It’s Past Time…

I have had a difficult time in preparing the following article whether is was due to lack of ‘time’, concentrating on the actual delivery and writing of the content, or simply old fashion laziness, I decided I needed to complete it before I started articles of other matters. In my recent quest of becoming a clock collector, and researching the history of the nearly two dozen clocks that have come home with me, I reminded myself that somewhere in my readings and research on other subjects, there was once a clock maker in Kittanning. It didn’t take any real amount of time to locate John Clugston, the individual who built the clocks. This little afternoon curiosity, quickly turned into a quest to learn more about this seemingly obscure piece of Kittanning history.

This frame building is believed to be  John Clugston's clock store.
This frame building is believed to be John Clugston’s clock store.


On June 21, 1828 in an ad taken out of the Columbian, a newspaper published in Kittanning, that he had “commenced the manufacture of eight-day and thirty-hour brass clocks, in the frame building next door to Thomas Blair’s office,..” This was located on lot No. 122, on the north side of Market, a little above Jefferson street, and opposite the old Register’s office. It was quickly learned that Clugston never built and of his thirty-hour clocks, and only completed and sold five of the eight-day clocks.

These five clocks that were made cost in around the $40 mark and were made of the finest materials available at that time. One of the clocks was purchased by John Mechling, which later was purchased by J. E. Brown. Another clock was sold to James McCullough Sr., one by Mr. James Montieth, another to James Matthews and finally one to David Reynolds, owner of the Kittanning Inn. Mr. Clugston carefully constructed, polished and fitted each intricate part into creating these clocks. They also included attachments which indicated the day of the month and the current moon phase.

The clock owned by James Montieth, who was a charter member of the First Presbyterian Church, trustee of the Kittanning Academy in 1821 and operated a store in the 1820’s on Market, would become the property of his daughter, Mrs. Nancy Gilpin, whose husband, Dr. John Gilpin, moved the clock to Elkton in Cecil County, Maryland after his wife’s death. This clock originally stood in the mansion on Jacob’s Hill, built by Dr. Gilpin. After Dr. Gilpin passed away the clock was owned by his second wife, Olive Gilpin. Upon her death the clock was brought back to Kittanning by Mary Elizabeth Adele Gilpin McCain, the great granddaughter of the original owner, James Montieth. Jim McClister, and attorney from Kittanning once found McCain standing on a chair to wind the clock. He happily volunteered to the task of winding the clock every Sunday over the next several years. Mr. McClister remarked that the clock was quite tall and was very handsome with beautiful veneer, and that it kept great time.

DSCF0631 (1)The clock that was purchased by David Reynolds, was perhaps the best known of all five built by Clugston. This clock was placed in the Kittanning Inn, and it was that clock that became the official time for all business conducted at the Armstrong County Courthouse. Each day the county crier would transverse the Market and Jefferson Street intersection from the courthouse to the Kittanning Inn and find the ‘official’ time before returning for the start of each days court. This clock eventually fell into disrepair and wasn’t kept running. The clock remained in the Reynolds family until the great-grandson of David Reynolds sold it to Dr. Douglas and Mrs. Caroline Shaffer. Dr. Shaffer, a horologist, was at one time President of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors. In 1984, the Shaffer’s donated the Clugston clock to the American Clock and Watch Museum in Bristol, Connecticut. This clock which is made from walnut and tiger maple rises at 8’ 11″ tall, and stands as a testament to the craftsmanship of John Clugston.

The Clugston clock that was purchased by David Reynolds stood for many years in his Kittanning Inn and later in the Reynolds Hotel.

The Clugston clock that was purchased by David Reynolds stood for many years in his Kittanning Inn and later in the Reynolds Hotel.


The dial on the Clugston clock owned by David Reynolds is thought to be made by Philadelphian, William Jones.

Mr. Clugston who was believed to be born in Kittanning about 1802 only remained in Kittanning until sometime just before 1840,when he moved his family to Portsmouth, OH. There, he went from being a tall case clock maker to a watch maker. His wife, Caroline, passed away in 1858. Mr. Clugston then virtually vanishes and it is only known that he is buried in a cemetery in Calhoun County, Illinois near where his son William lived.


It is my desire to continue research on the remaining four Clugston clocks to see if any have survived the past 180 years. My clock and Kittanning memorabilia collections would be near complete with a Clugston clock in it!!!

