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Dominy Craftsmen Collection

Hummel, Charles F. / With hammer in hand; the Dominy craftsmen of East Hampton, New York (1968)

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Chapter V

Earning a Living

Since the beginning of the twentieth century the principal industry of East Hampton has usually been described as "the summer-resort business."1 A considerable number of farms still in the township, however, serve as a reminder that both the village and township were primarily agricultural communities during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In 1840, when Nathaniel Dominy V had almost reached the point of ending his career as a craftsman, analysis of the occupations of the 2,076 inhabitants of East Hampton Township showed 549 engaged in agriculture, 116 in manufactures and trades, 106 in maritime pursuits (primarily offshore whaling), 8 in commerce, 7 in the learned professions and engineering, and 3 on Revolutionary War or other military pensions.2 Obviously, almost five times as many persons supported themselves as farmers in this township as craftsmen. Certainly many of those engaged in "manufactures and trades" were like the group described by Tench Coxe between 1787 and 1794, men "who live in the country, generally reside on small lots and farms, of one acre to twenty, and not a few upon farms of twenty to one hundred and fifty acres, which they cultivate at leisure times, with their own hands…or by letting out fields, for a part of the produce."3

Coxe would have found the Dominys a perfect example of his observation. Although records do not exist for the period when Nathaniel Dominy IV was alive, it is likely that the acreage he owned was passed along to his son at his death. East Hampton tax records show that in 1814, two years after his father's death, Nathaniel Dominy V and his son Felix owned 100 acres of farm property situated at various sites in East Hampton Township.4 In his early years as a craftsman Nathaniel Dominy IV helped support himself by agricultural labor for others. That was due, in part, to the fact that his father, Nathaniel III, was still alive. Long-time customers undoubtedly preferred to deal with the father for woodworking orders. At any rate Account Book B shows that on August 1, 1765, Nathaniel IV cradled "1/2 acre of oats" and banded them for 1 shilling and 6 pence (see Appendix B). The entry was one of four noted in that year for agricultural work. In the same year Nathaniel Dominy credited a customer with the entry "by Plowing Garden," indicating that he cultivated some of the land adjacent to his house and shop. Furthermore, "a Hoe" was listed among the tools he purchased in 1765 (see Appendix B). By 1770 this artisan was sufficiently busy to rent some of his farm land in exchange for a portion of the produce grown on it. Account Book B shows that some corn probably was planted on his home lot, but numerous entries crediting customers for carting wheat, flax, corn, and rye indicate that some of his fields away from the "home Lot" were let out "for a part of the produce."

The Dominy accounts indicate that this practice continued during the careers of Nathaniel Dominy V and Felix Dominy. A glance through the "contra" sections of the accounts printed   [p. [216]]   in the Appendix shows that agricultural efforts on their home lot and produce from land they rented constituted a significant portion of the Dominys' income. In 1830 Felix Dominy purchased "12 sheep, at 46 cents per head" for a total cost of $5.52. About the same year his good friend Nathaniel Miller sent Felix some sweet-potato seed for his "garden" with directions for planting.5

In addition to farming, craftsmen in rural areas frequently engaged in related craftwork because the population was not large enough to support them in their primary skill or because a nearby city provided competition for their wares.6 Competitively the Dominys were fortunate. Their shops were located in the village of East Hampton, and its relative isolation enabled them to work principally at their professed skills and related crafts for over eighty years between 1762 and 1844.7

Their broad range of full-service craft skills attracted local apprentices and journeymen for training by the Dominys. Between 1766 and 1819, Nathaniel IV’s and V’s accounts record journeymen’s wages paid to the following as their services were required: Jereme (Jeremiah Sherrill [1750–1827] or Jeremiah Sherrill [1755–1840]); David Leek (1740–1802); Patrick Talmage Gould (1799–1879); Abraham Osborn (1776–1855); Charles Mulford (probably Charles Lewis Mulford, 1786–1856); Asa (?); Isaac (?); and Lewis (probably Lewis Gann, baptized 1775–?). Alternatively, Lewis may have been the cabinetmaker Lewis F. Greene. The last wage payments to ‘Lewis’ were made in 1809. Coincidentally, in that year, Lewis F. Greene of Setauket with his partner James Woodhull, advertised in the Suffolk Gazette that they could provide clock cases on shortest notice.

While others may have been apprenticed to the Dominys, only one documented instance is recorded. In Recompense Sherrill’s (1741–1834) account books at the East Hampton Free Library is his notation that his son David (1772–1861) ‘went to Nat Dominy [IV or V] to learn a tread [trade] 27 April 1791 age 19 years Old December 3rd

Described in 1813 as "a Post-Township of Suffolk County, at the eastern extremity of Long or Nassau Island," the village was "35 miles E. of Riverhead, 112 miles E. of New York, and 272 S.E. of Albany."8 Thirty-five miles separated it from the county seat at Riverhead. That was a considerable distance by land transportation; and although Southampton and Shelter Island (both closer) were listed as two of the nine townships in Suffolk County, they did not have as many persons engaged in trades as did East Hampton in that period.9 Objects made in New York City usually had a higher initial price and took longer to deliver than products made by the Dominys. The 112 miles separating New York City from East Hampton meant that goods ordered in New York had to be delivered by unreliable sailing vessels. Shipping added transportation costs to the price of material ordered there. Later, the introduction of steam-powered vessels to Long Island Sound eliminated some of those disadvantages and was one of the reasons causing Felix Dominy to reevaluate his position as a craftsman.

While it is true that the population of East Hampton was never large (1,250 in 1776, 1,484 in 1810, 1,819 in 1835, 2,076 in 1840)10 and perhaps should not have been expected to support 116 people engaged in craft activities, it can be reasonably assumed that the Dominys, and probably others as well, reached beyond the confines of the township for their customers. A substantial number of people lived in Suffolk County; its population rose, for example, from 19,734 in 1800 to 32,469 in 1840.11 Moreover, Connecticut was a short distance across Long Island Sound, and the Dominys' accounts reveal that they performed a number of services for customers in the Nutmeg State. Among the towns listed in their large account book were Haddam, Hartford, Lyme, New Haven, and Stonington. In addition to the many small villages of East Hampton Township, the Dominys had customers in Islip, Moriches, Patchogue, Quogue, and Smithtown. On one occasion Nathaniel IV made a fine clock for David Gardiner of Flushing (No. 220). When outlined on a map (Illus. XXX), the area served by the Dominys is quite impressive.

The abilities of the Dominy craftsmen were well known to the people of the area they served. They needed very little advertising to promote their business, but on December 26, 1804, Nathaniel Dominy IV sent the following advertisement to Sag Harbor for inclusion in the Suffolk Gazette: "The subscriber requests all persons who favour him with their custom in the Watch business to send their names and places of residence in the Watch-cases if they   [p. [217]]   hope to have them returned in any direct manner."12 The only other business notice used by the Dominys was also placed by Nathaniel Dominy IV in the Suffolk Gazette, in August, 1809. It and a notation in his account book are indications that the craftsman occasionally "rode circuit" to bring clock-repairing skills to his customers' doorsteps: "The subscriber contemplating

Black and white map of of the communities in Long Island and Connecticut served by the Dominy craftsmen.

ILLUS. XXX. Map of the communities in Long Island and Connecticut served by the Dominy craftsmen, with an inset of East Hampton, N.Y.

a tour to the western parts of this County, for the purpose of repairing Clocks, requests such persons as wish his services, to send their orders to Mr. Israel Conkling, at Canoe-Place. If sufficient encouragement is given, the tour will take place the latter part of September."13 Judging from entries in Account Book B relating to the hiring of a horse in September, the tour was made. Earlier, on February 11, 1795, Nathaniel IV had credited Nathan Dayton with 12 shillings, "By your Mare on a Clock-Tour to Mastick."14 It is possible that work for customers in Connecticut was delivered and picked up in Southold on the "North Fork" of Long Island. In 1810, for example, Nathaniel Dominy V advertised that he had "taken up In the Bay, between Shelter Island and Southold, a small Yawl."15 Other evidence, however, points to Sag Harbor as their depot for customers in Connecticut. These notices were the only ones to appear in contemporary newspapers.

Lack of local competition could have contributed to the Dominys' long period of activity. Nathan Topping Cook was a craftsman who evidently worked in Bridgehampton from about   [p. [218]]   1792 to 1824. Much of the work in his shop—cabinetmaking, carpentry, and wheelwrighting—paralleled that of Nathaniel Dominy V, but Cook's surviving accounts show a small circle of customers with a total of forty-five or fifty names entered in his book.16 This is in contrast to more than 1,600 names listed in one of the Dominy ledgers. It was not until 1802 that William Hall, of Sag Harbor, advertised as a cabinetmaker and chairmaker. In the same issue of the paper in which Nathaniel Dominy IV had advertised in 1804, Elijah Simons, also of Sag Harbor, noted that he sold "Warranted Watches" from New York and paid "strict attention…to Clock and Watch repairing." Simons's establishment was apparently not successful at first, for his 1810 notice included the sale of groceries and jewelry. Samuel L'Hommedieu, Jr., advertised the sale of cabinet furniture "of a superior quality" in Sag Harbor in 1805, while Lewis F. Greene and James Woodhull stated in 1809 that they had "commenced the business of Cabinet making" at Setauket, New York, and made "Clock Cases of any description…of the best materials."17 These firms seem to have been the only serious competitors of the Dominys before 1810. By the 1820's, however, Sag Harbor had become an important seaport, and the competition for customers became much keener. In 1822 "the inhabitants of Sag-Harbor and its vicinity" were informed by Zebulon Elliott that he could satisfy all their needs for clock and watch making or repairing and could supply jewelry and silverwork as well.18 Even more ominous for the Dominys was the installation in 1823 of a cabinet warehouse in Sag Harbor by the cabinetmaker Nathan Tinker. In addition to boasting that he could supply customers with "any article of household furniture" on short notice, he advertised that he had ready-made "Sideboards, Secretaries, Lockers, Decks [sic, probably desks], Book-cases, Bureaus, Dining, End, Card, Pembroke, Toilet, Breakfast and Dressing Tables, Basin and Candle Stands, Sofas, Lolling and Bed Chairs, Clock cases, Chests, Knife-trays, Portable Desks, Bedsteads of all kinds, &c, &c." A few months later, as a means of increasing his business, Tinker stated that he would take "Country Produce and Lumber…in payment at the market prices, or six months credit given to responsible purchasers."19 Tinker's willingness to barter helped to destroy one of the Dominys' more fruitful business advantages.

