Terry Clock History

Silas Burnham Terry (1807-1876) was trained by his famous clockmaking father, Eli Terry. Commencing his own business in 1831 at Terrysville, CT, young S. B. Terry manufactured weight-driven shelf and wall clocks and later spring-driven clocks under his own name until 1852, though not without financial difficulties, particularly in the latter 1840’s.

In June of 1852, Terry formed a partnership with a nephew and another relative, known as S. B. Terry & Company, no doubt because of his need for operating capital. This firm operated only about a year when a joint stock corporation called the Terryville Manufacturing Company was formed, particularly to manufacture a torsion escapement clock for which Terry had received patents in 1852 and 1853. A new factory was built about a mile south at Pequabuck, Conn. and S. B. Terry became the manager of the operation until the autumn of 1854 when he sold out his interest and resumed business in his old shop.

On January 1, 1859 Silas B. Terry was bankrupt and his clock shop and other assets were sold. He subsequently moved to Winsted, Conn. for about two years as manager of the clock movement department of W. L. Gilbert & Company. Subsequently, he went to Waterbury, Conn. and held a similar position for the Waterbury Clock Company.

In 1867, Silas B. Terry and his four sons formed the Terry Clock Company at Waterbury, Conn. renting a factory building from the American Flask & Cap Company. Concerned about Terry’s poor financial record in the past, the firm was incorporated in 1868.

Though the Terry Clock Company produced some wooden cased clocks, the majority of their production prior to 1880 was for clocks with cases that were primarily cast iron, painted black and had various degrees of hand-striping and decoration. Not only did Terry receive some patents for movement escapements and cast iron case fronts, but also for fishing reels which the firm was manufacturing in the 1870’s.

The Terry Clock Company’s business was moderately successful, but the firm never had adequate operating capital and lived a curious existence of annually borrowing from one creditor to pay the past one. After Silas B. Terry died of heart disease in 1876, his sons ran the operation until 1880, but the firm went bankrupt in May of that year.

Subsequently the operation was purchased by a group of investors from Pittsfield, Massachusetts and the operation moved there and setup a steam flour mill on the second floor. In 1883, a new three-story building was built for them on the Housatonic River. The Terry Clock Company name was retained and three of the Terry brothers went to Pittsfield and ran the operation. In 1888, the firm failed and was taken over by its creditors who changed the name to Russell & Jones Clock Company.

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