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tv   Lou Dobbs Tonight  FOX Business  August 21, 2020 5:00am-6:00am EDT

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i'm jamie colby. i am jamie colby. and remember -- you can't take it with you. >> a bloody battle for independence. a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. >> it really helps to define what it means to be a texan. >> but a century later, a thousand miles away, what's this? >> it was very, very dirty. the edges were tattered. >> a texas painting in west virginia? does that make sense? >> these things just don't happen. >> did the legendary artist create another canvas also worth a fortune? >> i was flabbergasted. >> we were all literally on the edge of our seats. [ door creaks ] [ wind howls ] [ thunder rumbles ] [ bird caws ] >> i'm jamie colby here
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in port orange, florida, just south of daytona beach. i'm here to meet a retiree who had a curious relic hidden among the rafters of her home in west virginia. when her grandson finds it, he's convinced it's a valuable piece of history. >> my name is betty bland. for more than a century, a strange inheritance collected dust in the attic. my husband and i thought it was worthless, until our grandson john surprised us all. >> i'm john buell. i knew my great-great-grandfather was a famous artist renowned for his epic murals of texas battles. i had no idea i'd end up solving a mystery surrounding one of them. >> i meet betty and john at the family home, where they explain that the benefactor in this "strange inheritance" tale is born in belfast, ireland, in 1836. his name is harry mcardle. as a child, harry's a whiz with a paintbrush or sketch pad.
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would we describe him as a prodigy? >> i mean, probably. he was a very prolific painter. >> as a teenager, he immigrates to america and attends the maryland institute of the arts, where he creates this award-winning sketch of a failed royal coup. >> the level of detail that he got into this was really fantastic. >> the fine detail, the shading. it's so intricate. when civil war breaks out, mcardle puts his talents to use for general robert e. lee. >> he joined the confederate army, and he was a mapmaker. >> after the war, he moves to texas, where he begins painting portraits of veterans. there, he becomes fascinated with heroes of an earlier war, the texas fight for independence from mexico. >> he had this vision to depict the exploits, the revolution, the heroes. >> historian sam ratcliffe specializes in texas battle paintings. what does mcardle mean to texas?
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>> he was really the first artist to try to thoroughly research the sweep of the texas revolution. >> why the revolution? >> the texas revolution was the defining event of texas history. >> the climatic event of the texas revolution and the subject of mcardle's greatest masterpiece is the battle of san jacinto. let's set the scene. the year is 1836, when the ruthless mexican general santa anna marches into texas, then a province of mexico, to put an end to a revolt by local settlers. the so-called napoleon of the west crushes texas forces at the alamo. santa anna than pushes forward, determined to wipe out all the rebels. a battalion of volunteer texas citizens, led by sam houston, are forced into retreat. >> they're up against an army that was larger, with a european-trained officer corps that had wrought devastation,
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not just in texas, but also against mexican states that were rebelling elsewhere. >> on april 21, houston leads his ragtag group of troops, about 900 in all, on a surprise attack of the mexican army, which is camped along the san jacinto river. as they charge, the soldiers shout, "remember the alamo!" >> it was revenge time for them. >> the bloody skirmish lasts just 18 minutes before santa anna surrenders. >> that was the day that texas won its independence from mexico. the american west was won. >> how many texans were lost? >> only nine. >> more than 40 years later in the 1880s, harry mcardle makes it his artistic mission not merely to depict the battle with painstaking accuracy but to use his oils and canvas to tell a great story. >> he talked to maybe all the surviving veterans of san jacinto. he did a lot of research on flags, on uniforms,
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and was just fanatical about getting the revolution commemorated properly. >> harry takes more than a decade to complete his san jacinto mural, finishing in 1898, and it's enormous, 14 feet long and 8 feet high. the troops clash in bloody hand-to-hand combat. dark clouds represent the suffering texas has endured while the setting sun breaks through the gloom, symbolic of the freedom the victory would bring. it's instantly lauded as a masterpiece and placed in the texas capitol's senate chamber. curator ally james gives me a close-up look. >> this is "the battle of san jacinto." it's something that every texan is proud of to this day. >> who are the major players in this painting? >> first of all, of course, sam houston, despite the fact being gravely injured, insisted on being able to continue with the battle. you see one of his trusted scouts, deaf smith, charging forward on his mighty horse. >> behind smith, a commander
