The Buckner Family Eight-Day Patriotic Tall Clock (FR2016033)
Eagle Inlaid Tall Clock, with an enameled dial and an 8-day brass movement signed by clockmaker Samuel Martin (1768-1825), who worked in Wheeling, [now West], Virginia, between 1798 and 1801. The cherry case has light-and-darkwood inlays, and poplar as the secondary wood. It is attributed to cabinetmaker John Brown (1761-1835), of Wellsburg and Bethany, Brooke County, [now West] Virginia, circa 1800. The eagle inlay originates in Baltimore. Height 105” (overall with finials); width 17 ½” (overall, cornice); depth 8 ⅞” (overall, base).
FIGURE 1b. Detail showing the Hood.The case features exceptional inlays that include a complex eagle, barber-pole inlays and cock-beading; a waist frieze of satinwood and walnut; variegated fans and paterae in the door; harlequin banding beneath the cornice; and complex banding to suggest flutes in the quarter columns and colonnettes.
This clock is exceptional not only for the quality of the design and quantity of inlay, but also for the seminal moment that it represents in the convergence of key personalities in the cultural life of Virginia’s northwestern frontier. It has an eight-day movement by the previously unknown Virginia clockmaker Samuel Martin (1768-1825), an Ulster-Scot who hailed from Dublin, Ireland, and worked there prior to immigrating to Virginia in 1798. Cabinetmaker John Brown hailed from Celtic forebears who arrived in Maryland at mid-century from the Isle of Man. The pediment he created—with boldly shaped scrolls and an ambitious parapetthat projects above them—is among the finest anywhere in that era.
The case is the most ambitious of four examples presently known from Brown’s shop, and provides a striking parallel to a closely related clock (Figure 2) with an eight day movement dated “May 4, 1802” and signed by Hugh Andrews (1761 – 1821) of Wellsburg, scarcely 10 miles from Wheeling. The eagle medallion seen in both of the clocks embody the skill of a London-trained Baltimore artisan who sold his work to cabinetmakers as far away as western Virginia, and Kentucky.
The cases on the two prior clocks also relate to one with a movement by clockmaker Thomas McCarty (abt. 1805 – 1876) of Wellsburg (Figure 2). Little is known of his life, though he appears to have abandoned the trade by 1830, when he became the town’s postmaster. After that, he pursued various commercial ventures, including glassmaking (1842-1856) and storekeeping. The 1850 United States Census reveals that he was a Pennsylvania native, and a “merchant” with real estate holdings valued at $2,800.When McCarty died in 1876 the family interred him in Wellsburg.
The case bears the original movement, made and signed by the Irish-born, Ulster Scot clockmaker, Samuel Martin (1768-1825). In 1795, after completing his obligation as a jouneyman in Dublin, he seems to have briefly served as journeyman in that city, and by some point late in 1797, or early ‘98, departed for America.
As with many Ulster Scots he headed directly to the ‘western frontier”—in this case, Wheeling, [now West] Virginia—and onApril 18th, 1798, announced to the public that he had opened his doors for business. Because no newspaper existed in Wheeling at the time, Martin sent the notice to the “Herald of Liberty”, published 30 miles to the east in flourishing Washington Borough, the court-house seat for Washington County, Pennsylvania.
No other clock survives from Martin’s years in Wheeling. When he next advertised on May 5th, 1801, he had moved north and set up shop at 43 Maiden Lane, in New York City. There, in the American Citizen, he offered clocks “of his own manufacture,” including “an elegant TIME PIECE, neatly finished, suitable for a Bank, Gentleman’s Hall, or any Public Office.” He ran the notice again on June 3rdand July 10th.
On May 25thMartin advertised in the National Advocate, announcing a partnership at 70 William Street with clock-maker James Bell, where he remained there through 1819, when he departed for Savannah, Georgia. There he served at executer for the estate of merchant Samuel Luke whom he claimed as “next of kin,” offering a variety of New York goods at his kinsman’s establishment. While there, he briefly operated a shop of his own on Whitaker Street, Savannah, where he engaged in clock-making and watch repairs that were central to his career.
