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Charles W.A. Herrmann

[Obituary from the New York Times, June 23, 1898]

Prof. Charles Wilhelm August Herrmann, one of the oldest mineralogists in America, and known among fellow-scientists throughout the country, died at 9 o'clock Monday morning at his home, at 240 East Fifty-second, Street, in his ninety-seventh year. He suffered from no disease, save a touch of rheumatism, and his death was due to the infirmities of age, from which he had been failing for the last two years.

Prof. Herrmann claimed the distinction of being the pioneer mineralogist in this country, and stones [mineral specimens] which he brought with him to America are now found in many well-known collections. He was born July 3, 1801, on the estates of Baron Richthofen, at Altwasser, Silesia, Germany. His father, C. W. A. Herrmann, was supervisor of the estates and had the Baron's twenty-six farms in his charge. Young Herrmann was educated at the University of Breslau, and turned his attention to the study of stones [minerals] with such good effect that, after his graduation, he became Professor of Mineralogy at the university. He left his chair some years later to study at Mecklenberg, and then returned to Breslau, where he opened a shop for the purpose of trading in shells and minerals. He married, when he was about thirty-five years old, Miss Johanna Schmoeker, the daughter of a Wittenberg hotel keeper.

Prof. Herrmann came to this country in 1853, and brought with him the collection of minerals which he always believed to be the first imported into America. He resumed his business of trading, in this city, opening a place at [607] Broadway and Houston Streets. This was the only pursuit in which he ever engaged after that time. He made three trips to Germany to collect new stones [mineral specimens], and sold most of them to American universities and private collectors. A tremendous fossil, the petrified skeleton of a prehistoric saurian, which is now the property of the College of the City of New York, was one that he imported from Bavaria. Some of the choicest stones [specimens] in the mineral collection of the late millionaire, Robert L. Stuart, now at the Lenox Library, were secured from Prof. Herrmann.

In 1857, at the exhibit of the American Institute in the Crystal Palace [in New York City], on the present site of Bryant Park, Prof. Herrmann received the competitive medal for the best display of mineral specimens and cabinets of minerals for schools. George J. King, the mineral expert, and Prof. C. F. Chandler, of Columbia University, were among his old friends.

Prof. Herrmann was not only well versed In the history of stones [minerals], but a man of wide reading and a linguist, speaking German, French, English and Polish. He was a man of striking and venerable appearance. He was assisted in his work by his daughter, Mrs. F. W. Schaake, of Lawrence, Mass., where he formerly lived. His wife died twenty-five or thirty years ago. Two other daughters, Mrs. Mary Bouché and Mrs. Enol Nolden, who made their home with Prof. Herrmann, survive him. The funeral will be at the house at one o'clock this afternoon, the Rev. Edward F. Moldehnke, pastor of St. Peter's Lutheran Church, officiating. The burial will be in the Lutheran Cemetery of Brooklyn.

See also:
CONKLIN, L.H. (1994) Charles W.A. Herrmann (1801-1898), mineralogist and mineral dealer. Mineralogical Record, 25, 225-226.
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