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of houston's spy squad, henry karnes, aims a pistol at a mexican colonel while general edward burleson is the first to charge the mexican barricades. >> and then, of course, at the top, president santa anna was fleeing with some mules kicking up their heels behind him. >> mcardle was saying that even santa anna's mules have lost respect for him. >> it really tells, i think, in one sweeping gesture, such an incredible story. it really helps to define what it means to be a texan. >> so much so, the artist becomes a legend himself. >> how well known is harry mcardle to texans? >> it's absolutely amazing. in the capitol alone, he has six pieces. >> including this portrait of steven f. austin, the father of texas, and another gigantic mural, titled "dawn at the alamo" that also hangs in the senate chamber. >> mcardle must have done these paintings because he was getting big bucks for them. >> no, exactly the opposite. the legislature would say, "sure, you can hang them in the capitol
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while we'll debate whether to appropriate money," and they never did. >> mcardle passes away in 1908 at age 72 with not much to his name besides his journals, research, and private artworks. he leaves those to his son, ruskin. after ruskin dies in 1955, harry's grandson george bland ships the items to the family home in weston, west virginia. >> and everything went to the third floor, and that's where it remained. >> and that was ultimately just more stuff from another relative and just kind of got packed away for later. >> that later comes 50 years later, when betty's grandson john makes a shocking discovery in her attic. >> it was just kind of leaned against a wall underneath a tarp and very, very dirty. >> that's next. >> here's our "strange inheritance" quiz question.
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the answer after the break. i am totally blind. and non-24 can throw my days and nights out of sync, keeping me from the things i love to do. talk to your doctor, and call 844-214-2424.
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now you can trade stocks and etfs for any amount you choose instead of buying by the share. all with no commissions. stocks by the slice from fidelity. get your slice today. >> so, which of these three western legends didn't fight at the alamo? it's daniel boone. he fought in the french and indian war, and the american revolution, and died in 1820. >> the battle of san jacinto won texas its independence and inspires harry mcardle,
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whose famous painting still hangs in the texas senate chamber. mcardle becomes a texas luminary in his own right. after he dies in 1908, his personal effects are passed down through the family, winding up in the west virginia home of his grandson george bland in the 1950s. his belongings all get stuffed in the attic, says george's wife, betty. >> it was just a place that was a catch-all for things that you weren't using at the time. >> by the 1990s, the attic is packed with even more generations of stuff. it's a favorite playground for betty and george's grandkids, especially young john. >> i mean, there was just so much stuff my whole time growing up. every time i found something else that i come down, "grandma, grandma. what is this? what is this? where the heck did this come from?" >> that curiosity in his family's history carries into adulthood, and in 2009, when john is 32, he's poking around the attic once again.
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he stumbles across something he's never noticed before. >> it was just kind of back in there, just kind of against the wall with a tarp over it. >> did you have any idea what it was? >> no. i lifted up the, the tarp that was over it and, "huh." >> whatever it is, it hasn't been touched in decades, and it's quite large, at least 5 feet by 7 feet. john's not sure how he missed it all these years. turns out it's an old painting of some battle long ago. can you describe it for me? >> there was a hole in the canvas. the edges were kind of tattered. it was very, very dirty. it was kind of just a sad war painting just stowed away in the attic for no one to see. >> john runs downstairs to see if his grandmother knows more about the intriguing mural. >> she said, "your great-great-grandfather did that." >> "ah! that's gotta be worth something!" >> "oh, no. it's not worth anything. that's just a working drawing." >> a lot of artists will do
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a working drawing to see how it's going to be before they do the final thing, and that's what my husband always thought it was. he said, "oh, john. find something interesting. then come and tell me." >> he didn't even think it was interesting? >> he was not impressed. >> to him it was nothing that was ever important. so, they just didn't think that there was any value to it. i think that just kind of just permeated through the rest of the family. nobody really, i don't know, paid it much mind. >> but john is not as blasé as his grandparents. after all, his great-great-grandfather's paintings are texas treasures that have been hanging in the state capitol for a century. he figures this thing's got to be worth something, right? >> i said, "well, if we can do something with it, do you want me to?" >> "oh, honey, whatever you want to do is fine, but nobody's going to be interested in that." >> john disagrees. he thinks it could be a nice little bump to his grandparents' retirement account, maybe more than a little one. >> my heart stopped. it was just one of the most
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pivotal moments in my life. >> that's next. >> here's another quiz question for you. the texas state capitol, completed in 1888, is the largest capitol building in the america, second only to the us capitol. how did texas pay for it? the answer when we return. we love our new home. there's so much space. we have a guestroom now. but, we have aunts. you're slouching again, ted. expired, expired... expired. thanks, aunt bonnie. it's a lot of house. i hope you can keep it clean. at least geico makes bundling our home and car insurance easy. which helps us save a lot of money oh, teddy. did you get my friend request? uh, i'll have to check.
