Oren Root was born in Vernon, New York on November 1, 1803, the son of Elihu Root and Achsah Pomeroy. He earned a Bachelor's Degree from Hamilton College in 1833, married Nancy Whitney Buttrick in 1837, and was awarded an LLD from the University of Rochester in 1865. He served as headmaster of the Onondaga Academy in Syracuse, New York, and later as Professor of Mathematics, Astronomy, Mineralogy and Geology at Hamilton College from 1849 to 1881. He discovered and reported the peridotite/kimberlite dikes in Syracuse, though no diamonds were ever found in them.
Paleontologist James Hall, in his autobiography, claimed that Hamilton College hired Oren Root primarily in order to acquire his important mineral collection, which they did, beginning in 1834. Root's collection numbered over 10,000 specimens, mostly field-collected in northern New York and adjacent areas of Canada, or acquired by exchange with other collectors worldwide. It was rich in specimens from the Rossie lead mine, the Sterling mine and other producing localities of his time. Part of the Root Collection is currently on long-term loan to the New York State Museum in Albany, where a selection of important specimens is on display. Other specimens were purchased by Hamilton College for $4000, in 1866.
Oren Root died May 23, 1885 in Kirkland, New York. His descendants have also served Hamilton College, as faculty and as donors.
JESSUP, P. (1938) Elihu Root.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2017)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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Exhibit label for a specimen from the Oren Root collection at the New York State Museum in Albany