1928: A Tall Clock on the Block

The purchase of Old Town Hall and relocation of the Historical Society of Delaware into it was an exciting time for the Board of Directors and resulted in high community support. New by-laws were adopted by the Society which announced the creation of six distinct committees:  Finance, Membership, House,  Museum, Library & Publications, and Literary Exercises.

The Society enjoyed a surge in donations, as evidenced in the 1928 minutes. Among a host of gifts was a grandfather clock given by Mr. Henry F. DuPont. The clock was made by Samuel McClary, an early Wilmington, Delaware clockmaker.  McClary,  son of John and Mary (Wallace) McClary, was born in 1788. He and his wife Susan had two sons, Thomas and Samuel, a cabinet maker and undertaker, respectively. He was the director of the Bank of Wilmington and Brandywine for many years. He died August 4th, 1859 and is interred in the Hanover Street Presbyterian Church cemetery. It is likely that McClary learned the clock making trade from Thomas Crow II. However, in 1810 he expanded his activities by opening the first machine shop in Delaware with Jacob Alrichs. The address according to the 1814Wilmington City Directory was at the corner of High and French Streets. In 1827 he formed another partnership with Charles Bush, with whom he built a steam engine.

Tall Clock built by Thomas Crow. The DHS Museum Collection.

Membership in the Society grew substantially in the late 1920’s. The membership committee sent out invitations in 1928 to about 1000 persons asking them to become members and giving old members a chance to re-classify themselves. As a result, membership more than doubled in 1928, gaining 127 new members which added to the previous membership of 101. This brought the total to 228 members. The total amount of collected dues that year was $5,175 with outstanding dues of $155. Membership was divided into four categories:  Active ( $5 dollars at 191 persons), Sustaining ($25 dollars at 27 persons), Patron ($100 dollars at 7 persons ) and Life ($1000 dollars at 3 persons).


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