Alexander Willard of Ashby, Massachusetts.

It is reported that Alexander Tarbell Willard was a direct descendant of Col. Simon Willard (1605-1676), a co-founder of Concord, Massachusetts in 1637. Col. Willard had three wives who bore him seventeen children. The descendants of which made the Ashby / Ashburnham Willard families relatives of the Grafton / Boston Willard clockmaking families. I wonder if they knew of each other?

Alexander T. Willard was the son of an Ashburnham, Massachusetts farmer, Jacob Willard (1734-1808) and his wife Rhoda Randall of Stow, Massachusetts. He was born in this town on November 4th, 1774. He had one brother named Philander Jacob Willard who was also a clockmaker. It is now thought that he served his clockmaking apprenticeship with the Edwards Brothers of Ashby. He apparently worked in Ashburnham for only a brief time (1796-1800). On May 24th, 1800, Alexander married Tila Oakes of Cohasset. She was employed as a school teacher working in Ashby. They married and moved to Ashby shortly after. It has been recorded that she painted some of the wooden tall clock dials for his clocks.

In Ashby, Alexander made a large number of wooden geared tall clocks and became a prominent citizen of that town. He was employed as a Postmaster (1812-1836), as Town Clerk (1817 – 1821) and he invested and managed the construction of the Ashby Turnpike. It ran through Ashby center from Townsend to New Hampshire. We know that he made many wooden movement tall clocks because we have personally seen and own a fair number of them. It is also reported from various sources that he made the follow items; a musical clock, tower clocks, timepieces, old fashion theodolites or compasses, gunters chains, scales, timers, seraphones (A forerunner of the reed organ), rifles and repaired watches. I have no personal knowledge of any of these other items.

Alexander Willard of Ashby, Massachusetts. Tall case clock.

This is a unique example in that it retains its original paint decoration. It is done in a solid shade of… read more