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Mrs. Foley's Clock - Oldest in State

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The Foley’s Clock


Story from the Butte Inter Mountain, Wednesday, Dec. 4th, 1901

Oldest in State

Mrs. Foley’s Clock Has Ticked For Forty Years


Brought to Missoula in Pioneer Days With Three Others Now Things of the Past – Timepiece Delighted Indians

(Special to Inter-Mountain)

Missoula, Dec. 4 – For 40 years an old clock ticked away in the home of Thomas Foley near Fort Missoula. It is now in the possession of James Osborne, proprietor of the Kentucky hotel, Missoula, to whom Mrs. Foley, who is spending her declining days in comfort with the Sisters of Providence, confided it for safe-keeping.

Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Foley came to Missoula in 1859 and settled on a ranch in the Bitter Root valley near Fort Missoula, occupying it together continuously up to the time of Mr. Foley’s death, about three years ago. Mrs. Foley remained in the old farmhouse until a month ago, when she succeeded in leasing the farm at a good rental and removed to Missoula.

In 1860 Capt. Hank Worden, who was then keeping a general store at Hell Gate, broached the subject of bringing some clocks from the states, desiring to get a guarantee for several before he made the venture. The guarantee was probably secured; at all events he brought out by way of Fort Benton four Seth Thomas clocks, all identical and including the Foley clock, a cut of which is here given.

Captain Worden reserved one clock for his own use, Captain Higgins bought one, Mrs. Foley one and the fourth was sold to some one not now known. The Worden and Higgins clocks have long since gone to the junk shop, but the Foley clock is as good a timepiece now as it was when it first began running itself down in the Foley farmhouse. In 40 years it has been cleaned but twice.

Old timers say the four Seth Thomas eight-day clocks brought to Montana by Captain Worden were the first shipped in and they have no recollection of one having been packed in, though watches were comparatively numerous in 1860. The small cheap alarm clock was not then in existence and the Seth Thomas clock then in extensive use was too bulky to take its place with household goods freighted across the plains.

Mrs. Foley says her husband paid $75 in gold for the clock and at the time she thought it an exorbitant sum, but it was such a cheerful friend in the days that followed its installation in her unpretentious home that she would not have parted with it for many times its cost.

Indians learning of the clock were in the habit of visiting the Foley home, where they would remain for hours at a time just to hear it strike, its chimes having as much attraction for them as for children. Mrs. Foley is positive her clock is the oldest one in Montana.