SPRUANCE FAMILY TALL CASE CLOCK
Case attributed to John Janvier, Sr. (1749-1801)
Duck Creek Hundred (now Smyrna) DE
8-day silvered brass dial
H: 106”; W: 21”; D: 11”
This clock descended in the Spruance family, Quakers who were pre-Revolutionary War residents of Duck Creek (Smyrna). This clock was likely made for Presley Spruance (1752-1837), a successful farmer with a 400 acre plantation who lived in Kent County his entire life. He was also a Road Commissioner and Assessor for Duck Creek Hundred. Presley died in 1837 and is buried at Bryn Zion Cemetery near Duck Creek Crossroads (now Smyrna), Delaware.
John Janvier Sr was born in Newcastle, Del., and trained in Philadelphia. Recent scholarship suggests that he moved to Elkton, Md., soon after 1770 and settled in Odessa around 1775. A series of horizontal boards, rather than a single vertical board, distinguish the backs of his cases and the idiosyncratic central finial is unique to Janvier.
Little is known of the clock maker Richard Miller. He doesn’t appear in records but his name is on clocks and occasionally his place of business, Duck Creek Crossroads. Five signed Miller clock movements are housed in Janvier-type cases. Recently scholar Richard Zimmerman in his book, Delaware Clocks made a connection between the Miller family of clockmakers, working around Elizabeth Town, New Jersey during the latter part of the 18th century, and the brass dial clocks signed ‘Richard Miller, Duck Creek’. The signed Richard Miller clocks all suggest a marked similarity to the clocks of Aaron Miller and his several apprentices of northern New Jersey. Zimmerman uncovered the story of Richard Miller’s hasty retreat from New Jersey to Duck Creek in 1779 in order to escape persecution as a Tory. It is believed that Miller was reluctant to sign his clocks until after the hostilities had subsided.