By Michael Howlett Staff Writer
January 1, 2014
A grandfather clock that has been in the Cooley Family for around 200 years has been donated to the Carroll County Historical Society by the family. The clock was made by Benjamin Cooley in the early 1800s, and was possibly the first clock of its type in Carroll County.
The clock had previously been displayed at the Carroll County Public Library, but had to be moved during renovations. It was then Kenny and Patty Ashley of the Time Factory were asked to repair the clock, so the Cooley family could present it to the historical society.
“I cleaned it and had to make one piece. It was striking every other hour to start with, but I kept working with it and now it’s working the way it’s supposed to,” said Ashley. “It’s actually one of the better timekeepers in my shop.”
“We definitely want to thank the Cooley family for this clock. We appreciate the gift and the contributions the Cooley family have made to Carroll County,” said Bill Webb, a member of the historical society. “We also want to thank Kenny and Patty (Ashley) for volunteering their time and effort to repair the clock.”
Raleigh Cooley, who served as Hillsville’s mayor for 20 years (1958-1978), spoke for the family, saying, “We’re delighted to give the clock to you and to have it here. This is a fine example of the work people did with their hands in the 1800s. I’m really glad and proud to have this clock displayed here for the public.”
Sometime in the early 1800s, Benjamin Cooley traveled to Salem, N.C., to learn how to make clocks from the Moravians. However, Cooley felt the Moravian’s price to teach him the art of clock making was too high, and he vowed to learn on his own. Cooley then traveled to Grayson County to visit a Mr. Bourne, who owned a grandfather clock. Cooley asked Bourne to allow him to make a pattern of the clock, and Bourne consented. Cooley took the clock apart and made patterns of all the running works, then began making his own clocks, most of which he sold.
The clock on display in the museum stands 78 inches high and has an eight-day wind. The large dial features two sequences, a smiling moon over a landscape on one half and a similar moon over a seascape on the other side. In addition, there is a 30-day calendar.