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Object Record

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Object Name Souvenir
Catalog Number 0985.13.00696
Description The souvenir consists of a curl of white hair bound in a ribbon attached to a plasticized piece of paper. "J. Y. Beall" is written in script on a slip of paper at the bottom of the plasticized paper.
Material hair (human)
Dimensions H-3.5 W-4 inches
Provenance The lock of hair came from Capt. John Yates Beall's head. Beall was executed as a spy on Governor's Island in New York Harbor on February 24, 1865.

Following a failed attempt as a privateer in 1863(he was captured, imprisoned, and released), and a failed plan to free Confederate prisoners on Johnson's Island in autumn 1864 (he narrowly escaped), Beall then decided to free some captured Confederate officers by derailing a passenger train. However, he and a companion, George S. Anderson, were arrested in Niagara, New York, on December 16, 1864. They were imprisoned at Fort Lafayette, New York. Anderson agreed to testify against Beall in return for leniency. On February 8 the commission found him guilty on all charges and sentenced him to death. Beall was then transported to and held at Fort Columbus on Governors Island in New York Harbor to await his execution. Beall's story was initially kept out of newspapers, but following his sentence the news was widely published, and there was outcry throughout the South and numerous appeals to President Lincoln (including by U.S. Congressment). Beall was executed on February 24, 1865.
People Beall, John Yates
Subjects hair
mourning (tentative)
Prisoners of war