Strived to Win for His Country

Local Hometown Boy Goes Across the Atlantic

This is a story about Olympic Hometown Hero Fred Boylestein, a Bronze Medal Winner in Olympic Boxing. *Note – The spelling of the last name appears in two versions and was wrote as it appeared at the time(dates) of the information received. Even spelled two different ways in the same article

What seems like a spectacular event when it occurs today for local boxing, was a common event in the 1920’s. Matches and exhibitions occurred almost on a weekly basis. A remarkable feat took place with a local boxer that today only a few have heard about, that is Kittanning’s Local Boxer Fred Boylestein.

1924 Bronze Medal Winner at the Olympics which was held in France.

Fred Boylestein 1924 Bronze Medal Winner

Fred Boylestein was born in March 15, 1902 to George L. and Catherine (Haines) Boylestein. Not only having a stellar amateur career, he continued to box professionally well into the 1930’s, then continued training young fighters. He later became an employee of Jos. S. Finch Co. which led to him becoming Chief of Police for security there. Fred continued to live in Kittanning, residing at 426 Highland Ave. for several years. In some periods of his life he would occasionally give boxing sessions at the local YMCA.

Fred’s father passed in 1931 and it is noted in his obituary that “he was a boxer of considerable merit himself before training his son Fred”.

His mother Catherine who had resided with Fred, passed away on Feb 27, 1963.

Fred Boylstein passed away on February 28, 1972 and is buried in Kittanning Cemetery. Find A Grave Memorial# 100114020


Fred Boyelstein

Fred Boylestein at the France Camp during the Olympics in 1924 – Photo Courtesy of Becky Everson

While in France, Fred sent to his local friends at home, a letter describing his experience before the matches began. A photo was provided by members of the Boylstein Family at the this camp in France. It was published in Simpson’s Daily Leader-Times on July 18, 1924.

“This is the Fourth of July and thousands of people are here for the games. I boxed a three round exhibition with Al Mello today for General Pershing and Senator Reed, of Pennsylvania.  They gave us all a handshake and hoped we would win. Mary Pickford was here. I had a little chat with her, she wrote her name on my headgear. We are not allowed to go out any place here and it is lonesome. Great House and I, and everybody else would like to be back home. All we do is sit, and tomorrow is the Fourth and no fire crackers. The boys start tomorrow to see who makes the team. They start boxing the July 15th and continue until July 20th”.

“How are all the boys? Give them my kind regards. You can hardly sleep here at night. Don’t get much training, as it is raining here now and has been for two days. I met a gentlemen from Pittsburg and also young Romig(see link below) from Armstrong County. He is a dandy fellow, he is a runner and there are many boys in the camp. We are located about 15 miles from Paris on a big farm and cold water to bath in. I worked out a little today. I shadow boxed for four rounds, skipped rope two rounds, and then boxed Jack Williams two rounds. We stepped out pretty lively. I will have a to tell you when I get back to the old home town that Tom Dorsey, New York promoter wants Great House(Ed Greathouse) and me to turn professional when we come back, win or lose over here. He says winning in the USA is the main thing. I told him I would see dad and what ever he said would go. Expect to sail home for July 28th”. 

July 17. 1924 article in the Simpson Daily Leader Times

July 17, 1924 article in the Simpson Daily Leader Times

After beating George Shorter of Great Britain Fred went on to fight Alf Genon of Belguim and won. Then he fought eventual Gold Metal Winner Hans Neilsen of Denmark.

Excerpt of the Neilsen/Boylstein fight from a syndicated newspaper. “In the lightweight class Fred Boylstein of Pittsburg, was defeated by Neilsen of Denmark in a bout in which the Dane led all the way. Boylstein did some pretty boxing in the first two rounds, but the Dane’s ability to reach the body gave him a decided advantage. In the third the Dane got to the head with regularity, Boylstein tired and was obliged to hang on his opponent”. 

For the Bronze Medal Fred came back to win over Jean Tholey of France. Even after losing his bid for the Gold Medal, Fred continued to fight hard to bring back a medal for his country.

A detriment that plagued Fred was that in the USA Fred weighed in at 135lbs with his boxing trunks on for the lightweight division and the Olympics required he fight at 130lbs stripped. Info from

A listed newspaper account of Fred Boylestein’s first Professional bout occurred in Simpson’s Daily Leader Times on January 10, 1925. His father George sent a message home from West Virginia that Fred knocked out Jack Rootie in the 5th round.

Fred continued to box in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York professionally.

Magistrate Gary DeComo’s father Patsy DeComo of Ford City was one of the young fighters Fred had trained.

Pictorial of Fred’s Accomplishments

Boylestein brochure

Joseph A. Finch at Schenley Plant with a Recognition of Fred Boylestein


Boxing card

Boxing Card Published on Aug 19, 1925 of Local Matches at Ford City, PA

Links to People Mentioned

Hans Jacon Nielsen – Wikipedia,  Alfredo Copello – Wikipedia, Mary Pickford – Wikipedia, General John J. Pershing – Wikipedia, John Luther “Blondy” Romig – Wikipedia, Ed Greathouse – Wikipedia

Mary Pickford, Famous Actress



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