The long walnut case from the Clugston clock now stands with many other great clocks at the American Watch and Clock Museum in Bristol, CT.

The long walnut case from the Clugston clock now stands with many other great clocks at the American Watch and Clock Museum in Bristol, CT.



page 303, 1830 Census of Kittanning Borough, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania.

page 89, 1840 Census of Portsmouth, Scioto County, Ohio.

page 198, 1850 Census of Portsmouth, Scioto County, Ohio.

page 367, 1860 Census of Portor Township, Scioto County, Ohio.

History of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, Robert Walker Smith, Esq., Waterman & Watkins & Co., Chicago, Il, 1883.

Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, Her People, Past and Present, J. H. Beers & Co., 1914

Forum board of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors.

Mr. James McClister, Attorney

Clugston clock pictures courtesy of the American Clock and Watch Museum, Mr. Thomas Manning, Curator.

Picture of building on Market Street taken from the 1884 picture of Market Street, Christopher Anthony

Established Building Still Anchors Downtown

Wright EH adv

Provided by Howard Gordon of Howard’s Gold

The Thompson Building at the corner of Market and N. Mckean Street has served several business over it’s 110 year history.  In that time era you didn’t go to malls for your shopping, but to downtown Kittanning which served all your needs.  Every floor was used in those buildings with the 1st floors being used by merchants, and the remaining floors used for doctors, dentists, lawyers, dance studios, and other office purposes by the companies in the area.

Thompson Bldg 1904

Here is an article published October 12, 1904, when the construction was nearly completed. The building replaced “The Daily Times” building which had burned on this location several weeks ago prior and occupied the spot for 20 years.The Daily Times was another newspaper from that era. Plans had called for possibly having 4 floors and the top floor was mentioned to be the home of the Elks. Also mentioned in the article, it is amazing how the basement extended out underneath the sidewalk area of which was the roof of these sections. I guess if you own the property clear till the street you used it all.  I was able to observe this during a remodeling period a few years ago of the Thompson Building. Amazing what they accomplished in those days.

Here is a photo from around 1910 era. The Lyceum Theater, or yet to be named the Lyceum was to the right of the building on Market St. it was refurbished into the Theater around 1907 in articles that I have read. Another amazing building to

Thompson Buildingthe left on N. Mckean St. was the Heilman building which was built before the turn of the century and appears to be well constructed. The trolley tracks made the turn as shown and it traveled down N. Mckean Street from the Trolley barn, which was located at the now Kittanning Cottages near Chestnut Street. It wouldn’t be long that the overhead elevated bridge would be constructed to bring patrons from Wick Boro to this location for one continuous trip to town.

Most of the corner 1st floor were occupied by Drugs Stores throughout the years.

Kittanning Postcard - Looking East on Market St from Mckean Street

Kittanning Postcard – Looking East on Market St from Mckean Street

Widmann and Teah – Simpson’s Daily Leader Times – Oct 9, 1931











The Daily Times - Oct 2, 1908

The Daily Times – Oct 2, 1908

It took a little investigating of what Sheplers meant in the lower portion of the building shown in the colored postcard above. This advertisement was from 1908. I discovered that in the next month L. H. Shepler was having a bankruptcy sale and to be retired. Some of this information can really help to date the photographs and the time era it was taken.  Walter J. Strurgeon shown on the right side of the building was a pharmacist, possibly occupied a spot in the previous building. He is labeled on the post card in the east side of the building. Infield’s was in this same spot during the 40’s, another drug store. When Mr. Sgro last owned it, I believe it was posted as Gil’s on the west side during the late 70’s and 80’s and sat idle. But thankfully the building still survived.

For years Fox & Stone occupied the 2nd floor with offices. Mostly handling Real Estate. Several other entities used this corner building which was in the hub of downtown Kittanning Business. Some of the located advertisements who occupied the Thompson Building.

Unknown Date

Simpson's Daily Leader Times - Sept 3, 1915

Simpson’s Daily Leader Times – Sept 3, 1915






Restaurant Basement of the Thompson Building

Restaurant Basement of the Thompson Building Photo Provided by Chris Anthony


For years the basement in this building served the area as a restaurant and bar. The last established was “The Pub”.





Rosebud Building - Market St.

Soon after Rosebud completed the restoration.