Speculative Heyday, 1907-1912

    From the beginning, Sam Reyburn’s venture faced not only the challenge of a perplexing diamond field, but also the skepticism lingering from the fraud and other disappointments of the late 1800s.  Then, shortly after Huddleston’s discovery, a new wave of speculation and excessive enthusiasm reinforced those obstacles.

   This time there was no repetition of the fruitless Kentucky diamond rush of the mid-80’s or the “wild excitements” engulfing western Arkansas back then.  Nor did the leading state newspapers repeat the hasty and uncritical reporting of media in the past.[1]  Yet, the news of the discovery spread nationally and almost immediately drew a steady stream of outside consultants, promoters, and earnest prospectors, who in turn helped stir “local excitement” and, to a lesser degree, mining fever outside Pike County.[2]

    At the center of the promotional effort sat the editors of the Nashville News, a substantial biweekly published in that growing commercial center about thirteen miles southwest of Murfreesboro.  Nashville lay at the main railhead of the area, giving the News convenient access to those visiting the diamond field—and vice versa.[3]  The paper’s booster spirit, characteristic of media in those days, was evident in its front-page story of September 12, 1906, about Huddleston’s “diamond mine.”[4]

    While providing substantial details about unfolding events, the News also became an uncritical outlet and cheerleader for an array of imaginative sources.  “Diamonds are still being found in the Pike County diamond fields . . . and the excitement is increasing,” declared an article in early January 1907.  The headline:  “DIAMONDS PLENTIFUL.”[5]

    Unchallenged local reports of rich gold and silver discoveries compounded the excitement, to the point that some good citizens began “jumping” the properties of others, trying to seize them through legal technicalities.  Lumber companies and recent homesteaders were most vulnerable to such assaults.[6]

    By early spring of 1907, promoters and prospectors had secured virtually all land within a mile of Huddleston’s farm.  Although a few of these were local men—most notably MM Mauney’s oldest son, Walter—newcomers generated most of the publicity.[7] The two most active outsiders, Rollo W. Hess of St. Louis and Henry T. Buie of Marion County, Arkansas, held a joint option on a tract including M.M. Mauney’s six acres on the northeast slope.  Buie, a land speculator, had paid $250 for an extendable six-month contract, with a purchase price of $9,000, and then had sold a one-half interest to Hess, who essentially became the venture’s operating partner.  Involved with other properties, the two let that option expire in late 1907.[8]  Hess, a serious diamond hunter, remained active in Pike County until the summer of 1908.[9]  Buie first established Henry T. Buie Real Estate & Mines and then Buie & Copeland Real Estate and Loans, both in Murfreesboro, and bought and sold properties into the mid 1920s.[10]


    Before the autumn of 1907, even more exciting images emanated from Pike County:  diamonds over ten carats; rich new fields near the main discovery, and promising alluvial deposits in the Little Missouri River and elsewhere.  “‘There is no question that diamonds are there,’ said Gen. Pearson, ‘and the indications are that the quantity is practically unlimited.  The blue dirt is well distributed, covering a much larger area than in South Africa, and the indications are that the gems will be found in large quantities in the river.’”[11]  “General Pearson” reportedly was in the area conducting an investigation for an eastern syndicate.

    Such comparisons with the South African mines became a staple of promotional rhetoric.  “PIKE DIAMOND FIELD DECLARED BY STATE GEOLOGIST WHITLOCK RICHER THAN KIMBERLEY,” ran the News’s headline on August 28, 1907, referring to Reyburn’s tract on the southeast slope.  “Deputy Commissioner Whitlock” reportedly said if the field were mined to a depth of 1,000', it would be worth “at the lowest and most conservative calculation $100,000,000.”[12]


    Moreover, the pipe south of Murfreesboro was only the initial discovery in Pike County.  In 1907, speculation soared as prospectors began finding other peridotite deposits within three and one-half miles of Huddleston’s farm.  The American Mine, the Kimberlite Mine, the Black Lick, the Twin Knobs, and various imagined discoveries eventually became the targets of various groups that rushed into the field to secure available properties.[13]  The most prominent were the Ozark Diamond Mining Company of Murfreesboro (later reorganized as the Ozark Diamond Mines Corporation of Murfreesboro); the American Diamond Company, a minor player with a main office in Texarkana; the Kimberlite Diamond Mining and Washing Company, headed by Midwesterner Austin Q. Millar, with a base of investors in St. Louis and Chicago; and the American Diamond Mining Company, supported basically by businessmen of Arkansas and northern Louisiana.[14]

