The Eagle Diamond: The Mysterious Origins and Fate of the Most Famous Dihexagon in the World

by DerdriuMarriner

Diamonds are best friends with expert burglars and fences. They can be ground up and sold in untraceable paper trails. Is that what happened to the unrecovered Eagle Diamond?

*****

The affirmation “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever” appears on lists of English literature’s best opening statements and the world’s most quoted lines. It comes from the poem "Endymion" published in 1818 by Moorgate-born English poet John Keats (October 31, 1796 – February 23, 1821).
• The observation definitely describes the emotional highs of diamond admirers, bearers, collectors, jewelers, owners, and traders.
• It persuasively explains the brilliant jewel’s symbolic fidelity of association and purity of emotion for husband- and wife-wannabes.
• It sadly inspires burglars daringly to burgle diamonds which fencers lucratively fence and purchasers prudently hide for share-wearing with exclusive circles of trusted family and friends.
• It tragically motivates the unsolved theft of Wisconsin’s Eagle Diamond.

*****

Thomas Marvin Sugden (June 12, 1810 - August 27, 1887): native of Millington, East Riding, Yorkshire, North East England; early settler in Waukesha County; farmer in Eagle township, 1843 - fall 1849

The History of Waukesha County (1880), opp. p. 162
The History of Waukesha County (1880), opp. p. 162

 

The beautiful, powerful freedom of a large, soaring bald-headed eagle always amazes wildlife-lovers. It inspires the names in Waukesha County, Wisconsin of the town of Eagle, the unincorporated community of Eagleville, and the village of Eagle Centre in 1836 by the area’s first known visitors of European ancestry:

  • John Coats (1812 - );
  • William Carlin Garton (1810 - c. January 1879);
  • Thomas Sugden (June 12, 1810 - August 27, 1887).

It perhaps is the reason for the same-year realization of the town’s first claim (by Ahira R. Hinkley) and first house (by Mr. and Mrs. Ebenezer Thomas). The village contrastingly owes separate politico-economic status to:

  • The Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad’s southward expansions in 1851;
  • The profitability of butcher, clothing, dry goods, grain elevator, grocery, hardware, harness, hat-making, and tailoring businesses by 1880.

 

Christian Turck House, originally sited in Germantown, in southeastern Wisconsin's Washington County, was built c. 1835:

Added to National Register of Historic Places on October 25, 1973, Christian Turck House was relocated to Old World Wisconsin, an open air museum opened by Wisconsin Historical Society in 1976,
Waukesha County, southeastern Wisconsin
Waukesha County, southeastern Wisconsin

 

Area history and community identity therefore center upon achievements in agriculture, construction, and enterprise. They explain:

  • The persistence of a handful of family-operated farms;
  • The preservation of the A.R. and Mary Cutler Daniels Hinkley, Friedrich Koepsell, T.W. Putnam, and Christian Turck houses and of Ward #3 District School;
  • The relocation of arrowhead artifacts from Clarence and Lillian Armstrong’s farm to Department of Natural Resources offices;
  • The reversion of the Bovee, Sprague, and Steinke farm to prairie.   

They likewise inspire present socio-economic dominance within the local economy of:

  • Kettle Moraine State Forest’s Southern Unit;
  • Old World Wisconsin’s open-air museum of nineteenth-century businesses (blacksmithing, general store, shoe-making, wagon-making), churches, farmsteads, and government (school, town hall);
  • Paradise Springs Nature Area.

 

Friedrich Koepsell home, built circa 1858 in town of Jackson, in Washington County, in Prussian Fachwerk (half-timbered) style:

The Koepsell home was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 25, 1973.
Old World Wisconsin, Waukesha County, southeastern Wisconsin
Old World Wisconsin, Waukesha County, southeastern Wisconsin

 

The bio-geographical configurations of the town, the unincorporated community, and the village therefore communicate no hint of bygone associations with the business of mining, purchasing, selling or stealing diamonds. And yet a diamond indeed generates one of Waukesha County’s and Wisconsin’s most famous and mysterious back-stories. It is responsible for the serious consideration of a permanent name change in nineteenth-century Eagle. Such a deliberation generally is not deemed radical nowadays in view of rapid, widespread re-configurations effected by the twenty-first century’s scientific advances and technological breakthroughs. But such pondering may be interpreted as a big deal in the 1870s and 1880s. Historians and locals realize that a bullet was dodged when Eagle was not renamed Diamond City.

