The test of 1947-1948 had conflicting consequences.  On one hand, it persuaded the majority shareholders of Trust A, the Wilkinson family of Logansport, Indiana, to abandon the idea of diamond mining and explore other uses of the property—particularly as a tourist attraction.[1]  Similarly, the DCA’s test, and the Bureau of Mines’ more authoritative findings, further discouraged general investment in new mining ventures.

    On the other hand, the DCA’s test only emboldened various interests who advocated further testing and mining:  all those questionable features of the test seemed to validate the general view of Vitt and others, that the diamond field had never been tested properly.  Now, Howard Millar had a more receptive audience for his continuing criticism of Martin’s operation, the Bureau‘s work, and, increasingly, Sam Reyburn‘s venture in the early decades.  Millar’s prominence in the new tourist industry compounded his exposure and influence as he wove a tale about subversive forces that had robbed him of a fortune.[2]

    Howard Millar’s central role as adviser and interpreter of history also put him in better position to market the Ozark and Kimberlite properties, or at least secure investments to ease his family’s continuing financial strain.[3]  Now, there was more persuasiveness in his basic assertion that “full commercial development and operation” of the Ozark Mine was at hand—that “The testing with pilot plant operations was successfully completed, thus this property is no longer classed as a prospect.”[4]  But in the ‘40s, and for over two decades following, legitimate investors remained wary.  Despite all the fame, fortune still eluded Millar and family.[5]


    Equally important, the DCA’s questionable performance enlivened a number of young professionals starting their careers during the war period and the subsequent economic boom.  As the diamond industry thrived in the postwar decades, the Pike County field remained the major outlet available in North America for those needing experience in diamond geology, and they flocked around it.  In 1956, John Q. St. Clair, one of the first geologists to react against the tests of the ‘40s, felt more confident while invoking Howard Millar’s widely cited average of 10 carats per 100 loads for the old Ozark Mine.  Starting with that figure, St. Clair concluded that new mining methods could squeeze 15-20 carats per short ton from the big diamond field near Murfreesboro.[6]

    Newspapers and magazines throughout the nation also rediscovered the reportedly rich deposit in Pike County.  In March 1949 a substantial article in Nation’s Business repeated the current “wildest guess” about its content:  $650,000,000 in diamonds.  According to the writer, who had visited the field and talked with Howard Millar, “the recovery per cubic yard of excavated dirt puts the Arkansas mine on a par with any African mine at the same stage”[7]

    In the early ’50s, a profile of Trust A heiress Ethel Wilkinson in the Indianapolis Star Magazine repeated an earlier “report” saying “the diamond beds have potential value of

$605,000,000 and possibly as much as $1,000,000,000.”[8]  And this was only the beginning of the promotional campaign.



[1] Forty years after MM Mauney’s pioneering venture, the Diamond Preserve of the United States opened to the public.  Ethel Wilkinson, widow of the major shareholder of Trust A, helped stage the opening ceremony on February 20, 1951 (infra, “Recreational Mining”).  The Trust had terminated the DCA’s lease in April 1950 (Oil & Gas Record 7, 242, April 1, 1950). 


[2] The Bureau of Mines remained a major target of criticism on into the 1950s.  For examples:  Howard Millar to C. W. Seibel, Regional Director, Bureau of Mines, Amarillo, Texas, September 27, 1954, I.Q, Crater archive; Howard Millar to General Electric Co., Schenectady, New York, August 24, 1957, ibid.

    Decades of striving and frustration had left Howard Millar embittered and vulnerable.  By the late 1940s he accepted the explanation for failure that his father and W. L. Wilder embraced after the early ‘20s-that powerful conspirators were afoot, thwarting all efforts to develop the Arkansas diamond field.  The Martin test seems to have been a breaking point.  In November 1949, he wrote Ethel Wilkinson a long letter condemning that venture as “too ridiculous to even consider as a test, let alone . . . a commercial operation.”  Concluding the critique, he said, “I have come to the conclusion that the main objective was to kill off all future chances of financing diamond operations in America, as we have for many years had obstacles thrown in our path of financing our own property” (Howard Millar to Ethel P. Wilkinson, Logansport, Indiana, November 21, 1949, I.P, Crater archive).

    Millar’s popularity among writers in the 1950s led to numerous public assertions about a conspiracy that both destroyed his own chances to make a fortune and ruined opportunities for other Arkansans as well.  His rationalizing gradually got out of control after Austin Millar’s death in 1951, and was unrestrained by the late ‘50s, when he began directly assailing Samuel W. Reyburn.  For highlights see:  Kenneth Johnson, “Arkansas Diamond Hunt,“ Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tennessee, Sunday issue, February 26, 1956, Sec. 5, p. 1; McCord, “More Frustrations Than Gems,” pp. 7-9; Martin L. Gross, “The Incredible American Diamond Mine Mystery,” True (September 1959), 52-55, 98-102 (the outstanding manifestation of the conspiratorial frame of mind).

