Somervell County, about 55 miles (almost 90 km) south-west of Fort Worth, is the second smallest county in Texas, famous for some of the best preserved dinosaur tracks along the Paluxy River in the central part of the county and also for having been a big producer of moonshine during Prohibition, according to the Texas State Historical Society website.
It is also famous for the 3 irons meteorites that have been found there and, surprisingly considering how small that county is, they are not paired or even from the same classification: Somervell County is a Pallasite, Glen Rose is an Ungrouped Fine Octahedrite and Squaw Creek is a IIAB anomalous.
According to Mr. Monnig’s file, the first he heard of an iron meteorite in Somervell County appears to be this letter from a local reverend who seems unwilling to say much about it before knowing its monetary value. Since this was only 3 months after Mr. Monnig’s purchase of the Somervell County Pallasite, the reverend had probably heard that meteorites could be valuable.
And there is nothing further in the file about that one meteorite. However Harvey Nininger apparently saw it in 1936 since he wrote about it in 1937 (Catalogue of Meteorites). Then things got a little more complicated in Somervell County, and it should be noted that this file is labeled “Glen Rose and Squaw Creek”. Yes, another iron meteorite had been found there by a Mr. Georges Nystel further to the north-west, close to the border with Hood County, but no more than 3 miles (5 km) from where the first one had been found. Mr. Monnig immediately made plans to go see it as these notes show. They are not dated but it was probably in May 1980. Mr. Monnig does specify that the meteorite had been ploughed up 3 months prior in a field, so the meteorite was probably found in February of 1980.
His next letter is addressed to Doyle Cooper of Glen Rose who apparently had facilitated the transaction and Mr. Monnig now had one more meteorite in his collection.
And he immediately contacted Glenn Huss, then residing in Denver, to tell him about his new meteorite, and to have it cut and to give it a “liberal soaking in ethyl alcohol”. He also notes that he has finally sold the family store and that he will have more time for meteorites.
But before sending the meteorite, that he had not named yet, he asked a professional photographer to take pictures. It would seem that he liked the result since he kept a large print in the file. He also sent that picture to quite a few people; the first one was Glenn Huss, along with a chatty letter only part of it being about this new meteorite.
Here is the picture, and the letter dated August 3, 1980.
Mr. Nystel, the finder and original owner of the meteorite also received a picture; the letter accompanying it is particularly interesting since Mr Monnig announces there his plans to donate his collection to the Texas Christian University.
Mr. Cooper received a very similar letter but with additional “technical” details. And this is where the two irons are finally compared; they were found very close to each other but Glenn Huss had looked at both and decided that they were different. Mr. Monnig concluded that “there must be hundreds around” and finding them was “largely a matter of luck”. An observation most meteorite-hunters can relate to.
Dr. John Wasson indeed studied both meteorites. He classified Squaw Creek as an Iron, Anomalous, IIA, and it was then published as such in the Meteoritical Bulletin #62 in 1984, while Glen Rose was published as an Iron Ungrouped. And both had received the names suggested by Mr. Monnig in a letter to Dr. Wasson: