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America’s First Vesuvianite Locality: Worcester, Massachusetts

Last Updated: 30th Apr 2013

America’s First Vesuvianite Locality: Worcester, Massachusetts

Adapted from the Micromounters of New England Newsletter no. 331 (April, 2013)
© 2013 Peter Cristofono


Vesuvianite, formerly called Vesuvian (Werner, 1795) for its locality at Mount Vesuvius, Italy, idocrase (Haüy, 1799), pyramidal garnet, or egeran[1] (Werner, 1817) was not known from North America prior to 1822. Parker Cleaveland, for example, did not list an American locality for the mineral in his Mineralogy (1816, 1822). The first to establish its occurrence on the continent was Dr. William Meade, MD, chemist and mineralogist, who collected vesuvianite in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1822. Recognizing the significance of the find, he submitted a paper to the American Journal of Science in the spring of 1823 and the article was published the following year. News of the discovery set off a flurry of vesuvianite reports over the next several years, some valid and some not.

William Meade (c.1765–1833)

A native of Ireland, Dr. Meade received his MD from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, where he published his dissertation on the chemistry of mineral waters (Meade, 1790). While living in Dublin, he published reports on galvanism (Meade, 1805) and calcareous manures (fertilizer) (Meade, 1806). He came to America about 1808, lived for a time in Philadelphia (AmPhilSoc, 1818) and probably Boston, and eventually settled in Newburgh, New York.

Meade became quite active in American mineralogy soon after his arrival. He is believed to be the author of an anonymous pamphlet on Rhode Island anthracite, published in Boston in 1808 (Silliman, 1826). In 1810, he was the first scientist to investigate the Willsboro, New York, wollastonite (tabular spar) locality (Jessup, 1822). That same year, the American Mineralogical Journal (“Bruce’s Journal”) published a report by Meade on lead ore from Louisiana (= Ste. Genevieve Co., Missouri), another on a marble deposit near Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and in 1811 his paper on wulfenite, cerussite and anglesite (using their older names) from a lead mine in Northampton, Massachusetts (= Manhan mines). By 1817, Meade had become a member of the American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia; an honorary member of the Royal Physical Society of Edinburgh; a member of the Linnaean Society, and a corresponding member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (Meade, 1817).

John Torrey (Fig. 1), the well-known botanist and mineralogist, said about William Meade in a letter to Amos Eaton (Fig. 2) dated June, 22, 1822: “He is the person who is so frequently quoted in Cleaveland’s Mineralogy for interesting localities…You will find him one of the most intelligent mineralogists you ever knew, having the history of every American mineral at his fingers ends. He will be of much use to you, should you wish to make exchanges of minerals” (McAllister, 1941). At the time of his death in 1833, Meade’s collection consisted of “about two thousand [specimens] belonging to four hundred varieties of the best American minerals of a large size.” In addition, his collection contained about 1200 fine foreign specimens and a small number of fossils (Anon., 1834).

It is possible that Meade saw or collected vesuvianite before coming to America, but there are apparently no records of his prior mineralogical activities in Europe.[2] He was, however, “in the habit of exchanging specimens with eminent mineralogists abroad” (Anon., 1834). One of Meade’s corresponding friends was the prominent mineral collector Heinrich Christoph Gottfried von Struve (Fig. 3) (Meade, 1826), a Russian diplomat at Hamburg, Germany, for whom the mineral struvite was later named.

Figure 1: John Torrey (1796-1873)

Figure 2: Amos Eaton (1776–1842)

Figure 3: Heinrich von Struve (1772–1851)

The Worcester Vesuvianite Locality

In the summer of 1822, while on a journey of mineralogical exploration through New England, Meade happened upon an interesting specimen in the cabinet of 21-year old William Lincoln (1801–1843) in Worcester, Massachusetts. Lincoln, a distant cousin of future US President Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865), was at home on the family estate, having recently graduated from Harvard.[3] The Lincoln home (Fig. 4) was located on present-day Lincoln Street, and was formerly owned by John Hancock (1737–1793), patriot of the American Revolution. William Lincoln brought his guest to where he had found the specimen in a nearby stone wall. There Meade collected more of the mineral, which occurred in translucent brown crystals having a rectangular prismatic habit. He identified it as “Vesuvian or Idocrase of Hauy,” and noted its association with “small pale green crystals of pyroxene, and beautiful small garnets of a wine yellow” color, in a letter to the American Journal of Science dated April 9, 1823.

