DEWEY DIAMOND – MANCHESTER, Virginia


Historic Find in 1850s
Lucky Shovel Brought Up Diamond


The luckiest man who ever dug a hole in the ground in Manchester was Benjamin Moore, who stuck in his shovel and pulled out a diamond. It happened in early 1854 or in 1853 when Moore was digging into a clay hill at the corner of 9th and Perry streets. The  sparkling pebble he dug up turned out to be an uncut diamond of 18 and three fourths carats.

Where it had come from, nobody ever figured out. It prob-ably wasn’t native to this area. enbedded, as it was six feet deep in clay, it might have washed down the James river thousands of years before.

Without knowing he had a valuable find, Moore kept the stone as a curiosity for awhile. Then he took it to the Richmond jewelry firm of Mitchell and Tyler, where it was identified as a diamond. Someone put a $4,000 value on it.

Capt. Samuel W. Dewey, who inspected the stone, put it to a fire test for two hours in’ a smith’s forge, and also pronounced it a diamond.

Moore sold the diamond to Capt. Dewey, reportedly for $1,500. Dewey later mortgaged it apparently in New York to a man named J. Anglist, who in turn mortgaged it for $6,000’to John Morrissey.

Morrissey became the world’s heavyweight boxing champion in 1858, and later operated a string of gambling houses in New York. What he did with the diamond isn’t known.

Dewey had copies of the diamond made for several museums.

(Richmond Times-Dispatch, Sunday April 10, 1960)

Smithsonian Institution Photo This is a replica of the ‘Dewey Diamond,’ discovered in Manchester in 1854. This replica of the famous stone is in collection of the United States.