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01.10.2013
Fort Sumter was a federal fort in South Carolina, which had seceded from the Union in December 1860—however, because the fort was owned by the federal government, it remained part of the Union and was manned by Union troops. The watch was still around, but for whatever reason the claim about the message wasn’t investigated further—perhaps because people were skeptical of the legitimacy of Dillon’s claim. Sure enough, there was a message there, just not quite what Dillon himself had reported, but the sentiment was more or less was the same.
Whatever the case, besides Dillon’s message, when they opened the watch in 2009, they were surprised to find other writing as well. As for LE Grofs, it’s likely that he was another jeweler—the watch would need to be taken in for cleaning every now and then, after all.
The inscription find doesn’t change history, of course, but it’s uplifting to think that Lincoln carried a message of support in his pocket during the war, apparently without ever knowing that it was there.
I write as well, and one of the hazards is to look back, sometime years later, on my own slips.
Abraham Lincoln was of the same political party as Ted Cruz and the Tea Party, a Republican. The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next. I detest racialism, because I regard it as a barbaric thing, whether it comes from a black man or a white man. Find Us On YouTube!Subscribe today to check out our free Daily Knowledge Youtube video series! Watchmaker Left Secret Message in President Lincoln's WatchIn April, 1861, Jonathan Dillon, a humble Irish immigrant, was working as a watchmaker in Washington, D.C. While working on the watch, Dillon learned from the shop owner that the Civil War had begun.
Discovery of the Secret Message Inside President Lincoln's WatchIn 1906, Dillon told the New York Times about the secret inscription he put inside President Lincoln's watch on the day the Civil War started. In March, 2009, the museum asked master watchmaker, George Thomas, to open the Lincoln watch and solve the mystery.
Lincoln Purchased Watch in Springfield, IllinoisSome historians have said the gold pocket watch was the first one ever owned by Lincoln.
Remaining Mystery of President Lincoln's WatchAlthough the investigation cleared up the rumors about a hidden secret message inside the Lincoln watch, there are still mysteries remaining. Lincoln Never Knew About the Secret MessagesWithout knowing of the secret message inside his pocket watch which included Jeff Davis' name, President Lincoln carried it with him throughout his Presidency including such special moments in history as the delivery of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Gettysburg Address and perhaps he was wearing it that fateful night at Ford's Theater.
During the watchmaker's examination, museum curators asked if the watch could be wound so they could hear the ticking sound, just as Abraham Lincoln had heard it.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, watchmakers would place a round piece of paper inside watches they worked on to record the nature of the repairs they made. It was quite unusual that Dillon would scratch a personal message inside a customer's watch, especially one belonging to the President of the United States.
ThelmaC 18 months ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author askformore lm I love history also. ThelmaC 2 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author Crystal glad you liked my hub. ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author Lipnancy I wonder what President Lincoln would say if he knew he had Jeff Davis' name inside his watch!! Lipnancy 3 years ago from Hamburg, New York Now this is a cool piece of history that I did not know. ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author Thanks so much for your nice comments. RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey Amazing moments in history you've highlighted here. ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author jenbeach21 glad you liked it and thanks for the comment! ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author I'm finding most people, myself included, didn't know about this little piece of history. ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author Deb thanks for stopping by and your nice comments.
ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author Jackie I agree about History's mysteries! Alastar Packer 3 years ago from North Carolina If that was Dillion's purpose to communicate with the future he certainly achieved it. ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author weestro thanks for your comments. ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author tillsontitan thanks for your comments. ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author Davesworld - My thoughts exactly! ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author nikkiraeink - I am a history nut too and I ran across this while researching something else. ThelmaC 3 years ago from Blue Ridge Mountains, USA Author Jean-ette thanks for your kind comments. Thelma Raker Coffone (ThelmaC)327 Followers46 ArticlesThelma Raker Coffone has written many award winning non-fiction articles on a variety of subjects and is working on her first fiction novel.


Michael Weare has been a professional writer for 30 years, writing about Japanese technology, German and Italian cars, British tailoring and Swiss watches.
It’s a story that circulated down the decades about a hidden message engraved inside President Abraham Lincoln’s pocket watch. Fast forward 148 years and George Thomas, a volunteer at the Smithsonian Museum, prises open the watch with tiny tools as an audience, watching on TV screens, collectively held its breath.
The words were etched in tiny cursive handwriting and filled the space between the tiny screws and gears that jutted through the metal plate.
