Stanley Lee Esbenshade, well-known Arizona mineral collector and dealer, was born in Ashland, Ohio, on December 10, 1953, the son of Donna and Mervin Esbenshade, a farmer. He graduated from Ashland High School in 1972, and earned his Bachelor's Degree in Geology from Ohio State University in 1978. While in college he worked two summers at Mansfield Tire and Rubber Company and part-time at a Shakey's Pizza.
Stan became interested in minerals at the age of 13, when sparkling crushed glacial till in the driveway caught his attention. His mother took him to a local mineral show, which gave him the opportunity to go on a field trip to the Pugh quarry the next day with two schoolteachers. He found his first real mineral specimen on that trip, and it sealed his fate as a mineral collector. Local rock club members helped, educated and nurtured his growing interest.
For several years following graduation Stan lived in Ashland Ohio for part of the year while wintering in Tucson, finally moving permanently to Tucson in 1985. He started dealing in mineral specimens before graduating from college, and established his Midwest Minerals wholesale business shortly thereafter, selling specimens from the US and other localities worldwide at eight shows every year (he has had a warehouse since 2003). He first attended the Tucson Show around 1977.
The core of his interest has always been, and still is, field collecting—which furnishes his business with specimens that other dealers often don't have. Stan's early days of collecting started in the limestone quarries of Ohio, Michigan and Indiana; localities such as Clay Center, the Auglaize quarry, the Pugh quarry and Sylvania, Ohio, were among his favorite haunts. Maybee, Michigan, and North Vernon and Pleasant Ridge in Indiana were also visited frequently. On one of his first trips to Arizona with Neal Pfaff, Curt van Scriver acted as a guide to the Red Cloud and Rowley mines, where Stan was introduced the use of the Cobra drill and explosives to collect minerals.
His first real commercial mineral dig took place when Sandy Ludlum and John Medici hired him to assist in their second-year project at the Spruce claims in Washington State. There he met Bob Jackson and they subsequently worked the Spruce claims for six years together and also worked a project on Denny Mountain.
In Arizona Stan frequented many of the classic localities such as the Red Cloud mine, the Rowley mine, the Old Yuma mine, the Silver Bill/Defiance mines, the Glove mine and Bisbee, along with many other smaller mines and lesser-known localities. In 1984 he started working at the Morenci mine under contract for Wayne Thompson, and has been at it for about 30 years. Stan subsequently obtained a contract to mine for specimens at the Chino and Tyrone mines, which are still operating today. During this time he had opportunities to work at or visit many other localities including Ajo and Washington Camp in Arizona, the Himalaya mine in California, the Sweet Home mine in Colorado, the Book Cliffs in Colorado, the Elk Creek area in South Dakota, and Peterson Mountain in Nevada. He also had the opportunity to collect at Cave-in-Rock, Illinois, the Viburnum Trend in Missouri and the Elmwood mines in Tennessee, while also making numerous trips to Mexico to buy and collect at various small mines as well as at Mapimi and the Navidad mine in Durango. He has also collected at the Rogerley mine in England and at the famous Solnhofen quarry in Germany. During these years, in addition to his field collecting, he continually purchased minerals from Cave-in-Rock, the Viburnum Trend and Elmwood, Tennessee as well as Mexico and other worldwide sources to supply his wholesale business.
Stan's personal collection consists of about 600 to 700 specimens (many of them self-collected), with specialties in Midwest and Arizona specimens, plus anything else of good quality that appeals to him.
Stan wrote a chapter American Mineral Treasures (2008) (on the Morenci mine, with Wayne Thompson) and a chapter in Collecting Arizona (2012). In 2017 Stan was presented with the American Mineral Heritage Award, in recognition of his achievements in field-collecting.
Stan's outside interest has been his dogs—he showed and raised Great Danes for a while in the 1980s and 1990s—and he also loves anything nature-related.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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||Stan Esbenshade collecting in the Glove mine, 1982. Wendell Wilson photo.|
||In the Sawtooth Mountains (above) and the Elmwood mine (below)|