The extension of credit to customers was an accepted business practice in town and country during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. While advertisements like Nathan Tinker's most frequently mention a period of six months for credit, many customers were carried "on the ledgers" for longer periods. The Dominy craftsmen followed this practice, and the analysis of their accounts from 1765 to 1830 shown in Table I reveals that their books were seldom balanced (see Appendix B for complete details). Solvency was not really a major issue. The Dominys maintained personal relationships in a barter economy and many of their daily needs were supplied through services provided by their customers. The local economy was almost one of customer to customer rather than of producer to consumer. There was no need for large sums of cash to purchase necessities or luxuries.

Table I further demonstrates the need for rural craftsmen to keep their own farm lots. If   [p. [219]]   modern bookkeeping methods had been employed and the Dominys' books audited annually, a recommendation for bankruptcy would certainly have been made. Because these craftsmen were working in a barter economy, however, the value of the total income did not matter greatly. Goods essential to the Dominys' physical well-being and comfort might not have much cash value (in fact, did not, according to entries in the account books), but they carried

Table I. Analysis of the Dominy Accounts
Date Production Accounts
debited or charged
Income Cash &
services credited
Debit to credit
1765 £ 10– 8–5 1/2 £ 10–11–4 +£ 0–2–10 1/2
1770 50– 8–6 1/2 44–10–6 – 5–18–0 1/2
1775 22– 5–0 + 13–13–0 – 8–12–0
1780 123–13–4 2–19–0 – 120–14–4
1785 116– 9–8 45– 8–2 – 71– 1–6
1790 92– 4–2 1/2 64–11–7 1/2 – 27–12–7
1800 233– 4–0 3/4 59–10–6 1/2 – 173–13–6 1/4
1810 92– 3–3 61– 0–6 – 31– 2– 9
1820 49–17–6 30–11–9 – 19– 5– 9
1830 9– 1–0 10–14–5 + 1–13– 5
Ten-Year Total £799–15–0 1/4+ £343–10–10 –£456– 4– 2 1/4
high "living" value. Any group of craftsmen who, over the years, were paid in household goods (such as "Sundries of Earthen ware," woven coverlets, linen, shoes, skeins of wool, indigo, spoons, hats, blanketing), in food (in the form of bushels of wheat, rye, oats, and corn, as well as spices, rice, beef, mutton, fish, salt pork, butter, vinegar, apples, tea, molasses, rum, and tobacco), or in business supplies and services (which included tools, lumber, paint, varnish, and carting or delivery of products) might never become wealthy, but they would undoubtedly have been very comfortable.

The statistics condensed in Table I tell a great deal about the expansion and decline of the Dominys' activity as craftsmen. This picture is often obscured by the wealth of detailed information in the surviving manuscripts. A look at the value of production figures for 1810, 1820, and 1830 provides understanding of Felix Dominy's increasing anxiety about the lack of demand for a craftsman's talents. His letter signed "Olio," discussed in Chapter II, certainly was a partial expression of frustration stemming from frequent—and increasingly longer—periods of forced idleness. Felix's concern was not primarily economic, as the figures might lead the observer to believe, for he never expressed a fear of poverty. Moreover, some accounts for the years 1820 and 1830 are missing; but even if they were complete, they would not have been much higher than the figure listed for 1820. Understandably Felix's greatest concern was the lessening need for his talents. The people of East Hampton Township had begun to patronize shops in Sag Harbor, where manufactured goods could be bought readymade. Steamboats now brought goods to Sag Harbor faster and more cheaply than the sailing   [p. [220]]   vessels of the eighteenth century. Sag Harbor storekeepers accepted payment in "country produce and lumber," thus competing with at least one of the business advantages, barter, enjoyed by the Dominys. As Sag Harbor grew in importance during the first half of the nineteenth century, the amount of work that fell to Felix and his father, Nathaniel Dominy V, dwindled proportionately.20

The fact that the Dominys could complete with skill and competence almost any task their neighbors asked them to perform was, of course, a distinct asset. It was certainly another reason for the long period in which they were able to exist as craftsmen. A breakdown of their activities from 1765 to 1830 reveals that they functioned in their community as clockmakers, watch and clock repairers, cabinetmakers, house and mill carpenters, wheelwrights, turners, toolmakers, gun repairers, metalworkers, and surveyors (see Appendix B). On at least one occasion Felix Dominy performed as a coppersmith. Everyone aware of the versatility of these craftsmen has wondered whether all three artisans pursued each of these crafts or whether they specialized to any degree. The records indicate that for certain periods Nathaniel Dominy IV and, in turn, his son, Nathaniel V, did engage in all these activities. Felix Dominy alone was able to concentrate on clock and watch work and other types of metalwork. Each craftsman was engaged in more than one trade only when no other trained member of the family was available to help in the shops. As soon as a son had received sufficient training, the work was divided into woodworking or metalworking specialties.

For example, Nathaniel Dominy IV was apparently trained enough to begin working on his own by the time he had reached his majority in 1758. His father, Nathaniel III, did not die, however, until 1778. From around 1758 to about 1762, when Account Book B was started, Nathaniel IV concentrated on making and repairing clocks as well as other metalwork. His father still received orders for jobs involving woodworking. From 1765 to about 1788 or 1789 Nathaniel Dominy IV engaged in all the pursuits noted above. By the late eighties his son, Nathaniel V, was trained in woodworking. The large ledger, at any rate, has an increasing number of entries "From Nat's book" after 1789. From about 1789 to 1812 both Nathaniels specialized. Nathaniel Dominy IV returned to work involving clocks, watches, and other metalwork, while Nathaniel Dominy V handled cabinetwork, carpentry, toolmaking, and other woodwork. After the death of Nathaniel IV in 1812, Nathaniel V performed all types of craftwork until about 1817, when his son Felix Dominy completed apprenticeship training. A notation in Felix's hand indicates that he was apprenticed about 1815 to a watchmaker in New York City, probably as a supplement to earlier training in his father's shop: "Had this in [...18]15/ Name in my first Watch J Day [...L]ondon. Owned three other watches while working in N York."21 Although no evidence exists that Felix Dominy made watches in the clock shop at East Hampton, at least one of his customers addressed him as "Mr. Dominy Watch Maker" in a letter requesting the repair of a watch.22

While the labor in which the Dominys might have been engaged at any given time was divided, the little evidence that exists indicates that home and income were shared. With more than one family under the roof, the house (Illus. II) was probably quite crowded. In   [p. [221]]   1790 the census recorded a total of five people—four adults and one child—living together, but by 1800 this total figure had increased to ten: four adults and six children.23 Local tax records show that while tax might be paid on each craftsman's "personal estate," only the current head of the household paid the real-estate tax. The sole exception was in 1810, when Nathaniel Dominy V paid a small tax on a portion of the real-estate evaluation.24

Both census and tax records reveal much about the Dominys' economic status in their community. The records for 1800, for example, make it quite clear that, although the Dominys owned no slaves, thirty-three people in the township of East Hampton owned one or more. Of these, twenty were customers of the Dominy craftsmen, evidence that their clientele included a majority of the affluent.25 Moreover, if the value of their dwelling is taken as an indication of economic status, then the Dominys were close to the top of the list. Of 154 East Hampton houses evaluated in 1800, only ten were worth more than the $450 listed for the Dominy residence. Five houses were given the same value and 138 were placed lower. To illustrate the range of values involved, no house was listed under $100; sixty-one dwellings ranged from $100 to $200; seventy-seven buildings from $200 to $400. The highest evaluation in the township, $1,800, was placed on John Lyon Gardiner's island house.26 That gentleman was one of the Dominys' best customers. A better gauge, however, is the town tax assessment, which included personal property as well as real estate. In 1802 the Dominy family was placed slightly above the middle of the current economic scale. The combined personal property of Nathaniel IV and Nathaniel V for assessment purposes was listed at $790. This figure was topped by 117 townspeople, while 165 persons had estates of less than $790.27 The economic picture that emerges is a reinforcement of the social image of the Dominys as substantial upper-middle-class citizens in the period of their greatest activity, 1765 to 1810.

To answer the question of what single craft practice or activity provided the most income for the Dominys is not easy and could be misleading. Any separation or compartmentalizing of their work would be arbitrary because almost everything they produced involved more than one craft. For example, a clock was made in the clock shop and its case prepared in the woodworking shop. An order for a "woolen" wheel would require the production of metal parts in the clock shop forge and the turning and joining of parts of the wheel in the woodworking shop. This division of work between the two shops does not preclude an analysis of their production. It is merely a caution against visualizing these craftmen as specialists in a single trade when, in fact, they frequently used all their skills to complete an order.

Although the Dominys' claim to our attention has rested primarily upon the products of their clock shop (actually, only the work of Nathaniel IV achieved recognition), there is little doubt that they could not have prospered if they had been solely dependent on the sale of their clocks as a means of livelihood.28 From 1768 to 1825 their accounts record the production of fifty-seven clocks. In addition, the "Watch & Clock [Repair] Register" kept by Nathaniel Dominy IV from 1777 to 1812 and by Nathaniel V for 1813 lists five additional clocks which the Dominys may have produced. No record of them is found in the accounts, but perhaps the customers paid cash for them. Certainly the Dominys produced many more   [p. [222]]   clocks; examples of their work survive that cannot be linked to their manuscript records. Of forty-nine Dominy clocks known to exist, only twenty-three relate to the family account book entries. Twenty-six clocks, therefore, cannot be traced to manuscript records. These clocks have been examined carefully and are discussed in Chapter VI. These twenty-six clocks added to the fifty-seven "positives" listed in the accounts and the five "possibles" in the register give us eighty-eight. If we allow for one or two that may have escaped attention, it appears that the Dominys made approximately ninety clocks during their active days of clockmaking. This period extends from 1768 to at least 1828, because a few surviving clocks not listed in the Dominy accounts carry inscriptions in Felix Dominy's hand and the date 1828. Ninety clocks over a period of sixty years is an average of one and one-half clocks a year, obviously not enough to support Dominy families. A list of the clocks recorded in the Dominy accounts is given in Table 2.