When Martin returned to New York in 1820 he resided at 8 Liberty Street, where he remained into 1822. However, the following year he was back at his old address on William Street, suggesting that he had rented it for several years when living temporarily in Georgia.
Little more is known of the clockmaker’s career until his death on February 10th, 1825. The record in the city archives notes that he was 57 years old, a native of Ireland, lived at William Street, and was interred at St. Patrick’s Cemetery. He appears to have remained single, as none of the sources documenting the artisan, his residence, or his various business locations, provide further evidence of a spouse or other family. A footnote appended here suggests further research to illumine Martin’s early career.
IDENTIFYING THE CASE MAKER:
Despite the distance to eastern urban centers, Wellsburg stood ideally situated on the banks of the Ohio River, where it flourished as a commerical center. Eastern settlers heading west to the Mississippi Valley helped to fuel the town’s economy—and attracted talented artisans in numbers disproportionate to its size. By 1800 the settlement offered sophisticated products competing with those from centers such as Pittsburgh and Washington Burrough to the east, and Wheeling to the south. Long before the National Road reached Wheeling in 1818, the town boasted a host of talented artisans.
Nancy L. Caldwell’s Brief History of Brooke County(1976) identified ten carpenters and cabinetmakers active in Brooke County between 1794 and 1800.A careful survey of their lives reveals that only one individual among them stands out, as having worked at the turn of the century, been sufficiently informed to understand classical detail comparable to that of the clock, and had the social connections requistie to produce and market cabinetry of this level— cabinetmaker John Brown (1761-1835). Research into his ancestry shows that he was a Maryland native who migrated west from Harford County to western Virginia in the mid-1780s.
John Brown (1761-1835) was one of three woodworking brothers born in Maryland to Rev. Solomon Brown (1729-1803), a carpenter and Methodist circuit rider who emigrated about the year 1750 from The Isle of Man.He settled in 1760 on Little Pipe Creek, in what was then Baltimore County, and now falls within Harford County. The following year, he married Huldah Smith (1745-1773), a woman of Welsh descent, who produced three sons. The boys were young when she died in 1775, and like their father, became woodworkers—John (1761-1835) a cabinetmaker; Thomas (1768-1816), a cooper; and Solomon II (1771-1813), a house carpenter.
Things changed for the boys when their father remarried April 5, 1780 to Althea Foster, and then again in 1785, when she had the first of 6 infants born to the couple. Over the next half-decade, the three sons from the first marriage left home to pursue their trades. John, at 24, headed west to the Virginia frontier. When his younger brothers Thomas and Solomon completed their apprenticeships, they moved into Baltimore.
Evidence of John Brown’s skill as an artisan survives in the house and the furniture that he built for his family in the frontier settlement at “Buffalo Creek” (now Bethany) seven miles east of Wellsburg. In 1811, his daughter Margaret (1791-1827) married the Presbyterain, Scots-bornReverend Alexander Campbell (1788-1866), from County
Antrim, Ireland—and moved into the home with them. In 1815, Brown began to expand and furnish the house, then deeded the property to them for $1 – and returned to Wellsburg. By 1820, he sold his daughter and son-in-law the 136 acres for $100, when they founded Buffalo Seminary. The home soon became the center for Campbell’s religious enterprises—while serving as editor and printer of TheChristian Baptist (1823-1830); waging a successful campaign for election to Virginia’sConstitutional Convention(1828-29); publishing the church’s Millennial Harbinger (1830-70), and founding the Disciples of Christ (1832), which now boasts half a million members.
By 1840 the institution had grown so large, that it expanded to become Bethany College, and over the years grew to fill the surrounding landscape. Today, the school prospers, and the original house that John Brown built is a museum, complete with the original woodwork and farmily furnishings that he made, which still remain in place.
Both the Brown Family and regional historians credit John Brown for the parlor’s walnut panelling. He also constructed the mantelpiece, with its diamond appliques, ogee-cornice; and ornamental frieze. As with the architectural frieze in the room it has gouge cut fluting and four-petal flowers (Figure 11).
