The Big One

    In 1924, about halfway up the slope, the surface gumbo yielded a special prize—a white gem of high quality weighing 40.23 carats, the largest ever found in the Pike County field.  Some old-timers around Murfreesboro say it was named the “Uncle Sam Diamond” after an elderly field worker who saw it first.  Alton R. Terrell, who used to accompany Lee Wagner to the mine as a young boy, remembers being told that it was found lodged in the sorting equipment in the small plant.  In any case, the Uncle Sam turned up in the summer of 1924 and made history.[1]


    If not for the Uncle Sam, the Arkansas Diamond Company probably would have shut down with the onset of winter in 1924.  The surface material was being depleted rapidly; and as Reyburn informed stockholders in March, the cost of sluicing operations, “without counting overhead and depreciation,” was being “little more than met by the diamonds recovered.”  Cash on hand was actually declining, while the loss was being offset by the value of diamonds on hand.  Reyburn pointed out that “the Company” had $75,100 worth of outstanding bonds maturing in June 1926, plus 6% interest accumulating since 1916.  The Company’s indebtedness to “the parent Corporation” ran over $276,470.[2]

    The Uncle Sam lifted spirits enough to keep the little surface operation plodding along into the late spring of 1925.  Then came the decisive blow.



[1] Notes in author’s possession.  The Uncle Sam has gotten attention in everything written about Arkansas diamonds.  Today, a sign identifies the area on the southeast slope where it turned up, a spot consistent with John Fuller’s map of surface operations (composite mining map of 1931 showing “Boundaries of Areas from which Top Soil Has Been Sluiced,” with dates).


[2] Reyburn to Stockhholders of the Arkansas Diamond Corporation, March 20, 1924, in “Misc.” box, Crater archive.


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