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JIM: History notes on the Montpelier Diamond


A historical marker in Russell County, not far removed from Adair, succinctly recounts the story of the Montpelier diamond:

In the summer of 1888 on the farm of Henry Burris, two miles north, a brilliant stone was found. It was appraised gem quality diamond, octahedral in form, 0.776 carat by G. A. Schultz, a jeweler of Louisville, who bought it for $20. Diamond is now on display in the Smithsonian Institution. No other has been found in area although many have searched.

Two articles found in the Adair County News some thirty years ex post facto provide a great deal more information (if somewhat divergent in detail), including mention of a second diamond found in the same area.The author of the first article is unknown (but possibly was John Ed Murrell, longtime de facto editor of the News). The other piece was penned by Joseph Allen Turner, a learned man who resided at Big Elm, not far removed from where the diamond(s) was/were found.

These articles are presented as found, without comment (save one) regarding errors, misstatements of fact, or contradictions.

Article the first (July 7, 1920):

Recall of a Diamond

There are a number of persons, now living in Columbia, who remember that in May, 1889, a diamond was found, in the sand, on Cabbin Fork, near Montpelier, this county. For days and weeks the find created a bit of excitement, and many believed that a diamond field was here in our midst.

In order to prove that the stone was genuine, it was sent to Mr. Schultz, of Louisville, who inspected it and pronounced it a valuable stone. Not relying altogether upon his judgment, he sent it to Tiffany, of New York, well-known over the United States as a dealer, and he soon reported that there was not a doubt but it was genuine diamond.

Upon hearing from Mr. Tiffany, Mr. Schultz left his business in Louisville, came to Columbia, and from here went to Cabbin Fork where the diamond was found. The writer met Mr. Schultz while here and talked with him about the discovery. At that time he said he did not know what would be done, but he advised the organization of a company, lease the land and continue the hunt on a large scale. For some reason no steps were taken for development, and the interest soon died out.

The diamond found was sold to Tiffany, who had it dressed and it was on exhibition at the World's Fair in Chicago [in 1893], in Tiffany's display, and it was marked "found in Adair county, Kentucky."

While the oil industry is now on in Adair county, would it not be a capital idea to lease the land where this diamond was found, organize a company and start a crew to sieving sand.

Mr. J.O. Russell, the well-known merchant of this place, who was at the Chicago World's Fair, says there is no doubt but Mr. Tiffany had the Adair diamond on exhibition.

Article the second (August 11, 1920):

More About the Diamond Found

Our Big Elm correspondent has this to say:

The diamond spoken of in the News last week (sic), was found by Oliver Helm, on the farm of Henry Burris, in Russell County, 1 1/2 miles from the Adair line, and about three hundred yards from Cabbin Fork, on very high land where the soil had worn away, leaving the clay and small pebbles. Amygdaloid trap, there seems to be an upheaval of this specie of trap rock, running southwest for 1 1/2 miles from where this diamond was picked up. About 1/4 mile on this route Mr. Job Carnes found a diamond about 1/2 the size of the first one, and lost it in a few days. The ones who saw it said it was just like the Helm diamond.

Helm sent his diamond to Mr. Schultz for inspection, who pronounced it something valuable. Not being satisfied, he sent it to Tiffany, who pronounced it a genuine diamond, and wrote Mr. Helm he would give him $15.00 for it. Mr. Helm wrote back to Mr. Tiffany that he could have it for $20.00, and in a few days Mr. Helm received a letter from Mr. Tiffany with the $20.00.This locality may be regarded as a typical representation of trap rock. This specie of trap abounds some places so thick the farmers have to remove them before they can plow the ground. Some as large as bushel basket. This upheaval crosses five farms in Russell county, a distance of about a mile and half. This dike can be followed on this line by the quartz rock, or trapin, thrown out on top of the ground. The writer of this has a piece of Talc that was found on this dike, and some oxide of iron, some pure lead ore, and various other minerals. A man by the name of Browning came to this section from Arkansas diamond mines to look for a dike, where this diamond was found, and left in my possession some pebbles which he said came from the Arkansas Diamond mine. He said that he had no doubt but what other diamonds could be washed out of the sand along this dike, but no one has ever washed any sand.(Other sources state that Mr. Sidney Collins found the diamond.-JIM)

This story was posted on 2011-12-11 08:50:10
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