Men of distinction


The mineral collector


Mineral Collections


Local Institutions


The specimen base


Cultural aspects of Franklin and Sterling Hill

Men of distinction

Although the Franklin-Sterling Hill area is naturally endowed with vast mineral wealth, the recognition, understanding, exploitation, and utilization of it, as well as the necessary scientific research and development work, required persons of substantial talent, dedication, and intelligence. Some great men contributed to the overall mineral culture here, and we all have benefited indirectly from their efforts. Brief summaries of the contributions of some of these men are given below. Any such list is incomplete; indeed, the making of such a partial list instills a dread that one’s perspective might result in careless ignoring of one of the many other contributors or slight their significant accomplishments. The perspective of professional historians may add a few more. The cultural contributions of the immigrant miners are discussed in the section entitled “The miners.”

The Sharp Family, the Ogden Family, Michael Rorick, William Potts, William Alexander (Lord Stirling), and others formed the basis for the earliest Franklin-Sterling Hill iron industry; they were followed by John O. Ford, Dr. Samuel Fowler, the Ames Family, and Cyrus and Francis Alger, and others.

  Figure 7-1. Moses Taylor, a pivotal industrialist at Franklin and Sterling Hill. This engraving is one of the Franklin Bank Note Company, was used on railroad securities, was published by Hodas (1976), and is reprinted here courtesy of the New York University Press.  

Zinc, too, attracted its share of great men, including the vigorous Charles Trotter, the brilliant Moses Taylor (Figure 7-1), and innovative industrialists such as Samuel Wetherill, Samuel T. Jones, William C. Squier, John P. Wetherill, Charles A. Heckscher, Stephen S. Palmer, and others. Additionally, the efforts of Joseph Wharton and the Lehigh Zinc Company in nearby Pennsylvania had strong influences on the development of the regional zinc industry as a whole. Mining was the dominant industry locally, and it drew great mining men such as John George, Timothy Marshall (Figure 7-2), Wyatt Pierce, Joseph Van Mater, George Rowe, Robert M. Catlin, Clarence Haight, and Benjamin Tillson. 

Mineralogists and geologists were drawn to the area early, as related by Palache (1935), Frondel (1972), and others. A pivotal person in this early activity was Dr. Samuel Fowler (1779-1844), discussed below, who enlisted the aid of all scientists he could interest in the deposits. Through his efforts most of the leading naturalists of the early 19th century were invited to Franklin; they came primarily from Philadelphia and New York and included Nuttall, Maclure, Troost, Vanuxem, Alger, Keating, Bruce, Torrey, Seybert, Gibbs, Silliman, and many others mentioned by Jackson (1852).

  Figure 7-2. Timothy Marshall, superintendent of the Passaic Mines in the 19th century. Illustration from Snell (1881).  

Most of them undertook studies of the local minerals. Additionally, specimens were sent by Alger, Fowler, Nuttall, and Torrey to Europe for study by Abich, Thomson, Berthier, Berzelius, and others. American mineralogy was then in its infancy, driven in part by the need for chemical definitions and physical descriptions, and in part by the industry-fed need for the most elementary aspects of applied mineralogy as an aid in beneficiation of the ores. The mid-19th century, in addition to being a very active time at Franklin, was also a period of growth in the sciences of minerals. The Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard University was established in 1844, and the Columbia School of Mines in 1864.

As the years passed, the deposits were studied by many of America’s geologists, each trying his hand at solving the many enigmas of the geology of the rocks, minerals, and ores here; they included C. T. Jackson, C. U. Shepard, F. L. Nason, J. F. Kemp, A. C. Spencer, H. Ries, W. C. Bowen, A. W. Pinger, J. M. Hague, J. L. Baum, R. W. Metsger, and a great many others. 

The bibliography of this deposit (well over 1200 publications) lists among the authors most of the great mineralogists of their times. Few have resisted the temptation to study at least one aspect of these mineral deposits but, unfortunately, few stayed long or sustained great periods of study. Most are cited in text where appropriate; among the more prominent mineralogists to come here were Wolff, Palache, Penfield, Koenig, Gage, Foshag, Frondel, Larsen, Berman, Brush, Warren, Gordon, and Bauer. Recent years have seen significant studies by Sclar, Carvalho, Valentino, Squiller, Rouse, Grice, Peacor, Johnson, Leavens, Francis, and Moore, among others.

Some persons for whom minerals have been named are listed by Mitchell and Kozykowski (1984); others were so honored in later years. Mineral collectors, unless known for other significant accomplishments, are generally not mentioned here; they have been recognized where appropriate, and the naming of franklinphilite honors all of them. The writer’s personal biases are reflected in the dedication to this volume.          

A few of the great men who were active locally possessed a great sense of civic responsibility and contributed to the overall community in ways far beyond their professional practice. They did much more than they had to and left the society of the Franklin-Sterling Hill area a better place than they found it. A few of these special persons are discussed in more detail below, together with Dr. Charles Palache and Dr. Clifford Frondel, the great mineralogists who contributed the most to Franklin science.

