Anthony W. Thurston
Anthony Warren "Tony" Thurston was born in Swansea, Massachusetts on September 24, 1922, the son of Amelia Farrel and Everett Arthur Thurston, the Swansea Postmaster. He was just a small boy when he turned up his first arrowhead while walking across a field; this experience ignited his interest in Indian relics, which were still collectable in New England in those days. "My father's side of the family were whalers," he once said, "and one of them brought a large box of whale teeth, whaling implements, minerals and Indian relics to my father's house when I was quite young. I pored over that box every week."
He soon broadened his interest to inlude fossils and minerals. Prior to the war he had four years of high school, then attended the New York State Ranger School at Wanakeena, New York where he studied surveying. He then worked as a rodman and chainman for the Tennessee Valley Authority. His later writings suggest that he also acquired some training as a geologist, and had done field work in the Narragansett Basin in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Thurston enlisted in the Army in 1943, and served with the 34th Division. While stationed for three years in North Africa and Italy, he took every opportunity to collect minerals there. He even managed to get several of his fellow soldiers interested (a major, two lietenants and a battery clerk), and they accompanied him. After returning home he worked in Kentucky on a surveying crew, and collected quartz geodes in his spare time.
Thurston began writing articles for Rocks & Minerals, shortly after returning from military service. He wrote "An American soldier visits Solfatara, Italy" (January 1946) and "Agate Beach, Oregon" (December 1946). including "Geology 109 years ago" (April 1947), "The Critics" (August 1947), "A puzzled collector" (October 1947), and others.
In 1946 he was discharged from the service, and traveled across the U.S. and back with an American Youth Hostel group; they covered over 10,000 miles, about 1,000 of those miles by bicycle. The following year Thurston officially began his business by buying the mineral and fossil dealership of Knowlton Minerals in Joliet, Illinois. He lived in his home town of Swansea, Massachusetts and took out his first ad in Rocks & Minerals (July 1947), offering "fine minerals and fossils, botryoidal hematite, native copper in matrix, fossil flora of Illinois, Pliocene fossils of Italy."
Thurston was stricken with tuberculosis in late 1947, advertsing "Due to illness I cannot fill any new orders. Orders now on hand will be filled. I wish to thank the readers of this magazine for the many orders received in past months." But he continued to write occasionally from his bed in the Rutland Heights Veteran's Hospital in Rutland, Massachusetts in 1948. After two and a half years in the hospital he was finally released and returned to Worcester, Massachusetts in 1949, having marrying Dorothy E. Benware that same year in the hospital chapel. They had two daughters: Jan (Fuller) and Judy (Livesay).
He then enrolled at Clark University, where he graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Biology in 1954. That fall he entered the Audubon Society's program of providing teachers of natural history to Worcester schools. In the following years he went on to teach Biology classes at North High School. In March-April 1955 Thurston began advertising again, offering "trinitite" (fused sand from the first atomic bomb blast) from his home off Route 70 in the Morningdale section of Boylston, Massachusetts. He added "beautiful crystal groups from England" in the following issue.
Tony and Dorothy opened a formal shop adjacent to their home in April 1957, calling their business "The Thurstons." That year they also purchased the entire sales stock of Paleontological Research Labs of North Carolina. They began advertising as "The Thurstons," dealing in minerals and fossils and specializin in fine Illinois fluorite, barite and calcite. In Boylston they billed themselves as "The folks in the log cabin." By 1963 they were specializing almost exclusively in minerals from the U.S., England and Mexico. In that year Tony received his Master's Degree in Biological and Medical Sciences from Brown University, and was appointed a Professor of Biology at Worcester State College, a post he held for 19 years.
After January-February 1964 they ceased advertising but continued to collect and sell minerals, and were regularly seen at local mineral shows. His mineral collection grew to the point of taking over an entire room in his house. In 1977 the Thurston's purchased the collection of Dr. A.B. Cummins from his estate; it contained many specimens from Martin Ehrmann and from the Calvert Collection that Ehrmann had sold. Tony was a member of the Worcester Mineral Club for 56 years, since 1949. He was well-liked and always ready to share his passion for minerals. He died in Boylston, Massachusetts on November 23, 2005. His last address was 385 Central Street.
ANONYMOUS (2005) [Obituary] Anthony W. Thurston. Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Nov. 24, p. 7.
PERRY, P.A. (1957) Boylston's nature man. Worcester Sunday Telegram, June 2, p.5.
U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946.
Social Security Death Index.
U.S. Federal Census, 1920, 1930.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2018)
Biographical Archive, at www.mineralogicalrecord.com.]
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dated 1960 on the front; others of this type are dated 1961
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