Currently viewing the tag: "C. Burr Artz Library"

Last month, I wrote about how a local Emmitsburg collector owned two Armstrong rifles, which had been crafted in town. The same collector owns an Eyster clock, and the Maryland Room at the C. Burr Artz Library in Frederick owns a Hoover clock.

John Hoover is believed to be Emmitsburg’s first clockmaker. He lived from 1771-1832, so his working years would make him a contemporary of riflemaker John Armstrong and Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton.

The John Hoover clock in the C. Burr Artz Library is a tall clock in a wooden case. Hoover signed the face: John Hoover, Emmitsburgh, 20.

The numeral indicates that it was Hoover’s 20th clock.

“The case is very well constructed, and it is interesting to note that both this clock and the Eyster tall clock show a similar Pennsylvania Dutch influence in the design on the base,” Mary B. Nakhleh wrote in Emmitsburg: History and Society.

Little else is known about Hoover, regarding his clocks. Luckily, much more is known of Andrew Eyster (1800-1872). According to Nakhleh, a local story is that a clockmaker named Bachman, who came from Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, trained Andrew in clockmaker and silversmithing. However, she also theorizes that, given their ages, it is possible Andrew Eyster learned his trade from John Hoover. Besides clockmaking and silversmithing, Andrew also earned a living as a jeweler. The Eyster shop was on the south side of West Main Street. He was also active in local government, serving as a town commissioner, burgess, and magistrate.

When Andrew died in 1872, his sons, George Edgar Taylor Eyster (1847-1914) and Hall Webster Eyster (1851-1927), took over the business, having been apprenticed to his father. At least one clock still exists that is labelled “G.T. Eyster & Bro., Emmittsburg.” According to Nahkleh, it has a double dial and a calendar dial that indicates day and month.

George was a Civil War Veteran. He had enlisted in the Army in 1864, and then signed up for Cole’s Cavalry in 1864, according to his obituary in the Emmitsburg Chronicle. “

Mr. Eyster was one of the few men who could boast of having heard Abraham Lincoln deliver that immortal address at Gettysburg at the dedication of the National Cemetery,” the Chronicle reported.

Like his father, George was active in civic affairs, although in his case, it was serving with the Vigilant Hose Company for 20 years as its captain.

George advertised his business in a way left little doubt as to what he did. “George T. Eyster has hung out, at his store, a large gilt watch, that indicates the time at 8:20 or 5:40 o’clock as you please to read it. It goes by swinging.” “This sign is still in the possession of the Eyster family,” the Emmitsburg Chronicle reported in 1883.               

Although George was the Eyster name on the business, Hall seems to have had the talent. Andrew may have recognized this because he left all of his watch and clock making tools to Hall. Hall also held a patent for creating an improved clock movement frame. “The frame was designed so that the mainspring arbors could be removed without tilting or damaging the movement. The lower portions of the clock frame, both front and back plates, were constructed in three parts which were screwed together in such a way that the entire lower frame could be dismantled sectionally,” Nakhleh wrote.

A third son of Andrew Eyster was also a clockmaker. George’s older brother, John Thomas Eyster (1833-1921), is listed in Maryland Clockmakers as Andrew’s son and apprentice who worked as a silversmith, jeweler, and watchmaker.

Given the rich tradition of clockmaking in Emmitsburg, it’s a shame that more Eyster and Hoover timepieces haven’t survived.

(left, below) Hoover Clock in the Maryland Room at C. Burr Artz Library.

James Rada, Jr.

While the design of the Thurmont Regional Library was inspired by the Catoctin Furnace, when you walk into the Thurmont Center for Agricultural History, you’ll see a different inspiration. Two windows from old Moravian Church that had been on Water Street in the late nineteenth Century, hang from one wall. On another wall hangs a grange mural painted in the 1960s by Elizabeth Holter Howard.

Tucked away in one corner of the library, the Thurmont Center for Agricultural History’s collections continue to grow.

“We are saving stuff for the future, when people start wondering more about the farms that used to be in the county and how they operated,” said Thurmont Library Manager Erin Dingle.

Mary Mannix, manager of the Maryland Room at the C. Burr Artz Library in Frederick, said that the idea for an agricultural history room first took root about seventeen years ago, when the Maryland Room obtained its first major agriculture-related collection: a set of annual reports from the county extension agent. There wasn’t room at the old library for the collections, so it remained at the Maryland room until the new library was built.

“We’ve been trying to collect primary and secondary information of the agricultural history and culture in Frederick County,” Mannix said. “A lot of it relates the county granges, which as a social organization have been a large part of agriculture in Maryland and the nation from post-Civil War to the mid-twentieth century.

Besides the extension agent reports, the room also has the Pomona Grange archives, extension service publications, Jefferson Grange archives, Maryland State Grange records, and many more. There are also private collections that have been donated to the room.

“You’ll see people using the room to find information regarding the history of family farms,” said Mannix.

The center also has local history, genealogy information, and microfilm copies of newspapers.

“People searching for the genealogy are probably the ones who use the room the most,” stated Dingle.

The center’s basic core genealogy resources can help a person trying to track down family members from Northern Frederick County.

Researchers can also find information about the area by searching through the Emmitsburg Chronicle, Catoctin Enterprise, and Catoctin Clarion on microfilm. There is also a small collection of local history books about the area.

“As agriculture continues to vanish from the area, I think more people will use the center as they want to find out more about agriculture history,” Mannix said.

The Thurmont Center for Agricultural History has the same hours as the library: 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and 1:00-5:00 p.m. on Sunday. To access the center, check in with the librarian at the reference desk. If you will need research help, you may want to call ahead to make sure a librarian will be available to help you.

If you can’t make it to the center, research requests are accepted at no charge, except for photocopies at $.20 per copy. Submit the request, in writing, with as much information as possible to Erin Dingle.