Lawson H. Bauer (1889-1954)

  Figure 7-3. Lawson H. Bauer, chemist of the New Jersey Zinc Company and a great mineralogist.  

Lawson Bauer, a chemist educated at Lafayette College, started his forty-year career with the New Jersey Zinc Company in 1913. His scientific contributions, which are listed in the bibliography, are substantial. He described nine new species from these deposits and also contributed analyses to numerous studies by others. The written record, however impressive, understates the contributions of this great man. He was a superb mineralogist of untiring patience and a truly fine chemical analyst. The writer has personally re-examined many specimens analyzed by him and has been impressed by the high precision of his analyses. One sees the breadth of his mineralogical contributions reflected throughout Palache’s (1935) monograph. The more fortunate of Bauer’s visitors were provided with a special experience in which they were shown a box with 80 small specimens (Figure 7-5) and asked to identify them. It was a challenging test inasmuch as the specimens exhibited a very great variety in color and texture; most were willemite and some were sphalerite. Few persons, if any, ever passed the test with a perfect score, but having been offered the opportunity to try it was in itself an honor, and linked one forever with yet another nice aspect of the overall Franklin-Sterling Hill mineral culture.

  Figure 7-4. Lawson Bauer in his laboratory at the New Jersey Zinc Company. Photograph from New Jersey Zinc Company publicity photos.   Figure 7-5. The “Bauer box” of 80 small samples of mostly willemite and some sphalerite. Photograph by Vic Krantz.  

Lawson “Duke” Bauer was a generous man, free with his time to those who needed it, a teacher of English after work to uneducated miners from eastern Europe, and a good friend to miners, millworkers, geologists, and others, especially the common man. Lawson Bauer died in 1954, the same year as Charles Palache, and the year of the closing of the Franklin Mine. His memorial was given by Frondel (1955), and Mitchell (1982) added more details. In 1961, The Franklin-Ogdensburg Mineralogical Society instituted an award, the Lawson H. Bauer Award, to be given in recognition of contributions to the mineralogy of Franklin. A new mineral species, lawsonbauerite, was named in his honor.

John L. Baum (1916-   )

  Figure 7-6. John L. Baum, former Resident Geologist at the Franklin Mine and presently curator of the Franklin Mineral Museum. Photograph by Ron Ceder, Camera Haven, Vernon, New Jersey.  

John Baum, trained as a geologist at Harvard University, came directly to Franklin to work for the New Jersey Zinc Company. He had the benefit of close collaboration with Allan Pinger, Lawson Bauer, William Callahan, Clarence Haight, and others, became Resident Geologist at Franklin, and later was active in exploration work. After retirement, he became curator of the Franklin Mineral Museum and published his observations on the geology of the Franklin deposit with Clifford Frondel (Frondel and Baum, 1974). John Baum has continued to be a very important and broad contributor to the whole of the Franklin-Sterling Hill  mineral culture. He has continued his long-term contributions to the museum and to the Franklin- Ogdensburg Mineralogical Society, serving as curator, counselor, historian, trustee, sage, archivist, and resident mineral expert. The members of the community are indeed fortunate that he walks among them. The new mineral johnbaumite was named in his honor.

Robert M. Catlin (1853-1934)

  Figure 7-7. Robert M. Catlin, former mine superintendent at the Franklin Mine. Photograph from UPI/BETTMANN.  

At the time of the Great Consolidation, the Franklin Mine was in a state of high disorder. After a period of deliberation and searching, Robert Catlin, who had made a substantial reputation as a mining engineer in Johannesburg, South Africa, and other places, was brought in as mining superintendent in 1906 and served until 1930. He filled-in the hole-ridden Franklin deposit, and then established the top-slice mining method here, guaranteeing the profitable removal of the entire orebody. Equally important, if not more so, was his interest, shared by George Rowe, in establishing a humane community at Franklin. He began a process that established the Franklin Hospital, developed a water system, paved the streets, founded a community house, arranged for a bank and general store, and established law and order. He brought not only modern mining practice, but also civilization, to Franklin. Robert Catlin was a man with diverse interests; he did much early research in oil shale, some of it in the New Jersey Zinc Company’s laboratories. Additional details are given by Baum (1987a), from which this account is derived in part.  


Samuel Fowler (1779-1844)

  Figure 7-8. Dr. Samuel Fowler, the preeminent figure in the history of Franklin and Sterling Hill. Illustration from Snell (1881).  

Dr. Samuel Fowler, a physician with strong interests in science and business, was a leading citizen of northern New Jersey. He came to Hamburg as a new physician at the age of 21, argued strongly for the licensing of doctors and, with others, formed the District Medical Society in 1829. In 1810, he purchased Mine Hill in Franklin together with John O. Ford; in 1816-1817, he bought out Ford’s interest. In 1818 and 1824, he acquired the Sterling Mine from the Ogden family. He had married Rebecca Ogden in 1816 after the early death of his first wife, Ann Thomson.

