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Wooden Works Clock Industry

Many early settlers of Trumbull County came from western Connecticut, bringing along trades and skills, which included wooden works clocks There were known clock factories in Vienna, Brookfield, Warren, Howland, and Hartford with over 75,000 estimated clocks produced locally when the industry was active from about 1815 to 1835.   Wooden works clocks were popular at the time because they were easier to manufacture and more affordable than brass works.  All of the tall clocks produced in Vienna Township were 30-hour movements, modeled after those made in Waterbury, Connecticut.  The "patent" or shelf clocks were modeled after the movements produced by Mark Leavenworth in Connecticut.

Trumbull County was appealing for this trade as there was a significant amount of large, virgin timber that could be cut into gears, plates, faces, and cases.  Virgin timber was desirable since it was often harder, less likely to shrink, and scarcely contained knots.  The clock factories used water from nearby streams a source of power to run the wheel cutting machines and turning lathes.  Horses or oxen were thought to be used when water was absent from the vicinity of the factories.  Metal parts for the clocks, such as bolts, pendulum bobs, bells, wires, and screws, were likely acquired from area iron forgers or blacksmiths. The minute and hour hands were produced by a pewter smith.

Employees in the wooden works clock factories required less training than with brass works.  Jobs in the industry included carpentry, iron founding, dial decorating, mechanics and assembly, and clock peddling.  Local men were mostly hired and many were the sons of early Trumbull County settlers.  On-the-job training was taught by factory bosses or skilled employees, as there were no apprenticeships in wooden clock works.  Some men had training in carpentry, others, such as Ogden Combs, relative of Ansel Merrell by marriage, went to work in Merrell's factory when he was only ten years old.  Beach Lewis, son of Lambert W. Lewis, began working in his father's factory when he was twelve years of age.  When Beach Lewis was nineteen years old, he supervised his brother, Sanford Lewis, age fifteen, when he soldered pendulums and filled verges.  The women hired in the factories were usually dial decorators.

After the clock works were made, they were often distributed and sold by peddling.  Clock peddlers would usually take just the mechanical parts of the clock, the body, with its face, hands, weights, and pendulum from the factories to sell.  If a case was desired the buyer could purchase a case from a separate cabinetmaker; this way the clock could be tall or a shelf clock.  In 1827 it was noted in court depositions of Trumbull County peddlers that they purchased clocks from the factory for $2.00 a piece and could sell them for about $4.00 each.  Clocks were also sold by merchants in local storefronts and clock dealers.  In 1828 there were 42 stores that carried clocks, by 1831 that number had expanded to 59.  Known merchants in Vienna that carried locally made clocks were Miller & Merrell, Isaac Powers, George Cochran, and Cochran & Andrews.

The most financially successful time in the Trumbull County clock industry was from 1825-1829.  In 1830 the industry started to decline.  With a surplus of clocks and reduced demand, factory prices plummeted from $2.00 to $1.12 per clock.  Lambert W. Lewis, Garry Lewis, and Ansel Merrell found themselves in Trumbull County Civil Court over debts.  Overextension of credit through mortgages along with an economic depression in the early 1830s essentially ended the clockmaking "boom" in Vienna and Trumbull County.  Poor workmanship was also noted to be a factor in the decline, which was the result of lack of poor employee training in the wooden works industry.  In a court deposition by Norton Wheeler, clock peddler, he testified that Asahel Scovill, a wooden clock manufacturer Trumbull County, purchased damaged parts from the Ansel Merrell and Lambert W. Lewis factories to make his clocks.

Clockmakers and Associates in Vienna

Vienna Clock Peddlers
Daniel Andrews?
Matthew Atcheson?
Abraham Lane
Abraham Lewis
Lambert W. Lewis
Levi Lewis (Brookfield/Vienna)
Thomas Lewis
Roswell Lowry
Lester Marvin (Brookfield/Vienna)
Thomas Merritt (Fowler/Vienna)
Ezekial Meyer
Ruel Miller
Freeman Munson
Samuel Munson
Porter Newell
Russell Roberts
Asahel Scoville
Benjamin N. Scoville
Roswell Scoville
Allen S. Way?
Martin C. Way?
Charles Woodruff

Vienna Clock Dial Decorators
Phila Collins (Knowling)
Diana Deming Lewis
Hanna Lewis (Powers)
Mirilla Lewis (Sherman)
Thomas Lewis
Clarissa Loomis (Curtiss)
Sophia Loomis (Cook)
Martin Way

Stores that sold Clocks in Vienna
Norman Andrews (Payne's Corners)
George Cochran
Miller & Merrell
Isaac Powers

Clock Factory Workers in Trumbull County
Riley Alderman
Norman Andrews
Thomas K. Ballard
Reuben Blakeslee?
Moses Booth, Sr.
Moses Booth, Jr.?
Truman Booth?
Upson Budd
Henry Cherry
Phila Collins
Ogden Combs
Horace Cook
Phineas Deming
Isaac Flower II
Morgan Flower?
Cyrus Gridley
James Harkness
Morgan Hart
David R. Hartson
John Hartson
William H. Hartson
Richard S. Holton
Benjamin Hoyt
Daniel Humason
William Jackson
Orrin Johnson
Electra Jones
John Knowling
William Laird
Charles Lewis
Diana Deming Lewis
Hannah Lewis
Lambert W. Lewis
Levi Lewis
Marilla Lewis
Nathan Beach Lewis
Sanford Lewis
Thomas Lewis
Sophia Loomis
Clarissa Loomis (Curtiss)
Dwight McMaster
Schuyler McMaster
Ansel Merrell
Arad Merrell
Elijah Merrell
Thomas Merritt
Jacob DeWitt Merritt
Reuben Merritt
Ruel Miller
John Painter
George Patterson
Jehial Perkins
Amos Pitkin
Edmund Pitkin
James Pitman
Jeremiah Pitman
Isaac Powers
Asahel Scoville
Pardon Sherman
Azel Tracy
Robinson Truesdale
Martin C. Way
Job Wheeler
Noadiah Wheeler
Norton Wheeler
John Williams
Mrs. Wm. Williams?
Lucy Fitch
Charles Woodruff

Updated 9/26/2020

Entry adapted from Rogers, Rebecca M. Trumbull County Clock Industry, 1812-1825. Dayton, OH : Sterling Graphics, 1992. Updated and original footnotes included in The Cog Counter's Journal, No. 37, Summer 2015, pp. 33-57.

Additional sources:
Map of clock factory locations from Fred L. Martin, "Clockmakers of Vienna," in Vienna, Ohio, "Where We Live and Let Live": Town 4, Range 2 of the Connecticut Western Reserve (Apollo, PA: Closson Press, 1999), p. 128.
Clock factory names & lists contributed by Rebecca Rogers, architectural historian, September 2017.