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Sons of Eli Terry

Eli Terry, Jr., inherited his father's inventive genius, and when twenty-five years of age built a shop of his own on the Pequabuck. He did not live to be an old man, but was forty-two when he died, yet he left a fortune, and the village where he lived was called after him, Terryville, in honour of his many achievements.

In fact all the sons of Eli Terry the first, seem to have inherited the inventive spark from their father. Silas Burnham Terry had a shop at the junction of the Pequabuck and Poland brooks in 1831 where he too made clocks. His inventive ability overshadowed his business capacity, and financially he was less fortunate than his brother Eli, Jr., though his knowledge of the mechanism of a clock could not be surpassed.

His brother Henry speaks of him as follows in an obituary notice which appeared in the "Waterbury American" of May 30, 1876. He mentions the various financial troubles which Silas suffered In 1837 and 1839, and then goes on:

He had, however, during these years of business adversity introduced new machinery from which others derived more benefit than himself, and had introduced newly arranged clocks which have since proved the best on the market. The clock known as the "Seth Thomas Regulator No, 1 and 2", is one. It is a perfect timekeeper and is as reliable even for astronomical purposes as the more showy clocks, costing ten times as much. The same clock is also made at Winsted by the Waterbury Clock Co. He also made a new gravity escapement regulator.
About 1852 he invented a torsion balance clock, so called. It was designed for a cheap clock. The movement was carried by a spring as in other marine clocks, but the balance was a flattened wire, stretched from top to bottom of the clock, to which was attached a horizontal rod or wire with a small ball at each end, which by their vibrations served to regulate the motion of the clock and took the place of the hair spring. A joint stock company was formed to manufacture the clock.

It did not prove a success, however, and its manufacture was discontinued. After this Silas B. Terry was in the employ of William L. Gilbert at Winsted and of the Waterbury Clock Co. Then he and his sons organised the Terry Clock Co., and he continued at the head of this firm until his death.

In 1862, when Eli Terry 3rd, son of Eli Terry 2nd, was only twenty-one years of age, he commenced to make clock springs in the factory at the junction of the Poland and Pequabuck brooks, which his uncle Silas B. had built. His, too, was an inventive genius, and he tempered, hardened, and coiled springs in an entirely new way. Shortly, however, the Seth Thomas Clock Co. of Thomaston took over the manufacture.

The springs used in imported clocks were and still remain too expensive for use in the low-priced American clocks, Before the invention of Terry's coiled spring, brass springs, and a steel elliptic spring connected with a fusee were used. The use of these was discontinued when the hardening and tempering of coiled springs was found possible and put in use.

This was the first step in making American steel springs, and many springs are still made in this way. Later the process of tempering and hardening springs under tension, and then polishing and bluing them before they were coiled, was introduced. Terry's pamphlet states: "A knowledge of the first discovery was told and sold to two men, one paying $500, the other $200, each one entering into a separate bond of $500, not to communicate knowledge of the discovery to others".

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