  [p. [223]]     [p. [224]]  
Table 2. Manuscript Entries for Dominy Clocks
Date Customer Entry Cost MS No.
and page
1768–1772 John Davis Jr. To a clock £ 7–10–0 59x9a
p. 250
*[1*] 1769, Aug. 12 Henry Dayton To a clock 6– 0–0 59x9a
p. 51
1772, Feb. 14 Ezekiel Mulford to a clock 10– 3–0 59x9a
p. 7
1775, July 4 David Edwards to a clock 6– 5–0 59x9a
p. 76
Sept. 23 Jacob Sheril to a Clock 5– 0–0 59x9a
p. 63
1777, Mar. 7 Daniel Warner to a Clock 3–10–0 59x9a
p. 251
Mar. 15 Captain Levi Riley
[of Hartford]
to a Clock 3–15–0 59x9a
p. 251
Apr. 4 Elisha Treet to a Clock 4– 8–0 59x9a
p. 251
May 1 " " to making a Clock Case [torn] 59x9a
p. 251
*[2*] 1778, June 23 William Hedges to a Clock 7–10–0 59x9a
p. 3
1779, Apr. 17 Jacob Conkling To a Clock †[3*] 6 –5–0 59x9a
p. 64
To cleaning your clock & screws to
secure it for moveing
0– 5–6 59x9a
p. 67
Aug. 7 David Sayre To a Clock 7–10–0 59x9a
p. 252
*[4*] 1780, May 20 Jonathan Barns to Clock
(in Produce at cash price AND
6– 5–0 59x9a
p. 95
1783, May 20 James Hazelton
[Haddam, Conn.]
Two timepieces to be delivered to
Jeremiah Sherril
13– 0–0 59x9a
p. 89
*[5*] 1783, Dec. 17 Abraham Mulford To a Timepiece ††[6*] 4–16–0 59x9a
p. 88
to Boot between timepiece & a
7– 0–0 59x9a
p. 88
1785 Capt. Hubbard Latham Clock [?] 59x9a
p. 232
1785, Jan. 9 Nathan Mulford To a Time Piece 10– 0–0 59x9a
p. 98
1786, Aug. 10 Matthew Osborn To a Timepiece 7–10–0 59x9a
p. 6
*[7*] Nov. 2 Matthew Barns To a clock put into an old case re-
14– 0–0 59x9a
p. 99
*[8*] 1787, Dec. Isaac Scallinger
To a Silent Clock 8– 6–0 59x9a
p. 2
*[9*] 1788, Jan. 5 Thomas Baker To a Clock 20– 0–0 59x9a
p. 94
Jan. 19 William Hunting To a Timepiece 6– 0–0 59x9a
p. 118
*[10*] 1789, July 1 Cap't David Fithian To a small Clock or Timepiece 6– 0–0 59x9a
p. 21
1790, Mar. 27 Aaron Isaacs to a Clock 20– 0–0 59x9a
p. 105
1791, Apr. 5 John Gardiner To a repeating alarm clock 23– 0–0 59x9a
p. 81
*[11*] Nov. 1 John L. Gardiner To 1 Clock 70 Dolls 28– 0–0 59x9a
1792, Feb. 17 Isaac [Van] Scoy
To a Timepiece 6– 0–0 59x9a
p. 93
July 7 Abraham Gardiner To an Alarm, Repeating, Telltale
26–16–0 59x9a
p. 134
Sept. 28 John Miller To a Repeating, Alarm, Telltale
20– 8–0 59x9a
p. 79
Sept. 29 Abigail Baker To a timepiece which you got made
for Sarah
5– 8–0 59x9a
p. 30
1793, Feb. 28 Seth Parsons To a one Stroak Clock
(2 handed)
8–12–0 59x9a
p. 122
1794, Aug. 26 Joel Miller To 1 small clock or Time Piece 6– 0–0 59x9a
p. 42
1796, Feb. 9 Doctor Ebenezer Sage To 1 Clock or Timepiece 10– 0–0 59x9a
p. 137
*[12*] 1797, June 8 Miller Dayton To a Repeating-Alarm Telltale
38– 0–0 59x9a
p. 155
*[13*] Oct. 5 Joseph Hedges
To a Repeating, Alarm, Tell-tale
38– 0–0 59x9a
Opp. M
*[14*] 1798, Apr. 21 Samuel H. Pierson
To a small Clock or Timepiece 20
8– 0–0 59x9a
Opp. M
1799, Aug. 21 Payne & Ripley To Repairing or, rather Remaking
1 Clock
3– 5–0 59x9a
p. 59
*[15*] 1799, Nov. 7 David Gardiner To 1 Clock §[16*] 36– 0–0 59x9a
1800, Aug. 9 Mary Hopping To Silent Clock 9–12–0 59x9a
p. 43
1801, Oct. 28 Jared Hand To 1 Clock at £20– 0– 0 old way 20– 0–0 59x9a
p. 160
*[17*] 1803, June 11 Doctor Ebenezer Sage To 1 Silent Clock 8– 0–0 59x9a
p. 137
To Glass for ye front of Do 4 &
Turning ye Do Sash 1/6
0– 5–6
*[18*] 1805, Apr. 24 Abraham Hedges To 1 Time Piece or Small Clock 10– 0–0 59x9a
p. 170
1806, Jan. 30 Josiah Dayton To 1 Timepiece 10– 0–0 59x9a
p. 147
Feb. 12 Deacon Silas Corwin to 1 timepiece 10– 0–0 59x9a
Opp. M
*[19*] 1807, Oct. 15 Jeremiah Bennet, Jr. To a one Stroke Clock 10–16–0 59x9a
p. 133
1808, Apr. 25 Jonathan Tuthill To 1 silent clock ready cash 10– 0–0 59x9a
1809, Feb. 3 Isaac Edwards To a Small Clock 7– 0–0 59x9a
p. 18
*[20*] Apr. 20 Abraham Edwards To a clock or Timepiece 11– 0–0 59X9a
p. 153
1812, May 26 Joseph Osborn 1 Timepiece 11– 0–0 59x6
p. 120
1813, Mar. 13 Jonathan Osborn To Timepiece with a Bell 11– 0–0 59x6
p. 66
May 26 Isaac Miller Timepiece 10– 0–0 59x6
p. 123
1814, Aug. 24 Bethuel Edwards To 1 Timepiece 6– 0–0 M310
Oct. 18 Jeremiah Dayton To a Timepiece with Minute Hand 10– 0–0 59x6
p. 114
1817, Dec. 19 Elisha Osborn Junr A Timepiece with hour hand 6– 0–0 59x6
p. 181
*[21*] 1818, Aug. 8 Jacob Hedges, Jr. To Timepiece $25.00 59x9.21
p. 10
*[22*] Nov. Mulford Parsons To Timepiece 25.00 59x9.21
p. 13
Dec. 21 Samuel Ranger To an eight day repeating Clock, 3
months credit, then Intrest [sic]
at 6 per cent
26.00 M310
p. 69
1821 Matthew T. Hunting To Timepiece
To be paid in 6 months
8.00 59x9.21
p. 34
*[23*] 1825, Oct. 8 Jonathan Osborn 3rd To a timepiece 25.00 59x9.21
  [p. [225]]  

As mentioned above, there is a possibility that the Dominys produced at least five additional clocks (see Table 3) since these are listed in the repair register with a notation that

Table 3. Clocks Listed in the Repair Register
Date Customer Entry Charge MS No.
and page
1785 Dec. 14 Thomas Baker*[24*] Clock, ND £ 0–15–0 59x9a
p. 203
1800 Nov. 13 Capt. H. Latham (Clock) ND 0– 8–0 59x9a
p. 232
1803 Oct. 7, Daniel Halsey (Clock) ND 0–11–0 59x9a
p. 238
Oct. 17 N. Conklin[g] Esqr (Clock) ND 1– 0–0 59x9a
p. 238
1810 Feb. 10 Elnatha[n] Parsons Clock. N.D 0–16–0 59x9a
p. 198
their maker was "ND" (Nathaniel IV). The "Watch & Clock Register" bears striking witness to the simplicity and quality of the clocks made by Nathaniel IV; only eleven entries appear for the repair of clocks made and sold by him during the period from 1777 to 1813.

The clocks had to be durable because of the relatively high cost to the buyer and the personal relationship between producer and consumer (after all, what is as useless as a clock that will not "tell time"?). Certainly one of the reasons so few clocks were made by the Dominys was the price. Few could afford them. From just after the Revolutionary War into the 1830's several references in their accounts are evidence that the Dominys usually valued £1 at $2.50 and vice versa. The list of clocks recorded in the Dominy accounts, for example, shows that in 1791 John Lyon Gardiner paid $70, or £28, for a clock and that in 1798 Samuel Pierson was charged £8, or $20, for "a small Clock or Timepiece." If we multiply the dollar cost of the several types of clocks they produced by twelve to approximate today's cost in dollars, the timepieces could hardly be considered inexpensive (see Table 4). Even with

Table 4. Cost of Dominy Clocks
Type of clock Dominy Price Current value*[25*]
Timepiece (Nos. 208, 209) £ 6– 0–0 $15.00 $ 252.00
Silent clock (No. 194) 8– 6–0 20.75 348.60
One-stroke clock (No. 228) 8–12–0 21.50 361.20
Clock (No. 236) 10– 0–0 25.00 420.00
Clock, day-of-week, day-of-month calendar (No. 198) 20– 0–0 50.00 840.00
Clock, repeating, alarm (No. 207) 23– 0–0 57.50 966.00
Clock, repeating, alarm, telltale (No. 217) 38– 0–0 95.00 1,596.00
today's growing interest in and desire for tall-case clocks, there are relatively few people who will spend from $252 to $1,596 for a clock. Further evidence that clocks were expensive in the Dominys' era is seen in an analysis of the figure at which a skilled artisan like Nathaniel IV valued his labor. In 1770 Nathaniel Dominy IV charged from 4 shillings 6 pence to 5 shillings   [p. [226]]   a day for his work. By 1785 that figure had risen to 7 shillings a day and reached 7 shillings 6 pence by 1800.29 If £1 equaled $2.50, this means that Nathaniel IV charged approximately 94 cents a day for his labor, or in terms of today's dollar, about $11.28. Not many clocks, of even the cheapest type, could be purchased at those wages.

