated that the locks to the building had been changed on that Saturday afternoon and that the only ones with the keys were George and Beth Thornton. Mr. Guy then showed R/O three doors that the locks had been changed on. At this time R/O advised Mr. Guy there would be a report made and to send the pictures he had to R/O’s work email. R/O has nothing further at this time.
“At approximately 1600 hours on June 6, 2022, R/O spoke with Mr. George Thornton, who stated that only three of the locks had been changed and that there was a fourth door into the building. Mr. Thornton also advised that his locksmith told him to jam a key into the lock to render the lock useless until it could be changed. R/O has nothing further to state at this time.”
Bryan adds, “One of the back doors in the basement of the Lynch building (104 Courthouse Square) was required to be a fire door. You couldn’t lock it so someone could not get out in a fire. It’s locked from the outside but you can always push the door open from the inside and get to the parking lot.”
Police Chief Carter said it seems the theft happened at night. It would have had to been Saturday or Sunday night, June 4 or 5. The pots must have been carried through the back door.
What’s missing from the police report, written after talking with Justin Guy, is that the theft may have included examples of famed potter and poet David Drake’s work, that all of the missing pottery is Old Edgefield Pottery. And even if one is just a cracked old pickle jar, the pottery is priceless.
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