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say xfinity sports zone into your voice remote today. >> so, how did texas pay for its capitol building? it's "c." the builders were given 3 million acres in the texas panhandle as payment for their work. the estate became the largest cattle ranch in the world, nearly the size of connecticut. >> in 2009, john buell finds this dusty,
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slightly tattered painting in his grandparents' attic in west virginia. he's told it's the work of his great-great-grandfather harry mcardle, an artist made famous by his murals of the texas revolution. >> i thought, "oh, i bet we could sell this for about $20,000." i mean, he was a very accomplished artist. >> to find out, john e-mails heritage auctions in dallas. >> i was very puzzled at first and very intrigued. >> atlee phillips is the director of texas art at heritage. >> you had to be a little suspicious. >> well, of course. i don't get a lot of inquiries about major historical paintings. >> but the painting in the photos looks legitimate, and john makes sure she knows he's a direct descendent of texas legend harry mcardle. >> what about the fact that it's in west virginia? does that make sense? >> that was one thing that was so perplexing. these things just don't happen. >> and if there were a 5x7-foot mural painted
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by an artist as renown as mcardle, there should be some record of it. after an exhaustive search, atlee finds a small reference in a book by none other than sam ratcliffe, the texas historian we met earlier. >> what did that notation say? >> it basically said another version of the battle of san jacinto painting was painted in 1901, location unknown. >> unknown? >> unknown. my heart stopped. it was just one of the most pivotal moments in my life. it's what anyone in the business is looking for, something that no one's has ever seen before. >> has john uncovered a second version of mcardle's famous mural that hangs in the texas capitol? the family sends the canvas to dallas for authentication. >> what was your reaction when you looked at it for the first time? >> it was very different from the one that was in the capitol. >> she immediately sees that the smaller version aims for a more heroic composition -- the most celebrated moments
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of the battle all in one idealized moment. >> you see these most important, most mythic moments of the battle, and that's really very different than trying to accurately re-create it. >> there's sam houston, his horse shot from underneath him. and deaf smith dispatching a mexican solider while henry karnes tussles with a colonel, and edward burleson leading the infantry. >> it was a whole new way of looking at the story of the battle. >> but if heritage wants to sell the painting for big bucks, it must do a lot more to demonstrate it's indeed what it appears to be, a second mural of harry mcardle's favorite subject, painted by the master himself. >> there are a lot of really great reproductions that are being made now. so you have to always be very cautious. >> so, heritage performs infrared scans of the canvas to see what's underneath the top layer of paint. >> if you have something that's a forgery, generally it's
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a one-to-one copy. but when you're working on an original work, an artist often makes changes. >> those changes will show up on a scan as ghost images if the painting is in fact an original. take a close look at the flagpole. >> when you look at the underpainting in the infrared, you see a ghost image of the flagpole that's actually at a different angle, which means at some point when he was working on it, he looked at it and said, "okay, that's not the right angle." so, he paints over it and then moves the flags over and paints the one that you can see now. that's a way that you can tell that it wasn't just a copy. >> atlee and other experts agree. the painting is the missing mcardle san jacinto. >> what was your reaction? >> i nearly fell out of my chair. i was totally shocked. it was pretty astounding. >> it's the most important find in texas art in 100 years. >> now that it's determined to be the real thing, the family's eager to learn
