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History of the American Clock Business for the Past Sixty Years, and Life of Chauncey Jerome   By: (1793-1868)

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Barnum's Connection with the Yankee Clock Business


[Illustration: Litho of E.B. & E.C. Kellogg, Hartford, Conn. Signature of Chauncey Jerome]


The manufacture of Clocks has become one of the most important branches of American industry. Its productions are of immense value and form an important article of export to foreign countries. It has grown from almost nothing to its present dimensions within the last thirty years, and is confined to one of the smallest States in the Union. Sixty years ago, a few men with clumsy tools supplied the demand; at the present time, with systematized labor and complicated machinery, it gives employment to thousands of men, occupying some of the largest factories of New England. Previous to the year 1838, most clock movements were made of wood; since that time they have been constructed of metal, which is not only better and more durable but even cheaper to manufacture.

Many years of my own life have been inseparably connected with and devoted to the American clock business, and the most important changes in it have taken place within my remembrance and actual experience. Its whole history is familiar to me, and I cannot write my life without having much to say about "Yankee clocks." Neither can there be a history of that business written without alluding to myself. A few weeks since I entered my sixty seventh year, and reviewing the past, many trying experiences are brought fresh into my mind. For more than forty five years I have been actively engaged in the manufacture of clocks, and constantly studying and contriving new methods of manufacturing for the benefit of myself and fellow men, and although through the instrumentality of others, I have been unfortunate in the loss of my good name and an independent competency, which I had honorably and honestly acquired by these long years of patient toil and industry, it is a satisfaction to me now to know that I have been the means of doing some good in the world.

On the following pages in my simple language, and in a bungling manner, I have told the story of my life. I am no author, but claim a title which I consider nobler, that of a "Mechanic." Being possessed of a remarkable memory, I am able to give a minute account and even the date of every important transaction of my whole life, and distinctly remember events which took place when I was but a child, three and a half years old, and how I celebrated my fourth birthday. I could relate many instances of my boyhood and later day experiences if my health, and strength would permit. It has been no part of my plan to boast, exaggerate, or misrepresent anything, but to give "plain facts."

A history of the great business of Clock making has never been written. I am the oldest man living who has had much to do with it, and am best able to give its history. To day my name is seen on millions of these useful articles in every part of the civilized globe, the result of early ambition and untiring perseverance. It was in fact the "pride of my life." Time keepers have been known for centuries in the old world; but I will not dwell on that. It is enough for the American people to know that their country supplies the whole world with its most useful time keepers, (as well as many other productions,) and that no other country can compete with ours in their manufacture.

It has been a long and laborious undertaking for me in my old age to write such a work as this; but the hope that it might be useful and instructive to many of my young friends has animated me to go on; and in presenting it to the public it is with the hope that it will meet with some favor, and that I shall derive some pecuniary benefit therefrom.

NEW HAVEN, August 15th, 1860.


CHAPTER I. MY EARLY HISTORY. Birthplace; nail making; death of my Father; leaving home; work on a farm; hard times; the great eclipse; bound out as a carpenter; carry tools thirty miles; work on clock dials; what I heard at a training; trip to New Jersey in 1812; first visit to New York; what I saw there; cross the North River in a scow; case making in New Jersey; hard fare; return home; first appearance in New Haven; at home again; a great traveller; experiences in the last war; go to New London to fight the British in 1813; incidents; soldiering at New Haven in 1814; married; hard times again; cottton [sic] cloth $1 per yard; the cold summer of 1816; a hard job; work at clocks... Continue reading book >>

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