The activity of clockmakers across Long Island Sound in Connecticut contributed to the decline of the Dominys' production of handcrafted tall-case clocks. On June 15, 1813, the first entry mentioning clocks with wooden gears appeared in the Dominy accounts when Nathaniel V noted a charge of 6 shillings "to Repair wooden Clock" for Nathaniel Miller.30 In 1810 the cost of Connecticut clocks with wooden works ranged from $20 to $50. At those prices the Dominys could be competitive. By 1840, however, interchangeable parts, simpler manufacturing processes, and mass-production assembly techniques had lowered the price of brass-geared clocks to $6.00 in Connecticut, and it is estimated that ten clocks could be purchased in 1840 for the cost of one in 1815.31

At least one of Felix's customers thought that the price he charged for a clock in 1828 made its purchase an extravagance. In that year he received a letter from Islip stating:

Mr. Dominy

I received a line from you respecting a Clock. Will you please to make me a good & neat Clock without any finery about it – and come & put it up for me as you proposed & oblige

Yours respectfully Sarah Nicoll

Upon receiving this letter (which took about six days to travel the short distance to East Hampton), Felix Dominy noted on it "80$ is the price of such a clock." On November 3, 1828, Sarah Nicoll wrote once again, this time to cancel her order.

Mr Dominy

Will you allow me to claim a Ladys privilege & change my mind – some of my friends think it such a piece of folly for me to have an expensive Clock made, that I would give up the idea if it would not be too much for me to ask after all that has been said & done—I am willing to pay you for your trouble and expense if you will release me & forgive my fickleness –32

In view of the competition in Connecticut and the high price of the Dominys' clocks, it is not surprising that Nathaniel V and Felix spent less time making clocks than did Nathaniel IV. By 1820 Felix was spending some time at the Dominys' gear-cutting engine (No. 136) preparing clock gears for Elijah Simons, the Sag Harbor clockmaker and competitor mentioned earlier. On December 30, 1820, Elijah Simons wrote to Felix:

Sir If you have not cut the Wheals for the time piece you may cut them with one Size thinner cutter and not Round them I Send the Dial W[heel] for the Clock to Cut not Round them I Send one pinion to Cut & Leav[e]33

Four days later Felix replied:

Sir I send you the Wheels all cut except the large time piece wheel & one other which I do not   [p. [227]]   know how to cut [that is, the size of the cut] or how many teeth it wants – the large one I fear will not answer & not knowing which cutter to use I took the second size, but believe it ought to be cut with the third – if you think it will answer send it back & I will cut it. If not send another – as to the pinion I have no cutter mine being broken.34

Simons later became accustomed to forwarding information about the number of teeth for each gear, and by 1822 his instructions to Felix were limited to two or three short lines. Evidently Felix was kept busy enough with Simons's orders and received specifications from him frequently enough to make the passage of long explanatory letters unnecessary.35 The final episode in the Dominys' decline as clockmakers is revealed in the account book kept by Nathaniel Dominy V and Felix's son Nathaniel VII (1827–1910) after Felix had ceased to function as a craftsman. In 1848 Nathaniel Huntting was given credit for "cart[in]g [a] box of Clocks from Sag Harbor" to the Dominy house and shops.36 It surely must have pained Nathaniel V in his final years to see his grandson functioning as a mere retailer of clocks. Watch repairing, together with a wide variety of woodworking tasks, provided the bulk of the Dominys' income throughout their years as craftsmen. The watch paper used by Nathaniel IV notes prominently that he repaired watches, and Felix's states that he was a watchmaker as well as a clockmaker (Illus. XXXI-XXXIII). Appendix B shows that in

Black and white photograph of the watch paper of Nathaniel Dominy IV.

ILLUS. XXXI. Watch paper of Nathaniel Dominy IV. (Winterthur Museum)

Black and white photograph of the engraved copperplate for the watch paper of Nathaniel Dominy IV.

ILLUS. XXXII. Engraved copperplate for watch paper of Nathaniel Dominy IV. (Winterthur Museum)

some years watch repairing was the major source of income from customers scattered throughout Suffolk County and across the Sound in Connecticut. From 1777 to 1813 the number of watches repaired by Nathaniel IV was so great he found it necessary to keep a register of clocks and watches that came into the shop. He recorded the name of the owner, the maker of each watch, its serial number, if any, and the charge for whatever work was performed.   [p. [228]]   Although only a small section of the register appears in the Appendix, it is sufficient to illustrate the amazing variety of timepieces by American, Dutch, English, French, and German makers which were owned in southern Connecticut and eastern Long Island.37 The Dominys' watch papers served, of course, as a record of the date and type of repair, as well as a guarantee to the customer for the work performed. Both receipt and delivery of these

Black and white photograph of watch papers of Felix Dominy.

ILLUS. XXXIII. Watch papers of Felix Dominy, engraved by J.D. Stout, New York City. (Winterthur Museum)

watches were entrusted to travelers, boat captains, and stagecoach drivers. Evidently this casual system worked well, for no complaints of loss or extensive damage to the watches are noted in the Dominys' records.

Although Felix Dominy owned A List of Prices as Agreed on by the Watch and Clockmakers in the City of New York (New York: Printed by Southwick & Hardcastle, 1806), probably acquired at the end of his training in the city, the prices he and his grandfather charged for watch   [p. [229]]   repairs were considerably lower than the rates recommended by New York's artisans. Depending upon the complexity of its movement, a charge of 75 cents to $6 was made in New York for cleaning a watch. In 1785 Nathaniel Dominy IV charged 4 shillings, or 50 cents, to clean a watch, and Felix seems to have continued the rate into the nineteenth century. Henry Dering, of Sag Harbor, who knew both Nathaniel IV and Felix, was of the opinion that Felix Dominy's price for cleaning watches was quite low. In a letter dated December 5, 1821, he asked Felix "if there is any proffit [sic] in cleaning Watches at the price you usually charge." On the reverse of one of his watch papers (Illus. XXXIII), Felix noted a charge of $1.50 to "Clean & repr contrate wheel" for Elisha Edwards in 1828, a price $1 lower than the charge recommended in the 1806 List of Prices. In addition to watch papers engraved by J. D. Stout in1823, Felix Dominy also ordered fifty blue watchpapers and an engraved name plate from Samuel Maverick, a New York engraver and copperplate printer. Maverick’s bill to Felix Dominy, (Downs MS., 59x9.28a) for both items was $2.38.

An interesting sidelight on the profit accruing from repairing watches is found in the Dering letter mentioned above:


Some two or three weeks since I recd a letter from you by mail, without date –

It came to hand on Monday; I had not heard of the watches being down at the [store?] untill the Saturday before, and then by accident, although I had seen Mr. Gelston almost daily; and when I called on Mr. Gelston on Monday he informed me you brought them down yourself. …By your letter you appear rather displeased at my writing you that Mr. Harris did not wish a glass put in his watch and observed that [Elijah] Simons put them in for 12 1/2 Cts. – I conceive there was no harm in this – I know very well there is a difference in the price of Glasses, and some costing twice as much as others, and real cristals I judge would cost four times the price of a Glass. …I had no view in sending you the watches that I have, than for your profit, and I have been requested to send up others but did not know as you would wish to receive them to clean or repair, as possibly Simons might have put in the Glasses.38

Apparently there was more profit to be made in the sale of a watch glass, with its relatively simple installation, than in cleaning or repairing a watch. It is conceivable that watches sent to Nathaniel IV from Lyme, Connecticut, by Watrus and Ingraham Beckwith, as well as by "Mr Lester," came to East Hampton via Henry Dering in Sag Harbor.39

An entry in the watch register for 1779 indicates that Nathaniel IV was both a patriot and a man with a sense of humor. Under the heading of "Transient Persons" were entries for:

Coll Tarlton Dr to Repr a Watch £0–6–0
Jno Baums a legion dr to do 0–4–040
Late in 1778 General Clinton appointed Banastre Tarleton "lieutenant-colonel, Commandant of the British Legion," a mixed force of cavalry and light infantry.41 The British considered eastern Long Island a good place to forage for supplies as well as a convenient staging area for raids on Connecticut towns along Long Island Sound. In February and March, 1779, General Clinton had marched to the vicinity of Southampton, New York, and Tarleton's "Green Horse," as his legion came to be known, was apparently included in Clinton's troops.42 Having heard of a clockmaker in East Hampton, Colonel Tarleton sent his watch to be repaired or perhaps stopped at the Dominy house while repairs were being made. Nathaniel's   [p. [230]]   wish to have Tarleton and his "legion" noted as transients is understandable.

Many of the crafts practiced by the Dominys in making clocks and repairing watches were also used in making other metalwork for their customers. In the same year that Nathaniel IV repaired Colonel Tarleton's watch, he produced shot molds that he probably hoped would be used against the British by the purchasers. Quite fearlessly he cast his name and the year 1779 onto one arm of these molds (Illus. XXXIV). Although the number originally made

Black and white photograph of a shot mold made by Nathaniel Dominy IV.

ILLUS. XXXIV. Shot mold made by Nathaniel Dominy IV, 1779. (Winterthur Museum)

by Nathaniel is not known, several examples survive. These molds were relatively expensive, selling for £1 4s.43 Nathaniel IV also made button molds for local customers; an example can be seen at "Home Sweet Home" in East Hampton.

