This is our grandfather clock, Clock Miller.
He originally stood in the Crown Hotel, of which some of you had heard me speak before. It was a hotel run by our family, the Millers (John and his wife Robina), in the latter half of the 19th century. It stood on the corner of West Register Street and Prince’s Street in Edinburgh, Scotland until it was torn down in 1923. It is where my great-great-grandfather George Miller grew up, and according to his marriage record, it was also the very place where he married his wife Elizabeth Aitken Hislop in 1872.
I’m not entirely sure when Clock Miller would have made the trip across the ocean. He could have come along with George and Elizabeth when they emigrated from Scotland with their young son John in 1874.
On the other hand, that’s a big old nuisance of a thing to lug around with your family on a ship and then put in a train and finally a carriage and move first to Clifton, Ontario, and then across the border to Niagara Falls, New York. Perhaps they shipped it separately? Perhaps it came over to the family alone as part of Robina Miller’s estate when she passed away in Edinburgh in 1908? It would take some more sleuthing on my part to find out.
My grandmother Jean (Miller) Tanzer, who passed away in 2008, inherited Clock Miller from her aunts Kate and Mary Miller.
Gram’s father was William Miller, the brother of John, Kate, and Mary Miller, who were all the children of George and Elizabeth Miller, my intrepid Scottish immigrant ancestors.
My dad remembers the day he (a young boy at the time) and his parents moved Clock Miller from Kate and Mary’s apartment in Niagara Falls to their home in Rochester, New York. My grandfather Tanzer was convinced they could fit the clock in the car, and so my dad had to make the 3 hour drive with the clock across his lap in the backseat and the clock’s hood and face poking out the open window of the car.
When my grandparents decided in 2004 that they could no longer live in their house and had to move to a retirement home, Clock Miller very nearly went out with the rubbish. There was simply no way my grandfather Tanzer would agree to bring the clock to their new apartment. I think it eased my grandmother’s mind a great deal when my dad and I stepped up and said we’d take the clock.
Though of course, that meant poor Clock Miller had to be loaded up again, this time into a miserable moving van, packed with bubblewrap and a host of pillows, and moved to the coast of New England. But something about the journey didn’t agree with him this time (he was about 175 years old at this point), and even when we had set him up in my folks’ comfortable living room, he refused to work. Stubborn Scot.
It took three years before we found a clock restoration expert who would agree to drive out to my parents’ house and have a look at our ailing clock. On principle, my dad refused to send the clock out on another journey, even if only to a clockmaker’s workshop. The gentleman who did finally come to our rescue was taken with our beat-up old clock, whom he took to calling his “Scottish friend.” He got Clock Miller working again, and insisted that my father and I watch the repair process so we would each know at least the basics of how the clock worked. Bless the man.
Today, Clock Miller is still ticking away and chiming brightly at every passing hour. He needs more work someday, but that may fall to me. At any rate, Clock Miller is part of our family, really. He was even there on the morning of my wedding as I relaxed with my maid of honor before the big event–just as he had “overseen” the wedding of my great-great grandparents 3000 miles away and 136 years before.