Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Origin of the Rose Quartz Monument
By Van King

Rose quartz monuments are not rare. Scotts Rose Quartz Quarry in Custer, South Dakota gets orders for rose quartz on a frequent enough basis that they set aside any suitable monument size blocks for that purpose during their mining operations and have done so since the 1920’s. My interest in the beautiful rose quartz monument in Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, NY is that it isn’t from South Dakota, but is from Albany, Maine.

Only by 2002 has there been an explanation for rose quartz’s wonderful color. The mineral has sub-microscopic particles of a reddish purple to a bluish purple mineral called dumortierite. That mineral occurs in such minute quantities that proving what the mineral actually was had to wait for modern technology to answer the question. Because the color is due to particles included in the host quartz, even the most transparent pieces of rose quartz have a “sleepy” haze and most pieces are really cloudy pink. Rose quartz may be found with a mineral that is commonlyl used in making the finest porcelain glaze. That mineral is called feldspar. Such was the origin of this block. The monument stone is about 4.5 x 3 x 2 feet and calculates to have a weight of about 4500 pounds.

The rose quartz monument marks the resting place of Julius J. Andersen [1879-September 25, 1954] and Leona M. Andersen [1879-February 1, 1938]. From Julius’ obituary in the Democrat and Chronicle, we learn only the highlights of whom the Andersens were. Julius had emigrated from Germany in 1893 and was a highly respected tailor in Rochester. Both he and Leona were active in their church, including its Missionary Society. Julius was a member of the Masons, Fireman’s Benevolent Society, and the Rochester Chamber of Commerce.

The author became interested in discovering the current location of this rose quartz monument as part of researching the history of feldspar mining in Oxford County, Maine and the Bumpus Quarry of Albany, in particular. The Bumpus Quarry is a small quarry that has had a turbulent history at several levels. That quarry was leased by Harry Bumpus from his wife’s brother and sister, Allan and Sybil Cummings, on June 1, 1927. Unfortunately, Sybil died about three weeks after the lease date, leaving no last will and testament. After a mourning period, the quarry started operations in September of that year, but the process of probate lasted four years and Sybil’s heirs were anxious to get their share of the mining profits. Rose quartz had been found almost immediately in the quarry, but it initially did not have appreciable value. The quarry should have yielded about $1000 profit per year for its feldspar output, but there was a complication. An enormous quantity of beryl crystals was soon discovered and there was great fanfare about the beryl crystals being "world record" size, etc. The weight of the beryl sold from the quarry was about 100 tons and the heirs hoped to get their share of the royalties from that mineral, also, but a family feud and other issues prevented disbursement of funds. Finally, a comment in Business Week magazine in 1930 sent the probate issue to court: the article said that a beryl quarry is “better than owning an oil well”. During the Depression the heirs were very eager to get their share of their “oil well”, especially as just $1,000 was then a goodly fraction of two year’s wages for a laborer. Unfortunately, as is usually the case, expectations had been raised to unsupportable levels and the family feud eventually resulted in the heirs getting about $175 each, but the feud resulted in the loss of love and family forever. Rose quartz continued to be produced by the Bumpus Quarry, whenever mining was active, and it eventually was the large share of income for a miner and gift shop owner, Stanley I. Perham [June 2, 1907 – December 1, 1973].

Sometime in 1950, Julius ordered his rose quartz monument from Perham’s Maine Mineral Store located in West Paris, Maine. Leone Andersen had died twelve years earlier and she may or may not have already had a marker for her plot. Julius’ motivation to acquire a rose quartz monument for himself and his wife is unknown. Monuments made of South Dakota rose quartz were well-enough known, but rose quartz from Maine was rarely fashioned into grave markers of any kind. One must imagine that Julius, and perhaps Leona, had been tourists in Maine and had visited Perham’s store where he/they became familiar with rose quartz’s beauty. The personal visit is the only reason which seems adequate to have inspired Julius to pick the rare Maine rose quartz for his monument.

