The Old Stanton Clock

“The old Stanton clock is ticking away in the room in which I am now writing, as faithfully and as correctly as it has for the last two hundred years or more.

“I am not able to give the full early history, but according to tradition the clock was brought to this country from London by a seafaring descendant of Robert Stanton, the first one of our family to come to America. The only descendants of Robert Stanton who were mariners were Robert’s son Robert and his grandson Henry. As Robert never married, it is not probably that he brought the clock to America, but Henry was a man of family and possessed a large estate. It seems, therefore, probable that he was the original purchaser. As Robert Jr., died in 1712 and Henry abandoned his seafaring life before the  year 1736, the clock was, no doubt, brought to this country before or early in the eighteenth century, so there can be no question as to its early Americanization.

“Henry was born in Newport, Rhode Island, May twenty-second, 1688, and removed to Carteret County, North Carolina, before 1736, for the records of the Monthly Meeting of Friends of Newport River, North Carolina, for that year, show that the meetings were ‘to be held at the house of Henry Stanton until otherwise ordered.’ He, no doubt, took the clock with him on his removal to North Carolina, where it descended to my grandfather, Benjamin Stanton, after whose death it was the property of his widow, Abigail (Macy) Stanton, by whom it was brought to Harrisville, Jefferson County, Ohio, in 1800. On her death, June fifth, 1825, the clock was left to my father, Benjamin Stanton, of Salem, Ohio, who died in 1861, and by him was left to me.

“It was made by Joshua Wilson, who, I have learned from a book on horology in the Boston Public Library, was a clockmaker in London before the year 1700. From the fact that Joshua Wilson was of sufficient prominence to be mentioned in works on horology as a clockmaker, in London, in 1700, it would seem probable that he had been there a number of years before that time, so there is little doubt that my clock ante-dates the year 1700, and as the pendulum was not used for the regulation of timepieces until the year 1662, it is evident that no pendulum clock in the world is forty years older than the one in my possession.

“The works, which are of brass, the weights, and the pendulum, are the same as in the original. The pinions are of brass and the verge of steel. As Abigail Stanton and her family came north in ox-carts, the clock case, owing to its size and weight, was left in North Carolina and from 1800 to 1825 the clock ‘hung on the old cabin wall.’

“After the death of Abigail Stanton, the clock was taken to Salem, Ohio, where Dr. Benjamin Stanton caused a new case to be made as nearly like the original as he was able to draw it. It is of poplar, painted black, and is seven and one half feet high; the hood lifts off; the face is of brass, twelve inches by twelve inches. Within the polished brass hour circle are black figures to indicate the hours, and between these are black arrow heads to show the half-hours, and the days of the month are shown in a small square opening below the hands. In the corners outside the hour circle were brass fretwork ornaments, which were lost many years ago, so that the entire face is of polished brass except within the hour circle, where it is of unpolished brass of dark color.

“The pendulum is thirty-nine inches long, of apple wood, which is but little affected by atmospheric conditions. Unfortunately it has been broken more than once, but as it would be difficult to replace with so good material, it has been fastened together and still does duty as well as ever. It hangs by a steel spring, which allows it to swing without friction, and carries a heavy iron bob.

“The long pendulum and the brass wheels, which have borne the wear of two centuries, have made the clock an unexcelled timekeeper.”

Byron Stanton
Cincinnati, Ohio 1919

By William Henry Stanton