Figure 4: John Hancock Mansion

Figure 5: Gov. Lincoln Mansion (1824)

Meade didn’t provide the precise location of the vesuvianite find in his report, but did remark that the mineral was common in the “primitive” rocks of the area. A decade later, Professor Edward Hitchcock (Fig. 6) was more exact: Idocrase was found in “stone walls, fifty rods west of the residence of Gov. Lincoln” (Hitchcock, 1833). Hitchcock, professor of natural science and chemistry at Amherst College, had been appointed by the governor of Massachusetts, Levi Lincoln, Jr. (in office 1825–1834) (Fig. 7), William’s older brother, to conduct a geological survey of the state.[4] At the time of Meade’s visit in 1822, Lincoln was Speaker of the House in the state legislature; he lived in a mansion located near the junction of present-day Main Street and Elm Street (42.2646, -71.8018), and continued to live there until 1835 (Fig. 5) (Wall, 1877).

In 1822, Worcester was a small but rapidly growing town in central Massachusetts. The Census recorded 2,962 residents in 1820 and 4,173 in 1830 (Fig. 8). Today it is a city, the second largest in the state with a population of over 180,000. Because 50 rods is equal to 825 feet (228.6 meters), Hitchcock’s placement of the stone walls would be in what is now a mixed business and residential area west of Main Street. There are no stone walls remaining there; the vesuvianite locality has been lost to urban development.

Figure 6: Edward Hitchcock (1793–1864)

Figure 7: Levi Lincoln Jr. (1782–1868)

Figure 8a: Worcester in 1830

Figure 8b: Hitchcock's Geological Map of Massachusetts (1833). Worcester is located close to the center of the state.

Early mineralogists mistakenly believed that vesuvianite was a mineral of volcanic rocks. By the 1820s, that view had expanded to include non-volcanic rocks as well, as Meade (1824) noted: “Though Vesuvian or Idocrase is generally found in Volcanic Rocks and has been at one time supposed to be peculiar to them, yet it is now well ascertained that it occurs in primitive Rocks also in Norway, Piedmont, and other places.” The association in the minds of many of vesuvianite with volcanic rocks was hard to break. Over a century later, the authors of the 4th edition of Dana's Textbook of Mineralogy felt it necessary to state that vesuvianite is “never a constituent of eruptive rocks” (Dana & Ford, 1932). At Vesuvius, the mineral is found in ejected blocks of skarn. Interestingly, a major eruption of Vesuvius (Fig. 9) occurred on October 22, 1822—a few months after Meade found Vesuvian in Worcester but before his report was published. Much was written about the eruption, and Vesuvius was still in the “news” in early 1824 when the public learned of the discovery of vesuvianite in America.

Figure 9: Eruption of Vesuvius on October 22, 1822

A Reported Franklin, New Jersey, Occurrence

In an article on the geology and mineralogy of Franklin, New Jersey, Vanuxem and Keating (1822) listed the occurrence of Vesuvian; However, Meade (1824) doubted that it had been found: “A mineral of a green colour has been observed at Franklin near Sparta, which some Mineralogists here have called Idocrase; it will however, I suspect, be found to be epidote.” Thomas Nuttall (1822)[5] (Fig. 10) had previously questioned the validity of the report, stating that the mineral looked like “laminated epidote almost similar in appearance with the loboite or idocrase magnesifere of Berzelius.” Charles Palache (1935) doubted that authentic vesuvianite had been found in Franklin prior to 1899. According to Dunn (1995), “Vesuvianite was first reported from Franklin by Vanuxem [Fig. 11] and Keating [Fig. 12]…but Palache attributed such early reports to mistaken identifications of uvite in marble.” The first report of vesuvianite from Franklin considered to be valid was made by Penfield (1899) who described red crystals of the mineral in nasonite.

Figure 10: Thomas Nuttall (1786–1859)

Figure 11: Lardner Vanuxem (1792–1848)

Figure 12: William H. Keating (1799–1840)

Confirmed North American Vesuvianite Localities (Pre-1850)

The following pre-1850 reports of vesuvianite are considered in this study to be valid.

Year of Discovery: Locality

1822: Worcester, Worcester Co., Massachusetts. After Meade’s 1824 report of his 1822 discovery, the following authors listed vesuvianite from Worcester as well: Hall (1824) as idocrase; Webster & Treadwell (1825) idocrase, and Robinson (1825) idocrase. Shepard (1832) called it idocrase, “precisely similar to that from near Eger in Bohemia.” Hitchcock (1833) reported idocrase but said that the occurrence was “exhausted.” Dana (1837) listed idocrase calling it “similar to the Egeran variety.”

