Theodore Roosevelt’s 126-Year-Old Pocket Watch Returned Home 37 Years After It Was Stolen

Theodore Roosevelt’s beloved silver pocket watch is back at his Sagamore Hill family home 37 years after it was stolen

Published Time: 28.06.2024 - 16:31:08 Modified Time: 28.06.2024 - 16:31:08

Theodore Roosevelt’s beloved silver pocket watch is back at his Sagamore Hill family home 37 years after it was stolen.

As of Thursday, June 27, the watch — which was given to the 26th U.S. president by his sister Corinne and brother-in-law Douglas Robinson in 1898 — will be available for free public viewing, and is being featured in an exclusive exhibit at the Old Orchard Museum at Sagamore Hill for three months, a news release on the National Park Service (NPS) website confirmed.

Per an FBI release, a Florida auctioneer realized who the watch belonged to after being asked to auction it off in 2023. Before that, the watch had been missing for almost 40 years.

On July 21, 1987, the keepsake — which was inscribed “THEODORE ROOSEVELT FROM D.R. AND C.R.R.” — was stolen while on loan from the NPS to the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site in Buffalo, New York, the FBI added. It had been in Sagamore Hill National Historic Site's possession since Roosevelt died at age 60 in 1919.

NPS Director Chuck Sams was joined by Roosevelt family members on Thursday at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site as they held a special event to celebrate the watch's return. The NPS got the item back with some assistance from the FBI.

“It is an honor to have a role in preserving American history for current and future generations to learn from,” Sams said, per the news release.

The PEOPLE Puzzler crossword is here! How quickly can you solve it? Play now!

“Recovering and returning this remarkable piece of presidential history, a cherished personal item of President Theodore Roosevelt, to its rightful home here at Sagamore Hill reflects -

the dedication and hard work of NPS and partners in the spirit of preservation,” he added.

“Today, we are honored to return this extraordinary piece of Americana to its rightful owner,” Assistant Director Michael Nordwall of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division continued, per the release.

“Despite the passage of time, in this case, almost four decades, the FBI is committed to working with our partners to recover and preserve important pieces of our cultural heritage that help bring history to life,” Nordwall said.

Never miss a story — sign up forPEOPLE's free daily newsletterto stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Per the NPS, then-future president Roosevelt — who was in office from 1901 to 1909 — took the watch with him "on some of his most famous adventures, including charging up San Juan Hill in Cuba, hunting wild game in Africa, and exploring the Amazon in South America."

“The stories this watch could tell over the last 126 years include colorful and profound moments in American history,” Superintendent Jonathan Parker of Sagamore Hill National Historic Site said of the keepsake. 

“Historic objects are powerful because they are literal participants in historic events, and in the case of this storied watch, it is also a beloved family heirloom of a renowned American president. Almost 40 years have passed since the public had last seen President Roosevelt’s watch and we’re excited to place this watch back into the light on public display,” Parker concluded.

Follow Us