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just how valuable it is. unfortunately, all those years in the attic didn't do the masterpiece any favors. >> there were rips and some holes, and it was definitely filthy, dirty. >> is it possible that a collector wouldn't buy it in its current condition? >> it's definitely possible. so, of course we're very nervous. >> nervously, atlee gives the mcardle descendants her estimate, $100,000. she's worried the family will be disappointed. instead, they're thrilled. >> would $100,000 be nice? >> money's always nice. >> nobody thought it was going to be anything, but when they came back, it's like "wow. okay. this is really neat." >> sadly, as the family prepares for auction, john's grandfather george bland passes away at age 92. >> how big a loss it is not to have your grandfather. >> that was pretty devastating for all of us. >> i bet george would have loved to see how much someone would actually pay for that dusty relic which for half a century,
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he didn't think was worth anything. >> we are all sitting in the gallery, just couldn't believe it. >> that's next. what's your "strange inheritance" story? we'd love to tell it. send me an e-mail or go to our website, as a caricature artist, i appreciate what makes each person unique. that's why i like liberty mutual. they get that no two people are alike and customize your car insurance so you only pay for what you need. almost done. what do you think? i don't see it. only pay for what you need. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪ but what if you could stdo better than that?k. like adapt. discover. deliver. in new ways. to new customers. what if you could come back stronger?
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>> now back to "strange inheritance." >> in november 2010, at heritage auctions in dallas, betty bland is selling this mural of the battle of san jacinto, the decisive victory in texas's fight for independence. >> we were all -- i mean, literally on the edge of our seats. >> the first offer is higher than their original estimate, 115 grand. john doesn't know what to expect. >> the bidding started pretty briskly, and then it kind of lulled. and we were kind of like, "oh, okay. well, i guess that's it." >> suddenly, two bidders go to war. the offer jumps to 150k.
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>> we are all sitting in the gallery, just couldn't believe it. >> a volley of bids follows, 180, 190, 200 grand. the next thing you know, the price is up to a quarter of a million bucks. is it dizzying to be watching something like this go up? >> we were all leaning forward like, "oh, oh, oh, my gosh, and oh, my gosh and it's going way more than we thought." >> $260,000, $270,000 -- >> at that point, i was starting to go, "yeah, i think this is going to be pretty big." >> when the hammer finally comes down, the painting fetches a whopping sum of $334,000. >> i was flabbergasted. my attorney said, "betty, just take the money and spend it all, and have a good time." >> but first things first. the appreciative grandmother gives her grandson john a nice finder's fee. >> did she bake you cookies or write you a check? >> she took care of me.
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it was more than she needed to. she definitely took care of me. >> for the buyers, proud texans with a lifelong fascination with the battle of san jacinto, it's a chance to bring an important piece of texas back home. after an extensive restoration, the new owners, jamie and kyle stallings, loaned the painting to the public policy building in downtown austin for all texans to enjoy. >> this is it, and it really shows the most important moments of the battle, and it has created that myth of texas. >> and it's not collecting dust in an attic anymore. >> nope. amen. >> and thank goodness. in 2015, betty's west virginia home has an electrical fire, prompting her move to florida. the damage is extensive, especially in the attic. >> it originated in the very spot where that painting sat for 50 years. if john had not pursued this, it would had been destroyed.
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it gives me cold chills when i think about it, really. >> an historic painting thought to had been lost forever is rediscovered by the artist's descendent in a west virginia attic nearly a century later and is finally returned to the lone star state. >> how great a loss to texas would it had been if it was destroyed? >> oh, my gosh. it is this, really, really important piece of texas history. i'm a sixth-generation texan, and you do have a sense of "wow, this is my history." it's not just texas history. it's my history. >> harry mcardle never had much luck getting paid for his masterpieces. after mcardle's death in 1908, his son ruskin fought tirelessly to get compensation for the legendary murals that his father had loaned to the capitol. finally, in 1927, the texas legislature appropriated $25,000 to purchase the paintings. we can only imagine what they're worth today.