1826: Phippsburg, Sagadahoc Co., Maine.
John W. Webster (1826b) (Fig. 13), then a lecturer of chemistry, mineralogy, and geology at Harvard Medical College, and associate editor of The Boston Journal of Philosophy and the Arts, reported receiving specimens of garnet and egerane from Abraham Hammatt (1781–1854) (Fig. 14) of Bath, Maine. A year later (1827), Charles T. Jackson (Fig. 15) visited Phippsburg with Francis Alger but did not publish a report until 1837. Jackson noted two localities of idocrase/egeran in the town[6]: the “Basin” locality and a “quarry in the woods.” He credited the discovery of the Basin locality to Abraham Hammet [sic; = Hammatt]. Dana (1844) also listed idocrase.

Figure 13: John W. Webster (1793–1850)

Figure 14: Abraham Hammatt (1781–1854)

Figure 15: Charles T. Jackson (1805–1880)

1827: Amity, Town of Warwick, Orange Co., New York. Scottish chemist and mineralogist, Thomas Thomson (Fig. 16), described a new mineral, xanthite, from Amity (Thomson, 1827). John Finch (1829)[7] listed xanthite from the Amity “bronzite” locality. His “bronzite” turned out to be a new mineral, later to be named clintonite, and this was its type locality. William W. Mather (1830) (Fig. 17) reported on Amity xanthite as well. Charles U. Shepard (1831) (Fig. 18) correctly identified the mineral as idocrase, and James Dwight Dana (1837) (Fig. 19) and Lewis Caleb Beck (1842)[8] (Fig. 20) also listed idocrase.

1836: Keene, Essex Co., New York. This locality was originally called Long Pond, and later Cascade Mountain/Slide/Lakes. When he visited in 1836, Ebenezer Emmons (Fig. 21) found a mineral that he said “resembles idocrase …but it has not been particularly examined” (Emmons, 1837). Idocrase was also listed by Beck (1837) and Dana (1844). Kemp (1898) searched for vesuvianite but could not find it. Tracy et al. (1978) confirmed vesuvianite via microprobe analysis, citing a report by Baillieul (1976) as well.

Figure 16: Thomas Thompson (1773–1852)

Figure 17: William W. Mather (1804–1859)

Figure 18: Charles U. Shepard (1804–1886)

Figure 19: James Dwight Dana (1813–1895)

Figure 20: Lewis Caleb Beck (1798–1853)

Figure 21: Ebenezer Emmons (1799–1863)

1837: Parsonsfield, York Co., Maine. Jackson (1837) reported an egeran occurrence in the “fields near Dr. Swett’s [sic] house, and in a stone wall north of Stackpole’s tavern.” Later in his report (1837, appendix vii) he records being at Dr. Sweet’s [sic] house on August 11, 1837. The doctor’s name was actually Moses Sweat (Fig. 22). Dr. Sweat pointed out to Jackson the places where he had found boulders of “limestone.” Dana (1844) listed the mineral as idocrase.

1838: Rumford Falls, Rumford, Oxford Co., Maine. Jackson (1839) reported egeran (found in 1838), and Dana (1844) listed idocrase from this locality.

1839: Poland, Androscoggin Co., Maine. A specimen of egeran from the town of Poland was donated to Jackson by Rev. Ariel Parish Chute (Fig. 23)(Jackson, 1839). Today, there is a Chute Prospect, a grossular and vesuvianite locality, in the nearby town of Casco (King & Foord, 1994); in 1839, however, Casco was still part of the town of Raymond, and the modern Chute prospect is probably not the source of Rev. Chute’s specimen. Chute’s locality in Poland appears to be lost, but the Harvard Mineralogical Museum does have a specimen labeled Poland, and vesuvianite is reported from the the contact zone at the Berry-Havey pegmatite (King & Foord, 1994) in the same town. Rev. Chute was an avid mineral collector, and in 1856, he and G. L. Streeter were the first to report sodalite in Salem, Mass., which, however they mistakenly called cancrinite.