The woodwork that Brown constructed during the 1790s for the parlor offers compelling evidence that he had sufficient skill to make the cases for the larger group of regional clocks. Indeed, the mantelpiece has a fully-developed entablature with a cove cornice, quarter round cap molding, and fluted frieze that offer convincing stylistic parallels to those on the Wellsburg clocks. These, together with the quality of the moldings, strongly suggests that Brown held a respected position within the region’s woodworking community, and suggests he had the skill to produce the clock cases.
Figure 10 and 11 (below):Parlor mantlepiece and cornice, fromThe Brown-Campbell Home, Used with permission from Bethany College, T. W. Phillips Memorial Library, Archives & Special Collections, Bethany, West Virginia.
Curiously, Reverend Campbell called the principal chamber the “Clock Room”, underscoring that it served as a home for an imposing eight day clock with a movement by Thomas McCarty of nearby Wellsburg—which remains there today (Figures 12, next page).Family tradition records that “the clock was purchased in 1814.”Though later in date and simpler in style than the Samuel Martin example discussed here, the two cases nonetheless share numerous features in common, including the ogee shaping at the rear of the hood; the canted corners; the veneer along the narrow top edge of the cove molding beneath the hood; the generous use of crotch cherry veneers in the frieze, door and plinth panels of the base. The parallel features underscore that the clock cases in the group also hail from John Brown’s shop
Figure 12:Overall and detail, of the Campbell family tall clock, with a movement by Thomas McCarty (1805-1871) of nearby Wellsburg. The case is attributed to John Brown, circa 1825. Used with permission from Bethany College, T. W. Phillips Memorial Library, Archives & Special Collections, Bethany, West Virginia.
The case has a movement signed by Wellsburg clock-maker Thomas McCarty, yet family tradition attributes the case to John Brown. Though the case is perhaps 15 years later than the house’s woodwork, it nonetheless shares numerous characteristics of style and detail, as cited above. More importantly, the clock case also parallels earlier clocks in the group—from the double-ogee shaping on the vertical spandrels on the back edges of the hood; the extensive use of crotch cherry veneers for decorating the frieze and the door; the canted corners of the case; and the shape of the pediment scrolls. More importantly, the high style cases bear movements that range in date from 1798 to about 1820—a period that correspondeds with Brown’s long career in the region.
CONDITION:When acquired, the clock and the case survived in fine condition, with expected evidence of wear and minor losses that are commensurate with the date of origin. The retained all of the principal fabric intact, save for 3” at the top of the central finial plinth; the finials; and the bottom board of the lower case. Of the ornament, it retained virtually all, save for the veneer facing on the front feet and the skirt between them; and a signficant number of the tiny pieces of the barber-pole cock-beading that Brown used to highlight the clock’s features. The movement survived with the original pendulum and weights, but was dirty, and was not in working order.
In December 2016 and January 2017, furniture conservator F. C. Vogt of Richmond, Virginia carefully replaced the missing components; patched minor losses to veneers and moldings; pulled together a crack in the plinth panel and inserted small shims to compensate for the shrinkage; lightly cleaned the surface of accretions; touched up scratches and blemishes; and ultimately applied shellac and paste eax to consolidate the surface. The movement has now been cleaned and oiled by Douglas Whitesell, clock conservator for the White House and State Department. It is now in working order.
Sumpter Priddy III and business associate Robert Morrissey recently purchased the clock from the estate of William Gordon Buckner (1934-2016) of Marshall, Missouri. His ancestors included eighteenth century Buckners of “The Neck”, Caroline County, and others of Fauquier County, Virginia—who later moved westward to Tennessee and Missouri. The likely line of descent follows below:
–Charles Buckner (b. 9/19/1785 in Caroline County, Virginia – d. 4/4/1834 in Paris, Missouri) m. 4/20/1815 Susan Elizabeth Thornton (b. 10/29/1797 – d. 2/2/1875), daughter of Thomas Griffin Thornton of “Ormsby” Caroline County and Ann Harrison Fitzhugh of “Prospect Hill” Facquier County.
