50 Years Later, Oswald Disputes Keep Rising from the Graveby M-Gillies
From John Dillinger’s 1932 Studebaker to Al Capone’s 1929 Ford Model AA Beer Truck, Adolf Hitler’s 1939 Mercedes G-4 Six-Wheeled Staff car to Heinrich Himmler’s 1939 Horch 930v Cabriolet German Staff Car, the Historic Auto Attractions Museum of Roscoe, Ill. has long been the home of some of world’s most historic automobiles. From assassins to world leaders and celebrities, the museum boasts an impressive collection from over two centuries. However, in recent news, a legal battle appears to be rising over the horizon over the headstone of Lee Harvey Oswald, which has been on display since 2009.
It was back on November 22, 1963 when 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Through the midst of chaos and confusion of such an ordeal, Oswald became the prime suspect as the lone gunman. While numerous conspiracy theories arose over the assassination, two days later, Oswald was subsequently assassinated himself during a transfer from police headquarters to county jail.
Four years to the day of the Kennedy assassination, two young men entered the Bartlesville, Oklahoma cemetery and stole the headstone from Oswald’s grave. In the meantime, Lee’s mother Marguerite had the headstone replaced with a less conspicuous marker which only displayed the name “Oswald”.
As time passed, the original headstone was recovered by police and returned to Marguerite, who kept the commemorative piece in the crawl space of her house until her death in 1981. When the house changed owners, so to did the headstone before it was donated to the Historic Auto Museum.
However, Dallas pub owner, David Card, claims the stone is rightfully his. It was after Oswald’s mother’s death in 1981 that Card’s mother bought the house, found the stone and gave it to a relative for safekeeping. When Card’s mother died, the stone surfaced in the garage of Holly Ragan, who in turn donated the historic memento to museum owner Wayne Lensing.
But it isn’t just Oswald’s headstone that has stirred controversy in recent years. In fact, the pine box that was supposed to be Oswald’s final resting place has a new resting place of its own after it was bought at an auction for more than $87,000.
Back in 1981, Oswald’s body was briefly exhumed to put to rest conspiracy theories that he really wasn’t buried in his grave. However, because water had gotten into a cracked burial vault and damage had occurred to the original, funeral home owner Allen Baumgardner replaced the casket with a new one.
Years later, Nate Sanders of Nate D. Sanders Auctions in Santa Monica, put the pine casket up for auction, which saw two bidders going back and forth for the unusual prize.
“Anything connected to the JFK assassination sells for really high,” Sanders said.
While he wouldn’t give details on the winning bidder, the auction also included instruments used to embalm Oswald, his death certificate, an Easter card he sent to his brother and a section of the car seat the U.S. president was sitting on when he was shot.
Still, the curator of a museum dedicated to Kennedy’s Nov. 22, 1963, assassination said when bidding opened he expected it would generate a lot of interest.
“My experience as a curator has been, if people have room and it’s a Kennedy item, they will collect it,” said Gary Mack of the Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas.
Much like the original Oswald headstone, the purchase of this coffin proves that there are no limits to collectables, no matter how strange or unusual.