Figure 22: Moses Sweat (1788–1865)

Figure 23: Ariel Parish Chute (1809–1887)

Figure 24: Matthias Spalding (1769–1865)

1839 (ca.): Antwerp, Jefferson Co., New York. This locality, at Vrooman Lake (Payne Lake), was discovered in 1838 or 1839. Located in the township of Antwerp, it was sometimes referred to as “near Oxbow,” a hamlet in the township. Beck (1839) reported idocrase, as did subsequently Dana (1850) and Hough (1850b). Hough (1850a) (Fig. 25) also reported an occurrence one mile south of the village of Gouverneur, St. Lawrence County; this locality was also listed by Dana (1850, 1854).

1842: Amherst, Hillsborough Co., New Hampshire. This occurrence was on the Betsey Stevens estate on Joppa Hill (Jackson, 1844). Jackson reported egeran, and Dana (1844) listed idocrase. Jackson credited the discovery of the locality to Dr. Matthias Spaulding [sic]; the doctor’s name was actually Matthias Spalding (Fig. 24), of Amherst. Dr. Spalding and a Mr. Peabody of Amherst accompanied Jackson to the site in July, 1842. (Jackson, 1844; p. 115, 291). Jackson remarked that the rock there was "exactly like the limestone of Phipsburg [sic], Maine, and has associated with it the same minerals." (Jackson, 1844). After Joppa Hill, the next vesuvianite locality to be reported from the state of New Hampshire was in Warren, Grafton County (Bouvé, 1867).

1847: Grenville, Quebec. In 1847, Thomas Sterry Hunt (Fig. 26) found idocrase at the plumbago (graphite) mine formerly worked by Robert Urwin Harwood (Fig. 27). Associated minerals were tabular spar (wollastonite), feldspar, green pyroxene, zircon and cinnamon stone (grossular) (Hunt, 1848). Dana (1850) listed idocrase from Grenville as well, and from another Canadian locality at Clarendon, Ontario.

Figure 25: Franklin B. Hough (1822–1885)

Figure 26: Thomas Sterry Hunt (1826–1892)

Figure 27: Robert U. Harwood (1798–1863)

1848: Sanford, York Co., Maine. Harvard Professor John W. Webster found idocrase (Fig. 28) on land belonging to Solomon Allen (Webster, 1848). Dana (1850) also listed idocrase. This locality continued to produce specimens until recent times. Interestingly, Shepard (1848) in the same American Journal of Science issue as Webster’s article, noted a mineral which he observed during examination of the Nobleboro, Maine, meteorite (fell 1823) that appeared to be “either garnet or idocrase.” Additional vesuvianite occurrences in the state were later reported in the towns of Raymond and Hebron, by Holmes and Hitchcock (1862).

Figure 28: Sanford, Maine, idocrase specimen from Dr. Webster’s laboratory. Harvard Mineralogical & Geological Museum collection.

Unconfirmed, Doubtful and Discredited Localities (Pre-1850)

Early reports of vesuvianite were often misidentifications of other minerals. Imposters included species in the garnet, epidote, pyroxene and tourmaline groups. Many of the following reports are cases of misidentification; some may be valid, but lack modern verification.

1822: Franklin, Sussex Co., New Jersey. Vanuxem and Keating (1822) listed Vesuvian on page 287, but did not describe it; Dunn (1995) calls their report the first, but agrees with Palache (1935) that authentic vesuvianite was not described from Franklin before Penfield (1899).

1824: Providence, Providence Co., Rhode Island. Thomas Hopkins Webb (1824) (Fig. 29) reported: “Idocrase is found on the walls back of Brown University” but said nothing more about it. While this may have been an accurate report, there are no subsequent confirmed reports of vesuvianite from Providence or anywhere else in Rhode Island, and no specimens are known. Webb, born in Providence, graduated from Brown University in 1821 and from Harvard Medical School in 1825.

1824: Chester, Hampden Co., Massachusetts. Chester Dewey (1824) (Fig. 30) wrote: “There is little reason for doubt about this mineral [idocrase at Chester] though so rare in our country.” Emmons (1825) reported that pargasite and epidote were associated with the idocrase. However, B. K. Emerson (1895) (Fig. 31) did find reason to doubt the existence of vesuvianite at Chester, calling the report “doubtful.”

1824: Worthington, Hampshire Co., Massachusetts. Dewey (1824) credited Emmons with finding idocrase in Worthington. Robinson (1825) listed it as well. However, Emerson (1895) called the report “doubtful.”

