Week 7 LCHS

It is almost the end of October and I have continued cataloging artifacts from the Welles Collection at the museum. Notably, I came across a small booklet that I feel anyone, especially mineralogists, would find interesting. The short, small booklet written by Maynard Bixby, one of Edward Welles’ cousins, contains information about certain minerals located in Utah and various localities. Maynard Bixby was born in Wyalusing, PA in 1853. His parents were George Bixby and Jane Welles; he was the eldest out of three children. He graduated from Lafayette College in 1876 and moved to Wilkes-Barre with his wife. Shortly after, Maynard became a bookkeeper and studied law. After some time being a bookkeeper, Maynard traveled around the US and worked in some mines. During that time, he was exposed to the vast number of minerals in different mines and locations.

Thus, in Maynard Bixby’s small booklet, he mentions one mineral named Topaz. He discovered topaz in Juab County, around the Thomas Mountain locality (nine miles north from the Detroit District). In the booklet, it describes the physical description of the mineral, as well as discussing the proper way to extract the mineral from the hillside and small gorges filled with sand. Furthermore, there were two minerals in the booklet that I found interesting, Tiemannite and Onofrite, located in the locality of Marysvale, in Piute County, Utah. Maynard Bixby wrote that Tiemannite could only be formed in Marysvale. This is not true, however, because there are records of Tiemannite located in Mexico. Nonetheless, Bixby did not state the reason to its location only in Marysvale. It is possible that the reason is because of the environment and or the components of the mineral. Two components of Tiemannite are mercury and selenide, HgSe. According to Bixby, he approximated that the largest recorded Tiemannite was one fourth of an inch. The other mineral, Onofrite, is described by Bixby as a mineral that is no longer available in Marysvale and is of no value.

I did some research on Onofrite and the mineral is quite unique. Onofrite is a mix of three chemicals: mercury, sulfur, and selenium. These three minerals form a slight metallic mineral with clusters of maroon and burgundy. Onofrite is a variation of the mineral, Metacinnabar, a HgS mineral that is malleable. Bixby stated in his booklet that the mineral can not be found in the Marysvale locality. However, I discovered that the mineral is located around the area. Overall, I am glad I came across this artifact in the collection because I had the opportunity to learn about exceptional minerals in the US.

The image can be found in Google images.

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