 

The "Smile" water tower in Eagle, Wisconsin.

Eagle, Waukesha County, southeastern Wisconsin
Eagle, Waukesha County, southeastern Wisconsin

 

The back-story’s action begins with summer well-digging in 1876. The casting commences with Charles and Clarissa Wood, Thomas Devereaux’s farm tenants. The location embraces today’s Diamond Hill, where Eagle’s smiling face-decorated, yellow water tower stands. The plot involves:

  • Charles finding a brilliant, sunny-colored, twelve-sided gem 39.37 – 55.78 feet (12 – 17+ meters) down;
  • Clarissa getting the jewel appraised;
  • Milwaukee jeweler Colonel Samuel B. Boynton giving $1.00 for the stone, having colleagues in Chicago, Illinois analyze the suspected topaz, and refusing Clarissa’s $1.50 re-purchase offer.

It thickens with Charles and Clarissa losing Milwaukee County Circuit Court and Wisconsin State Supreme Court-filed suits for repossession of the glacial drift stone, initially called the Waukesha Diamond and subsequently the Eagle Diamond.

 

Five views of Eagle Diamond (enlarged about 3 diameters)

1899 illustration by George Frederick Kunz (Sept 29, 1856–June 29, 1932) of Tiffany and Company
1899 illustration by George Frederick Kunz (Sept 29, 1856–June 29, 1932) of Tiffany and Company

 

The Eagle Diamond’s back-story does not end quietly. It foretells dark events to come. It involves Samuel:

  • Attempting to sell the $700.00-valued beauty for $1,000.00 to the State of Wisconsin;
  • Convincing Tiffany & Co. of New York City, New York to buy the 16.25-carat giant for $850.00;
  • Privacy-fencing Diamond Hill leases for chicken-farming;
  • Prospecting through Eagle Diamond Mining Company;
  • Reporting precious and semi-precious stone discoveries by 1883.

But Eagle is not called Diamond City, Diamond Town or Diamondville because of New York City-born mineralogist  and Tiffany Vice President George Frederick Kunz’s (September 29, 1856 – June 29, 1932) identification of African origins to Samuel’s discoveries, so different from Eagle’s yellow giant in:

  • Color;
  • Number of crystal faces;
  • Size.

 

G.H. Sherwood et al., General Guide to the Exhibition Halls of the American Museum of Natural History (1945), p. 19
G.H. Sherwood et al., General Guide to the Exhibition Halls of the American Museum of Natural History (1945), p. 19

 

Two subsequent decisions become fateful. One deals with George:

  • Accepting Hartford-born financier John Pierpont Morgan’s (April 17, 1837 – March 31, 1913) $15,000 for 1889 Paris World Fair-exhibited, 1,000+-piece North American collections;
  • Acquiring for J.P. 2,176 world-best specimens in 1900.

The other embraces J.P.’s giving New York City’s American Museum of Natural History:

  • The Tiffany – Morgan collections;
  • The 12,300-specimen collection purchased in 1901 from Philadelphia-born industrialist Clarence Sweet Bement (April 11, 1843 – January 27, 1923).

The museum’s non-functioning building- and display-alarm systems and open upper-floor window explain the above-mentioned holdings’ removal on October 29, 1964 by:

  • Roger Clark;
  • Alan D. Kuhn;
  • Jack Roland Murphy.

The back-story’s plot leads to:

  • Recovery of everything but Eagle’s Diamond;
  • Three-year prison sentences.

 

AMNH's gem and mineral collection, housed in Guggenheim Hall of Minerals and Morgan Memoral Hall of Gems, is now located on the first floor and is accessed via the Ross Hall of Meteorites ~

Willamette Meteorite, acquired by AMNH in 1906, weighs about 32,000 pounds (15,000 kg) and is composed primarily of iron and nickel.
Ross Hall of Meteorites, American Museum of Natural History, New York
Ross Hall of Meteorites, American Museum of Natural History, New York

Conclusion

 

The removal of the J.P. Morgan donations constitutes one of the most daring and lucrative of after-hours bank, jeweler’s, and museum visits. It is dramatic in the costliness of the removed specimens. It is historical in the recovery of:

  • The 100.32-carat Edith Haggin DeLong Star Ruby from Burma;
  • The 116.75-carat Midnight Star sapphire from Sri Lanka;
  • The 563.35-carat Star of India sapphire from Sri Lanka.