— nine children, including their youngest son
William Fitzhugh Thornton Buckner (b. 1/27/1828 in Caroline County, Virginia –
-moved to Paris, Missouri when he was six, ca. 1834
-m. Elizabeth Woods (b. 1832 Boone Co. Mo. – d. 1912, Paris, Mo) dau.
of Rev. Anderson Woods (1788-1841) of Albemarle County, Virginia
-died 16 June, 1929, Paris, Missouri.
– Father of eight children, including eldest son:
–Charles Madison Buckner, Sr. (b. 9/14/1860 Paris, Missouri – d. 9/3/1928 in Marshall, Missouri) m. 6/2/1887 Daisy Potter (b. 5/26/1865)
— six children, including their youngest son
Charles Madison Buckner, Jr. (b. 9/12/1898 in Marshall, Missouri – 7/7/2001 in Marshall, Missouri) m. Mary Margaret Gordon (b. 1910 – d. 1993),
— two children, including their son
William Gordon Buckner (b. 12/25/1934 in Marshall, Missouri – d. 5/24/2016 in Marshall, Missouri)
WEST VIRGINIA BUCKNERS (p. 190)
Elizabeth Byrne (DATES), daughter of George and Lydia Byrn(e) of Prince William County, Va m. ______ Buckner (DATES) of “The Neck” Caroline County, Virginia
three children, including daughters Elizabeth Byrne, Mary Byrne, and their son
Sumpter Priddy III, Inc. is grateful to a number of individuals who have assisted in researching Wellsburg clocks since he acquired the first of the group about 1988. Those who assisted in the documentation, photography, research and conservation of pieces in this group include independent contractors Thomas Johans of Alexandria, Veronica Conkling of Arlington, Kelli Lucas of Wilmington, Delaware, and Erin Thomas of Washington, DC He is also grateful to the staff of the Brooke County, West Virginia historical society, and particularly, to Sharon Monigold, Archivist for Bethany College, who was especially helpful in various research requests, and in acquiring photographs of the John Brown clock and the Brown-Campbell mansion. During the prior 30 years, the following individuals also have made invaluable contributions to schoarship related when four prior clocks in the group surfaced. Those individuals include scholar Douglas Whitesell, who conserved virtually all of the clock movements depicted here and made invaluable observations about their construction and marking; furniture conservator F. C. Vogt of Richmond, who has conserved each of the cases; and researchers Martha Vick and Dywana Saunders of Richmond.
Wendy A. Cooper and Mark Anderson, “The Nottingham School of Furniture”, in American Furniture, 2011. The article provides considerable insight into about furniture made by the Brown and other families of the Nottingham settlement.
FURTHER INSIGHT INTO CABINETMAKER JOHN BROWN
(b. 4 July 1761, Harford Co., Md.- 24 June 1835, Bethany, WV)
Brown was the son of joiner and Methodist circuit rider Rev. Solomon Brown (b. 1729 Isle of Man -d. 1803, Harford Co., MD) and Huldah Smith (b. 1745 Harford Co., Md. – d. 1773 Harford Co., Md.). He Bethany, Brooke, West Virginia, and lies interred in the Brown-Campbell cemetery, on land that he previously owned, where he built the family a small log cabin (now sheathed in clapboard) that he later expanded into a mansion (1815 and 1820). When he moved to Wellsburg, he sold the property to his daughter Margaret Brown and her husband, Rev. Alexander Campbell.
The family became leaders of an evangelical movement that emerged on the frontier in the early nineteenth century, that that proudly referred to the embrace of “Primitive Christianity,” and followed the Biblical teachings that Christ imparted directly to his disciples. He and his son in law Rev. Alexander Campbell (1788 County Antrim, Ireland-d. 1866, Bethany, Brooke County, WV) were key players in founding the Bethany College, and the non-denominational, Disciples of Christ.
The inscription on his tombstone provides significant insight into his life, and the family’s religious bearings:
In Memory Of
JOHN BROWN, ESQ.
The Father Of Margaret Campbell,
Born July 4, 1761
Died June 24th, 1835
Aged 74 Years
A Pioneer In The Settlement Of
The West, In Which He Lived
Almost 50 Years. A Citizen,
Temperate, Righteous, & Humane,
He Lived A Christian Life And Died In
The Hope Of Eternal Life.