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i'm jamie colby. thanks for watching "strange inheritance," and remember -- you can't take it with you. >> a great president from humble roots... >> "abe lincoln, the rail-splitter" made him sound like a man of the people. >> is this the kind of thing that lincoln used as a young man? >> he would use mauls and mallets splitting fence rails, working around the farm. >> but did young abe swing this? >> it was just a relic that was around our house. we didn't really give a lot of thought to it. >> it's their strange inheritance, but it's never been put to the test. >> even though, in our minds, it was 100% real, just because we think so doesn't make it true. >> anybody could have carved their initials "a-l." how do you know it's really lincoln's? [ applause ] [ door creaks ] [ wind howls ] [ thunder rumbles ]
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[ bird caws ] ♪ >> i'm jamie colby, and today i'm in indiana. the hoosier state boasts that it's the childhood home of abraham lincoln, and i'm meeting a woman who believes she's inherited the very tool that lincoln used as a young man to split rails. if so, that would be amazing. lincoln's image as the rail-splitter was a key to his unlikely election as president in 1860. >> my name is andrea solis. when my father died in 2015, my brother and i inherited an heirloom that had been in our family for more than 150 years. we were always told it belonged to abraham lincoln, and i believe it. >> hi, andrea. i'm jamie. so nice to meet you. >> hi, jamie. nice to meet you. my family has something here that i think you might like to see. you want to go check it out? >> yes, please. >> okay. >> andrea's strange inheritance is on loan here at the state museum in indianapolis
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in its abraham lincoln collection. it has the initials "a-l." >> he was known as "the rail-splitter," and i'm sure that he used it to split wood to make fences. >> growing up, was there a whole story behind it? >> yes. abraham lincoln lived near my great-great-grandfather, and abraham gave the mallet to him, and then it has been passed down for generations in my family. >> how do you check out a story like andrea's? start 200 years ago across the border in kentucky, says lincoln scholar dale ogden. what was lincoln's early life like in kentucky? >> he was born to a subsistence farmer family. his father actually was more of a carpenter than a farmer. >> in 1816, when abe is seven, thomas lincoln moves his family 100-miles west to the indiana territory, the same year it becomes a state. >> what brought them to indiana?
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>> it was a lot easier to prove ownership of your land than it was in kentucky. the other reason was that indiana was a state where slavery had been made illegal. i think thomas was just intrinsically opposed to the idea of slavery. >> the lincoln family settles on 160 acres in what's now spencer county, 150 miles south of indianapolis. here thomas lincoln becomes a sought-after cabinetmaker. >> he built beautiful furniture, and that was a very valuable skill on the frontier where there wasn't a whole lot that had been previously built. >> he often presses abe into service. >> the idea was, of course in that time, the father would pass on his skills, his occupation to his son. >> did he learn it? >> a little bit. abraham, whenever he had the opportunity, would kind of sneak off and read. >> when he's not behind a book, teenage abe works splitting rails -- a job done with heavy wood mauls. what's a rail-splitter? >> building fence would have been one of the first things
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you would have had to do on the frontier to separate your land from other people's land, first cutting down a tree and then splitting it into rails to make fence. >> growing to 6'4", trim and strong, abraham gains a reputation as a fierce rail-splitter. he wasn't just tall, he was imposing. >> he intimidated pretty much everybody that he came in contact with, both physically and intellectually. >> in 1830, when abe's 21, his father moves the family northwest to illinois in search of better farmland. young lincoln pursues a career in law, and by 1846 is elected to congress. his reputation as "the rail-splitter" follows him wherever he goes. his presidential campaign in 1860 uses this portrait of a lean, powerful lincoln wielding his maul. it looks different from andrea's, but we'll get to that later. suffice it to say, lincoln's image-makers are on to something.