Samuel Fowler was very instrumental in stimulating the interests of geologists in the deposits. Although he was indefatigible in his efforts to use these ores and learn more about them, and pursued every avenue of opportunity available to him, including the investment of substantial amounts of his own capital, his strong efforts to develop a great commercial zinc industry here were largely unsuccessful. With George Ballou, he succeeded in manufacturing zinc oxide, likely from zincite. He reportedly used it to make paint for his wooden house on the site of the former Beardslee grist mill; this house burned down in 1884 (the house of his son, Colonel Fowler, built in 1850 and still standing, is made of stone).

After representing Sussex County in the New Jersey Senate, Dr. Fowler served as a congressman in Washington from 1833-1837, during the term of Andrew Jackson. He was instrumental is seeing that local zincite was used for the zinc component of the brass in the sets of national standards of weights and measures provided to the states.

Of all the great men who contributed here, Samuel Fowler stands head-and-shoulders above them in importance. He was a great man with great foresight and energy, which he melded with his personal perspicacity to further the advancement of all aspects of these ore deposits. Surely he was the seminal industrialist of Franklin, and was closer to science than those who followed him. We owe him a great debt.

Additional details on Dr. Fowler’s contributions are given by Snell (1881), Shuster (1927), Kettell (1867), and Haight and Tillson (1917). Fowlerite, now known to be a zincian variety of rhodonite, was named for him. A newer, valid, mineral species, samfowlerite, later was named in his honor.

Dr. Fowler’s son, Colonel Samuel Fowler (1818-1865), also attempted to establish commercial zinc mining locally and was marginally successful, in part due to emerging technologies. He did manage, unintentionally we presume, to lay carelessly the groundwork for 40 years of litigation as discussed herein. He died in Trenton, New Jersey, a few days after taking office as a member of the State Assembly. 

Clifford Frondel (1907-  )

  Figure 7-9. Dr. Clifford Frondel, Professor of Mineralogy and Crystallography at Harvard University. Photograph courtesy of the Mineralogical Museum at Harvard University.  

Dr. Clifford Frondel, Professor of Mineralogy and Crystallography at Harvard University, has been a long-term contributor to the mineralogy of these deposits. First visiting them as a boy scout, he returned many times to study the local minerals. The science of Franklin and Sterling Hill has been a long-term thread throughout his research career. He described many new species, wrote at least thirty-three papers on the minerals found in these deposits and related topics, and provided many insights into the complex geochemistry of the ore deposits and, particularly, the associated calcium silicate units. His insights into these calcium silicate units comprised some of the most important research done on these orebodies in the 1960’s. Among his publications is a book, The Minerals of Franklin and Sterling Hill: a Checklist (1972), and the superb and definitive paper on the mineralogy and structure of the Franklin deposit, co-authored with Jack Baum (Frondel and Baum, 1974).

Charles Palache (1869-1954)

  Figure 7-10. Dr. Charles Palache, Professor of Mineralogy and Crystallography at Harvard University. Photograph of a painting by Irwin Hoffman, courtesy of the Mineralogical Museum at Harvard University.  

Dr. Charles Palache, Professor of Mineralogy and Crystallography at Harvard University, is the father of Franklin mineralogy. He began his studies here by working on the Franklin Folio (Spencer et al., 1908) and contributed twenty-three scientific papers to studies of the local mineralogy. The most famous of these, his monograph, The Minerals of Franklin and Sterling Hill, Sussex County, New Jersey (Palache, 1935), became the “bible” for scientists and collectors interested in the local minerals, and a standard for descriptive mineralogy in the United States. It was reprinted in 1937, 1960, and 1974.

  Figure 7-11. Professor Palache at work measuring crystals on the two-circle goniometer at Harvard University. Photograph courtesy of the Mineralogical Museum, Harvard University.  

He was largely responsible for the development and acquisition of the Franklin and Sterling Hill holdings in the Harvard Mineralogical Museum and was widely respected. Most of the morphological crystallography of Franklin species is his work or was done under his supervision. The new mineral charlesite was named in his honor. A memorial, given by Frondel (1956), describes more fully his illustrious career, and Frondel (1989) provided the history of his monograph.


George Rowe (1868-1947)

  Figure 7-12. George Rowe, former Mine Captain at the Franklin Mine. Photograph courtesy of the Geological Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey. Other photographs were given by Chamberlain and Selden (1986).  

George Rowe became interested in mines and minerals early in life. He was working in the mines of Cornwall at age 11. Later in his great career he was Mine Captain at the Franklin Mine from 1906 until 1934. He was instrumental in developing efficient mining processes and in introducing the top-slicing method of mining. Intensely interested in the good of the local community, he took an active part, with R. M. Catlin, in developing community services. Rowe amassed a significant mineral collection, later given to Rutgers University (Baum, 1982c). His autobiography was published by Chamberlain and Selden (1986). The mineral roweite was named in his honor.




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