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Connecticut Clockmakers

Hiram Camp

Hiram Camp, who was born in Plymouth, Connecticut, in April, 1811, was a nephew of Chauncey Jerome. Till he was eighteen he was employed on the farm, but disliking the work and having a decided taste for mechanics, he went to Bristol, where he entered the clockmaking business of his Uncle Chauncey. The clockmaking business was at this time, 1829, still in a crude state, and there were many improvements which came later, some of them invented by Camp himself, who was not only a skilled mechanic but had an inventive ability as well.

In 1845 Camp went to New Haven, where he commenced making clocks. When the Jerome Manufacturing Co. failed it was succeeded by the New Haven Clock Co. Hon. James English was the largest holder of stock in this company, and Hiram Camp was its president. He owned much stock, and held the office of president for about forty years. Although an active man of business he made time to hold many public offices. He became much interested in many charitable societies, and died in New Haven, July 8, 1893, at the age of 82.

Hiram Camp
Hiram Camp.

Hiram and Heman Welton

At one time in the history of Plymouth the name of Welton was an important one. Hiram and Heman Welton bought out the "upper shop" of Eli Terry, Junior, and used it for many years, their business at one time being the largest in Terryville, as that part of Plymouth was called.

They underwrote for some firm which failed, and this caused the failure of their firm also, which occurred in 1845. Their shops remained closed but a short time, and were then opened as a factory for locks, for the manufacture of which Terryville has since become famous.

E. & G. Bartholomew

E. et G. Bartholomew were also Bristol clockmakers who manufactured large numbers of "hang-up" as well as shelf clocks. They were at work about 1820.

Elias Ingraham

Another well-known clockmaker of Bristol, Conn., was Elias Ingraham, whose descendants still carry on the business which he founded, making the old patterns which he designed because they cannot better them.

Elias Ingraham was born in Marlborough, Mass., in 1805, and died in Bristol in 1885, just as the business he had established began to be a commercial success. He was originally a cabinet-maker, but was, of course, influenced by the general business of the town of Bristol, clockmaking, and went into that, turning his early training to account in designing the cases. One of his patterns, called the "Sharp Gothic", which has become so familiar all over America, he designed while on a sailing voyage to Caracas, taken to introduce his clocks into South America. The pattern case for the "Sharp Gothic" clocks he whittled out of a block of wood in an effort to beguile the tedium of the trip, and it proved to be one of his greatest successes. Had he protected the design by a patent he would have made a fortune, but as he failed to do that the design was copied by other makers and sold so extensively in this and other countries, that it is believed to have been the best seller of any distinctively American design for clocks.

This Gothic pattern was, as first designed by Ingraham, a very good one. It had a symmetrical peak or gable rising between two pillars ending in two graceful pinnacles. In the pirated designs there were usually but two columns and two pinnacles, and the peak was not so well proportioned. These Sharp Gothic clocks in the original Ingraham design are hard to find, and apparently the company now working the factory at Bristol does not own one, since my repeated letters to them on this subject have met with no response.

Several of the popular designs for clock cases made prior to 1875 were designed by Ingraham, and called by him "Doric", "Grecian", "Ionic", etc. These designs are still used by the firm for their foreign trade.

In one of Elias Ingraham's clocks, which is an unusual pattern of wall clock, there is to be found inside the lower door a round paper which reads as follows:

Manufacturers of
Eight Day Time And Strike Clocks
Elias Ingraham's Patent.
Directions for regulating the clock.
If it runs too slow, raise the Ball; if too fast lower it. This may be done by means of the screw at the bottom of the pendulum.
Directions for setting the clock running.
Hang the clock in a perpendicular position; hang on the pendulum ball, and turn the clock to the right or left till it is in beat, then fasten firmly to the wall.

And finally to quote a contemporary:

Elias Ingraham was a man of heroic mould, tall, broad-shouldered and with a leonine head. Julia Sparks, his wife, of the Glastonbury family of that name, never forgave her husband for the leave he took of her when he went to South America. She was a high-strung woman, and he seems to have dreaded breaking the news to her. One summer day he came home and astonished her by calling for his winter overcoat, which she gave him. He then left the house and she next heard of him from New York, where he wrote her a letter saying that he was sailing for South America. She rehearsed the story as long as she lived, but she never told it without a recurrence of her old feeling of resentment.

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