Raphael Pumpelly bigraphy, stories - Geologist and explorer

Raphael Pumpelly : biography

September 8, 1837 - August 10, 1923
Raphael Pumpelly


Early life and ancestors

He was born on September 8, 1837 in Owego, New York, into a family with deep New England roots that trace back to Thomas WellesNorton, pp. 19-21 (1590–1659), who arrived in Massachusetts in 1635 and was the only man in Connecticut's history to hold all four top offices: governor, deputy governor, treasurer, and secretary;Raymond, Marcius D, p. 17Case, L. W., p. 35 John Deming,Deming, p. 4 (1615–1705) an early Puritan settler and original patentee of the Connecticut Colony and Honor Treat, the daughter of Richard Treat (1584–1669) an early New England settler, Deputy to the Connecticut Legislature and also a Patentee of the Royal Charter of Connecticut, 1662.Treat, p. 31Treat, p. 33Treat, pp. 20-31

He was also a descendant of William Pynchon, a colonial assistant treasurer and original patentee of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He led the 1635 settlement of Springfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts, which was named after his home village, now a suburb of Chelmsford in Essex, England; and Captain Elizur Holyoke, the namesake of the mountain, Mount Holyoke, and (indirectly), of the city of Holyoke, Massachusetts.

His father was William Pumpelly, son of John Pumpelly and Hannah Bushnell.Reynolds, pp. 451-455 His father was great great grandson of Jean Pompilie, a sea captain who settled at Plymouth, Massachusetts. He was a French Huguenot refugee from Avignon, France, originally from Spoleto, Italy.Reynolds, pp. 451-455

His mother, Mary Hollenbeck Welles (born in Athens, Pennsylvania, 6 May 1803; died in Paris, France, 4 December 1879), was a poet. She was the daughter of Prudence Talcott and George Welles (a 1779 graduate of Yale College.)Dexter, pp. 129-130 She wrote religious historical poems, including “Belshazar's Feast,” “Pilate's Wife's Dream,” “Herod's Feast,” and “An Ode to Shakespeare.” Some of these were collected and published in a volume (New York, 1852).


Pumpelly attended common schools and graduated from Owego Academy in Owego, Tioga County, New York. Against his parents objections, he decided against attending Yale University and chose to study and travel in Europe. He graduated in 1859 from the “Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg” (Translation from the German: Freiberg University of Mining and Technology or Freiberg Mining Academy, University of Technology; TUBAF). He also attended the polytechnic school in Hanover. After graduating, he traveled extensively through the mining districts of Europe for the purpose of studying geology and metallurgy by direct observation.

After graduating, Pumpelly moved to Tioga Point, now Athens, in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, where he was soon appointed a Justice of the Peace, and became land agent for the Hon. Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Maryland. Carroll held a license as innkeeper in Athens from 1798 to 1809. It was said of him that he was a man of ability, and became possessed of large amount of property.Dexter, pp. 129-130


In 1860 Pumpelly was engaged in mining operations in Arizona. Invited by the respective governments, from 1861 to 1863 he surveyed Yesso Island of Japan. and the coalfields of northern China After this, he made the first extensive survey of the Gobi Desert, and explored Mongolia and Siberia.

From 1866 to 1875, he was Professor of Mining Science at Harvard University. Among his scientific accomplishments was a theory of secular rock disintegration. He was influenced by Louis Agassiz.

In June 1870, he was living in a rooming house in Cambridge, Mass., where former slave and abolitionist author Harriet Jacobs also resided.http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/slavery/harriet-jacobs-1870.pdf

From 1870 to 1871, he conducted the geological survey of the copper region of Michigan, for which he prepared “Copper-Bearing Rocks,” being part ii of volume i of the Geological Survey of Michigan (New York, 1873). He was called upon in 1871 to conduct the geological survey of Missouri, and for three years devoted his energies to that task, preparing “A Preliminary Report on the Iron Ores and Coal Fields,” with an atlas, for the report of the Geological Survey of Missouri (New York, 1873).

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