Jonathan Dillon resealed the watch and President Lincoln was assassinated exactly four years and 1 day later. Incredibly, another 103 years passed with the story remaining unconfirmed until Jonathan Dillon’s great-great grandson, Doug Stiles used Google to track down the New York Times story, and passed the information along to Smithsonian curators, who knew nothing about the engraving. The watch is on display at the museum with a new label to tell Dillon’s story and a photo of the inscription. In a curious synchronous aside, Jonathon Dillon wrote the message on April 13th 1861, Lincoln was assassinated on April 14th 1865, and exactly 91 years later, Samuel Seymour, the last living witness to the assassination died on April 12th 1956. It was a key wind watch Waltham Model 1857, and it would have looked very similar to the 1867 model pictured.
A 1916 advertisement for the Waltham pocket watch shows that it is still an almost identical model to the one President Lincoln would have owned. At the time the Waltham Model 1857 watch was presented to Lincoln, American watchmaking was in its infancy, but the watches were, nonetheless, the world’s first machine made watches.
Meanwhile England was at the height of its watchmaking prowess, it was the Switzerland of its day where pocket watches of great intricacy, beauty and value were made by the likes of Parkinson and Frodsham. One can imagine English scorn and snobbery heaped upon early humble and simple mass produced pocket watches from America. At the time of writing, Steven Spielberg is about to start the cameras rolling on Lincoln, a movie based on the non-fiction account Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns, which centres on inter-cabinet rivalries ahead of the Civil War. The top picture is the last one of President Lincoln taken just five days before he was assassinated. Click Tempus is an online magazine that covers the whole wide world of watches from the people who make them to the people who buy them. Everything you want to know about watches is here from the latest news, watch company profiles, wide ranging feature articles, educational articles, hot fashion and lifestyle items and much more. Like to write about watches?If you would like to contribute or write for Click Tempus please contact us or email Stephen.
Click Tempus is an online wristwatch and pocketwatch magazine based in London, UK, but bringing its message to the entire online watch community.Click Tempus provides readers with news and views on the whole wide world of watches and pocketwatches - antique, vintage and modern. Writing an article for Click Tempus is not only a great way to get great exposure, but its a great way to contribute to the watch community and share your passion, experience, or knowledge with the watch world. The incident occurred while a group of passengers were late at night purchasing their sleeping car places from the conductor who stood on the station platform at the entrance of the car.
Edwin Booth was often credited as having been the greatest Hamlet of the 19th century, as well as one of the greatest actors of that era. The funds from the above performance were donated to erect a statue of William Shakespeare in Central Park, just south of the Promenade.  The statue still stands there to this day.
Edwin Booth was a staunch Unionist and Lincoln supporter, while John Wilkes Booth was an even more fanatical secessionist.  When Edwin informed his brother he had voted for Lincoln, Wilkes Booth supposedly became rabid and asserted his belief that Lincoln would soon set himself up as king of America. Would be best to correct the description under the picture of the 3 Booths in Julius Caesar: The CENTER figure is Edwin Booth as Brutus. I’ve recently watched two PBS documentaries about the Lincoln assassination and, during one of them, heard a reference to the fact that at some time soon before the Good Friday (that was a surprise to me too!) shooting Booth had stayed at the Peterson boarding house, where Lincoln died, and had likely slep in that same bed.
Dillon reported what he did to the New York Times, saying, “I unscrewed the dial, and with a sharp instrument wrote on the metal beneath: ‘The first gun is fired.
It wasn’t until Harry Rubenstein, the chief curator of the Abraham Lincoln bicentennial exhibit, received a phone call from Douglas Stiles, Dillon’s great-great-grandson, that the message came to light. Historians speculate that Dillon was rushed while writing the message, and perhaps meant for something with more meaning which he added in the interview with the Times 1906. It’s possible that he wrote “Jeff Davis” in the watch in 1864, at the height of the Civil War. However, George Thomas—the man who took the watch apart for the inscription reveal—said it looked like Lincoln hadn’t used it much, it was in such great condition. The paper ran a small article about it, and aside from the story being handed down within the Dillon family, it was pretty much forgotten. With a group of 40 spectators including museum employees, relatives of Jonathan Dillon and members of the press in attendance, the watch was opened. It had an 18 karat gold case embellished with scrolls and flowers that was made in the US and a watch movement that was manufactured in England. In addition to the inscription noted above, there is also an etching in a different handwriting that shows the name of Jeff Davis (president of the Confederacy) and someone named L.