    Before all proved disappointing, those new discoveries helped spawn excitement, rumors, and reckless claims on a grand scale.  Diamonds as large as 12.75 carats reportedly were found on several properties within five miles of the original discovery, and although the information came largely from newcomers to the area, seldom did anyone make an issue of reliability.[15]

    By late 1908, speculative fever had swept through the Murfreesboro area.  “The Pike diamond fields this week witnessed a rush similar to those witnessed in the mining sections of the west, when a particularly rich strike is made,” said the Nashville News on October 31st.[16]

    While the number of new peridotites helped spur the boom, the sizes of those deposits, or the imagined sizes, inspired much of the premature celebration.  Those in the wooded hills southeast of the original discovery took on new dimensions, with the Kimberlite Mine eventually being cast as a worthy rival of Huddleston’s find, and perhaps its superior.  More sensational, in December 1908 the United Press Association distributed an article announcing that “the largest diamond mine in the world exists in Arkansas,” an “immense pipe covering 130 acres.”[17]

    The UPA release came from the new Ozark Diamond Mining Company, which had gotten control of four acres of Mauney’s property at the northeast corner of the original discovery and over 160 acres immediately east of it.  A few months earlier the organizers had inspired visions of “developments that will astonish the world.”[18]


    That was the sort of excess some observers had foreseen earlier in 1908.  In a private report, John Fuller cautioned that the four acres might be “used as a basis for floating all sorts of wildcat mining speculations which will have the tendency to give the whole area a bad name.”[19]  Henry Washington and George F. Kunz, the eminent New York geologist, issued a more comprehensive “Word of Warning,” underscoring “the danger of the repetition here of the disastrous history of many mining camps which have undergone an unwarranted ‘boom.’”  They advised “the greatest caution” be taken as other claims occurred, particularly those said to be extensions of the original discovery.[20]


    In fact, the Ozark Company’s diamond deposit consisted only of the four acres.  Later tests on the company’s adjoining 160-acre tract found only traces of material that apparently had eroded from the pipe.[21]

    But in 1908 enthusiasm reigned.  As Christmas and an exciting new year approached, the Nashville News echoed the unrestrained confidence radiating from almost all the new ventures around Murfreesboro:  “. . . the present activities indicate that soon the operations in that section will rival any similar enterprise in the world.”  The paper reprinted a long letter sent to the Arkansas Democrat by John W. Bishop, a Nashville lawyer associated with speculative groups.  “That there are diamonds in Pike County, no one with any intelligence or information will deny,” he said.  “That they are superior to the gems of South Africa is unquestionable, and that the superficial mining already done tends to prove it the richest field on the globe is admitted by those who are qualified to know . . ..” [22]


    By late 1908, however, speculative fever had reached its highest pitch.  Within a year it cooled considerably, and activities in the hills and on the northeast corner of the main field grew relatively tranquil.[23]  The American Diamond Company and other promoters who based their appeals upon visions of alluvial diamonds in the Little Missouri River and other drainage channels had already vanished from the scene—understandably.  Miser, Washington and Kunz, and other professionals who worked drainage areas below the main field reported finding tracer minerals typically associated with diamond-bearing formations, but no diamonds.  Later, without identifying the successful prospectors mentioned, Miser and Ross summarized that facet of the heyday:


      Hard rains, however, wash some of the heavier minerals away from the outcrop.  Mr. Miser found grains of chromite, garnet, and barite along a stream as far as 300 or 400 feet south of the Arkansas mine, and these minerals are said to have been found as far as half a mile south of the mine.  The presence of these minerals indicates very strongly that some diamonds have been washed by streams away from the peridotite exposures, but thus far only a few diamonds have been found among the sands and gravels . . ..[24] 


    In most respects, the speculative heyday ended by the winter of 1909, although there was a flare of “new discoveries” the following year, “all of which proved, on investigation, to be cases of mistaken identity or clumsy fakes.”[25]  Promotion and enthusiasm, alone, could no longer sustain investor interest.  The American Diamond Mining Company and the Kimberlite Company continued working the peridotite deposits in the hills for about two years, until frustration and lack of funds effectively terminated those ventures.[26]  In the end, creditors and stockholders of the American Diamond Mining Company, including some of its officers, sued it for redress and forced the auctioning of the property.[27]

    Before 1912, Austin Q. Millar and other aspiring miners understood that if diamond mining in Arkansas had a future, it rested with the big pipe near Murfreesboro.



