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VOL. 2, PP. 151-153
Read to the Academy on June 27, 1892

Preliminary Note of a New Meteorite From Kenton County, Kentucky

By H. L. Preston

Rochester, N.Y.
Published by the Society



On May 15th, Professor Henry A. Ward received a letter from Mr. R. H. Fitzhugh, Bryson City, N. C., telling of a meteorite he had identified in Kenton County, Kentucky.

In Professor Ward's absence Mr. Frank A. Ward started me off the same night to look up the meteorite.

I arrived at Bracht station on the Cincinnati Southern R. R. Friday morning and drove as far as the roads would permit toward Mr. Gee. W. Cornelius' farm. He being away from home, his wife showed me the " metal " as they called it, and it proved to be a beautiful meteorite of the siderite variety, 533 x 356 x 203 millimeters (21 x 14 x 8 inches) in its greatest diameters, and weighed 163.0665, kilograms (359 1/2 pounds.)

In form in certain directions it very much resembles a nautilus, and has numerous but mostly shallow pittings, a few deep pittings, occurring however on the side shown in the accompanying cut, which gives a good idea of the general outlines of the meteorite.

[Line drawing of the meteorite]
This meteorite is entirely free from crust.

I saw Mr. Cornelius on the evening of the next day and obtained from him the following facts in relation to the meteorite.

About the middle of August, 1889, while cleaning out a spring situated at the head of a gully some three-quarters of a mile from his present home in Kenton County, eight miles south of Independence, the county seat he struck with his hoe something that had a metallic ring: obtaining assistance he took the mass out, finding that it was interlocked in the roots of an ash tree from thirteen to fourteen inches in diameter, and was between three and four feet below the normal surface.

He let the mass lie by the spring until August, 1890, when he removed it to his woodshed, where it has lain until purchased by me for the Ward collection of meteorites and it is now at our establishment in Rochester, N. Y.

For the following analysis of this meteorite I am indebted to Mr. Davison.

Analysis of Kenton County Kentucky Meteorite:

Reynolds' Laboratory, University of Rochester.

In the course of a conversation with Mr. S. J. Cornelius, a brother of the gentleman of whom I purchased the meteorite, he mentioned the fact, that about three o'clock on the seventh of July, 1873, while returning from a picnic in this locality, and when within a half mile of where the meteorite was subsequently found, he heard a great rumbling in the heavens which appeared to last three or four minutes and was followed by a quivering of the earth. As the day was clear he could not account for this phenomena. I met at least seven other people who distinctly remembered the picnic and the "rumbling in the heavens," and some one or two the "quiver in the earth."

(Is there any connection between this date and the fall of this meteor?)

Mr. Preston also read extracts from a publication by the British Museum on the history of meteorites and theories as to their origin. He exhibited a cast of the new meteorite and sections of typical metallic, stony and mixed meteorites, showing the Widmannstäten figures, nodules, troilite, pittings, and crust characteristic of these bodies.

An interesting exhibit was that of a cast of a meteorite now in the British Museum. This is in three pieces, a large and two smaller, ones and the fragments were found many miles apart, but so fitting together as to make it evident that they were once united. One of the smaller fragments is entirely encrusted, showing that it had been torn from the mass early in its flight while its velocity was still such as with the resistance of the air to raise the surface of the mass to the melting point. The other small fragment thrown off as the body neared the earth, is also encrusted save at the place of separation from the parent mass where the surface is unfused and fresh, showing that, when it parted the steady resistance of the air had so checked its speed that fusion was no longer possible. So with the fires of youth quenched and an independent career denied it, it settled upon the shelves of the Museum by the side of its more brilliant brother, by a happy law of compensation serving as useful and honorable an end.