Lucas put Chester on the map. The discovery of emery in Chester, the first discovery of the mineral in the United States, caused a stir not just among geologists but with anyone involved in industrial activity, the abrasive emery being critical in industrial applications.
Emery prior to this discovery had to be imported from either Greece or Turkey which was becoming increasingly difficult as the English and French governments gained exclusive control over those mines.
The company was re-formed as the Chester Emery Company and immediately had contracts to supply emery to firms across the United States.
In 1852 he developed a chemical process by which he could extract a green dye from the local green mineral called Serpentine. He was awarded a patent for this process, the first of many patents he received all relating to the geology of our area. He called the dye “Hampden Green” and with some partners formed the Serpentine Paint and Fire-Brick Company, serving as their chemist for the first year. (By this same patented process he was also able to produce commercially viable Epsom Salts, or Magnesium Sulfate.)
A consistent and stable green dye which would hold up well on paper was much sought after at this time. For many decades the most popular green dye was “Paris Green” but it had been recently determined that chemicals in the dye, when brought into contact with mold, produced a poisonous arsenic gas. After he sold his interest in the company it was renamed the Hampden Paint and Chemical Company and relocated to Springfield, where it operated continuously until just a few years ago. The “Hampden Green” dye that Lucas developed was later used by the federal government to make the country’s first “greenbacks”.
Unfinished product with polished piece on top. Have you seen turquoise rocks glowing especially when wet on hikes in the hills? Thats Serpentine!