[1] Notice the Arkansas Gazette’s crisp introductory comment on September 21, 1906, p. 1; the editor then let Stifft’s cautious statement carry the report.  A review of the Gazette and the Arkansas Democrat on dates following significant events in the diamond field found selective and sporadic coverage.  This is what a Nashville lawyer involved with aggressive new mining groups referred to in November 1908, when complaining that the Gazette, the state’s leading newspaper, neglected to cover their activities (“The Diamond Fields,” Nashville News, November 14, 1908, p. 4).  The writer said the Democrat had “from time to time” printed articles about the Pike County diamond fields which had not been “previously censored.”

    The response of the Washington Telegraph, a significant newspaper published in an old community south of Nashville, also reflected the prevailing skepticism among informed Arkansans.  On October 26, 1906, the paper simply reprinted an item appearing in the “Little Rock Gazette” [sic] in April 1876, about a reported diamond discovery back then (supra, “Background of Discovery”).

    As noted previously, very few issues of Murfreesboro’s weekly Pike County Courier are available for 1906 and following years.


[2] Kunz and Washington, “Diamonds in Arkansas,” Transactions of the American Institute of Mining Engineers (1908), 175, captured the scene when referring briefly to “the great local excitement over the discovery of diamonds, which has extended over part of the state.”


[3] The first reported interview came only a few days after the Arkansas Gazette’s initial coverage of the discovery A self-described mining engineer from St. Louis, “William Einstein,“ said his inspection indicated “the diamond prospect” would “prove a paying one,” especially under the guidance of an experienced engineer (“Experts Opinion,” Nashville News, September 26, 1906, p. 1).


[4] Supra.


[5] News, January 9, 1907, p. 1.


[6] The familiar stories of gold and silver emerged almost immediately after Huddleston’s discovery.  For examples, “Gold in Pike,” News, October 3, 1906, p. 1 (“rich gold strike” about ten miles south of Pike City, near Murfreesboro); “The Fourth Diamond,” October 6, 1906, p. 1 (along with comment on diamonds, this subheading appeared:  “There is But Little Question that Gold Also Abounds in Paying Quantities”).

    The widespread “land jumping” occurred because of ambiguities in the federal homestead and mineral acts.  Generally, aggressive prospectors insisted they could claim mineral rights on lands that others had settled under the Homestead Act.  The most prominent case involved newcomer Austin Q. Millar (infra, “Millars and the Kimberlite Company”).  For applicable federal mining law, see the Revised Statutes, Ch. VI, Sections 2318ff. (federal and state laws at that time were reprinted in Ferguson, Minerals in Arkansas [1922], 109ff.).

    There were very few reports of outright swindling.  In one instance, unidentified scoundrels were said to be going around Pike County supposedly making option deals, but actually getting land owners’ signatures on quit-claim deeds (“Grafting in Pike,” Nashville News, August 7, 1909, p. 1).


[7] Infra, “Northeast Slope–Enterprising Mauneys.”


[8] Pike, Deeds, M, 10, November 2, 1906, Option, M.M. and Bettie Mauney to Buie, November 2, 1906 (providing a nine-tenths interest in forty acres—generally known as the “Mauney Diamond Mine” property, comprising the southwest quarter of the southeast quarter of Section 21, Township 8, South Range 25 West, 5th P.M.).  Also M, 9, Option, Roxanne and J. H. Conway to Buie, November 2, 1906 ($200; six months; approximately sixty acres immediately northwest of the pipe, for a price of $10,000); M, 93, “Agreement of Option,” Buie to Hess, November 22, 1906; M, 273, “Assignment of Option,” Buie to Hess, March 13, 1907 (including a stipulation that Hess had to spend $1,000 in prospecting the property); “An Option Expired,” Nashville News, November 9, 1907, p. 1.

    “Colonel” Buie was a friend of John C. Branner, and in September had written the departed geologist to inform him of the discovery and remind him of a vague conversation in which Branner had once mentioned a formation in Arkansas that could contain diamonds.  “. . . it does not seem to me that you spoke of Pike County, and it must have been some other locality,” said Buie (cited in Branner, “Some Facts and Corrections” 372).  Hearing about the event for the first time, Branner explained the location he had referred to, near Murfreesboro (ibid.).