Felix Dominy must have observed his grandfather's practical approach because he too made use of his casting ability to provide additional income. As a counterweight for the alarm section of their tall-case clocks, the Dominys used what can best be described as a small lead doughnut. Felix used the same molds to cast "Sein[e] leads" for fishermen's nets and sold them for 1 pence each. In 1816 he also sold to Sineus Miller a "Brass Mold to cast sein[e] leads in" at a cost of 16 shillings, or $2 (Illus. XXXV, XXXVI).44

The Dominys' lathe equipment for turning and polishing metal did not go unused when orders for watch work were few. A notation made by Nathaniel IV on August 3, 1776, has an ominous ring. He billed Samuel Sherril, a local blacksmith, 5 shillings 9 pence for "polishing at Sundry times 69 bayonets."45 The polishing equipment, however, was more frequently used by the Dominys as the last step in repairing silver spoons and sugar tongs or jewelry. On several occasions Nathaniel IV was called upon to turn brass andiron heads or fire-tool heads for local smiths such as William Hedges and Samuel Sherril, and he undoubtedly polished them after completing the turning.46 The conservation of material in these odd jobs is illustrated by a commission from Mrs. John C. Ball in which Felix was asked to take a silver ring, draw it to a smaller size, and use the remaining silver to patch her sugar tongs.47 These account book entries have given rise to a local story that the Dominys made andirons. No evidence to document the production of "hand irons," as they are usually listed in contemporary records, has yet been found.

Gun repairing and stocking provided other important sources of income for the Dominy   [p. [231]]  

Black and white photograph of patterns for counterweight and seine net sinker molds, pattern for a shot mold, counterweight and seine net sinker, and counterwieght and seine net sinker mold.

ILLUS. XXXV. Patterns for counterweight and seine net sinker molds (top left and center), pattern for a shot mold (top right), counterweight and seine net sinker (bottom left), and counterweight and seine net sinker mold (bottom center), made by Nathaniel Dominy IV and Felix Dominy. (Winterthur Museum)

craftsmen. (Since supplying gunstocks was part of their woodworking activity, it will be discussed below.) The metalwork involved the use of their forge. A frequent entry in the accounts was for "hardening hammer of gun lock &c," for which the charge was 1 shilling. The "hardening" process meant that the metal was, of course, reheated and hammered on the anvil. Sometimes the repair work was quite extensive. For example, Nathaniel IV rebuilt Merry Parsons's gun in 1790. He charged her 10 shillings for "Repairing your Gun-lock, with a new-Dog, new-form the Tumbler, new bush the Chap, 4 new Screws, Harden Hammer, &c."48

Tool repairs such as Nathaniel IV's tempering of plane irons for Abraham Mulford in 1766

Black and white photograph of a counterweight and seine net sinker mold made by Felix Dominy.

ILLUS. XXXVI. Counterweight and seine net sinker mold made by Felix Dominy. (Courtesy of "Home Sweet Home," East Hampton, N.Y.)

  [p. [232]]   also required forge work. The job was finished at the seemingly low price of 4 pence. Nathaniel also used the forge in 1788 to repair and enlarge Nathaniel Gardiner's "Stilliards" and in 1802 "To repr the Surveying Chain" for East Hampton Township. Felix, in 1818, finished "2 pump augers" at the forge.49 Saw blades frequently broke and teeth dulled rapidly, keeping the Dominys busy refashioning saw blades and cutting or filing new teeth. Their role in keeping neighborhood artisans and farmers equipped with workable tools almost from birth to death is typified in the entries Nathaniel IV made for the account of Nathan Conkling, Jr. (see Table 5). Nathaniel IV's familiarity with gear mechanisms certainly must have been an aid
Table 5. Account of Nathan Conkling, Jr.
Date Entry Charge
May 1768 to grinding sheep shears &c £0– 1–3
to new moulding a saw 0– 7–0
Dec. to a rasp 0– 1–6
Feb. 1769 to grinding 1/4 round [plane iron] &c 0– 0–4
Aug. 1771 to a Pomp [pump] box 0– 2–0
Jan. 26, 1773 to a joyners bench 0–10–0
Feb. 4, 1774 to mend tobac[co] box 0– 1–0
May 7 to cuting off tennon saw and
Teeth New Cuting
0– 9–0
March 1786 to new plateing & new cuting a saw 0– 9–0
May 1 to 2 plane stocks finishing 0– 5–6
Dec. 30, 1788 to a Coffin for his Corps 0–12–050
to him when he was called upon by the township to repair Clinton Academy's orrery.51

Undoubtedly the most ambitious task requiring metalwork ability was the covering of the dome of the Montauk Lighthouse in 1833. Felix signed the contract shortly before he ended his career as a craftsman and at a time when he must have been desperate for work. In the agreement he is referred to as a "Copper Smith," although there is no other evidence indicating that he was qualified to work at that craft. On October 17, 1832, John P. Osborn, "Superintendent of the Montauk Lighthouse," wrote to Felix: "Capt- Brown leaves for New York tomorrow and whoever contracts to Cover the Dome of Montauk Lighthouse ought to send by him for the Copper as it is growing late in the season. Will you have the goodness to let me know whether you intend giving me your terms – I wish to know by tomorrow noon –"52 On June 6, 1833, Felix initialed a contract in which he pledged to cover the dome with "thirty two ounce copper" and paint it "with a good and substantial coat of paint." The work was to be completed by July 1, 1834; Felix was to receive $230 and be allowed to retain the old copper removed from the dome.53 According to Felix's calculations, 220 feet of copper sheets and 1,080 copper rivets were used.54

It was not the difficulty of this job that made Felix decide to earn a living by some other means. He was, after all, only thirty-four years old when this contract was ended. The evidence shows that he had earlier debated the idea of leaving craft activity.

Before describing the end of the Dominys' careers as craftsmen, their woodworking activities   [p. [233]]   should be examined. It has been pointed out that whenever at least two of the craftsmen were active, they divided their labor into metalworking and woodworking. At times, however, all three craftsmen engaged in some type of woodworking. The production of household equipment, cabinetwork, and furniture repairing provided most of their income. Appendix B gives a representative, if not complete, list of the kind of articles made by Nathaniel IV, Nathaniel V, and Felix. A thorough analysis of their accounts is needed, however, to obtain an accurate picture of their cabinetmaking and wood-turning accomplishments. Such an analysis is important to confirm their talents as furniture makers. Their reputation as clockmakers has been so widely known, and the furniture, until recently, so anonymous, that many "unbelievers" still exist. Like the clocks, all the furniture is not recorded because some accounts are missing. Other pieces were sold for cash (see No. 185) and apparently were not entered in the books. Between 1768, when Aaron Isaacs was billed 10 shillings for a "trundle" bedstead, and 1840, when Isaac Van Scoy was charged 2 shillings 4 pence for two "chairs," the Dominys produced at least 4,445 pieces of finished woodwork. This figure includes items such as buttons and trenchers, but a substantial amount of furniture also came from their shop, as shown in the list in Table 6 giving the pieces and the number made. The years and prices at the right side indicate

