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Clocks & Clockmakers

JOHN HOLLINSHEAD, ELDEST SON OF JOSEPH, was born about 1745, Jacob in 1747, Joseph, Jr., in 1751, Hugh in 1753, and Morgan in 1757. The first spent most of his life in Burlington. Jacob married in 1772 and moved to Salem, where he opened a shop. Joseph, Jr., stayed in Burlington, while Hugh started to make clocks in Mount Holly and later went to Moorestown, where Morgan had located. The two younger brothers both married in 1775, and Morgan is known to have died in 1832.

Morgan Hollinshead numbered his clocks on the dial and about twenty of them are known to be in existence. He had a son, George, who followed the same custom after marrying in 1820 and setting up a shop in Woodstown. Job was another son, and he is known to have learned the trade, although none of this clocks have been found for a certainty. Clocks made by all the other Hollinsheads and a few bearing the partnership name of Pearson & Hollinshead are scattered through South Jersey, and occasionally may be seen across the Delaware River in Pennsylvania.

The pioneer clockmaker of Bordentown was Samuel Shourds, who was in the town beginning sometime in the 1740s. The only clock thus far located with his name is in the home of a Moorestown family.

In addition to the Hollinsheads, Mount Holly was the home of David Shoemaker, who made clocks during the 1760s. Another clockmaker was Joshua Budd, who moved his shop from New Mills (now Pemberton) after the Revolution.

Other Mount Holy clockmakers have been identified as Richard Dickenson, Daniel Fling, and Peter Hill. Clocks bearing the names of these three men are known to exist, but comparatively little is known concerning the makers. In Dr. Zachariah Reed's Annuals written 1859, reference is made to Hill and it is stated that his shop was located on the west side of Main Street, near Mill Street. Records of the Quaker burying ground in Burlington mention a Peter Hill, who was a Negro and the only one of his race in those days who learned the trade of a watch and clockmakers. It appears likely, however, that there were two Peter Hills, because the first mentioned was for a time in Mount Holly and a white man.

Benjamin Reeve was a clockmaker in Greenwich between 1750 and 1790, and a number of clocks of excellent workmanship, with mahogany or cherry cases and his name on the dial, have been found in different parts of South Jersey. There is one of his in the Wood's Mansion in Greenwich and another in the home of a descendant living in Moorestown.

There were two clockmakers by the name of Hudson who worked in Mount Holly during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. One was William and the other Edward. They were brothers, who had learned their trade in Philadelphia from a John Wood. The clock made by the Hudsons were unusually tall, with cases of mahogany or walnut, and they were marked with the address in addition to the name.

Early Burlington records refer to the will of John Willis, clockmaker of that town, filed in 1748, but no examples of his work are known to exist.

Two makers of tall clocks are recorded in the early history of Woodbury, in Gloucester County. A John Whitehead was located there in the 1750s, and Isaac Cooper was there around 1770. Examples of their work are rare.

Hurtin & Burgi are listed in the early records of Bound Brook, Somerset County. They had a shop in the village as early as 1766. According to tradition they kept in repair the timepieces of Washington and the officers of his army during the winter of 1778, when they were in winter quarters in the vicinity.

One of the few clockmakers of Monmouth County in colonial times was Elias Sayre, who had a shop in Middletown in the 1780s. His time recorders are popularly called Monmouth clocks, because he showed that single word on the dials to indicate his address. The tall cases were well made of cherry or mahogany, but in the absence of labels, it is impossible to say by whom they were made. One of the clocks, with a sailing vessel adorning the dial, is in the Monmouth County Historical Society building at Freehold.

Several tall case clocks in excellent condition have been found bearing the name of Uriah Gould, who had a shop in Mendham, Morris County, during the first years of the nineteenth century.

Records of Rahway in 1827 list John Pressaq as a maker and repairer of clocks in that town.

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