Noonmark Antiques

Stretch, America's First Family of Clockmakers - a lecture at the 50th Annual Delaware Antiques Show


 The 50th Annual Delaware Antiques Show opens November 8-10 at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware. This show is a benefit for educational programming at Winterthur. Besides viewing the lovely items on display at the show, I am particularly excited about the lecture on Saturday at 2:00.

Donald L. Fennimore and Frank L. Hohmann III, authors of the book “Stretch, America’s First Family of Clockmakers” will give a presentation on the Stretch family of Philadelphia.

My interest stems from the fact that the museum of the Historical Society of Moorestown owns a Peter Stretch clock and this clock is included in the book on pages 202 and 203. The original owner was John Kaighn, Jr a blacksmith from Haddonfield, New Jersey. John married Abigail Harrison Hinchman, daughter of the wealthy  land owning families of John Hinchman and Sarah Harrison. When John Kaighn, Jr  died, Abigail married her uncle, Samuel Harrison. They had one daughter, Abigail, who married Richard Edwards. Richard Edwards was a wealthy merchant of Lumberton, New Jersey. He also had a thriving liquor business in Philadelphia and owned a home at 140 East Main Street in Moorestown, New Jersey. Edwards was known for commissioning extraordinary furniture by Philadelphia craftsman, Thomas Tufts. A pier table made by Tufts for Edwards sold at auction for $4.6 million.

Abigail Kaighn Harrison had a sister Letita who married Thomas Thorne. The Peter Stretch clock apparently was handed down through this family and not the Edwards family. Letitia and Thomas had a son Thomas who married Abigail Burroughs. Thomas and Abigail had two sons, William and Thomas, III. William had a daughter Hannah Dudley Thorne who married Asa Roberts Lippincott. Thomas, III had a daughter Beulah Thorne who married Asa Matlack. Curiously, Asa Matlack’s name is etched on the back side of the Peter Stretch clock face.

Asa Lippincott inherited the family farm on the south side of the Pennsauken Creek. Asa Matlack inherited the Peter Stretch clock and other furnishings. The clock did end up with the Lippincott Family and the granddaughter of Asa Lippincott, Elizabeth Lippincott, presented the clock to the Historical Society of Moorestown in 1979.

Admission to the Delaware Antiques Show is $15. The lecture is included in the admission.

The Historical Society of Moorestown, 10 High Street, is open Sundays, 1-3 and Tuesdays, 1-4. Admission is free.

Peter Stretch clock at the Smith Cadbury Mansion in Moorestown, New Jersey.

Initials " I K 1739" stand for John Kaighn, original owner.

Asa Matlack etched on the back of the Peter Stretch clock face.

Here are two views of the actual lecture. Frank and Don gave an excellent presentation. The room was packed with a receptive audience.

Frank Hohmann opened the program by explaining some possible reasons why Peter Stretch came to America, citing opportunity to practice his trade as a clock maker and religious freedom. Stretch was a person of consequence  and was integral to the ruling body of the Quakers in Philadelphia as well as holding a position at the Courthouse.

Communal time drives the need for time telling. Coordinated time is essential for society to function. Early merchants,doctors, and religious groups in particular felt the need for communal time. Clocks fulfilled this need and so the clock maker was a valuable member of society.

To my delight, I recognized our very own Peter Stretch clock ( on the left ) Don Fennimore used it as an example of a modified Peter Stretch clock. Notice the missing spandrels, which had been removed for an unknown reason. Legend at the museum explains that the Quaker family who owned it may have found the spandrels pretentious, and therefore had them removed.


I discovered a Peter Stretch clock which will go up for auction this Thursday, November 14 at Freeman's Auction. If you are in Phildadelphia, stop by Freeman's ( third floor) this week to take a look.