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Aurora to Lancaster: The Origin of the Hamilton Watch Co.

Greg Frauenhoff

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A rumor. Aurora Daily Express, Oct. 3, 1892.

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And then the BIG NEWS! Oct. 20, 1892, Aurora and Keystone to be consolidated as the Columbian Watch Co.. Aurora machinery, etc., to be moved to Lancaster, Pa.. Rood to be president of new company. Jewelers Circular and Horological Review, Oct. 26, 1892, Aurora Daily Express, Oct. 25, 1892.

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Greg Frauenhoff

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Improvements to the factory start happening quickly at the new Columbian Watch Co. of Lancaster. Jewelers Circular and Horological Review, Nov. 2, 1892.

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But wait! What's in a name? Columbian is already spoken for, so finally the new Hamilton Watch Co. is announced. Jewelers Circular and Horological Review, Nov. 16, 1892.

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Greg Frauenhoff

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In Aurora, a few hands are still at work finishing movements and making new machinery. Aurora Daily Express, Nov. 18, 1892, and Dec. 12, 1892.

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The old Hampden plant in Springfield, Mass., is sold. Chas. Rood, a resident of Springfield, really really wanted to locate his new company there, but things never worked out that way.

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Greg Frauenhoff

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The charter for the Hamilton Watch Co. is granted on Dec. 14, 1892. The major stockholders are Chas. Rood, Henry Cain (1500 shares each(?)) and H. M. North (500 shares). Presumably, North parlayed his ownership of the Keystone factory and machinery into a sizable stake in the new company. Jewelers Circular and Horological Review, Dec. 21, 1892.

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Greg Frauenhoff

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The Aurora factory is soon to close and Henry Cain oversees the removal of the remaining material, movements and 300 machines from Aurora to Lancaster. It will require perhaps 12 rail car loads (!) or maybe only 4, things are a bit unclear on this. Aurora Daily Express, Dec. 16, 1892, Dec. 30, 1892, Jan. 4, 1893, The Manufacturing Jeweler, Jan. 18, 1893, Aurora Daily Express, Jan. 16, 1893, Jewelers Circular and Horological Review, Jan. 18, 1893, Feb. 8, 1893.

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Lancastrians seem oddly unexcited about the Aurora removal to their city. Aurora Daily Express, Dec. 12, 1892.

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Greg Frauenhoff

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Aurora's last workers are drifting away, including C. H. Conner to Lancaster, Pa.. Aurora Daily Express, Jan. 10, 1893.

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The old Lancaster factory is being added to. John A. Coburn, formerly of Hampden, to be master mechanic at Lancaster. Cain is superintendent. The Manufacturing Jeweler, Jan. 11, 1893.

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The Aurora syndicate makes out ok. Aurora Daily News, Jan. 13, 1893.

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The Hamilton watch factory starts up. Chas. D. Rood is president. Employees arrive from Waltham and Aurora. Jewelers Circular and Horological Review, Jan. 25, 1893.

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Hamilton operations begin with 35 employees. 15 are from Waltham and 20 (!) are from Aurora. Where are the Lancastrians? It seems likely that many of the first employees will become foremen of the various factory departments. The Manufacturing Jeweler, Feb. 8, 1893.

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Greg Frauenhoff

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If you've followed this thread and skimmed some of the various period articles and notes--and assuming you can divorce yourself from decades of half-truths, mistruths and Hamilton Watch Co. propaganda--you should come to realize that the origin of the Hamilton Watch Co. has a whole lot to do with the Aurora Watch Co. of Aurora, Illinois. Rood and Cain bought Aurora. Cain designed a new movement there and ordered new machinery. A huge amount of Hamilton's machinery came from Aurora. Most of Hamilton's first employees were from Aurora.

The new Hamilton Watch Co. ended up in Lancaster, Pa., in large part because Rood (especially) and Cain were (in the author's opinion) easterners. They would have preferred to be in Springfield, Mass., (where Rood lived) but, with their purchase of some Keystone movements and deal with H. M. North for the real estate, the Lancaster location became a good second choice.

Aurora to Lancaster: the Origin of the Hamilton Watch Co..
 

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