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>> lincoln had some very accomplished political handlers. they thought that the idea of the rail-splitter, it made him sound like a common man. >> a political cartoon even shows lincoln being carried on a fence rail with the caption -- "the rail candidate." the strategy works. lincoln is elected the 16th president of the united states. he goes on to fight and win the civil war, end slavery, and save the union. his assassination cements him in the pantheon of american heroes. overnight, anything lincoln touched becomes a relic. so if andrea's ancestors do have a gift from their old neighbor, no surprise they treasure it -- and their descendants do, too. it's a century after lincoln's death, in the 1970s, when andrea's older brother, keith carter, first beholds his family's cherished heirloom. >> my earliest memory of the mallet was that my grandfather
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had stored it in the basement of his house in a crevice by a steel beam. >> whenever he takes it out, grandpa carter recounts that equally cherished family lore about how abraham gave his friends the mallet before departing indiana in 1830. grandpa carter bequeaths the mallet -- and the yarn that goes with it -- to keith and andrea's father. but instead of hiding the hammer, their dad sets it out, right there, on the fireplace. >> we didn't really talk about it a lot, but when people came over to our house, they would see it, and it would be a talking point. >> we didn't really give a lot of thought to it. i think my sister took it to school one time. >> how old were you? >> it was kindergarten show-and-tell. >> did anyone believe you? >> my teacher questioned it, like that is amazing, but why would you have something that valuable in our classroom? >> you didn't trade it for a peanut butter sandwich? >> i didn't, no. >> thank goodness. so the mallet just leans against the fireplace in the carter home
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until keith and andrea's father dies in 2015 and the mallet is passed to them. >> my parents' will said that my brother and i get things equally. >> you sure can't cut this in half. >> you can't, no. [ laughs ] >> so the heirs decide to do something, well, risky -- something that could obliterate that wonderful family tradition linking them to one of the great men who walked the earth. they decide to find out whether the mallet is really lincoln's. >> even though, in our minds, it was 100% real, just because we think so doesn't make it true. >> but first, our "strange inheritance" quiz question. of which literary work did lincoln say, "i think nothing equals it"? the answer after the break. this is decision tech. find a stock based on your interests
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when their growing family meant growing expenses, our agents helped make saving on insurance easy usaa. what you're made of, we're made for. usaa ♪ >> so, of which literary work did lincoln say, "nothing equals it"? it's "a," shakespeare's "macbeth," which lincoln claimed to have "gone over as frequently as any unprofessional reader." >> in 2015, andrea solis and her brother, keith carter, inherit what family lore says is a hand tool built, used, and initialed by abraham lincoln. did this have any paperwork, no letter from lincoln that
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says -- no. nothing. >> nothing. >> at their dad's wake, the fascinating heirloom becomes a topic of conversation with one of their cousins, tom brauns, who, turns out, is a lincoln buff. >> it was kind of a surprise -- didn't know he had it. >> i told him it had "a-l, 1829" on it, and he got really excited about that. >> he said, "well, how do i get it authenticated?" i said, "well, i have some ideas," so he handed it to me right then and said, "go do your thing." >> really? cousin tommy runs an appliance repair business. what does he know about authenticating a lincoln artifact? did tommy have any special skill that let you think he was the right guy for the job? >> tommy is amazing at doing ancestry work and researching history. >> was this your first authentication? >> yes. >> were you scared? >> at first i was excited when keith handed it to me, but on the way home i thought, "this is a heavy responsibility." >> to help shoulder the burden,
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tom leans on some other local lincoln enthusiasts, including his friend steve haaff, a retired school teacher and lincoln fanatic who's studied the furniture making of thomas and abraham lincoln. >> i love lincoln, and i always have. it kind of started as a hobby, but then it's really grown since then. >> the duo begin by asking, what exactly is this mallet and where did it come from? see the half-moon shaped groove? it looks like part of a hole that had been drilled into a larger chunk of wood. steve concludes that that hole once held a much longer handle, and that this mysterious relic began as a completely different tool. >> okay, i brought with me today a maul which looks pretty much identical to what that mallet would have looked like originally. >> is this the kind of thing that lincoln used as a young man as the rail-splitter? >> absolutely. and if you look at the lincoln
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mallet, you can see it broke, and it really split almost symmetrical. >> so, lincoln's broke and was repurposed? >> yes, into a smaller bench mallet. now we're no longer hitting wedges to split rails with it, but something a lot smaller. >> it's on the freshly exposed surface that the new mallet is dated with nails that steve confirms are consistent with 1829, and, of course, its inlaid "a-l," which is most unique. there aren't that many out there, right? >> no. as far as we know, this is the only maul out there that has abraham lincoln's initials in it. >> more on those initials later. meantime, tom, the genealogy buff, is putting the carter family lore to the test. remember, the story goes that before abe left indiana for illinois in 1830, he gave the mallet to andrea and keith's great-great-grandfather, one barnabas carter jr. >> if there was a defining
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moment, it was whenever barnabas carter received that mallet. that's where it all began. >> the next step is to find out if all the characters in the purported chain of custody are in the right places at the right time. and tom and steve do unearth evidence of a lincoln-carter family connection even earlier than keith supposes -- going back to the early 1800s when the families were neighbors in kentucky. what do you have? >> well, we have tax records, for one. there were eight carter brothers who lived in kentucky beside the lincolns. >> then the guys uncover another clue -- an indiana land-plot map. it shows that the lincolns and the carter clan moved to the same section of southern indiana at nearly the same time, between 1815 and 1816. >> thomas lincoln lived in this area right here, has his name on it. right below his property, you see a small square that says, "nancy hanks lincoln grave."