    The myth of conspiracy was fully developed before the publication of Howard Millar’s memoir, It Was Finders-Keepers at America’s Only Diamond Mine (New York: Carlton Press, Inc., 1976).  In that imaginative account, the writer again depicted Reyburn as a betrayer who “came under the irresistible influence of the world diamond syndicate of England and South Africa” (39).  He accused Reyburn of shrouding the Arkansas Diamond Mine in secrecy and concealing the results of early tests, which Millar believed were actually favorable (31ff.).  “Mr. Reyburn and his British friends did not want this fact known” (41).  As for Stanley Zimmerman, engineer in charge of the big test in 1920-1922, “I strongly believe that he was sent to Murfreesboro with instructions to ‘prove’ the field to be potentially non-productive of profit.  Thus the diamond syndicate would face less possibility that others would finance operations by my father and myself, operations that might prove competitive to the syndicate” (61).

    Howard Millar’s wife, Modean, evidently shared his sentiment.  In a handwritten note attached to one of Reyburn’s old letters to stockholders, she said the letter was sent “when John Fuller was supposed to be testing this property—but turned in a bad report to the owners and stockholders.  He later told Allan Williams of Aluminum Co. of America of St Louis, he was hired to make a bad report on the property—by Sam Reyburn” (letterhead note, 24 October 1978, attached to Reyburn to W. F. Armstrong, St. Louis, May 1, 1914, I.H, Crater archive).

    The influence of both Howard and Austin Millar had gained considerable momentum before the 1950s, as writers and geologists began conveying their statements to wider audiences.  H. E. Wheeler, for instance, was in Murfreesboro before the death of John Huddleston on November 12, 1941, and evidently got to know the discoverer and the elder Millar.  In an article in 1946, he described the “owner of the Ozark Diamond Mine” in a matter-of-fact manner:  Austin Q. Millar was “the one remaining resident of Murfreesboro, who acquired property, found it commercially productive, and who still holds his interests intact.  Unlike other operators Mr. Millar has not withheld the facts about the stones recovered from his property and they serve as a reliable index of the commercial and industrial outlook” (first published by the Arkansas Mineralogical Society; reprinted as “Diamonds in Arkansas,” Hobbies—The Magazine for Collectors, 51 [May 1946], 118-119).  John Huddleston’s obituaries:  “Discoverer of Diamonds in Arkansas Dies,” Arkansas Gazette, November 13, 1941, p. 2; “Discoverer of Diamond Field Buried Today,” Arkansas Democrat, November 13, 1941, p. 14.


[3] Howard Millar missed no opportunity to try selling out.  In June 1947 he sold sixty acres of the Kimberlite property for a stated $500, apparently to shed a tax burden (Pike, 68, 307, Warranty Deed, A. Q. Millar, H. A. Millar, trustees, and Modean Millar to M.W. Greeson, June 24, 1947).  In December 1947 he told old associate Warren Buckley, “I personally would welcome a chance for us all to sell our interests in the diamond property, as we continue to get nowhere fast” (Millar to Buckley, Chicago, December 27, 1947, I.P).  Also Millar to Buckley, May 19, 1947, ibid (“I am not willing to nor do I intend to pay out any more personal funds for expense on diamond property.  All I seem to get for it, is criticism, instead of cooperation. . . .”); Howard Millar to Homer Browne, Houston, Texas, November 26, 1947, ibid. (Millar is now willing to sell the Ozark with part down and “the remainder to be paid over a long period of time”).


[4] Howard Millar, “Personal” letter to Frederic Porter, Dallas, Texas, July 26, 1944, I.P.  Millar continued using the average of 11 carats per 100 loads in both private and public statements, as he had in earlier decades; e.g., Sinkankas, Gemstones of North America (1959), 37.  Responding to that author’s request for information, Millar also said, “In testing operations more than 100,000 diamonds were recovered by Howard A. Millar and Austin Q. Millar.  70% classed as industrials and 30% gem quality” (ibid.).


[5] Various records reflect continuing financial pressure during the war and immediately afterward, even though Howard eventually secured a job with the War Production Board in Little Rock.  In January 1944, for instance, Mrs. M. J. Barnes had to sue Austin Millar for the small balance of an old secured loan ($172.85, at 6% annual interest, amounting to a total of $278.29 in early 1944).  When he failed to respond to her petition, she chose not to foreclose, and instead obtained a judgment extending the property lien, and the loan, for three more years.  The debt was paid fully on February 26, 1947 (Pike, Circuit Court, Civil Record E, 230, Mrs. M. J. Barnes vs. Austin Q. Millar, March 27, 1944, summarized the case; a marginal notation indicated the payment).   Also see correspondence May-December 1947, passim, I.P; infra, “Crater of Diamonds.”


[6] St. Clair, “Report,” iii.  At the time, Howard Millar was estimating that with adequate funding, the diamond field could yield about 1,000 diamonds a day and produce a gross income of “at least $350,000 a year” (McCord, “More Frustrations Than Gems,” p. 9).


[7] Junius B. Wood, “America’s 35 Acres of Diamonds,” Nation’s Business, 37 (March 1949), 60ff.


[8] “Queen of  Diamonds,” Indianapolis Star Magazine (c. 1950), undated clipping, IV.E.5.  Howard Millar maintained a file of media coverage after the mid 1940s.  Although he often failed to clarify dates and page numbers, dates are reasonably clear from comments in the articles.  Also see ibid. for another unidentified newspaper clipping, c. 1960, saying “some geologists” believed the pipe might hold a billion dollars worth of diamonds.


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