Figure 29: Thomas H. Webb (1801–1866)

Figure 30: Chester Dewey (1784–1867)

Figure 31: Benjamin K. Emerson (1843–1932)

1824: Salisbury, Litchfield Co., Connecticut.
Dr. Charles Alfred Lee (Fig. 32), a physician of Salisbury, discovered what he believed to be idocrase: “This occurs in abundance in oblique four sided prisms truncated on all the edges, also in octaedral [sic] crystals and massive. They are mostly of an irregular form variously grouped and associated with hornblende, epidote and calcareous spar. It presents various colors, from a reddish brown to light yellowish white, resembles that found at Worcester and so accurately described by Doct. Meade in a former No. of the Journal” (Lee, 1824). Subsequently, Robinson (1825) listed idocrase from Salisbury. However, Shepard (1825) discredited the report: “While at Pittsfield, I had an opportunity of seeing a specimen of the mineral from Salisbury, (Con.) which has been considered by some mineralogists as idocrase. It is crystallized in dodecahedrons, which frequently have their edges replaced by tangent planes, and will, I think, without doubt, upon examination prove to be garnet.”

1825: West Marlborough, Chester Co., Pennsylvania. In 1825, George W. Carpenter (Fig. 33) and George Spackman reported egeran in four-sided prisms of a reddish brown color from Bernard’s Quarry. This report remains unconfirmed. Gordon (1922) reported an occurrence at Doe Run Quarries in this town.

1825: East Marlborough, Chester Co., Pennsylvania. Carpenter and Spackman (1825) reported egeran at the David Pusey[9] mill race, as detached crystals in gravel and sand along with zircon and rutile. This report remains unconfirmed. Dana (1850) listed epidote and tourmaline, but not idocrase from East Marlborough. Gordon (1922) reported an occurrence at Willowdale in the township of East Marlborough.

Figure 32: Charles A. Lee (1801–1872)

Figure 33: George W. Carpenter (1802–1860)

Figure 34: Samuel Fowler (1779–1844)

1825: Cumberland, Providence Co., Rhode Island. Robinson (1825, p. 82) reported a possible occurrence: “Idocrase? at the mine hole on Geo. Mason's land and near Sneerch's [sic; = Sneech’s] pond.” Later lists, including by Feuchtwanger (1838) and Miller (1972) dropped the question mark, but there are apparently no known specimens.

1826: Carlisle, Middlesex Co., Massachusetts. Webster (1826a) reported idocrase/Egerane from Carlisle, but this occurrence has not been subsequently cited by others or confirmed. Phillips et al (1844) reported “cinnamon brown” tourmaline but not idocrase from Carlisle. Cook (1974) reported clinozoisite and grossular but no vesuvianite in the town. Wall (2008) found no vesuvianite in new exposures of calc-silicate rock at a construction site in Carlisle. However, clinozoisite from the site does look similar to massive vesuvianite, which may explain Webster’s report.

1829: Moriah, Essex Co., New York. Shepard (1830) in a report dated September 8, 1829, announced that he and Dr. Lewis Heermann (1779–1833) had found idocrase in Moriah, near “Major Dallarby’s mills.” Beck (1842) looked for Shepard’s locality near the village of Port Henry (in Moriah Township) but did not find idocrase after a diligent search, and concluded that it was probably brown tourmaline. Clarke (1905) reports the acquisition of a vesuvianite specimen from the Harmony bed in Mineville which is in the township of Moriah, but he does not mention Shepard’s report.

1831: Newton, Sussex Co., New Jersey. This locality was apparently the Limecrest Quarry in neighboring Sparta Township. Samuel Fowler (1831) (Fig. 34) reported idocrase but Shepard (1831) believed it was probably garnet. Emmons (1832) reported pyramidal garnet. Shepard (1832) then determined that the mineral was brown tourmaline. However, Dana (1844, 1850, 1854, and 1868) continued to list idocrase from Newton. Finally, in New York Academy of Science, Transactions (1882), the following note appears, and the matter appears to have been settled: “Prof. T. [Thomas] Egleston [Fig. 35] remarked that all the crystals of so called idocrase from this region which he had examined turned out to be tourmaline. Mr. G. F. Kunz reported that fifty crystals of supposed idocrase from this region now in the cabinet of the Pennsylvania Geological Survey were really tourmaline.”