  [p. [234]]  
Table 6. Furniture and Woodenware Listed in Dominy Accounts
Item No. Years Usual price
Bedsteads 81 1768–1833 £ 0– 6–0 to £ 2– 8–0
Benches 2 1820 0– 6–0
Bookcase 1 1814 5– 0–0
Bookshelf 2 1801 0– 2–3
Bottle case 1 1802 0–12–0
Bread Shovel [Peel] 1 1825 0– 2–0
Bread Tray 5 1814–1832 0– 5–0
Bureaus 17 1793–1818 4–10–0 to 10– 0–0
Buttons 356 1773–1818 0– 0–1 to 0– 1–0
Button Molds 1,708 1788–1822 0– 0–3 to 0– 0–6 per dozen
Cake Board 1 1807 0– 1–0
Candle box 1 1790 0– 1–9
Case, with drawers 1 1789 4– 0–0
Chair, close stool 2 1807–1809 0–16–0
Chair, easy 1 1808 1– 4–0
Chairs 210 1766–1840 0– 1–2 to 0–10–0
*[26*] Chairs, fiddle back 31 1796–1808 0– 7–9 to 0– 8–0
Chairs, great 8 1790–1822 0–12–0 to 0–16–0
Chairs, green [Windsor] 22 1800–1803 0–10–0
Chairs, little 8 1773–1802 0– 3–6 to 0– 8–0
Chairs, plain 10 1787–1798 0– 3–6 to 0– 5–0
*[27*] Chairs, rocking 13 1804–1830 0–12–0 to 0–14–0
*[28*] Chairs, slat 62 1796–1818 0– 4–0 to 0– 6–0
Chairs, small 24 1773–1833 0– 3–0 to 0–8–0
Chest, double [mahogany drawers] 1 1800 18– 4–0
Chest, plain 4 1792–1799 0–11–0 to 0–12–0
*[29*] Chest, one drawer 5 1799–1804 1–12–0 to 1–14–0
Chest, two drawers 8 1786–1812 1–14–0 to 2–12–0
Chest of drawers 1 1770 2–10–0
*[30*] Chest on chest [high chest] 13 1791–1806 7–12–6 to 11– 0–0
Chests, complicated 1 1792 1– 6–0
Chests 56 1768–1822 0– 8–0 to 1–16–0
Clockcases (for clocks not of
their own shop)
5 1777–1820 1– 4–0 to 6– 0–0
Clothes horse 1 1803 0–10–0
Coffins 96 1768–1829 0– 4–0 to 10– 0–0
Cradles (for children) 12 1803–1824 0–16–0
Cradles (for grain) 85 1767–1848 0– 5–6 to 0–16–0
Cupboard 1 1800 0– 4–6
*[31*] Desk and bookcase 3 1796–1820 ? to 20– 8–0
*[32*] Desks 6 1770–1811 5–10–0 to 11– 0–0
Desks (school) 3 1801 0–17–0 to 1– 2–0
Desks, writing 7 1795–1808 0–10–0 to 1– 4–0
Doors 13 1765–1813 0– 3–0 to 0– 6–0
Eel spear poles 8 1789–1806 0– 0–9 to 0– 2–0
Fanning mill 1 1803 6–12–0
Footstools 14 1804–1831 0– 2–0 to 0– 7–0
Frames, looking-glass 8 1774–1820 0– 1–6 to 1– 4–0
Frames, picture 8 1767–1819 0– 1–6 to 0– 3–0
Frames, slate 8 1793–1818 0– 1–3 to 0– 2–0
Frames, tambour 2 1800 0– 3–0
Harrows 11 1785–1818 0– 4–0 to 0– 8–0
Joiner's bench 1 1773 0–10–0
Knife box 1 1807 0– 6–0
Looms 4 1768–1791 2–18–0 to 3–10–0
Meal trough 4 1769–1797 0– 9–0 to 1– 4–0
Medicine drawer 1 1800 0– 1–6
Mortar & pestle (salt) 2 1809–1814 0– 8–0
Mouse trap 1 1803 0– 3–6
Pitch pipes 3 1792–1806 0– 4–0 to 0– 8–0
Platter 1 1806 0– 6–6
Plow 1 1765 0– 8–0
Press, clothes 2 1806–1809 2–16–0
Pump boxes 23 1767–1832 0– 2–0 to 0– 3–0
Rakes 227 1769–1817 0– 2–0 to 0–12–0
Rat trap 1 1811 0– 7–0
Reels 56 1769–1837 0– 8–0 to 1– 0–0
Riding chair 1 1798 10– 0–0
Server 1 1796 0– 4–0
Shuttles 81 1769–1826 0– 2–0 to 0– 4–0
*[33*] Stands 59 1789–1831 0– 7–6 to 0–15–0
Stands, book 1 1793 0–12–0
*[34*] Stands, candle 5 1796–1833 0– 9–0 to 0–14–0
Stands, cherry 13 1809–1831 0–12–0 to 0–16–0
Stands, mahogany 2 1799–1800 1– 0–0
Stands, turned leaf 1 1793 0–10–0
Swifts 17 1793–1816 0– 2–0 to 0– 6–0
Table, large 1 1797 1–16–0
Tables 39 1788–1815 0–12–0 to 2– 8–0
*[35*] Tables, breakfast 13 1795–1823 1–10–0 to 2–16–0
Tables, bureau [with bedstead and stand] 1 1818 10–14–6
Tables, cherry 5 1792–1793 1–10–0 to 2– 0–0
Tables, dining 8 1792–1819 1–18–0 to 4– 8–0
Tables, dressing 2 1803 0–12–0
Tables, kitchen 5 1802–1823 0–12–0 to 0–18–0
Tables, for leather 1 1807 0– 5–0
Tables, mahogany 4 1800–1810 3– 0–0 to 4– 8–0
Tables, one leaf 1 1819 1– 8–0
Tables, oval 3 1766–1792 1– 4–0 to 1–16–0
Tables, plain 1 1790 0–10–0
Tables, round 3 1773–1791 1–8–0 to 2– 0–0
Tables, square 7 1790–1818 0–11–0 to 0–16–0
*[36*] Tables, tea 5 1792–1796 1– 4–0 to 1–14–0
Tables, toilet 1 1809 0–12–0
Tables, with drawer 1 1805 0–16–0
Trenchers 33 1800–1816 0– 0–6 to 0– 0–7
Trunks 2 1801–1821 0–10–0 to 0–12–0
Wagon 5 1796–1813 0– 5–0 to 8– 8–0
Wardrobe 1 1798 13– 0–0
Wharping bars 2 1814 0– 6–0 [each]
Wheel barrows 3 1768–1817 0– 8–0 to 0–11–0
Wheels, Dutch 63 1766–1818 1– 0–0 to 1–10–0
Wheels, quill 12 1792–1819 0– 8–0 to 0–12–0
Wheels, woolen 218 1765–1839 0– 8–6 to 1– 6–0
Wooden leg 1 1819 0– 3–6
Yarn beam 1 1775 0– 7–0
Yokes 34 1765–1843 0– 1–0 to 0– 4–0
the earliest and latest years of manufacture and the usual price charged. The various items are referred to by the names used by the Dominys.

The dates in which certain forms were first entered in the account books serve as additional proof that Nathaniel IV did cabinetwork and turning as well as clockwork. Since his son was not born until 1770, it is obvious that Nathaniel IV was a maker of bedsteads, chairs, chests, a chest of drawers, coffins, desks, looking-glass frames, picture frames, and tables. The fact that a number of objects first appear in 1789 or 1790 is an indication that Nathaniel V succeeded to the Dominy woodworking trade at the age of nineteen or twenty. It is by no means certain, however, that his father gave up woodworking after 1789 or 1790. Indeed, there is evidence in 1832, when Nathaniel V was presumably concerned only with woodworking and his son Felix with metalworking, that the division was not hard and fast. Writing from Quogue, New York, James C. Horton (Norton?) informed Felix:

I will be down on Saturday – If you think you can make me the said Gunbox in the course of next week will you try to get out some oak stuff ready for it – It will require to be about 3 ft 6 in – in the clear – as to the breadth I am not certain – Also if your father has any good stuff   [p. [235]]   for [wagon] shafts or you can get any from the Harbor, will you ask him to get out a pair 7 ft 6 in long in readiness to put them together when I return – I am aware that nothing more can be done till he has the waggon but my arrangements are such that I wish them painted and dried during the week – and every little helps –55

Inferences about the affluence of those who purchased Dominy furniture are not made easily. For example, John L. Gardiner paid the highest price for twelve of the fifty-four forms listed in Table 6. He was assessed as the wealthiest individual in the township of East Hampton, and in his time it would have been expected that he would spend only 4 shillings on a coffin "for a Negro child," while a mahogany and pine coffin for his own corpse cost £10. The customer's taste, the materials used, and production time were all factors in determining price. Affluence could be assumed in a purchaser when the wood used bore the notation "mahogany." It is intriguing to note that in three categories—chairs, fiddle-back chairs, and looking-glass frames—the Dominys made more expensive pieces for their own use than for their customers.

The Dominys often valued their labor at from 7 shillings to 7 shillings 6 pence a day. It would be expected that bedsteads costing 6 shillings should require less effort to make than those sold for £2 8s. The relationship here is very precise because the former were a set of "cot" bedsteads, while the latter had "long, reeded posts & teasters."56 The "cot" bedsteads were made in less than a day, while the bedstead with "long, reeded posts & teasters" required slightly more than two days to finish. The average price for a maple stand (Nos. 250, 251 B, C) was 10 shillings, indicating that about a half day's labor (albeit a long day) went into turning, joining, and finishing. The use of cherry raised the price of these stands by 2 shillings (Nos. 247, 248, 251A, E), while mahogany brought the price higher by 6 shillings (Nos. 249, 251D). The most expensive pieces of furniture were those requiring much cabinetwork and little or no turning. It is evident from the list above that a bureau, chest of drawers, chest-on-chest, desk, desk and bookcase, and wardrobe were expensive items. The number of drawers, moldings, boards, panels, and other elements that had to be fitted together were numerous and required many days' work. The desk and bookcase made for John Lyon Gardiner in 1800 (No. 244) cost £20 8s, including the expense of carting it to Fireplace, where it was shipped to Gardiner's Island. Allowing about one-third each for labor, materials, and profit, it appears that approximately twenty days were spent on this piece of furniture.58 Greater accuracy in figuring production time would be possible had the Dominys kept time records for furniture making as carefully as they did for carpentry projects.

Felix Dominy did not venture into the field of carpentry, but Nathaniels IV and V brought considerable income to the family through this type of work. One of the earliest entries in Nathaniel IV's accounts appears under Joseph Ellis's name: "To work Building house Viz geting timber, hewing, frameing and Covering in all 24 1/2 days at 4s. 6d—5–10–3."59 The period in which this house was built actually extended from March 30 to June 7, 1762, a total of seventy days. Poor weather, the Sabbath, and other projects requiring immediate attention probably accounted for spreading the "24 1/2 days" over so long a period. Among the Dominy manuscripts is a construction drawing, using a scale of 1/4 inch to a foot, for a simple story-and-a-half   [p. [236]]   house with an end chimney and a milk room (Illus. XXXVII). It is in Nathaniel IV's hand but undated, and the house owner's name is not included. Its features—10-foot corner posts, 8-inch girth beams, 6-over-6 window lights in the upper-story windows and 9-over-6 panes in the lower windows, small glass panes of 7 by 9 inches, a door only 2 feet wide—could easily be those of a house built in "24 1/2 days" in 1762. The house shown in the drawing is a perfect square, 18 feet wide and deep. Depending upon whether 11- or 12-foot rafters were used, the house would have been 17 or 18 feet high. Joseph Ellis's name is not associated with a house in the East Hampton area, so it is impossible to identify the drawing as that of his house. The absence of other entries for "house building," however, might indicate that the house shown in the manuscript is the one Nathaniel IV built for Joseph Ellis.

Both Nathaniel Dominy IV and Nathaniel V were millwrights, engaged both in building and repairing mills. The number of windmills still standing in the vicinity of East Hampton bear testimony to their importance in agricultural areas where water power was not available. In 1769 Nathaniel Dominy, in company with Abraham Mulford and others, obtained permission to set up a sawmill in "Sandy Hook" on the site of a previous mill. "Sandy Hook" was not the spit of land identified with New York Harbor, but was probably the section of the village of East Hampton now known as "The Hook," a low area where Main Street divides, one road leading to Montauk and the other to Three Mile Harbor.60 Nathaniel IV's accounts do not make it clear whether the sawmill was an entirely new building, because the entry "Saw Mill Debtor" for April and May, 1769, states: "to work of my self and Jereme on S[ai]d Mill at Sundry times building and mending viz my self 20 days at 5s 6d per day 5–1–0—Jereme 18 days at 3–6."61 It’s highly likely that Jereme was Jeremiah Sherrill (1750–1827) who was paid journeyman’s wages by both Nathaniel IV and V for help with mill construction. 62 In any case Nathaniel's rate for his skilled labor was valued at 2 shillings a day more than his helper's. These charges were not consistent, however; in 1770 Nathaniel IV recorded a fee of 5 shillings a day for one and one-half days' work "putting in head Beam" of Thomas Mulford's mill. In 1799 he entered charges of 6 shillings 6 pence per day for his son Nathaniel V's labor and 3 shillings 6 pence for each day of "Asa's" labor at "The same Mill now tended by Capt. N. Hedges."63

A great attraction to visitors to East Hampton is the "smock" or "petticoat" mill that still stands on "The Hook." It was built by Nathaniel Dominy V between 1804 and 1806 and completely restored in 1939 by Charles M. Dominy for the village. The white oak and hickory timbers used in its construction were brought on a raft from Gardiner's Island to Fireplace and hauled by oxen to the millsite. Patterned after English examples, the "smock" mill has an octagonal tower with a brake permitting the head, or "cap," of the mill to be turned into the wind.64 A few years after he built the Hook Mill, Nathaniel V was asked to supply the dimensions for a mill to be erected across Gardiner's Bay in Southold, New York. Nathaniel's reply undoubtedly contains an accurate description of his plans for the Hook Mill.