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>> that's his mother. >> that is abraham lincoln's mother, and she is buried on the carter's farm. so, very close connection, not only personally, but in proximity to where they lived. >> but was young abe himself friendly enough with the carters to give them a gift that would keep giving through the years? digging into lincoln's writings, they find a lighthearted poem by lincoln about a boyhood adventure in indiana. >> abraham lincoln wrote a poem about a bear hunt, and in that bear hunt, he mentions the carters. >> penned sometime in the mid 1840s, one stanza reads... >> abraham lincoln didn't forget about the carters, and, to me, it really shows that relationship was so strong, it carried with him even years later. >> the amateur history sleuths seem to be getting warmer. time to really home in on those
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initials, "a-l." that's next. >> here's another quiz question for you. at 6'4", abraham lincoln was the tallest president. who was the second tallest? the answer when we return. i am totally blind. and non-24 can make me show up too early... or too late. or make me feel like i'm not really "there." talk to your doctor, and call 844-234-2424.
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♪ >> so, who was the second tallest president after abraham lincoln? it's "c." lbj was 6'3 1/2," just a half inch shorter than lincoln. >> in 2015, andrea solis and her brother, keith carter, are having a treasured family heirloom authenticated -- this mallet, which they believe was made and owned by
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abraham lincoln as a young man in indiana. leading the charge, two amateur researchers -- their cousin tom brauns and tom's friend steve haaff. they've established a relationship between the carter and lincoln families. now they tackle those fancy letters, "a-l." would lincoln really inlay his initials on an old mallet? >> i think that abraham lincoln was tinkering. people did mark their stuff for ownership, to make sure that it wasn't stolen. >> the guys confirm lincoln did initial at least one other tool. in a blacksmith's shop in the 1830s, witnesses recall abe etching his initials into an iron wedge. it's on display at the smithsonian. those initials look very similar to the "a-l" on andrea and keith's wood mallet. that these letters are inlaid is another key to steve and tom's authentication. >> not just anybody could do inlay work. one of the questions you have to ask yourself, did abraham lincoln have the ability
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to inlay the metal into the mallet? >> if no, that's a problem. if yes, it's another reason to believe the tool was lincoln's. the guys find their answer in an example of abe's carpentry work, a cabinet door usually on display at a nearby museum. >> abraham lincoln inlaid the letters "e-c" because this cabinet was built for elizabeth crawford, a neighbor of the lincoln's. >> steve tells me both sets of initials are consistent with the meticulous technique abe used to inlay the letters. >> it was a skill that was learned from his father, who was a highly skilled cabinetmaker. we can trace this mallet from the current owners back to abraham lincoln. >> you have any doubt in your mind? >> no, i don't, and i'm a hard person to convince. >> but it's one thing for a couple of lincoln buffs to convince themselves. convincing folks who do this for a living will be another story. you guys are not exactly professional researchers. there's a ton of fakes out there. >> absolutely, there's a ton
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of fakes. >> and this man knows it. you must get those calls all the time. >> it's kind of like the picasso behind grandma's portrait. >> that's next. what's your "strange inheritance" story? we'd love to tell it. send me an e-mail or go to our website,
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♪ >> now back to "strange inheritance." >> andrea solis and keith carter think they have confirmed that a 150-year-old family story about their strange inheritance is true -- that it once belonged to abraham lincoln. >> our enthusiasm didn't really start until tom brought this information forth. it's really incredible. >> no wonder they're excited. verified lincoln artifacts can fetch big bucks. a lock of his hair sold at auction for $25,000. a white house admittance card from his funeral -- 12k. and then there's this stovepipe