1836: New Hope, Bucks Co., Pennsylvania. Henry D. Rogers (1836) (Fig. 36) reported idocrase from New Hope, but later added a qualifier: “apparently idocrase” (Rogers, 1840). Frederic A. Genth (1875) (Fig. 37) stated that the “idocrase” had not been analyzed. Decades later, specimens collected by Rogers were re-examined. According to the report, the specimens had been “sent to the Geological Society by Dr. Henry Darwin Rogers about 1840 and transferred to the British Museum (Natural History) in 1911. The idocrase associated with epidote described by Rogers from New Hope appears to be zoisite” (Geo. Soc. London, 1931). However, John Vanartsdalen (1908–1981) reported finding small vesuvianite crystals at a new excavation in New Hope (Phil. Min. Soc., 1931). No known analysis.

Figure 35: Thomas Egleston (1832–1900)

Figure 36: Henry D. Rogers (1808–1866)

Figure 37: Frederick A. Genth (1820–1893)

1837: Washington, Litchfield Co., Connecticut. Shepard (1837) reported a locality in this town: “Idocrase. — A few crystals and grains of a reddish brown color have been detected in a micaceous seam of rock, contained in Starr's marble-quarry at Washington.” Phillips et al. (1844) also listed idocrase. Unconfirmed.

1839: Natural Bridge, Jefferson/Lewis Co., New York. Beck (1839) reported a mineral that was “probably idocrase” not far from “the natural bridge on the land of Mr. Cleaveland,”[10] associated with graphite, chlorite and epidote.

1840 (ca.): Bergen Hill, Hudson Co., New Jersey. Vesuvianite was reported to have been found at a railroad cut sometime between 1837–40: “Among the loose bowlders to be met with in the soil where the excavations were made, was one from which some good specimens of idocrase were taken” (Bourne, 1841). Vesuvianite was also reported in the area by Andreae and Osann (1892) and Lewis (1908), as one of several constituents of a dense aphanitic lime-silicate hornfels. Bourne’s discovery is intriguing, but if his report of vesuvianite is valid, it was probably from a glacial erratic boulder of a rock not native to the area.

1842: Muskellunge (Muscalonge) Lake, Antwerp, Jefferson Co., New York. Beck (1842) reported idocrase from near this lake in Jefferson County but later re-identified the mineral as pyroxene (Beck, 1850). (Note: Most of the lake is located in Theresa township, with a small portion of the eastern shore in Antwerp. Beck places the locality in the "town of Antwerp, four miles northwest of Oxbow").

1847: Calumet Island, Quebec. Hunt (1848) initially reported finding idocrase here. Later, he offered a retraction and an explanation, admitting that his “idocrase” was actually brown tourmaline, but that the “size, color and general appearance are… so much like idocrase that several practised mineralogists have at first sight fallen into the same error as myself, with regard to their nature” (Hunt, 1850).

Geology and Mineralogy of the Worcester Vesuvianite Locality

The Worcester vesuvianite locality is in an area mapped as the Lower Devonian/Silurian Worcester Formation, consisting primarily of carbonaceous slate and phyllite, and minor beds of impure marble, calc-silicate rock and marble breccia up to 1.25 meters thick. The stones containing the vesuvianite may have been glacial erratics originating in one of the marble or calc-silicate beds, but no rocks containing vesuvianite are known in situ in the Worcester area. In fact vesuvianite is not known from anywhere else in Massachusetts, except for a minor occurrence at Devil’s Basin in Newbury, about 75 km northeast.

The author has one specimen in his collection of Worcester vesuvianite (Fig. 38), courtesy of Sam Pavadore of Canton, Mass., that was previously in the collections (Fig. 39) of Dr. Warren Johansson and Ernie Schlichter. The specimen, 85 mm x 80 mm x 70 mm, consists primarily of massive brown vesuvianite; one crude vesuvianite crystal embedded in the matrix is 42 mm long. The other minerals visible in the specimen are calcite (Fig. 40), clinozoisite, grossular, diopside and quartz. This is basically the same mineral assemblage reported by nineteenth century researchers.

Figure 38: Vesuvianite, Worcester, MA. 85mm x80mm

Figure 39: Ernie Schlichter and Warren Johansson labels

Figure 40: Calcite, Worcester, MA. FOV~7mm

Figure 41: Vesuvianite, Worcester, MA. FOV=7mm

Calcite CaCO3 The study specimen has small cavities that formerly contained calcite. Some residual patches of white calcite are still present; the largest is 8 mm x 3 mm. The calcite exhibits a pale pink fluorescence under shortwave ultraviolet light. This mineral was listed as calcareous spar by Meade (1824) and Hitchcock (1833).

