Questions raised over 1887 time capsule missing from under removed Confederate statue
Workers remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee in Richmond, Virginia (AFP)

According to a report from Richmond Times Dispatch, authorities in the state are baffled that they can't find a time capsule, dating back to 1887, that was reportedly placed under a statue of Robert E. Lee that was hauled away under the governor's orders.

As the News reports, "In June, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced plans to excavate the time capsule, believed to have been placed under the northeast cornerstone in 1887. According to the Daily Times and Richmond Dispatch newspapers, a copper box contained 60 objects related to the Confederacy and Richmond, including a picture of Abraham Lincoln lying in his coffin."

However, the capsule containing the historical documents and other items is nowhere to be found.

According to Eric Kolenich of the Dispatch, "Last month, a day after Lee came down, a masonry crew spent 12 hours prying 19 granite blocks off the pedestal in search of the 1887 relics."

That has authorities considering two possibilities, one of which is that it is sitting there somewhere -- but where exactly is an unknown.

"When the cornerstone was placed in 1887, the pedestal hadn't been designed yet, and it wasn't completed until early 1890, the same year the statue was revealed. The final pedestal was different than originally intended, too. According to the Southern Historical Society papers, additional carved figures were left off the pedestal because the city lacked the money to pay for it," the report states with historian Sarah Driggs explaining, "We don't know how big the foundation should have been."

"If it's not farther in, maybe it's farther down, hidden under a few feet of mortar and rock, said Dale Brumfield, an author and historian who has studied the time capsule. The northeast cornerstone looked special. It was finished on all six sides and looks like it was meant to be put on display during the large ceremony held in 1887 when the cornerstone was placed," the report continues.

The other suggestion is that was never buried because it was stolen while work progressed.

"The cornerstone was laid on Oct. 27, 1887. But the pedestal wasn't finished until 1890, the same year the statue was unveiled," the report states. "A newspaper account describing the statue's arrival in Richmond said the boxes in which the statue came in would have been "'hipped away and carried off by relic hunters' had there not been a police officer standing guard."

According to Givens. there is still a possibility it will be found the news is reporting.

"There's at least one other method of looking for the time capsule without disassembling the pedestal. It could be scanned with an electromagnetic induction, similar to a giant metal detector, Givens said," adding, "I'm positive science will catch up to the issue of finding it in the future."

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