It’s sometimes quite amazing how things have a way of finding their way home, completely unintentionally, take this antique pocket watch for example.
The story starts with a jeweller, at 90 Main Street, Batavia in 1834, where a jeweller named Jerome A. Clark owned a jewellery store. A man named George Austin started working for Clark after school, learning about the trade and developing an interest in the business.
Charles Prescott also comes to work at the store a few years later as a clerk. Prescott and Austin form a strong friendship whilst working together. Then in 1885 the men purchase the business from their boss Jerome A. Clark, renaming this jewellers ‘Austin and Prescott’ and putting their skills to the test.
When Austin passed away in 1914, the jewellery store was then passed onto William Hoop. Austin left $30,000 to the village, to be used towards a public park, which still today is called Austin Park in his memory.
In the next 55 years, as you might expect, several jewellers open, shut, and move from street to street. Some are forced out by new businesses offering a wider range of products, offering convinience and seemingly ‘exotic’ products from England. 90 Main Street however was still home to a jewellers, all the way up until the Urban Renewal around 1965, which was not only fatal to the jewellery businesses but to local residents that had their beloved homes torn down, destroying the vast majority of Batavia’s architectural heritage.
In 1969 an older man approaches an attendant at Moretto gas station, offering either his wristwatch or pocket watch in exchange for $10, a full day’s wages. The man, clearly desperate for money was devastated to give up the pocket watch. So, an agreement was made between the gentleman and the gas station attendant that he would keep the watch well looked after and wound, and if the gentleman came back, the pocket watch would be returned to its rightful owner.
The man never returned.
However, 46 years later, the gas station attendant was doing a little research into antique pocket watches and the pocket watch’s original owner, whose name was engraved onto the antique pocket watch alongside the name of the crafter; Paul Breton. He found the jeweller’s original jewellery store and eventually also found his home, which just so happens to be home to the gas station attendant who lives there today with his wife, where they still keep the pocket watch wound in a glass domed holder.