Clinozoisite {Ca2}{Al3}(Si2O7)(SiO4)O(OH) On the study specimen, very pale gray-green crystals of clinozoisite are found in pockets with grossular. This mineral is likely the epidote listed by Robinson (1825), Hitchcock (1833) and Lincoln (1837).

Diopside CaMgSi2O6 Diopside occurs as very sparse grass-green crystals on the study specimen. This mineral is likely the pyroxene listed by Meade (1824), Hall (1824), Robinson (1825), Hitchcock (1833), Shephard (1835), Dana (1837), Lincoln (1837), Beck (1842) and Phillips, Allan & Alger (1844).

Grossular Ca3Al2(SiO4)3 Pale orange to cinnamon brown, translucent grossular is common on the study specimen, intimately associated with vesuvianite; pockets occasionally have crystals to 2 mm. This mineral is likely the garnet listed by Meade (1824), Hall (1824), Robinson (1825), Hitchcock (1833), Shephard (1835), Dana (1837, 1844, 1854), Lincoln (1837), Beck (1842), Phillips, Allan & Alger (1844) and Dana & Brush (1868).

Quartz SiO2 Very sparse quartz grains up to 4 mm are present on the study specimen. Quartz was listed by Beck (1842), Dana (1844, 1854) and Dana & Brush (1868).

Vesuvianite (Ca,Na,☐)19(Al,Mg,Fe3+)13(☐,B,Al,Fe3+)5(Si2O7)4(SiO4)10(OH,F,O)10 More than 90% of the study specimen consists of massive or crudely crystallized brown vesuvianite. The best individual crystals, less than 5 mm long and very pale brown to dark brown, occur in the cavities formerly filled with calcite. Vesuvianite was reported as idocrase or Vesuvian by Meade (1824), Hall (1824), Webster & Treadwell (1825), Robinson (1825), Literary & Historical Society Of Quebec (1829), Hitchcock (1833), Shepard (1835), Dana (1837, 1844, 1854), Beck (1842), Dana & Brush (1868), Dana (1892), Lincoln (1837), Feuchtwanger (1838), Phillips, Allan & Alger (1844) and Dana & Brush (1868).


I am most grateful to Sam Pavadore for generously providing the specimen of Worcester vesuvianite, which prompted me to research the locality and the early history of vesuvianite in America. Also, thanks to Carl Francis and Michael Kieron for their assistance.


1.Egeran was originally the name for a brown vesuvianite from Eger (Cheb, Bohemia, Czech Republic). The name vesuvianite was first used by Dana & Brush (1868).
2.Vesuvianite was known from Ireland as least as early as 1808 from County Wicklow (Fitton, 1812), and 1810 from County Donegal (Sowerby, 1811).
3.Lincoln later became a lawyer, newspaper publisher, antiquarian, and a member of the Massachusetts legislature (Davis, 1895). He wrote a chapter on the mines and minerals of Worcester in his history of the town (1836) and though he mentioned idocrase, he was apparently too modest to mention his own role in its discovery.
4.Hitchcock showed his appreciation to Gov. Lincoln by naming a new mineral from Deerfield, Massachusetts, in his honor: lincolnite (now known to be heulandite).
5.According to Beidleman (1960): “Meade and Nuttall were apparently the best of friends. Nuttall spent several months with Meade during the winter of 1826-27 and including Christmas. Here in Newburgh he wrote most of his Introduction to Systematic and Physical Botany.”
6.Jackson (1837) believed that Phippsburg was the first locality for axinite and ferruginous silicate of cerium in America, but he did not make that claim for idocrase. However, in his 3rd annual report (1839) he listed axinite with a question mark. The true identity of the “axinite” was likely clinozoisite (King & Foord, 1994).
7.John Finch (1791–1854), grandson of Joseph Priestley, had been a fellow of the Philosophical Society of Birmingham, England, and a professor of geology and mineralogy. He emigrated to the US in 1823.
8.Beck (1842) reported three idocrase localities near the village of Amity. Amity is a village in the township of Warwick.
9.David Pusey (1765–1833) of East Marlborough Township.
10.Mr. Cleaveland was apparently Solomon Cleaveland (1754–1843), who served in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. His name was also spelled “Cleveland.”


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Thanks for posting this great article


Olav Revheim
16th Mar 2013 10:04am

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