Chicago Clock

The Case:

Our contributor wonders if her family clock kept time for the entire Midwest during the 19th century.

According to the story, the clock sat in the family jewelry store in Chicago and regulated time in other towns via telegraph signals.

History Detectives takes on the case, and discovers how regulating time became critical as America moved into the industrial age.

We visit a clock appraiser and a time-keeping historian and some interesting results from the Chicago Tribune historical archives.

Patricia Atwood would like to acknowledge that she misspoke about self-winding regulators not having pendulums. She meant to say that self-winding regulators did have pendulums but they were mostly spring-driven unlike the Mayo regulator which is powered by a hanging weight.

Article: Mayo’s Old Time Clock
This article describes Mayo’s old time clock, saying that it survived the Chicago fire in 1871.

Article: Standard Time
This Chicago Daily Tribune article from 1883 discusses various jewelers including J.B. Mayo and the regulation and business of time prior to the standardization for these jewelers.

Discuss this story

Season 8, Episode 11

Elyse Luray Location:
Connecticut; Illinois and Michigan

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