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E.R. Chadbourn

Erlon Rienzi Chadbourn was born in Auburn, Maine on March 25, 1855, the son of Lurana Small Moody and Sylvanus Chadbourn, a house carpenter. He received a common school education, followed by attending lectures at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and dreamed of a career in chemistry or assaying, but was unable to afford the schooling. In 1873 he signed on as a printer's apprentice in Lewiston, Maine, where he lived with his father. After four or five years he found employment with other printing companies. He was among the earliest users of a new invention called the typewriter (using one of the original machines made for Sholes & Glidden by the Remington Arms Company), and tried to interest Boston lawyers in the device, but found they regarded machine writing as a huge joke. In 1880 he opened his own print shop in Lewiston.

Beginning in 1873, Chadbourn wrote for the young people's departments in the Portland Argus, the Hartford Times, the New York Christian Advocate, the Chicago Weekly Inter Ocean, and numerous other leading American publications; beginning in 1879 he produced a weekly letter, “Scientific Miscellany,” which appeared in publications in America, Canada, Europe and even Hong Kong. In 1882 he gave up the printing business and thereafter gave his occupation in city directories as “corresponding editor” instead of “printer.”

Chadbourn married Lillia Gertrude Walker in 1887, and together they had one son, Ralph Warren Chadbourn, an electrical engineer born in Maine in 1892. In 1904 they relocated to Melrose, Massachusetts, so specimen labels listing his address as Lewiston date from before that time. Lillia died in the 1920s; Erlon was living with his son and listing himself in the 1930 census as a “shrubbery salesman.” He died February 2, 1942.

Chadbourn was well-known as a mineral collector. Eliot (1909) wrote: “Having lived mostly in a section famed for its rare minerals, he became early interested in collecting specimens to illustrate mineralogy, and this developed into a pet hobby during his residence in Maine. By personal collecting, exchanging and other methods, he acquired one of the choicest private collections in New England. For seven or eight seasons, several cases selected from this [collection] were exhibited in the Maine State Building in Poland Spring, where the beautiful specimens from every part of the world were much admired. His favorite form of recreation is walking, which he has specially enjoyed in connection with his mineral collecting.”

U.S. Federal Census, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920.
ANONYMOUS (1915) Men of 1914, Chicago.
ELIOT, S. A. (1909) Biographical History of Massachusetts, vol. 2, published by the Massachusetts Biographical Society, Boston.
LEONARD, J. W. [Ed.] (1906) Who's Who in America, 1906-1907 vol. 4, p. xxxi (Addenda).
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - E.R. Chadbourn E.R. Chadbourn (1909)
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