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

C. C. John at the Kittanning Brewery


     Back in January a Diana Higginson Kengott had posted this great old photograph of her Great Grandfather, C. C. John. She mentioned she did not know a lot of him, but felt that he may have been a horse trainer. Besides this photograph, she said they have another photograph where is with horses as well.

     As I have been inactive on our site for sometime, I missed the posting. I apologize for not keeping up with things over the past couple years. Several life changing events took place, and prevented me from being active on our site.

1600106_10202971698592771_1038604366_n     For Diana, I assume that your Great Grandfather was Charles Cale John born 1882 as I find him living with is parents, Adam and Elinor John in East Franklin Township in the 1900 census. He is listed in there as being born in 1882. I later find a Charles C. John located on Harrison Street in West Kittanning for the 1910 census. He listed his age as 37(abt. 1882), married for 6 years with 1 child. His wife, Lulu was listed as 28(abt. 1883). There daughter Florence is listed as 5 (abt. 1905) years old. In 1910, he is listed as a teamster for the brewery.

     In 1920, Charles Cole John is living in Manor Township with wife Lulu, daughters Florence and Martha, and son Earl. In this census he is listed as a farmer. Obviously, prohibition was instituted by the time the census enumerator came around in March 1920. I take it that either farming wasn’t for him, or he couldn’t make a living at it, so in 1930, he is moved to East Franklin Township and listed at a pipe fitter for the glass works. His wife Lulu and Earl and Eunice are listed in the household.

     Prohibition took place from 1920 until 1933 in the United States, so in the 1940 census, he is back as a laborer at the distillery. His wife is indexed as Suler, but obviously her name was Lulu. In this census it only lists their daughter, Eunice born about 1923. They were residing in Rural Route #3 of Kittanning.

     Before prohibition, Kittanning had two breweries in operation, The Elk Brewery and the Kittanning Brewing Company. The picture that you have posted was taken in front of the Kittanning Brewing Company, which was located on the Southeast corner of Jefferson and Walnut Street in Kittanning. The portion you see to the left of the wagon is the main entrance that was located on the corner of the building facing the intersection.

     You jokingly mentioned in your original post that your husband said they were hauling beer. Well in fact he probably was. I have a wooden case used during that era that the beer was packed in. They are exactly was is overly stacked in the wagon. Wouldn’t the DOT officers love pulling this over on the road today!!! Diana, I trust that this gives you a little insight to your Great Grandfather. If you have further questions and I can answer, I’d welcome you to contact me at