2013-08-29 / Front Page

Westport Isl. boy finds safe stolen from Pemaquid fort

Police offer few details as 9-year-old uncovers cache of coins, notes
BY LARRY GRARD Times Record Staff

GARRETT PINKHAM, 9, of Westport Island, found a safe containing valuables while combing his favorite beach spot. 
CONTRIBUTED PHOTO GARRETT PINKHAM, 9, of Westport Island, found a safe containing valuables while combing his favorite beach spot. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO WESTPORT ISLAND

Y oung Garrett Pinkham had quite the story to tell his friends when he returned to school this week.

Somehow, a safe reported stolen Aug. 18 or 19 from historic Fort William Henry at Colonial Pemaquid made its way nearly 28 miles — 10 miles as the crow flies — to a cove on the Sheepscot River, where a certain boy and his friends who love to search for trinkets at low tide discovered it last week.

On Saturday, Aug. 24, nearly a week after the burglary was reported to the Lincoln County Sheriff ’s Department, Garrett, 9, and his buddies were at their old spot near the river they call “the waterfall.”

There, he saw it.

It didn’t take long for Garrett to reveal his find to his mother.

“I was in the shower, and my boy comes up to the house and yells, ‘I found a safe,’ and I said, ‘Sure,’” Alice Cromwell said. “I went down and saw it and told him, ‘Don’t touch anything else.’”

The tide had started to come back in at the time, and the boys were trying hard to haul the safe up the riverbank, Cromwell said.

Family friend Earl Grant happened to be visiting at the time.

“Earl went down and grabbed it,” Cromwell said.

Cromwell said there was some cash, a few rare coins, bank notes and 2014 state park passes in the safe. The family kept none of the contents, she said.

“When the officer came this way I said, ‘Get this crime scene out of here,’” Cromwell said Tuesday.

Lt. Mike Murphy of the Lincoln County Sheriff ’s Department said Tuesday that Detective Scott Hayden responded to Cromwell’s call at 1:30 p.m. last Saturday.

The burglary remains under investigation, Murphy said, and the safe is secure at the sheriff ’s department.

Murphy declined to reveal the contents of the safe.

He said transporting the safe from Colonial Pemaquid to Westport Island by land would have required crossing three peninsulas.

John Bott, spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Fishery, said Wednesday the safe at Fort William Henry had been used to store cash transactions.

Friends of Colonial Pemaquid maintains a gift shop at the fort, and money from the sale of admissions to the state park and park passes also is stored there, Bott said.

So how did a safe stolen from Pemaquid make its way up the Sheepscot River?

“By boat,” said Grant, a Westport Island firefighter. “They probably opened it with wedges and crowbars.”

Meanwhile, Garrett Pinkham is still beaming.

“I know this is going to be one of the coolest experiences of his life,” Garrett’s mother said. “Once we got down there, you could tell right off the bat it was something that wasn’t supposed to be there.

“Once I saw the checks, I thought, ‘Definitely, stop touching.’”



The present fort at the Colonial Pemaquid site is actually the rebuilt western tower of Fort William Henry, the second of three forts built and destroyed on the site. During a turbulent period of more than 100 years, Pemaquid was variously under the control of a series of private proprietors based in England and in Massachusetts, and the colonies of New York, Massachusetts Bay, and the Dominion of New England.

The first fortification, Fort Charles, was built in 1677, under orders of the New York governor, Sir Edmund Andros, to protect a new settlement in Pemaquid.

Fort William Henry was built of stone in 1692, when Massachusetts governed the Pemaquid area. Its massive western bastion was 29 feet high, with 28 gun ports, and surrounded the large rock which had been used by attackers in the 1689 debacle. Walls around the compound ranged from 10 to 22 feet in height and were six feet thick at some points. Despite its impressive dimensions, the fort commander surrendered it in 1696 to combined French and Indian attackers, who then destroyed it. The three fortifications, Fort Charles (1677-1689), Fort William Henry (1692- 1696), and Fort Frederick (1729-1761), played an important role in protecting New England’s northeastern frontier from attack by the region’s Wabanaki Indians and the French.


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