Ardently Dedicated To The Restoration
Of Primitive Christianity,
He Labored In The Cause
For The Remainder Of His Life.
“Say To The Righteous, It Shall Be
Well With Him, For He Shall Eat
of The Fruit Of His Doing.”
For further information on McCarty, see Catherine B. Hollan, Virginia Silversmiths, Jewelers, Watch- and Clockmakers 1607-1860: Their Lives and Marks (Hollan Press, 2010), 21-22. Hollan documented Andrews was assessed personal property tax in Brooke County in 1800 and 1801 before migrating east to nearby Washington County in 1802 and again further east within the county to Monongahela, where he died in 1821.
Closely related inlays appear in the work of Annapolis cabinetmaker John Shaw as outlined in William Voss Elder and Lu Bartlett, John Shaw: Cabinetmaker of Annapolis, (Baltimore, MD: The Baltimore Museum of Art, 1983), cat. no. 37, pp. 111; cat. no. 41, pp. 122. It is likely that the medallions represent the hand of Thomas Barrett (active 1795-1800), the earliest professional “ébéniste” documented in Baltimore. He was originally linked to the progressive Baltimore shop of the London-trained artisan Richard Lawson and Baltimore partner John Bankson, who worked together between 1785 and 1792, Barrett established an independent workshop in 1793, shortly after his former masters dissolved the partnership. Though he died the following year, an unidentified artisan associated with the shop must be credited with the medallions, which are virtually identical to those from the firm. For further insight into the inlays, see Sumpter Priddy, Gregory Weidman and J. Michael Flanagan, “The Genesis of Neoclassical Style in Baltimore Furniture,” in American Furniture 2000, ed. Luke Beckerdite (Milwaukee, WI: The Chipstone Foundation, 2000): 59-99.
Originally named “Charleston” when founded in the late years of the 18thcentury, the confusion that subsequently arose between it and the “Charleston” in the middle of the state, and “Charlestown”, in the eastern Panhandle, caused the Virginia legislature to insist that the Charleston in the northern panhandle change its change. The town fathers chose the name Wellsburg, to honor one of the earliest settler families in the region.
For further information on McCarty, see Catherine B. Hollan, Virginia Silversmiths, Jewelers, Watch- and Clockmakers 1607-1860“ Their Lives and Marks (Hollan Press, 2010), 494-496. Nancy L. Caldwell’s History of Brooke County(Wellsburg, WV: Brooke County Historical Society, 1975) notes on page 132 that “Thomas McCarty, who specialized in clockmaking, worked in Wellsburg from the 1820s through the 1870s.”
Brian Loomes, Watchmakers & Clockmakers of the World, vol., 2 identifies a clock-maker named Samuel Martin in Dublin between 1790 and 1798 but does not cite period sources; Frederick J. Britten, Old Clocks and Watches and their Makers, 7thedition (New York, 1956), ed. G. H. Baillie, C. Cluttonand C. A. Ilbert, identifies him in New York 1790-1791.
Martin‘s advertisements with Bell appear in Longworth’sNew York City Directory, in 1818 and 1819; The Savannah advertisements appear in the Colombian Museum & Savannah Advertiser, and Savannah Republican.
New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949,”New York Municipal Archives, New York; FHL microfilm 447,545, as accessed inFamily Search; It seems relatively certain that, in light of the address that Martin used at the end of his life, that the death notice references clockmaker Samuel Martin, and that his age at death points pretty conclusively to a birth in or about 1768. One should also note, that while the contributors to this essay are certain when he opened the West Virginia shop, one can only hypothesize about how much prior to that he may have emigrated to America upon completing his apprenticeship, with whom he may have trained abroad, and his paths as a journeyman in Ireland and America. Lastly, In light of Kelli Lucas’ research indicating that a Samuel Martin [otherwise unidentified, yet possibly the clockmaker] made several trips back and forth across the Atlantic leave areas for potential research to illumine the largely undocumented period of the artisan’s life as a journeyman. Regardless, it is certain that Samuel Martin’s paths indicate an entrepreneurial artisan who merits further research to illumine the life that he lived and the clocks that he produced.