It is impressive in the 48-hour round-up of three suspects. It is perplexing in the tracelessness of the Eagle Diamond. It leaves clueless gemologists and geologists intrigued by Canada’s, Michigan’s, and Wisconsin’s glacial drift diamond deposits. It means that Eagle’s Diamond is a joy forever to the few rather than the many.

 

PT 1 THE REAL MURPH THE SURF jewel thief

Published on YouTube on June 29, 2013 by SURFSTYLEY4 ~ URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mm91RtN-cDg

PT 2 THE REAL MURPH THE SURF Jewel Thief

Published on YouTube on June 30, 2013 by SURFSTYLEY4 ~ URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmXZan6BYHo

Jack Murphy (Murph the Surf)

Published on YouTube on October 26, 2012 by Video Production Florida ~ URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7fxvwBg0K4

Acknowledgment

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

Murph The Surf (1975)

Published on YouTube on October 2, 2013 by Jack Fistos ~ URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkKFuwuLmLQ

Sources Consulted

 

Cannon, W.F.; and Mudrey, Jr., M.G. 1981. "The Potential for Diamond-Bearing Kimberlite in Northern Michigan and Wisconsin."  Geological Survey Circular 842:1-16. Washington, D.C.: Prepared in Cooperation with the Geological Survey Division, Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Carol. 30 June 2009. "Famous Rubies: The DeLong Star Ruby." Collecting Vintage and contemporary Jewelry. Retrieved October 29, 2014.

  • Available at: http://collectingvintagejewelry.blogspot.com/2009/06/famous-rubies-delong-star-ruby.html

"Explore Old World Wisconsin." The Wisconsin Historical Society. Madison, WI. Retrieved October 29, 2014.

  • Available at: http://oldworldwisconsin.wisconsinhistory.org/Explore/ExploreOverview.aspx

Flasputnik. 4 March 2013. “Murph the Surf and The Eagle Diamond.” Wisconsinology. Retrieved October 29, 2014.

  • Available at: http://wisconsinology.blogspot.com/2013/03/murph-surf-and-eagle-diamond.html

“History of Eagle.” Eagle Historical Society: About Us. Retrieved October 29, 2014.

  • Available at: http://eaglehistoricalsociety.org/?page_id=277

The History of Waukesha County, Wisconsin: Containing an account of its settlement, growth, development and resources; an extensive and minute sketch of its cities, towns and villages--their improvements, industries, manufactories, churches, schools and societies; its war record, biographical sketches, portraits of prominent men and early settlers; the whole preceded by a history of Wisconsin, statistics of the state, and an abstract of its laws and Constitution and of the Constitution of the United States. Chicago IL: Western Publishing Company, MDCCCLXXX (1880).

  • Available via Internet Archive at: https://archive.org/details/cu31924028871627

Hobbs, William Herbert. 1900. "Emigrant Diamonds in America." Appleton's Popular Science Monthly, Vol. LVI (November, 1899, to April, 1900): 73-83. New York: D. Appleton and Company.

  • Available via Internet Archive at: http://archive.org/details/popularsciencemo561900newy

"Kettle Moraine State Forest -- Southern Unit." Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources: Topic > Parks > Wisconsin State Park System. Madison, WI. Retrieved October 29, 2014.

  • Available at: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/kms/

Koenen, K.H. 1956. Geophysical Studies in South Central Wisconsin. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin, unpub. MS thesis.

Kunz, G.F. 1892. Gems and Precious Stones of North America. New York, NY: The Scientific Publishing Co. (Reprinted by Dover Publications, New York, 1968).

Larif, Dr. Shihaan. 4 April 2008. "Midnight Star Sapphire." Internet Stones.com. Retrieved October 29, 2014.