Unfortunately, it was not possible as the mechanism was "frozen" since it had not been wound in so many years.
Called "watch papers" they served to assist repairmen with diagnosing future problems with the watch. However, the other four Bush children are lesser known, especially the daughter that died as a child.


I suppose it's hard to resist making your mark on a piece that belongs to such an important person. Michael manages the editorial content of Click Tempus and will be keeping the magazine fresh and informative with regular features, as well as bringing great writers to the magazine.
It was evidently a moment powerful enough and portentous enough for the watchmaker to decide to engrave a message of hope inside President Lincoln’s pocket watch.
And a descendant of the engraver reads aloud the message from a metal plate underneath the watch face.
A New York Times reporter picked up the story in 1906, but by this time an 84 year old Dillon’s recollections were a little hazy.
It was presented to Abraham Lincoln just after the historic Gettysburg Address on the afternoon of November 19th 1863. The Smithsonian also has on display another William Ellery watch with the serial number of 67631.
Many wealthy Americans would travel to Britain to buy the fancier pocket watches that England had to offer. Little did they know that within a very short time, American pocket watches, reliable and affordably produced, would have a major impact upon the world stage and spell the end of England’s horological dominance.
The picture below it is an artist’s best guess at how Daniel Day Lewis may look in his major new role.
The platform was about the height of the car floor, and there was of course a narrow space between the platform and the car body.
Lincoln was also the only son of Abraham Lincoln to live past his teenage years, the other three dying before reaching adulthood.
It deals with the life of Edwin Booth, his triumphs and and battle with personal demons that brought him down, and his courage and determination that brought him back to the crest of popularity. It was purchased in Springfield, Illinois in the 1850s, but the watch itself was made in Liverpool, England, and the gold casing was made in an unknown shop in America. No, it wasn’t this one with the inscription on it—it was the one that Lincoln was wearing when he died. In a state of distress, he opened the watch and engraved a secret message inside President Lincoln's watch that would remain hidden for many years to come.
Until Dillon's great-great-grandson, Doug Stiles of Waukegan, Illinois found the newspaper article and started to investigate. Most statues and pictures of President Lincoln show the watch chain attached to his vest buttonhole. In April 1861, Jonathon Dillon, an Irish immigrant watchmaker working on Pennsylvania Avenue, had Lincoln’s William Emery Waltham Model 1857 in his hands when he heard the news that the first shots had been fired in South Carolina, hailing the start of the Civil War.
There was some crowding, and I happened to be pressed by it against the car body while waiting my turn. Thank God we have a government” are etched there, though the author of the text remembered writing something a tad different, as you’ll soon see. Spielberg doesn’t do anything by halves, and he wanted to include the sound of a watch from Lincoln’s time. He contacted the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History to whom the watch had been donated in 1958 by a Lincoln descendant. While still an Illinois lawyer, Lincoln bought the watch from George Chatterton Jewelers located on the square in Springfield, Illinois, where he also had purchased an engagement ring for his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln.
Thousands were sold and by the time of Lincoln’s death in 1865, the year the war ended, William Ellery movements represented about 45% of Waltham’s total sales. In this situation the train began to move, and by the motion I was twisted off my feet, and had dropped somewhat, with feet downward, into the open space, and was personally helpless, when my coat collar was vigorously seized and I was quickly pulled up and out to a secure footing on the platform.
I might add, that accompanying Edwin Booth at the time of the incident mentioned above, was John Ford, whose theater in Washington was the scene of the great tragedy in April 1865. His task for the day was to repair the watch of one of the store's most distinguished customers, President Abraham Lincoln. Congress sometimes led to violence on the Senate floor in the form of fistfights, gun play and severe beatings. Upon turning to thank my rescuer I saw it was Edwin Booth, whose face was of course well known to me, and I expressed my gratitude to him, and in doing so, called him by name.
They decided to see if the watch, which had been silent for 150 years, would start working again. Lincoln have the watch repaired by someone else who was a Southern sympathizer who added Jeff Davis' name as an affront to Lincoln? There were many people who were outraged that this happened, because the watch could have been damaged.
Spielberg actually approached the Smithsonian about recording the inscription watch, but they turned him down, thinking it was too risky.
No real harm was done to the other watch, except it will now need some restoration after being oiled and wound.



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