For reliable early histories of Wellsburg, see: J. G. Jacob, Brooke County, Being a Record of Prominent Events (Wellsburg, WV: Printed at The Herald, 1882) and J. H. Newton, G. G. Nichols, and A. G. Sprankle, History of the Pan-Handle Being Historical Collections of the Counties of Ohio, Brooke, Marshall and Hancock, West Virginia (Wheeling, WV: Published by J. A. Caldwell, 1879); Settled in the 1780s on a bluff overlooking the Ohio River in the state’s northern “pan handle”, Charlestown, incorporated in 1791, became the Brooke County seat in 1797. In 1816, the State Legislature renamed the town Wellsburg, to avoid confusion with Charleston in Kanawha County and Charles Town in Jefferson County.
Nancy Campbell, “Cabinetmakers” in A Brief History of Brooke County(Wellsburg, WV: Brooke County Historical Society, 1976) 130-133. It should be noted that Brooke County historian and genealogist Gwendolyn Hubbard cautions against placing too much credence on information obtained from the late Ms. Caldwell’s text, as she did not credit her sources. In the course of her research over the years, Ms. Hubbard has uncovered many discrepancies in the book as well, though none that directly relate to research regarding clockmaker Thomas McCarty.
The Isle of Man is located in the Irish Sea, midway between the city of Belfast, Ireland and the coast of Cambria, on England’s northwest coast. Populated principally by families of Celtic descent, it was not yet a part of Great Britain, but rather, a separate political entity; Solomon I emigrated to New Jersey in 1751 and married Huldah Smith in 1771; The Maryland legislature established Harford County March 22, 1774 from the eastern part of Baltimore County. Earliest details of the family can likely be traced there; Details regarding theBrown family genealogy derive from Findagrave.com; MESDA’s artisan files show that Thomas was a Cooper and that several Baltimore Directories between 1803 and 1812 identify Solomon as a carpenter.
MESDA records show that Thomas was a Cooper and that Baltimore City Directories between 1803 and 1812 periodically identify Solomon as a carpenter. Solomon died September 13, 1814, defending Baltimore from British attack, in the War of 1812; Little is known of sister Martha, who married unknownGuyton. For further regarding the family genealogy and burial places, see Findagrave.com
In 1994, Historic Bethany restored the mansion to its 1840s appearance and the National Park Service designated the site a National Historic Landmark. See the “Alexander Campbell Mansion and immediate environs” Historic Campus Architecture Project, Council of Independent Colleges. Accessed June 17, 2016.
John Brown created the bedchamber in 1823, when he modified the 1819 addition. As cited in James H. Charleton, Campbell Mansion [Bethany College, WV] National Historic Landmark Nomination Report (Washington, D.C.: Department of the Interior, NPS, 1993). The site appeared on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.
Eunice Weed, curator of Bethany College, The Campbell Light, March, 1974 (Vol. V, No. 6). For a reference to the clock by Rev. Campbell’s second wife Selena Campbell see: Selina Huntington Campbell, Home life and reminiscences of Alexander Campbell. By his wife, Selina Huntington Campbell (St. Louis: J. Burns Publishing Co., 1882), 49.
Correspondence with Sharon Monigold, Archivist for Bethany College, July 2016. Ms. Monigold verified that John Brown made a cradle for the grandchildren, a fashionable glazed bookcase for a desk, and a sideboard, which remain in the house today. Future inspection of the furniture would likely underscore Brown’s production of the clock cases.
Hollan’s Virginia Silversmiths, pp. 494-496, cites McCarty’s 1805 birthdate, which is widely accepted in the field. However, virtually all of the McCarty movements are housed in Wellsburg cases that logically date to the period 1800-1815, when he was still a minor. This suggests that his father Thomas McCarty may have also been a Wellsburg clockmaker.
The Brown family of cabinetmakers in adjacent Cecil County, Maryland are possibly related John Brown. For more on the Cecil County artisans, seeWendy A. Cooper and Mark Anderson “The Nottingham School of Furniture”, in American Furniture(Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Hanover, New Hampshire: The Chipstone Foundationin conjunction with the University Press of New England, 2011), ed. Luke Beckerdite.