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John C. Utman
(1856-1949)

John Collin Utman was born in Belle Corners, Ontario on July, 14 1856, the son of Isaac Utman and Catherine Broeffle. His parents moved back to New York three years later, and on February 28, 1877 he married Ellen Fuller in Canton, St. Lawrence County, New York. Their first child, Grace, was born in New York in 1878 but died young. By 1880 John had established himself as a merchant in Hermon, St. Lawrence County, New York and it was around this time that he is known to have built a mineral collection (based on the address given on his mineral label). There were indeed many mineral localities in the neighborhood; the diopside occurrence at DeKalb was less than 10 miles away, and the localities near Balmat, Beaver Creek, Edwards, Gouverneur, Pierrepont and Rossie, among others, were all in the same county. It was a good place to be a mineral collector in the late 1800's.

By 1883, however, John had moved his family to Grand Rapids, Michigan where he worked as a travel agent. His next three children, Daisy, Hazel and Carroll, were born in Michigan in 1883, 1890 and 1893 respectively. So his mineral label can be dated between ca. 1874 and 1883. By 1900 he had moved to Ashland, Wisconsin, and worked there as a commercial trader in wholesale groceries until retiring in the 1920's. But he continued to collect minerals; he placed an ad in the February 1905 issue of The Mineral Collector; it reads:

"Wanted to exchange for Eastern or foreign specimens, a full line of Gogebia [=Gogebic] Co., Mich., hematites, limonites, manganite, pyrolusite, garnet pseudomorphs, brown calcite and native copper. Large variety to select from. Correspondence solicited. Address J.C. Utman, Ashland, Wis."

In 1918 he advertised in American Mineralogist that he had "fine specimens of hematite, limonite, psilomelanite and other manganese minerals, native copper, and aragonite, from the Michigan iron and copper mines, offered in exchange for New England minerals, lead and zinc minerals, good calcite or quartz specimens."

John Utman is known to have sold specimens to William W. Jefferis (1820-1906) of West Chester, Pennsylvania, who built his collection between 1837 and 1897. The label shown here is for a specimen Jefferis bought from Utman (and later sold to Andrew Carnegie, along with the rest of his collection, in 1904).

A classified ad in the September 1927 Rocks & Minerals reads: "For sale, collection of mineral specimens from all over the world. Representing twenty years of collecting. Consists of seventeen hundred cabinet specimens for which I will take one thousand dollars. J.C. Utman, Ashland, Wisconson." This indicates that Utman sold his original collection around 1907 and began building a new one, which by 1927 had grown to comprise 1,700 specimens.

By 1930 his wife had died and he was living with his son, Carroll, an electrician in Ashland. Remarkably, John Utman lived on to the age of 93 and finally passed away in Iron County, Utah on December 8, 1949.

References:
U.S. Federal Census 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930
Utah Death Index 1905-1951
Grand Rapids, Michigan City Directory 1889-1890
Ancestry World Tree
LDS Familysearch Pedigree Resource File
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Mineralogical Record
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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The Mineralogical Record - John C. Utman 50 x 73 mm,
Label for a specimen Utman sold or traded to William Jefferis ca. 1875-1883.
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