[9] Hess’s additional options in 1906:  M, 95, Option to Purchase, Millard M. and Bettie Mauney to Rollo W. Hess, December 29, 1906 ($125 for a six-month option, with a $7,000 purchase price; 160-acre tract west of the Little Missouri River); M, 97, Option to Purchase, Roxanne and Joel H. Conway to Rollo W. Hess, December 29, 1906 ($110 for six months, with a $3,000 price; eighty acres northwest of the pipe; the Conways stipulated the option was not effective until Hess paid $10,000 to satisfy a previous option on approximately fifty-five acres northwest of the pipe).  Several transactions followed in 1907, including option renewals and an Assignment of Option from Henry T. Buie on March 13 (M, 273).  A six-month renewal of the key Mauney option on May 1, 1907, allowed no further extension (N, 276, payment of $250 and a purchase price of $8,750).  The purchase of one property in May 1908, with warranty deed, evidently ended Hess’s venture (P, 237); in late 1908 he sold other property rights  to Austin Q. Millar’s fledgling venture (P, 467, Warranty Deed, W. N. Burgess, Rolla W. Hess, and Cordelia Burgess to Austin Q. Millar, Trustee, October 31, 1908, sixty acres in Section 15 for $1,500 cash; P. 469, Quit Claim, Hess to Millar, Trustee, November 4, 1908, same property, for $750).

    For basic coverage by the vigilant Nashville News, see “More Options Taken,” January 16, 1907, p. 1; “Fourteen Diamonds,” March 13, 1907, p. 1; “Hundred Diamonds,” May 22, 1907, p. 1 (“Mr. Hess is operating a steam drill on the land on which he has secured options”); “Four Propositions,” June 12, 1907, p. 1 (a reference to Hess’s drilling); “An Option Expired,” November 9, 1907, p. 1 (the Mauney property).


[10] After giving up the Mauney option, Henry T. Buie paused, and then in November 1909 began dealing in real estate.  His last deeds were recorded in 1925 (see the deed indexes, Indirect and Direct, for an overview).  As part of his promotional literature, Buie used a blueprint map bearing the name of his initial business and locating the properties of the ADC, the Ozark Corporation, the Kimberlite Company, and the American Diamond Mining Company on a section grid (W. C. Rodgers Collection, Box 2.IV, File 20, AHC [Guide Book 27]).  Inclusion of the new railroad and Kimberley Township, as well as Murfreesboro, dates the map as late 1909 or early 1910.  A “Note” below the map informed buyers:  “The only diamond mines in the Western Hemisphere and as rich in diamonds as the famous South African pipes.”  Compare this map with the similar item in John Fuller, “The Arkansas Diamond Fields in 1909,” Engineering and Mining Journal, Vol. 89, April 9, 1910, 767, which includes the Black Lick deposit south of the American property.

    See the advertisement of Buie & Copeland Real Estate and Loans, in Henry T. Buie, compiler, Diamonds [Murfreesboro, Arkansas: 1913], a sixteen-page promotional pamphlet (Pamphlet No. 015, Southwest Arkansas Regional Archive, Washington, Arkansas).


[11] Nashville News, Oct. 2, 1907, p. 1.  For other instances, see the News, March 27, April 3, and August 21, 1907, p. 1..


[12] “Pike Diamond Field,” News, August 28, 1907, p. 1.  The same news service report appeared as “Diamond Fields of Pike County,” Washington [Arkansas] Telegraph, August 30, 1907, p. 1.


[13] For locations, see the maps in supra, n. 56.  John Fuller’s annual updates in the Engineering and Mining Journal, April 9, 1910 to January 1, 1914, had brief summaries of activities at three new deposits, the Kimberlite, American and Black Lick.  Hugh D. Miser of the US Geological Survey provided the greatest detail about workings at those three properties, initially in “New Areas of Diamond-Bearing Peridotite in Arkansas,” USGS Bulletin 54 (1914), 535ff.  His map on page 536, however, showed four deposits besides the main formation at Prairie Creek:  while discussing the Black Lick, he briefly referred to another exposure of peridotite about 900’ east of it.  Miser’s full report, issued in several editions in 1922-1929 with Purdue and Ross co-editors, added general updates about the properties (the 1914 report and Miser & Ross, “Diamond-Bearing Peridotite in Pike County,” Contributions to Economic Geology, 304-310, cover the data thoroughly).

