People‎ > ‎

Lewis, Thomas

Birth: March 15, 1795, Barkhamsted, Litchfield County, Connecticut
Death: November 27, 1880, Farmington, Van Buren County, Iowa
Burial: Alfrey Cemetery, Farmington, Van Buren County, Iowa

An early settler in Vienna, Thomas Lewis, probably in partnership with Phineas Deming, manufactured wooden-work clocks in the Vienna Township clock industry between 1825 or 1827 and 1830. His place of business was located on Sodom-Hutchins (now Sodom-Hutchings) Road, approximately a mile and a half north of Woodford's Corners. He also peddled clocks and worked in other Vienna clock factories, beginning in 1817.

Lewis financed this clockmaking concern by holding a $500 mortgage against Deming. Though it is not clear whether the business was a factory or an assembly shop, the business employed six men between 1828 and 1830. Deming may have then left the business, which became Lewis's property. Lewis mortgaged the business in 1832, signing a note with his brother Garry Lewis for $600, only to lose possession of this property through a later sheriff's sale.

Lewis's career as a clock manufacturer mirrored in many respects those of other Vienna clockmakers, including his brother Lambert W. Lewis. Overextension of credit through mortgages, reduced demand for clocks, and an economic depression in the early 1830s essentially ended the clockmaking "boom" in Vienna and Trumbull County.

According to historian Rebecca M. Rogers, Thomas Lewis "declared that [he] had made about 600 clocks and 20,000-30,000 faces during his career."[1]

[1] Rebecca M. Rogers, Trumbull County Clock Industry, 1812-1825 (Dayton, OH : Sterling Graphics, [1991?]), p. 24.

Updated dates of clock factory operation contributed by Rebecca Rogers, September 2017.