Joe Burns and Archives director Chris Ozbirn pose with a rare clock that Burns recently donated to the Franklin County Archives.
Joe Burns and Archives director Chris Ozbirn pose with a rare clock that Burns recently donated to the Franklin County Archives.

Archived Story

Man donates rare clock to county archives

Published 4:02pm Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tennessee resident Joe Burns has roots that run deep in Franklin County, so when he was looking to do some genealogy research, he naturally went straight to the Franklin County Archives.

Burns, who has been working on genealogy research for years, said he was immediately impressed with the well-kept records and the way the county’s history had been preserved.

Burns said he was even more impressed after he started talking to the Archives director, Chris Ozbirn.

“You could really just tell that Chris loves what she does and that she has a deep commitment to preserving the history of Franklin County,” Burns said.

“The documents and artifacts and photographs in this building actually mean something to her, and that went a long way with me.”

Because of the dedication he saw in Ozbirn during his many trips to the Franklin County Archives for research, Burns said he knew he had found the perfect place for something that had been in his family for more than 138 years.

“My family is from the Pleasant Site area in Franklin County, and in August of 1875, there were two twin wind-up grandfather clocks that were started at the exact same time and they are still running more than 138 years later,” Burns said.

“One of these clocks belonged to my great-grandfather and has been passed down through my family.

“This is a very rare and interesting piece of Franklin County history, and I think that the Archives is the perfect place to display something like this.”

The two twin grandfather clocks were owned by brothers Alexander Patton Bolding and James Tarpley Bolding, both natives to Pleasant Site.

Burns’ great-grandfather, Alexander Patton Bolding, passed his clock down to his daughter, and Burns’ grandmother, Almeda Bolding Petree, who, upon her passing in 1970, passed the clock to Burns’ mother, Susie Petree Burns.

“The clock was then passed down to my oldest brother, Pete Burns, and then to his son, David Burns,” Burns said.

“When he passed away, David’s wife gave the clock to me. It’s an important part of our family history, but it’s also an important part of this county’s history. When I was telling Chris about it, I just knew this clock needed to come home to Franklin County.”

So this month, Burns brought the antique clock from his home in Germantown, Tenn., and brought it back “home” to Franklin County where it now sits proudly on display at the Archives office.

The clock, which was manufactured by the Southern Calendar Clock Co. in St. Louis, has all of the original parts, still gives the current date and time when it is properly wound up, and a mechanism inside the clock shows that it was in fact started for the first time in August of 1875.

“This is a wonderful piece of the county’s history, and we are honored that Mr. Burns would want the clock to be displayed at the Archives,” Ozbirn said.

Burns added the “twin” to his great-grandfather’s clock is still in working order as well and is currently in the possession of his relative, Andy Bolding, who lives in Colbert County.

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