A storied heirloom that remains timeless

My mother and father were raised on ranches in Montana; mom in Graycliff near the Yellowstone River, and my dad on a horse-and-cattle ranch near Roundup, Montana. Mom was born and raised in Montana and my father was born in 1910 in Lawrence, Washington.

Under the 1909 Homestead Act, my grandfather homesteaded a section of land near Flatwillow, Montana, about 16 miles from Roundup. The section was adjacent to an old stage road that ran across the edge of the homestead property and near Antelope Springs. This was the source of water for the animals. They had a well for domestic purposes.

My father’s family moved from Lawrence in 1912 to the homestead. In 1921, at age 11, my father rode into Flatwillow and purchased a wall-hanging regulator pendulum clock from an abandoned railroad. I believe it was “The Milwaukee.”

He carried the clock home, horseback, and the journey required passing through two gates. In those days the gatepost near the latch was flat-topped, purposely to lay something on while you unhitched the gate without dismounting. He carried the regulator clock to what he always referred to as “the old homestead house.” It was his mother’s birthday, and he gave her the clock as a gift.

My father left the ranch in 1930 and took a job in Shelby, Montana, and to further his education. He eventually took one of the first tests under the new Montana law regulating firemen – and operators – firing steam pressure boilers in the oil fields of Shelby.

In late 1930, my father met my mother, and they were married.

Meanwhile, his parents moved to Deadwood, Ore., around 1931-32. The clock was brought to Oregon with his parents and hung in their home in Deadwood. They later moved closer to Junction City in the early 1940s. In 1945, his father passed away. Soon after, his mother broke up housekeeping and went to live with her children, around the western part of the United States. There were 11 brothers and sisters on my father’s side of the family.

My parents moved to Oregon for a short time, then to Washington in 1931-32, and took a job firing high pressure boilers in Everett, Wash., for Weyerhaeuser. I was born in Everett, and I remember my father reciting the story of the clock as early as 1940 or ’41.

When my grandmother broke up housekeeping in 1945 after my grandfather passed, I was home alone, when I answered a knock at the door, and it was a delivery man with a large wooden box. In that box was the regulator clock that my father had purchased from the abandoned RR depot in Flatwillow, Mont. 

My father hung the clock on the wall, and it hung there until my 40th birthday. In the meantime, Jean and I married, and had two children. We moved to Oregon in 1975.

My dad and stepmother came down to visit. My father had the clock cleaned and adjusted by a jeweler in Everett, and gave me the clock on my 40th birthday, and it hangs on my wall until it will be given to the Lynden Pioneer Museum to accompany seven major collections I donated in my son Matthew’s name.

I will request they hang the clock in the vicinity of my son’s 1909 Edison phonograph in their parlor area.

 That’s the story of the traveling clock that is today well over 150 years old. It hangs on the wall, and now has a broken mainspring. It will be cleaned and repaired before donated to its next resting place. 

In past articles I’ve written about my deceased son’s collections, and the importance of having a will or written record instructing those who follow giving information of where your property is to go when you are called home.



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