LaFayette II Funk
Marquis de la Fayette (LaFayette) Funk I was born in Funk's Grove township on January 20, 1834, the son of Isaac and Cassandra (Sharpe) Funk, natives of Kentucky and Maryland, respectively. He was born in a log house on his father's estate and was reared in the midst of all of the surroundings of a huge cattle ranch (25,000 acres), herding cattle many days in his boyhood and receiving his rudimentary education in an old log school house in the neighborhood of his home. He entered the Ohio Wesleyan University, at Deleware, Ohio, and was graduated from the scientific department of that institution in 1858. After completing college he returned to Illinois and assisted in the active management of his father's estate. He married Elizabeth Paullin (daughter of Newcomb B. Paullin and Mary Ann Harpole) on Jan 12, 1864, and together they had four sons including Eugene Duncan Funk.
Lafayette Funk II was born October 17, 1897, the son of Mary Anderson and Eugene Duncan Funk. He married Cleda Marie Otto in 1919. Lafayette devoted himself primarily to the family agricultural business (they hybridized a type of corn, known as Funk's G Hybrid), but as a hobby he collected mineral specimens, some of them quite large. He donated some of his enormous mineral collection to Illinois State University at Normal. Later portions were donated to Wesleyan University in Bloomington and the University of Illinois at Champaign. He was inducted into the Rockhound Hall of Fame, in the Minerals category.
LaFayette and his wife Cleda were always happy to invite visitors into their home to view his mineral collection, but eventually it outgrew the space available, even after portions were donated away. Consequently LaFayette and his brothers Gene, Ted and Paul decided to erect a special building on the family farm to Funk to be dedicated as the Funk Gem and Mineral Museum, housing his collection of over 4,000 rock and mineral specimens collected by Lafayette Funk II on his travels around the world.
The Lafayette Funk Gem and Mineral Museum opened in 1971 thanks to a trust fund set up by Paul A. Funk. The trust fund also maintains the Funk Prairie Home, built by Lafayette Funk in 1864. Tours are available by appointment.
LaFayette Funk II was a dedicated rockhound, collecting everything from polished agate slabs to rocks, large crystal specimens, fluorescent minerals,geodes, fossils, and Indian artifacts. Individual cases are devoted to Fluorite, Smithsonite, Quartz, Barite "roses," Barite, Agates, Gypsum, Michigan "Copper Country" minerals, Galena (mostly from Illinois), Sphalerite, Garnets, Azurite, Calcite, Fluorescent Minerals and other topics.
LaFayette Funk died on Jan 18, 1992. An exhibit of the "Minerals of LaFayette Funk" opened August 6, 2007 at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield. The Museum's Lower Level Galleries feature minerals originally collected by LaFayette Funk, including spectacular, large specimens of tourmaline, calcite, pyromorphite, wulfenite, gypsum, native copper, quartz, smithsonite and gypsum.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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