Watchmakers and Jewelers
Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Society Museum
In days gone by, downtown businesses were all locally owned with the owner and his family keeping the doors open with the help of a few other employees. Every small town had at least one watchmaker or jeweler and some were skilled at both trades. In the 1920’s and earlier there was S.M. Boynton and A.B. Clay. In the 1930’s, Gilbert C. Nadeau started a jewelry store business as did John F. Walsh. Both businesses thrived for many years. In more recent years, Millinocket has had such local businesses owned and operated by Ferland, Mott and Wilson with Ferland’s Jewelry still in business today.
The earliest information found states that A.B. Clay, a watchmaker, opened a watch sales and repair shop plus jewelry store about 1915. It was described as “one of the best in this locality for the quick and satisfactory adjustment of watch or other time pieces.” The store also carried a “select collection of diamonds, watches, clocks, jewelry and cut glass. Mr. Clay prides himself on being able to repair the most intricate jewelry mishap.”
S.M. Boynton opened his business about 1920 on Penobscot Avenue. Mr. Boynton was said to have much experience in watch repair. A news article states, “if you find your watch has been far from accurate, Mr. Boynton is the doctor who will regulate it for you, for one does not take a great deal of pride in the time-piece that is not exact.” This store also carried a stock of silverware and jewelry.
John Walsh came to Millinocket in 1934 and opened Walsh’s Jewelry. During WWII, Walsh left to serve in the Air Corps in the South Pacific and then returned to the family business. Along with name watches of the time (Elgin, Bulova, Hamilton and Waltham), Walsh (after enlarging and remodeling the store) opened a “diamond room.” This space allowed customers to choose their diamonds, wedding rings and other items away from the “hustle and bustle” of the rest of the store.
Gilbert Nadeau opened Nadeau’s Jewelry in 1939 and it operated until the 1950’s. He advertised “the finest in watches, jewelry and gifts.” Nadeau was also the Bangor & Aroostook RR watch inspector in Millinocket. The store carried the standard railroad watches which the railroad men were required to carry.
It appears that there were two jewelry stores operating at the same time for a number of years and at times there may have been three. If you have information regarding location, let us know! Photos of any of these businesses (we can scan or you can email) or any advertising items etc. that can be added to the museum collection would be appreciated! Also information/photos of the owners/family of these establishments. Thank you!