  • Available at: http://jewelry-blog.internetstones.com/famous-gemstones/midnight-star-sapphire

Lattuca, Sam. 3 July 2013. "1964, Jewel Heist of the Century." Marion Illinois History Preservation: New Posts > All Marion Content . People > J to L. Retrieved October 29, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.mihp.org/2013/07/1964-jewel-heist-of-the-century/

"The Midnight Star Ruby." Star Ruby.in. Retrieved October 29, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.starruby.in/midnight-star-ruby.html

Miner, Roy Waldo. 1939. Exhibition Halls of the American Museum of Natural History. New York: American Museum of Natural History.

  • Available via Internet Archive at: https://archive.org/details/generalguide39amer

Murphy, Jack Roland. 1989. Jewels for the Journey: Murf the Surf. Costa Mesa, CA: International Prison Ministry.

Olson, E.E. 1953. "History of Diamonds in Wisconsin." Gems and Gemology 7(9):284-285.

Paradise Springs Self-Guiding Nature Trail. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Bureau of Parks and Recreation, Kettle Moraine State Forest Southern Unit.

Peters, J.J.; and Pearson, C.L. 1990. "Clarence S. Bement, the Consummate Collector." Mineralogical Record 21:47-62.

Schaetzl, Randall. Diamonds? Michigan State University.

Sherwood, George Herbert; Frederic A. Lucas, and Roy Waldo Miner. 1945. General Guide to the Exhibition Halls of the American Museum of Natural History. Science Guide No. 118. Third edition. New York: American Museum of Natural History.

  • Available via Internet Archive at: https://archive.org/details/generalguide45amer

Silvers, Amy. 9 November 1978. "When Eagle Pinned Hope on Diamonds." The
Milwaukee Journal. Milwaukee, WI.

Sinkankas, John. 1959. Gemstones of North America. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand.

Sommers, Fleury. 2014. "Contributions of Gemstone Connoisseur J.P. Morgan." Professional Pearl & Bead Stringing. Retrieved October 29, 2014.

  • Available at: http://fsommers.com/contributions-of-gemstone-connoisseur-j-p-morgan/

"Star of India." The American Museum of Natural History: Exhibitions > Permanent Exhibitions > Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems. Retrieved October 29, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/permanent-exhibitions/earth-and-planetary-sciences-halls/morgan-memorial-hall-of-gems/star-of-india

Susskind, Jonathan. 23 October 1986. "Board Grants Parole to 'Murph the Surf'." Sun Sentinel: Collections > Parole. Retrieved October 29, 2014.

  • Available at: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1986-10-23/news/8603040525_1_miami-beach-socialite-india-sapphire-parole

Tracy, Dan. 11 November 1986. "'Murph the Surf' Starts His Parole: Jewel Thief to Counsel Convicts at Halfway House as Lay Minister." Orlando Sentinel: Collections > Parole Commission. Orlando, FL. Retrieved October 29, 2014.

  • Available at: http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/1986-11-11/news/0270200216_1_parole-commission-murph-the-surf-murphy

Vierthaler, A.A. 1958. "Wisconsin Diamonds." Wisconsin Academy Review 5(2):53-55.

Wilson, Wendell E. 2014. "Clement S. Bement." The Mineralogical Record, Inc.: Biographical Archive. Retrieved October 29, 2014. 

  • Available at: http://www.minrec.org/labels.asp?colid=139

Wood v. Boynton. Supreme Court of Wisconsin, Decided October 13, 1885. 64 Wis. 265; 25 N.W. 42.

  • Available at: law.wisc.edu/orientation/macaulay_orientation_wood_v_boynton.pdf 

 

Star of India: removed during after-hours visit on October 29, 1964, but recovered on Thursday, July 8, 1965, in Miami Bus Depot locker 0911; back on display at American Museum of Natural History ~

563.35 carat (112.67 g) star sapphire, with stars on both sides of the stone; mined in Sri Lanka ~ largest blue star sapphire in the world"
American Museum of Natural History, New York City
American Museum of Natural History, New York City
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Jewels for the Journey: Murf the Surf by Jack Roland Murphy

Jack Murphy's personal account of living in the underworld fastlane, 21 years in maximum security prisons, and how he survived in a society of takers, users and walking deadmen.
Murf the Surf biography

Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 10/29/2014, DerdriuMarriner
 
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