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hat, authenticated as lincoln's, appraised for $6.5 million and sold in 2007 to the lincoln museum in springfield, illinois. but there's a lot of phony lincolnalia out there. just ask dale ogden, the chief curator of history and culture at the indiana state museum. you must get those calls all the time. >> i get probably about a call a month. it's kind of like the picasso behind grandma's portrait. >> i mean, what are the chances that something that's just sitting around, let alone by the fireplace, is going to be real? >> the chances are very slim. >> yet, andrea and keith's story entices dale to take a look. he examines the mallet, the inlaid initials, and the brief prepared by two amateur history detectives, tom brauns and steve haaff. >> you got two amateur supersleuths that do all the research. did they do a good job? >> i was really impressed. they spent a lot of time looking into genealogical records, land-purchase documents,
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making the connection between the lincolns and the carters. >> more than impressed. the curator's convinced. he says it's really abe's mallet and part of a maul the legendary log-splitter once used to make fence rails. >> i've probably been approached with 100 objects that somebody or another claimed was a lincoln artifact, and this is the only one that we've settled on. >> so now that the siblings are confident they've inherited something of great historic value, putting it back by the fireplace just isn't an option anymore. but what should they do with it? >> it is sentimental value, and you have to weigh out what your grandfather would have wanted done and your ancestors, my father. >> until they decide, they lend it to the indiana state museum. governor mike pence is ecstatic. >> it is going to draw people from around the country and around the world who will come to see those initials,
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and when they do, they will know abraham lincoln was a hoosier. >> i'm ecstatic, too, when dale ogden offers to give me a look at the lincoln relic outside its glass case. >> we'll be real careful with it here. >> so, as a curator, would you let me hold it? >> [ sighs ] >> i got big hands. [ gasps ] >> i won't let go. >> that's okay, but you truly believe this is a piece from abraham lincoln, and i am holding it in my hands. i need a souvenir photo. i don't want to make you nervous. you've been so generous. >> i am nervous, yeah. >> just between you and me, what do you think it's worth? >> it depends on what the prince in dubai, as opposed to the businessman in hong kong would be willing to pay for it. >> everybody wants a piece of lincoln. >> yeah. >> what's the significance of this for your family? >> well, i just hope everyone can understand the importance of abraham lincoln and what an honor it is for our family to have received this. he's our greatest president
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in my mind. [ chuckles ] >> would andrea and her brother ever sell the mallet? andrea says they've spoken to one auction house and are leaving that door open. if someone were to come to you and say it was worth $100,000, $50,000 each -- sell? >> no. but my feelings could change down the road, i don't know. >> like at $1 million, it might change? >> that's a lot. it would have to be a game-changer. [ laughs ] >> of course, even lincoln experts second-guess themselves. take that stovepipe hat we showed you. after critics began questioning whether the hat could really be traced to lincoln, some museum board members said they wanted the state police to test it for lincoln's dna. that never happened. the museum determined that testing a 160-year-old hat for dna was sure to be inconclusive, but hats off to the seller who got the museum to spend millions for it.
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i'm jamie colby. thanks so much for watching "strange inheritance." and remember -- you can't take it with you. everybody, welcome. i'm maria bartiromo, august august 221st. battle for the white house. joe biden formally accepting nomination for president. biden said he would be an ally of light and would draw the best of the united states. coming up at 7:30 a.m. eastern, vice president mike pence live with reaction to last night, plus a look ahead of next week's republican national convention. coming up the vice president with me here. meanwhile president trump urging u.s. companies to bring jobs


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