    The fourth formation, the Twin Knobs, was suspected early:  during general exploration in the area, fragments of peridotite were found in wash at that location (for early comment on exploration of the Twin Knobs, see Austin Q. Millars correspondence in September 1909, I.C, Crater archive).

    Although there were comments about sizeable diamonds found at the American Mine, those were never documented.  Anything recovered could have come from surface material scraped off before the core drilling and excavation of pits.  In any case, operations effectively ended after a few years.  Later, from the late 1970s to about 2000, systematic testing at all deposits found a few small diamonds at some and none at others.  The average yields ran far below the average of the original discovery—itself a very low-yield pipe (infra, “Promotional Maneuvering and a Final Test”).


[14] The American Diamond Company appeared in late 1907, and focused on alluvium in the Little Missouri River, near Prairie Creek (Pike County, Record of Articles of Incorporation [Misc. Record], 1, 145, “Articles of Agreement and Incorporation,” October 26, 1907 [filed December 26]; “American Diamond Company,” four-page company circular, in “Printed Materials,” IV, Crater archive.  The officers were Louis Heilbron, President; Charles M. Conway, Vice President; F. W. Offenhauser, Secretary-Treasurer; “Judge” John A. Hurley, general agent; and Charles B. Kelley, director.  Business was conducted in Conway’s office in Texarkana.  The initial $600,000 of capital stock was all reportedly subscribed by those five incorporators, at $25 per share—indicating, as did the promotional pamphlet, that the group intended to increase authorized stock if they successfully attracted investors.

    The American Diamond Mining Company was chartered initially in Louisiana in January 1909.  Basic details were covered in “Another Company Organized,” Nashville News, January 30, 1909, p. 4, and Reece Lamb, “Something about the Diamond Mine of the American Diamond Mining Company, and the circumstances leading up to the formation of said Company,” four-page leaflet (c. 1909), W. C. Rodgers Collection, Box 2.IV, File 28, AHC).  Capitalized at $1,000,000, the venture announced an impressive board of directors, including William Grayson and N. W. McLeod (Grayson-McLeod Lumber Company of St. Louis, whose holdings in Pike County included land in Section 14, where the American Mine was soon located), T. E. Flournoy of Monroe, La. (president of the Ouachita National Bank), John Potts and Henry Bernstein (attorneys for the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railroad, at Monroe, La.).  Reece Lamb of Texarkana (formerly of Murfreesboro), and J. G. Bickly of Texarkana also sat on the board.  John J. Kress was president; Reece Lamb, first vice president; Frederick J. Hudson of Monroe, La. (a partner with Potts and Berstein in a law firm), second VP; John J. Potts, secretary-treasurer.

    Lamb and Bickly initially located the peridotite deposit, in Section 14 (Lamb, “Something About the Diamond Mine”).  Lamb, Bickly, Kress, Hudson, Isaac H. Seller, and Henry Bernstein were incorporators.  The company remained virtually inactive until it filed its articles in Arkansas in May, 1909, and started selling stock—just as the heyday ebbed (“Diamond Company of Pike County Has Been Incorporated,” Nashville News, May 12, 1909, p. 1; further detail, infra, n. 96).

    The Ozark and Kimberlite groups receive attention infra, and “Southeast Slope.”


[15] The Nashville News covered events almost continuously through 1908.  The “huge” 12.75 diamond reportedly was found southwest of the river, apparently by someone associated with the Texarkana group who formed the American Diamond Company two months later (“A Huge Diamond,” August 21, 1907, p. 1, reporting that John B. King of Texarkana, representing a group of investors, had the diamond “in his possession” and that it had “every indication of being a genuine diamond”).  For a substantial, colorful, and disparaging description of diamond frenzy following that reported discovery, see the Special from Little Rock, “Arkansas Diamond Mad,” New York Times, September 3, 1907, p. 6 (an illustrative paragraph:  “The fact that the Texarkana man [D. B. Conway] was offered $2,500 for the stone he found last week by the cashier of the Bank of Murfreesboro, has spread across the hill regions as rapidly as the news of a shooting affray in which some mountaineer has ‘got even’ with a neighbor who shot his dog years ago”).  The article projected the “Arkie” image prevailing in those days.


