A Tall Case Clock


In late 2020, the Society received a donation of an 84-inch tall-case clock from the late Bruce Marsteller and his wife Patricia. The Marstellers, being related to the Cross family of Cross-Wallace Mill, served as the caretakers of this prized family heirloom until recently and the Society was more than willing to accept the donation. Bruce said the clock has been through at least one flood near the mill. This could be the reason for the damage to the base. The other loss to the clock was a fluted column on the clock case itself. Fortunately, we have a very talented craftsman on our board, Roger McElwain, who expertly reproduced and replaced those parts.

Jacob Klingman (1758-1806) signed the clock face. The Merriman-Webster dictionary defines a tall clock as “ …a tall narrow floor clock equipped with a pendulum, striking mechanism, chimes, and sometimes a device for showing the month, day, and the phases of the moon.” What is the difference between a grandfather clock and a tall case clock? It depends on where you live. In Europe and England, the term tall case clock is used to identify this clock, while in the U.S. these clocks are called grandfather clocks. Henry Work Clay wrote the song "My Grandfather's Clock" in 1876, and grandfather clocks became known by that name. The song was so popular that all tall clocks were named after it.

We are not sure when this clock was made. Jacob Klingman's name is listed as a clockmaker in tax records in Reading, Pennsylvania. He operated a shop in Reading from 1781 to 1806. Klingman is listed in the 1807 Septennial Census for York as a silversmith, a trade related to clock-making. Other records for York clockmakers show payments to Klingman for various items and services from 1807 to 1816. From these records, it is obvious that he moved to York from Reading between 1806-1807. This would put our clock's date between 1807 and 1816. We are continuing to research the origin and history of this clock.