The Oxford County, Maine newspaper, Advertiser Democrat, published a photo of the raw rose quartz block as it was being crated for shipment to Rochester on October 27, 1950. At the time of shipment, the block reportedly weighed about 5,000 pounds and was claimed as a record size block of rose quartz for any locality east of the Mississippi River. It was also revealed that the block was destined for use as a monument in “New York”. It may be surmised that the block was a special order and that Stan Perham had directed the excavation of the block. During the time period, the Cold War between the USA and Russia was escalating and the Federal Government was paying high premiums for beryl by the ton. Beryl was the chief ore of beryllium which was essential to initiating the nuclear reaction resulting in so-called nuclear bombs. The Bumpus Quarry, which had spawned a feud over its beryl production, was again producing beryl for the Strategic Minerals Stockpile in 1950. It was also producing rose quartz as a by-product.

Unfortunately, the ravages of weather have not been kind to the rose quartz monument in Rochester. Hidden cracks have been affected by the frost and ice and cracks have widened so that the monument is now in fragile condition.

The above article also appeared in edited form in the Epitaph, the newsletter of the Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery (Rochester, NY), volume 29, #1, Winter/Spring 2009, p. 1-2.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Maine Feldspar Families and Feuds Reviews

Reviews of Maine Feldspar, Families, and Feuds:

“Van King’s new book is by far the most detailed treatment of western Maine’s pegmatite mining history. It features in-depth research on the families that worked the mines and their colorful personalities. The book is exceptionally well illustrated with modern and old-time photographs that have never been published elsewhere. It’s a labor of love that required many years of effort!” – Woodrow Thompson, Maine Geological Survey

"This marvelous book is a large and detailed collection of historical works involving Oxford County, Maine: its minerals, miners and its mining stories. It is certainly the first feature-length history of a granite pegmatite mining district, filled with research that documents and brings to life the characters (some shining knights some scoundrels) and places that formed Maine's mining legacy." - Mineral News

"I don't think I have read a stranger, more worthy volume than Maine Feldspar, Families & Feuds: Oxford County Mining History. ... The book is beautifully illustrated with images that are chosen for their rarity and quality. ... A key element of the book concerns chapters 9 through 14, written by other writers. These wonderful essay-chapters are chock-a-block with genealogical, ethnic, economic and social information that can be found nowhere else." - Portland Press Herald.

“A great read!” – Bob Ritchie, Maine Mineralogical Symposium

“This is really wonderful! You certainly did your homework!” – Ben Conant, Paris Cape Historical Society.

“Thirty years of historical research in Oxford County and across the world, found its way into this book” – Terry Karkos, Lewiston Sun Journal.

“Nobody else could have written this book!” – Mary McFadden, Maine naturalist.

“There’s so much detail!” – Terry Szenics, international professional miner

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Maine Feldspar Families and Feuds

Maine Feldspar, Families, and Feuds is the blog for my publishing company. The first book prepared by the company is also the blog's title.
Copies of Maine Feldspar, Families, and Feuds are available in selected Maine bookstores or from the author @ $19.95 and $4.95 shipping and packaging. Personal check or PayPal accepted. Credit cards may be processed at PayPal with payment to my email address or inquiries to:
n e w r y q s @ g m a i l . c o m (Be sure to remove spaces between letters as the address is expanded for easier viewing and to prevent spam harvesters.)

Photo captions: Top left. beryl, Albany
Top right: Dynamite blast, Newry
2nd row: West Paris, 1892

3rd row: Topsham factory 1950s
4th row Bethel train station, 1940s
5th row East Liverpool, Ohio kilns where Maine product was made into plates, etc. 
6th row Route detail of the Portland Pipeline
7th row Workers near Horse drawn wagon, February 1926
8th row Feldspar factory near Maine Central Railroad tracks, February 1926
9th row Horses Veery (black) and Tiger (black) in the Bumpus Quarry, September 1928.
10th row Double-jacking to drill a hole for dynamite, c1900. L Shavey Noyes R Tim Heath.
Dog is "Tig", named after a cartoon character.
11th row Haness Hakala using a compressed air drill at Mount Marie, 1949.
12th row Dynamite was easily available in Maine hardware stores into the 1950s. Farmers would use a pipe to dig dirt out under a rock so that the dynamite stick could be blasted underneath it to be able to plow their fields.
13th row Dynamite blasting was frequent on the Bumpus farm. The children learned to respect it.
L-R Edwin, Ruth Ann, and Harlan Bumpus.
14th row Togus Veteran's Hospital, 1905
15th row Inside a feldspar factory. February, 1926.