[16] “Diamond Lands Being Jumped,” Nashville News, October 31, 1908, p. 1.


[17] “The Pike Diamonds,” Ibid., December 23, 1808, p. 4.


[18] Ibid., September 2, 1908, p. 1; infra., “Ozark Diamond Mining Company & Ozark Mine.” Despite the excessive enthusiasm, and its influence on speculation generally, those leading the Ozark venture by late 1908 were serious about diamond exploration and mining, and should not be compared to the “stock jobbers” or unscrupulous promoters of the era.  R. D. Duncan, “the prime mover of the enterprise,” was essentially correct in emphasizing in July 1908 that the company’s capital stock of $100,000 was “not full of water” and that its property was “secured for actual operations, and not as speculation” (“Pike Mining Company,” Nashville News, July 4, 1908, p. 1).  The prominent Bemis brothers of Prescott, Arkansas, however, assured promotional restraint when they joined the venture in October 1908 (infra, “Northeast Slope–Ozark”).  Without the Bemis brothers, the original organizers of the Ozark Company might have promoted their venture more aggressively—however serious their intentions.


[19] Fuller, Report to Loree, June 25, 1908, in “Reports and Information,” 20. 


[20] Kunz and Washington, “Diamonds in Arkansas,” Transactions of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, 39 (1909), 175.  The paper was presented at AIME’s meeting in New York in February 1908.  Concerning claims of diamond-bearing veins, the distinguished geologists suggested “the report of a geologist or petrographer can surely prevent an unsuspecting or ignorant person from loss by investment in a property said to be a continuation of, or a connection with, the present deposit” (176). 


[21] Infra, “Northeast Slope–Ozark Mine.”


[22] “The Diamond Fields,” News, November 14, 1908, p. 4.  Bishop emerged as a leading promoter in 1907.  Among various projects, he helped organize the Spring City Mining Company of Nashville, which dealt in speculative activities near Joplin, Missouri (“Property Leased,” News, July 20, 1907, p. 1).  After Austin Millar came to Pike County in 1908, Bishop became agent-attorney for Millar’s venture, a role he held into the 1920s. 


[23] This shift, noticeable by January 1909, is evident in deed records and the full range of published sources.  As before, the Nashville News proved diligent in gathering significant information, especially when prominent Arkansans were involved.


[24] Miser and Ross, “Diamond-Bearing Peridotite in Pike County,” Contributions to Economic Geology, 318.  All sources point to the same conclusion:  there is no clear evidence of diamonds found in sand and gravel deposits outside the identified diamond field on the east side of the main pipe.  Kunz and Washington stated that by late 1907 all diamonds had been found “within the igneous area [the pipe], while none have certainly been found outside of it, even in the immediate vicinity” (“Diamonds in Arkansas,” Transactions, 173).

    Compare the above with the later comment in “Diamond Mines are Busy in Arkansas,” New York Times, June 14, 1931, Sec. 8, 7.  The writer, who showed a poor command of detail elsewhere in the article, says the richest “surface” finds were being made “along the meandering bed of the ineptly named Poor House Branch [a creek below the north side of the pipe], which carries water only during the wet Winter months.  A mine laborer named Lee Wagner, ‘the champion diamond-finder of America,’ says he has picked up thirty-seven good stones along the course of this stream.”  The USGS map of 1916 indicates “mine workings” along the Branch; however, there is no evidence diamonds were recovered (Bulletin 808, Plate 10).  Moreover, Poor House Branch lay immediately below the unproductive north and northwest side of the pipe.  The main drainage channel from the Mauney Mine and Ozark Mine, on the small northeast slope, fed into the Branch; but that section was heavily worked by those ventures, with no diamonds reported (Mine workings, USGS map, which incorporated other mining maps of that area).