Sir, I received yours of the 9th Inst. which informs me, that if your timber will answer, you have concluded to put two run of Stones in your Mill – I believe it will do well. 2nd If you frame girders across for your bridge beams to lie upon 8 feet and 4 Inches from top of stone   [p. [237]]  

Black and white photograph of a plane and elevation drawn by Nathaniel Dominy IV for a house.

ILLUS. XXXVII. Plan and elevation drawn by Nathaniel Dominy IV, ca. 1762, possibly for Joseph Ellis's house, East Hampton, N.Y. (Winterthur Museum)

  [p. [238]]   beams to top of said girders, the lower storey will answer as agreed upon; but if you conclude to have the bridge beams lie on those girths which support the upper floor perhaps the lower storey had better be as much as 10 feet high – 3rd The top had better be enlarged as much as the bottom or the arms will come too near – 4th The stone beams may be 2 Feet & 10 inches apart, & the posts under them stand flush with the inside of the beams & 5 Feet between them the other way – 5th The post in center of Mill may be from 18 to 24 inches [thick] and long enough to rise 4 Feet 8 Inch above the stone beam – 6th The plank rim to be in 6 pieces – 7 Cogg wheel to be 8 Feet diameter & Spur wheel 5 Feet 3 I[nches] with 52 Coggs each 3 1/4 by 1 3/4 and 12 inches long – Cants of spur wheel 17 Inches wide & 4 thick – Faceing of Do 7 inches wide and 3 thick – the width of arms 9 In & 4 1/2 thick – The wallower 3 Feet 10 Inches, plank diameter – 2 Inches thick, 25 Rounds – 14 Inches between shoulders & 3 Inches diameter – Rim that holds the coggs for turning mill top [smock type] – 5 Inches thick and 9 or 10 I[nches] wide – Stocks 34 Feet or 35 Feet long, 8 Inches thick and 10 Inches deep at center, ends proportioned so as to suit the points when hewed 8 Inches one end & 4 1/2 Inches the other – thickness of stock 3 1/2 Inches or 4 Inches at end.

Size of Burr Stones 4'–4" diam. and the rock stones 4'–8 or 9" diam. and the runner 17 or 18" through the eye.

N.B. The Post in center may be Crotchd on one of the sleepers and a large stone placed under the end.65

With dimensions and instructions as precise as these, it would not be difficult to reconstruct a "smock" mill with burrstones to grind wheat and rye or rock stones to grind corn. Gauges for measuring mill "coggs" and "rounds" are among the Dominy tools acquired by the Winterthur Museum. One of them is inscribed "Hook Mill" (No. 34).

From 1812 to 1830 Nathaniel V, in partnership with Jonathan Osborn and Elisha and Timothy Miller, apparently owned a sawmill, for he recorded numerous instances of work on this mill valued at a rate of $1 a day. In 1816 a mill was evidently built in ten weeks for Abraham Osborn. This entry shows that Nathaniel's work week was six days long because his record states, "To work on Mill ten Weeks or 60 Days @ 7/." A threshing mill was completed for Miller Dayton in 1818 and another built for D.J. Gardiner in 1828.66 In Windmills of Long Island (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1983), page 38, Robert J. Hefner states that ‘between 1795 and 1810, Nathaniel Dominy V built six wind-powered gristmills, three wind-powered sawmills, and one fulling mill’

Nathaniel V was more active as a millwright than was his father. Nathaniel IV apparently preferred clockmaking, watch repairing, and other metalwork to carpentry. Because the skills needed by a millwright and a wheelwright were closely related, it is not surprising to find that Nathaniel V turned and mortised hubs for wagons and passenger vehicles. From 1792 on, an increasing number of wheelwrights' tasks were recorded in the account books. "To 1 Axletree & Black Tongue to Waggon" and "To Repr your Rideing Chair & a new Axeltree" were quite common entries. In 1798 Nathaniel made an entire vehicle (thus combining the skills of a chairmaker and wheelwright) for William Rysam, the same person for whom he made a set of mahogany Windsor armchairs in 1794 (No. 185). Rysam's "riding chair" brought £10 into the Dominy coffers. For another wealthy neighbor, "Jonathan Dayton Esqr," Nathaniel V made a "calash" for his carriage in 1820.67 An obvious connection also existed between the wheelright's skills and those needed to produce the "Dutch" and "woolen" wheels listed above. Those pieces of domestic equipment were an essential household item in East Hampton. In 1819, for example, Daniel Terry wrote to Nathaniel V: "I am in want of a woolin wheel and wish to have one with an iron axel tree as those you made for me before. I wish to have it as   [p. [239]]   soon as you can make it, & likewise two spindles with whirls on them for our other wheels."68

If there was a local need for a product or service that utilized some of the Dominys' many skills, these able craftsmen did not hesitate to meet the demand. Their manuscript records and the wide variety of their tools and the products fashioned with them provide overwhelming proof of the Dominys' versatility.

Earlier it was mentioned that Nathaniel II (1684–1768) earned his living as a weaver and surveyor. Some of the latter talent passed on to his descendants, for there are a number of records indicating that the Dominys' neighbors called upon them for "measureing" land. In 1772 Dr. Samuel Hutchinson paid Nathaniel IV 1 shilling 6 pence to measure his land. Jacob Conkling paid the same amount in 1789 for "viewing & measuring land where Parsons cut wood." Four years later Nathaniel V received 6 shillings for "1 Day in ye Woods Runing Line" on Sineus Conkling's property.69 As late as 1834, Felix Dominy received a letter from Nathan C. Barns asking for Felix's service "to measure a piece of wood-land this spring."70 Although Felix's reply has not survived, it was probably in the affirmative; there is every indication that by this time he was more of a handyman and repairman than a craftsman. A few years earlier, for example, Sarah Gardiner had written to Felix, "I wish you to come here [Gardiner's Island] 6th of June & stay a few days – probably a week, & do some painting. I wish you to bring some varnish for furniture."71 Felix had received no order for a clock since 1828 (Nos. 239, 240), and it was about then that he began to consider giving up crafts.

Sometime late in 1828 or early 1829 Felix Dominy became interested in a position as a census taker in Suffolk County. Whether he was ever appointed is not known; the only existing reference to his desire for the job is a letter advising him that Congress would not pass a census law until 1829 or 1830, with appointments to be made in the spring of 1830.72 Felix used his experience in politics in an effort to obtain the post of "Keeper" of the Montauk Light. Early in 1832, hearing that the keeper had resigned, Felix inquired about the vacancy and learned that Patrick T. Gould had already been appointed by John P. Osborn, superintendent of the lighthouse.73 Felix immediately drafted a long petition to President Andrew Jackson with the hope that some of his neighbors would sign it. In his first version the "incumbent" was accused of having "sold his good will" to someone neither a resident of Suffolk County nor familiar with the area. President Jackson was asked to appoint a "townsman" who had not sought to purchase "executive patronage." This language was apparently considered too strong by the neighbors. The petition actually sent was edited somewhat:

To his Excellency the President &c.

We the undersigned inhabitants of Suffolk County &c Understanding that the present keeper of Montauk Lighthouse has resigned, do reccommend Maj Felix Dominy as a suitable person and well qualified to fill the station &c & a firm friend to the present Administration Nathl Miller P. M. [postmaster?] Fireplace – Suffolk County – N.Y.– Charles Woodhull Nathan Post Henry P. Osborn Mulford Osborn74

  [p. [240]]  

Felix did not receive the appointment. He had to content himself with covering the dome of the lighthouse, as noted above. In 1834 Felix sought the nomination for county sheriff, but politics were as intricate then as they are now. A letter he received from Abraham Sherril delineates the complexities of party problems and views dimly Felix's chance of nomination:

When we parted last you mentioned that it had been suggested to you that an arrangement might be made whereby Esq. P. might receive the nomination of County Clerk and Esq. H. be the candidate for the Assembly. I am sorry I did not give you my opinion upon that point then. Esq. H's family and business is in such a situation that I do not think he wishes or would accept of the nomination of Assemblyman. I believe it has been generally expected that he would be reelected Clerk. He has given as far as I can learn universal satisfaction in the discharge of the duties of [torn: that] office and would command a greater vote than [torn: any] other candidate on the county ticket. In evidence [torn: of] which I would refer you to Electoral Canvass 3 years ago. I think it would be bad policy to have too many new names on the ticket and if Esq. H. is dropped for Clerk and Esq. P. taken up there will have to be a new candidate taken up for the Assembly. By a letter which I recd from Southold– they intend to urge Mr. Horton's claims to the office of Sheriff and if there is to be a contest for the Clks. office I fear it will lessen your chance for a nomination for Sheriff – The old leaders of the Party will think there has been some intrigue and will put their veto upon it. Mr. Phillips has been mentioned as the candidate for assembly but appears rather indifferent about it – Report says he wants the clerks office and has been planning to get it – as a friend of yours I hope you are clear of it – and if not I advise you to cut the connexion and keep dark as the most probable means of ensuring your success.75

Felix had every right to be discouraged by this letter. He did not receive the nomination he sought, nor one for any other post.76

By 1834 Felix had apparently made a reluctant decision to give up the craft tradition his family had maintained for over a century. The last record of craft activity on Felix's part is a bill for watch parts purchased from William M. Morrell, New York City, on November 25, 1834.77 No manuscript linking Felix to craftwork after that date has been located. He was no longer living in East Hampton in November, 1835, for in that month he wrote to his young son, Nathaniel VII, from "Fire Island" that he had been to New York City for supplies. The tone of the letter, with references to receiving mail at Babylon, New York, and voting at Islip, New York, indicates a permanent move. By 1840 Felix Dominy was keeper of the Fire Island Lighthouse, a position he may have obtained through political activity. A letter written to Nathaniel VII on March 30, 1840, was also marked "Fire Island," and in it Felix described the wreck of an Italian brig that went ashore two miles west of the light "on the bar." Some indication of the abundant wildlife in the area is reflected in Felix's remarks that he had only killed a few birds "this spring." He stated, however, that on one day he "got 21 duck."78

Felix had cut his ties with East Hampton; by 1847 he was running a hotel on Fire Island during the summer and in Bay Shore, New York, during the winter. Near the address on a letter from Felix to Nathaniel VII in 1847 is a small green seal proudly advertising Dominy's hotel on Fire Island (Illus. XXXVIII). In this letter Felix stated that "Nat Brown has built us a temple a little S.E. of the blacksmith shop." Evidently the Greek Revival style was in   [p. [241]]  

Black and white photograph of a letter seal used by Felix Dominy to advertise Dominy's Hotel.

