We are witness to history in the making for Sussex County, New Jersey.
Franklinite, from the Franklin area, may become the New Jersey State Mineral. Thank the kids.
I recall the quote of the American cultural anthropologist Margaret Meade from Columbia University: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens could change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that has.”
Franklinite is a mineral that had been part of a world-famous ore body of zinc that was mined in Franklin and nearby Ogdensburg, mostly in the first half of the 20th Century. This is an extremely rare mineral found only in the Franklin area and a handful of other small findings elsewhere on the globe. Mineralogists and geologists of every nationality prize these specimens highly.
Sussex County and several adjoining counties have provided a great amount of natural resources over the last three centuries, ores from the ground that were made of iron and zinc. Iron drove early exploration of our area, necessitated the dams and waterwheels, bloomeries and foundries, and adjacent hamlets in early America. The Revolutionary War depended upon cannon balls and firearms, housing needed hinges and tools made from these minerals. New Jersey grew to a prominent importance with the many immigrant groups and frontier locals who worked the mines and brought the valuable ore to the nation. Franklinite is a prominent representative of the importance of New Jersey, its resources and its people.
Highlighted by testimony and concurrence of mineral experts, a bill was created to describe and rationalize the mineral for this honor. A key development has been the grass roots support of the youth of Franklin. Encouraged through learning about their local heritage, Franklin School 4th graders last year wrote, in each student’s words and perception, about the importance of their mineral. Their earnest hard work helped sweep the bill through NJ Senate committee and to the floor of the Senate, indispensably chaperoned by our local State Senator Steve Oroho. It passed the Senate vote unanimously. KUDOS to KIDS!
The next chapter is for a like bill to go through the Assembly, sponsored by our Assemblymen Hal Wirths and Parker Space, and if successful then to the governor.
In the old Monroe One Room School House hangs a phrase from another time long ago: “Perseverance Brings Success.” I believe that the youth of Franklin have seen that their small group, working earnestly, has made a difference, and in no small way.
Bill Truran is the Sussex County Historian.