When my great-grandparents, Sam Scott Wren and Pearl Hudson were married in 1899, Sam’s parents gave them a clock as a wedding present. It was a Welch kitchen clock, about 24 inches tall and 15 inches across, designed to sit on a shelf. And it did. For years and years, it sat in Sam and Pearl’s house, dutifully chiming the hours and the half. I don’t actually remember it being in their house by the time I came along, but I was not really aware of the details, or at least I was focused on other details.
Dr. Alonzo Dossey Wren (Dr. Wren) and Georgia Frances Vickers came to southwest Arkansas the long way around. He was born in Putnam County, Georgia in 1841, she in Thomas County, Georgia in 1849. By the early 1850s, both of their families had migrated to the Minden area in Bienville Parish, Louisiana. That’s where they were married in 1866, after he returned from the Civil War. He studied medicine at the University of Louisiana Medical Department, now Tulane University, in New Orleans. Then the family made its way to southwest Arkansas, Nevada County where they raised their family.
Pearl’s family came to Nevada County from the Atlanta area. Her father was John Wesley Hudson, born in the Atlanta area in 1841, right at the founding of Atlanta, but that’s another story for another day. Her mother was Millie Lucinda “Cindy” Almand. Cindy was from the Conyers area in Rockdale County, Georgia where her family had been some of the founding families in the Salem Camp Meeting. Generations of Almands still meet there every September for a reunion – 2nd Sunday in September at 1:00PM. Bring a dish and you’re more than welcome! Both of these families had moved into Paulding County, Georgia after the Civil War, but I can’t find any evidence that they knew one another, or that they didn’t. In any case, there was a large migration from Paulding County, Georgia to Nevada County, Arkansas around 1870.
Sam Scott Wren was born in Nevada County in 1879 and Pearl Hudson was born there in 1884. They were married in 1899 and her parents wanted to give them a significant gift for their wedding. So, the clock. A.D. and Georgia Wren gave the newlyweds a beautiful Welch kitchen clock.
It must have broken at some point. I don’t remember it in Grannie’s (Pearl Hudson Wren) house. I do remember that my uncle Keith Johnson refinished it and gave it to Papaw (Hudson Wren, my grandfather) one year. And I can always remember it in Nannie and Papaw’s house, sitting near the fireplace in the living room. I remember thinking how loud it was when it ticked and chimed. But then, it faded into the background and you would have to listen hard to see if it was running. I remember hearing it chime once in the night and then not knowing if it was 1:00 or 1:30 or what time until the next chime, thirty minutes later.
After my grandparents died, Mom asked me what I would like to have from their house and I said the clock. I think she was sort of reluctant at first to let me have it, it being so special. But, she did. And I have loved it. It sits in my office and gets wound every Sunday. Kathleen doesn’t want to wind it but doesn’t want me to forget, so she gets the key out of the clock and sets it on my chair so I never forget to wind it.
I have had it worked on a couple of times – cleaning, bushings replaced, a new spring – but it’s the same clock that has kept on ticking since it found its new home with Sam and Pearl in 1899. The last time I had it cleaned, I slipped coming down the stairs and broke my foot, but the clock didn’t get dropped and kept on running. Interestingly, I went ahead and took it to the clock repair place. I got a call to pick it up the day my foot came out of the cast.
So, if you are on a conference call with me and hear it in the background, and if I am working at home, you probably will hear it, now you know its story.
P.S. Notice the little clay pot to the right of the clock in the front. My friend Bridget Kelman made these unfired, soft clay pots for our class when she and I led a Disciple III Bible study some years back. It is to remind us of 2 Corinthians 4:7, “But we have this treasure in clay pots so that the awesome power belongs to God and doesn’t come from us.“