Talk on Dunkirk native and the plot to steal Abraham Lincoln set

The 1891 Fredonia Opera House continues its new series of free-admission local history lectures when it presents “The Plot to Steal Abraham Lincoln” on Thursday, July 19, at 7 p.m.

The Plot to Steal Abraham Lincoln is the third of seven multimedia presentations that will be presented over the course of this year as part of the new Chautauqua County History Series. The series features area town, village and county historians presenting lectures on topics of local history and their connection to the world at large.

July’s program features Chautauqua County Historian Michelle Henry detailing local and national research on Patrick Tyrrell, a Dunkirk resident later hailed as a national hero.

Tyrrell was appointed deputy sheriff in Chautauqua County in 1868, and later became an agent for the Secret Service in Illinois. His investigations and arrests of several notorious counterfeiting rings led to his eventual involvement in a plot to steal Abraham Lincoln’s body in 1876. He is credited with preventing the theft; and histories published in the Chicago area depict him as a shining character. However, records held in the County Archives in Mayville suggest that Tyrrell’s personal and professional life were marred by accusations of corruption and abuse.

Was Tyrrell a hero or a scoundrel, or perhaps a bit of both? In her presentation, Henry will discuss the records used to piece together the story of Tyrrell and his family.

Henry was appointed County Historian in March 2000, and also serves as the county’s Records Management Coordinator. She was one of the first historians in New York State to be certified as a Registered Public Historian. A past director of the Chautauqua County Historical Society, she has written several articles for local and state publications, including the New York State Archives Partnership Trust’s Archives magazine and the Chautauqua County Historical Society’s Timelines magazine.

Henry is well-respected by historical societies in Chautauqua County, for which she has spearheaded numerous workshops to teach dedicated volunteers. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Penn State University and a Master’s degree in Anthropology and a Museum Studies Graduate Certificate from Arizona State University.

Admission to Henry’s presentation is free, with donations gratefully accepted. The next program in the lecture series will be held on Aug. 16, and will feature Silver Creek Historian Jamie Roque.

Support for Opera House programming comes from the United Arts Appeal of Chautauqua County, and the Arts Services Initiative of WNY’s Give for Greatness program.

The 1891 Fredonia Opera House is a member-supported not-for-profit organization located in Village Hall in downtown Fredonia. For a complete schedule of events, visit www.fredopera.org.

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