SILAS MERRIMAN / SILAS HOADLEY
Tall ("grandfather") Clock
(A "TALL CLOCK" WAS A HISTORICAL TITLE FOR WHAT WE NOW CALL A "GRANDFATHER'S CLOCK")
This clock has been in our family
since it was new.
We are not exactly sure, at this point, how old it is.
It likely sat for almost a century in the old Hayden homestead in South Thomaston, ME.
In about 1934, it was moved to Arthur's home in Ann Arbor, MI.
In 1997 it was moved to it's current family home in Colorado..
We are continuing to investigate family records and general history.
The case appears to be made of cherry wood.
It is possible that the case was built between 1770 and 1783
by a fellow named SILAS MERRIMAN.
The actual clock work presently installed was built by SILAS HOADLEY
probably between 1805 and 1815.
Below: A picture showing clock-maker Silas Hoadley posing for an early picture with his staff and dog. Date of picture is unknown but, presumably, around 1825.
This clock has been passed through
the family since it was new.
Brought moved from Situate, MA to South Thomaston, ME (then called Dublin Hill), it remained in the family homestead there until 1934. It left the Maine farmhouse and ended up in Ann Arbor, MI. In 1997 it was brought to its current home at Franktown, CO.
Family picture in 1919, Adults L-to-R: Ethel (Hayden) Woodhead, Dr. Arthur E. Woodhead, Charles McCloon Hayden at the Maine homestead.
Below Left: Dr. Arthur E. Woodhead taught Zoology at Univ. of Michigan in Ann Arbor where the clock resided 1934 through 1997. He re-caulked the plate glass in 1920.
Above right: In 1997, the clock came to the next generation of family ownership. The clock was restored to working condition, keeping all original parts but adding nylon bushings over the original (worn) ivory bushings. Original clock string is stored in the bottom of the clock case.
Further review of the history of our family's clock --
The tall clock that has sustained in our family
since it was new has two pieces of information that we're still investigating.
1. Inside the head of the clock written in pencil is a statement reading:
by Mrs. Ana Hayden
- From this we may suppose that the CASE of the
clock and whatever clockworks were in it at that time made the trip from
Situate, MA to Dublin Hill (S. Thomaston / Owls Head), ME. in 1783.
- This is a question, however, because the woodworks of the Silas Hoadley movement were probably not built until 1805-1818.
2. Inside the pendulum door, in faded pencil, it reads:
S. M. Merriman (or Marinene??)
xxxx (possibly a date?)
- It seems that the case may predate the clock movement and that, during the move from Massachusetts to Maine or sometime after, the original clock movement wore out or broke and had to be replaced?
- If that's the case, who made the clock case and when?
- Is it possible that the S. M. Merriman is the maker of the tall clock case and that his original clockwork wore out after the 1783 Situate, Massachusetts to Dublin Hill (South Thomaston), Maine move and had to be replaced? Considering that, if the Hoadley works date to about 1815, then (1815-1783 = 32 years) the original Merriman wooden clock works would be aging.
From the book
by: Chris Bailey
Bailey's book has a lot of good
information on the general history of clocks in America during the late 1700's
and early 1800's. My theory takes shape from information gleaned from his
THE SILAS MERRIMAN WOODEN CASE:
According to Bailey (THE AGE OF HANDCRAFTING 1700-1850 p. 62), SILAS MERRIMAN (1734-1805) had a shop in New Haven, CT. and was active during the 1770's. The time frame he was active would certainly allow for the 1783 trip from Massachusetts to Maine.
Bailey states, "Some of his clock movements had unusual skeletonized plates..." so we know that he built clocks and didn't just fix them. His estate inventory included "clock patterns, parts of a new clock, two completed clocks, and tin-cased clock weights." Additional thought here would suppose that the weights and pendulum used by the existing Silas Hoadley clockworks may actually have been originally used on the Merriman clockworks?
As yet unknown is, if the S. M. MERRIMAN is him, why would it read PORTLAND under his name?
Not much is yet known about Silas Merriman but I am continuing my research.
In his section entitled THE
WOOD TALL CLOCK (page 103), Bailey asserts that Eli Terry could be called
the '"the father of the clockmaking career..."Terry (1772-1852) built
clocks with both wooden and brass movements.
Apparently starting his training under Daniel Burnap (1759-1838) in 1786, Terry received further instruction from a "Mr. Cheney" (Timothy 1731-1795) or Benjamin 1725-1815). The Cheney brothers had begun producing clocks wood movement clocks in about 1745. Their early works were fairly crude in construction. Completed one clock at a time, all sawing and planing on the Cheney clocks was done by hand.
Terry moved his new business from East Windsor, CT to a wilderness area called Northbury which was in 1795 became known as Plymouth, Connecticut.
Terry built "uncased wood clocks" and brass movement clocks in his early years using "old fashioned" methods including a foot-treadle lathe and a handcranked clockmaker engine to cut wood and brass teeth.
The uncased clocks were bought by those unable to afford the extra expense of a tall clock cabinet, hung them on the wall calling them "Wag-On-Wall" clocks.
Due to a major clock works contract, Eli Terry hired two apprentices by the names of Seth Thomas (1785-1859) and Silas Hoadley (1786-1859).
In 1809, Eli Terry sold his shop to the two junior workers and, in late 1813, Seth Thomas sold his interest to Silas Hoadley. Hoadley remained in Plymouth with his new business working out of the factory Terry had named the "Ireland" factory.
Silas Hoadley had older two brothers also involved in the clockmaking business. Samuel (1776-1858) and Luther (1781-1813) centered their efforts in Waterbury and later Winchester, CT. They apparently had little to do with their younger brother, Silas.
If you have any additional information that may prove helpful related to this clock, please let me know.
Additionally: I am looking
for information about the pendulum wire. I do not believe that the one used with
this clock is original... possibly having been replaced and/or modified by
Arthur E. while in his charge.
If you have a picture or statistics about an original Hoadley pendulum wire, please let me know. Thanks!
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