    The author’s work in the Crater of Diamonds, 1985-1993, found a consistent pattern in old buried drainage channels running through the diamond field and continuing off the southeast rim of the pipe.  The regular “diggers” and I found that diamonds progressively grew smaller as the drains neared the edge of the pipe; then they quickly tapered off to minute size, down to barely visible, and disappeared within some fifty yards.  Various natural traps in the drainage channels on the pipe, particularly abundant gravel and rocks up to boulder size, primarily accounted for the diminution.  In the distant past, a dissolving rock-clay cap and heavy vegetation, along with the quartzite and sandstone mixed within the volcanic breccia, evidently tended to hold diamonds back as the pipe eroded.  At some point, the development of a moderate slope aided retention.  Unusually heavy rains likely flushed escaping crystals, overwhelmingly small, down to the nearby river periodically, where they dispersed.  Larger diamonds tended to remain on the pipe in the surface accumulation and in rocky drainage cuts.


[25] John Fuller’s description in “Arkansas Diamond Field in 1910,” EMJ, 6.  After 1910, stock promoters occasionally attempted to revive enthusiasm; but there were no significant episodes until the 1920s (infra, “Northeast Slope–Mauneys–1920s”).

    By the end of 1909, the Nashville News began carrying fewer articles, and relegating more of those to inside pages; after the summer of 1910 it seldom carried items about Arkansas diamonds.  Deeds and other sources reflected the same pattern of declining activity.


[26] Fuller’s annual summaries in the Engineering and Mining Journal, 1910-1914, sketched the demise.  The report for 1911 said the year “saw but little development and practically no work on the mines, as all the companies in the field were hampered by lack of capital” (“The Arkansas Diamond Field,” January 6, 1912, p. 6).  For 1912:  “No work of any importance was performed on the land of the Kimberlite company, nor on that of the American Diamond Mining Co., which lies a few miles to the north of the large pipe” (“Diamond Mining in Arkansas,” January 11, 1913, p. 75).  The final report had one relevant sentence:  “The American Diamond Mine Co. [sic] did no active work on their property, but reports the finding of one fine stone” (“The Arkansas Diamond Field in 1913,” January 10, 1914, p. 52).  Miser and Ross, provided more detail. 

    Fuller’s reports for 1912-1913 also reflected the shift of virtually all activity from the hills to the six acres on the northeast corner of the main pipe, as did deeds and other sources.

    The Nashville News ended comprehensive coverage by early 1910, and continued with occasional reports, almost all concerning the main pipe.  A brief item in August 1911 reported one find on “property” of the American Diamond Mining Company:  “5-Carat Diamond–Was Found by Reese Lamb This Week,” News, August 19, 1911, p. 1 (“The stone is said to be of excellent quality, and so shaped that it will cut to advantage”).


[27] Pike County, Chancery Court, T. E. Flournoy, J. J. Potts, H. Bernstein and F. G. Hudson, Jr., Executor of the Estate of F. G. Hudson, Deceased v. American Diamond Mining Co., 1914-1915, case no. 704, drawer 87 (upstairs storage room, Court House).  Filed July 23, 1914.  

    On December 16, 1908, Reece Lamb, as trustee, had bought forty acres in Section 14 from Grayson-McLeod, for $5,000 “paid.”  A month later he sold the tract to the new American Diamond Mining Company for $30,000 and “other good and valuable considerations.”  Accepting seven promissory notes from the company, at 8% interest, he then reassigned those to Flournoy, Potts, Bernstein, and Hudson, Sr., whom he had recruited for the venture (Pike, P, 594, Warranty Deed, Grayson-McLeod Lumber Co. [W. Grayson, President, and W. E. Grayson, Secretary] to Reece Lamb, Trustee, December 14, 1908; Q, 59, Warranty Deed with Lien and Relinquishment of Power, R. L. and Annie Lamb to American Diamond Mining Company, January 27, 1909; “Initial Petition,” case no. 704; Lamb, “Something about the Diamond Mine”).

    Finally, in July 1914, after considerable work at the American Mine, the four holding the notes sued to force a sale of the property and payment of the balance.  A number of stockholders joined the suit.  Petitioners sought $31,519.69 plus 8% interest until final payment; the court awarded $32,650.58 (typed slip “No. 704,” ibid) and ordered the sale.  At the commissioner’s sale in February 1915, T. E. Flournoy acted as trustee for all plaintiffs and successfully bid $5,000, which the plaintiffs received along with the property (“Commissioner’s Report of Sale,” and “Order of Approval, Commissioner’s Sale (Order No. 2),” ibid.).     


© 2006 All rights reserved. Brief citations may be used in writings or other presentations if this source is properly identified. No part of this study may be photocopied or otherwise reproduced without written permission of the author. Address inquiries to: dbanks@windstream.net