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History Detectives: St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, George Washington Miniature, Stalag 17

Airs Monday, August 9, 2010 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: A table display with a 12-gauge shotgun and ballistics. The gun came to our contributor’s family after it was handed down through two generations of prominent Chicago families. It’s a Western Field single-barreled repeating action 12-guage shotgun. The barrel and the stock were once shortened just the way the Capone gang liked its guns: easy to conceal and with more destructive force. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre was one of the first cases in the country that used ballistics evidence to tie weapons to a crime.

America's top gumshoes are back to prove once again that an object found in an attic or backyard might be anything but ordinary.

A miniature color painting labeled “G. Washington.” On the back of the portrait is the inscription, “Property of White Matlack. New York, 1790.”
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Above: A miniature color painting labeled “G. Washington.” On the back of the portrait is the inscription, “Property of White Matlack. New York, 1790.”

Wesley Cowan, independent appraiser and auctioneer; Gwendolyn Wright, historian and professor of architecture, Columbia University; Elyse Luray, independent appraiser and expert in art history; Dr. Eduardo Pagán, professor of history and American studies at Arizona State University; and Tukufu Zuberi, professor of sociology and the director of the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, leave no stone unturned as they travel around the country to explore the stories behind local folklore, prominent figures and family legends.

The story surrounding the portrait Fletcher Rhoden (right) is holding brought these people together. The portrait of George Silva (center) was sketched in 1944 while he was held inside the German POW camp Stalag 17B. George’s daughter, Gloria (left), asked "History Detectives" to find out what happened to the artist who made the drawing in her father’s wartime logbook. The search led to Fletcher Rhoden and another important sketch (foreground).
Enlarge this image

Above: The story surrounding the portrait Fletcher Rhoden (right) is holding brought these people together. The portrait of George Silva (center) was sketched in 1944 while he was held inside the German POW camp Stalag 17B. George’s daughter, Gloria (left), asked "History Detectives" to find out what happened to the artist who made the drawing in her father’s wartime logbook. The search led to Fletcher Rhoden and another important sketch (foreground).

"St. Valentine's Day Massacre": Two generations of prominent Chicago families say this 12-gauge shotgun played a role in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Can "History Detectives" confirm their story?

"George Washington Miniature": Then, combing through documents in one of Manhattan’s first taverns, a man finds a miniature painting of George Washington’s profile. Why is this find much more than a piece of art?

"Stalag 17 Portrait": And, 65-years ago a fellow prisoner sketched George Silva’s portrait from inside a World War II German prisoner camp. George wants to find out what happened to the artist. His search leads to a moving meeting.

These three encore segments first aired as part of three different episodes in the seventh season in 2009.

Think you have a case for "History Detectives?" Send us your mystery.

Video

Preview: History Detectives: St. Valentine's Day Massacre, George Washington Miniature, Stalag 17

Above: Coming up on "History Detectives," family lore says their 12-gauge shotgun played a role in the Chicago St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Is their story true? Then, why is this miniature of George Washington much more than a piece of art? And, a portrait sketched in a World War II prison leads to a moving meeting 65 years later.