ILLUS. XXXVIII. Letter seal used by Felix Dominy in 1847 to advertise Dominy's Hotel, Fire Island, N.Y. (Winterthur Museum)

favor on Fire Island. Several boarders are mentioned, but whether or not "the temple" was their hotel is never made clear. Felix expressed the hope that his son would "get along and make a comfortable living."79 He must have believed, from the tone of his son's letters, that Nathaniel VII was also considering leaving East Hampton, possibly to try his luck in the California gold fields. That idea was squelched by a letter from a friend already on the scene strongly advising against such a move.80 A few years later, in 1853, Nathaniel VII inherited half of his grandfather's tools and was apparently allowed to keep and use the half willed to his father.81 Felix had no use for them, having already earned a reputation as "a well known hotel keeper."82 Nathaniel Dominy V died in 1852, probably happy to leave a world he could no longer understand, a world in which his son Felix had broken the craft tradition to become a lighthouse and a hotel keeper. It probably disturbed him to see his grandson Nathaniel VII trying to take daguerreotypes and operating a jewelry business. Although he made use of the tools and, of course, kept them in the original shops, the truth is that Nathaniel VII was never more than a village handyman.

Felix died on December 20, 1868, while visiting his daughter, Mary Tyson, in Buffalo, New York. His decision to leave East Hampton seems to have been wise from an economic point of view, for he left his widow and children personal property in excess of $5,000 in addition to the Bay Shore hotel and other real estate. In his will the "family clock" was specifically mentioned and bequeathed to his son Arthur.83 Felix realized all too well that, with his death, only family relics remained to be passed on and that the production of handcrafted objects in the shops at East Hampton belonged to the past, albeit a recent past.

The tools that have survived and the products made with them have been used to reconstruct the Dominy craftsmen's means of earning a living and to illustrate a way of life now vanished from the American scene.

  [p. [242]]  


1 Rattray, EHH, p. 155.

2 John Disturnell, A Gazetteer of the State of New-York (Albany, 1842), p. 468.

3 Tench Coxe, A View of the United States of America (Philadelphia, 1794), p. 443.

4 "Assessment Roll of the Town of East Hampton… in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fourteen," Long Island Collection, EHFL, MS (x) KH18. The same folder contains assessments for 1814–1816, 1820, and 1831, each listing the property at 100 acres.

5 Bill from Samuel Stratton to Felix Dominy, East Hampton, April 24, 1830 (DMMC, MS 59x9.80); letter from Nathaniel Miller, Fireplace, N.Y., to Felix Dominy, East Hampton (DMMC, MS 59x9.156).

6 See Chapter III of an important study by Shirley Ann Martin, "Craftsmen of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, 1750–1800" (unpublished Master's thesis, Winterthur Program, University of Delaware, 1956).

7 The period covered by accounts, letters, and other manuscripts. Nathaniel Dominy IV probably began working about 1757 or 1758, because the accounts that begin in 1762 are posted in Account Book B. His earlier accounts were probably listed in his father's book, which has apparently been lost or destroyed.

8 Horatio G. Spafford, A Gazetteer of the State of New-York (Albany, 1813), p. 180.

9 Disturnell, pp. 388, 468. In 1840 the townships of Suffolk County were Brookhaven, East Hampton, Huntington, Islip, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Smithtown, Southhampton, and Southold. Townships listed as having more people engaged in "Manufactures and Trades" than East Hampton were Brookhaven, Huntington, and Smithtown.

10 "Number of Inhabitants in the Several Towns of Suffolk County, New York, July, 1776," American Archives, ed. Peter Force, 4th ser. (Washington, D.C., 1837–1846), VI, cols. 1243–46. See also Spafford, p. 180; Edwin Williams, The New-York Annual Register for …1840 (New York, 1840), p. 64; Disturnell, p. 149.

11 Disturnell, p. 448.

12 Advertisement from Suffolk Gazette (Sag Harbor), dated Dec. 26, 1804 (DMMC, MS 59x9.5). The notice probably appeared in late Dec., 1804, or early Jan., 1805.

13 Ibid., Aug. 19, 1809, p. 3.

14 Account Book B, Nathaniel Dominys IV and V, 1762–1844 (DMMC, MS 59x9a), p. 112.

15 Suffolk Gazette, Sept. 29, 1810, p. 3.

16 Account Book, 1792–1824, Nathan Topping Cook, probably Bridgehampton, N.Y. (DMMC, MS 60x13.9).

17 Suffolk County Herald (Sag Harbor), Sept. 4, 1802, p. 4; Suffolk Gazette, advertisement dated Dec. 24, 1804 (DMMC, MS 59x9.5); ibid., July 7, 1810, p. 3, Oct. 28, 1805, p. 4, July 29, 1809, p. 3.

18 The Corrector (Sag Harbor), Aug. 3, 1822, p. 3.

19 Ibid., Jan. 18, 1823, p. 3, April 19, 1823, p. 3.

20 The growth in importance of Sag Harbor is concisely and accurately depicted in "Whales and Wefts" and "Sag Harbor: 'The Port,'" Rattray, EHH, pp. 64–68, 111–15.

21 Account Book, Felix Dominy, 1818–1827 (DMMC, MS 59x9.21), p. 35.

22 Letter from Alvin Squires, Good Ground, N.Y., to Felix Dominy, East Hampton, June 2, 1828 (DMMC, MS 59x9.33).

23 U.S. Bureau of the Census, Heads of Families at the First Census of…1790 (Washington, D.C., 1908), p. 163. See also "Federal Census, 1800, Suffolk County, Long Island, New York. Town of East Hampton," New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, LVI (July, 1925), 272–76.

24 "Assessment Roll of the Town of East Hampton," 1802, 1803, 1805, 1806, 1810 (EHFL, MS [x] FH17). See similar documents for 1814–1816, 1820, 1831 (EHFL, MS [x] KH18); and for 1832, 1835, 1847, 1851, 1853 (EHFL, MS [x] FH19).

25 "List of Tax upon Dwelling Houses in the 1st Collection District of New York," Suffolk County Historical Society (hereafter SCHS), Riverhead, N.Y., MS 18-G. See also New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, LVI (1925), 273.

26 SCHS, MS 18-G.

27 "Assessment Roll of the Town of East Hampton," 1802 (EHFL, MS [x] FH17).

28 Four sources are primarily responsible for the Dominys' reputation as clockmakers. One is Elizabeth R. Brown, "East Hampton's Dominy Clocks," Long Island Forum, V (Aug., 1942), 147–48. This article was reprinted in the same publication in Aug., 1958, and, with additions by Frederick Selchow, in the Bulletin of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors' Inc., VIII (Feb., 1959), 411–16. Also important are Carl W. Drepperd, American Clocks & Clockmakers (enl. ed.; Boston, 1958), p. 220, and Brooks Palmer, The Book of American Clocks (New York, 1950), p. 181, and Illus. Nos. 41, 42.

29 See Appendix B entries under carpentry for 1770 and 1785. Charles F. Montgomery, "Price Books," in American Furniture: The Federal Period (New York: 1966), pp. 19–26, shows that skilled craftsmen in Philadelphia also charged 7 shillings 6 pence per day for their labor in the Federal period.

30 Account Book B (DMMC, MS 59x9a), p. 180.

31 Victor S. Clark, History of Manufactures in the United States (New York, 1949; reprinted from the 1929 edition), I, 387.

32 Letters from Sarah Nicoll, Islip, New York, to Felix Dominy, East Hampton, Sept. 22, 1828, and Nov. 3, 1828 (DMMC, MSS 59x9.34, 59x9.35).

33 Letter from Elijah Simons, Sag Harbor, to Felix Dominy, East Hampton, Dec. 30, 1820 (DMMC, MS 59x9.23).

34 Letter from Felix Dominy, East Hampton, to Elijah Simons, Sag Harbor, Jan. 4, 1821 (DMMC, MS 59x9.24).

35 See DMMC, MSS 59x9.22, 59x9.24. Gears and number of teeth are listed respectively as "Main Wheal 96 – Center Wheal 60 / Third W[heel] 56 Large dial W[heel] 72 / Small do 42 –"; "Time part M[ain] W[heel] 96 / Scenter W[heel]– 60 / third - Do – 56 / Crown W[heel] – 30 / Dial W[heel] – 42 / Striking part / Main W[heel] — 84 / pin do – 56 / Pallet do 48 / Small pin w[heel] 48 / Round all But the Long Dial W[heel]."

36 Account Book, Nathaniel Dominy V, Felix Dominy,   [p. [243]]   and Nathaniel Dominy VII, 1809–1862 (DMMC, M 310, original manuscript in Long Island Collection, EHFL), p. 101.

37 Nathaniel Dominy IV frequently repaired watches for the Beckwiths and Lesters of Lyme, Conn. See Account Book B (DMMC, MS 59x9a), p. 248.

38 Letter from Henry P. Dering, Sag Harbor, to Felix Dominy, East Hampton, Dec. 5, 1821 (DMMC, MS 59x9.26).

39 Account Book B (DMMC, MS 59x9a), p. 248. The Beckwiths are described as "clothiers" in Nathaniel's accounts from 1800 to 1813. Phoebe Dominy Parsons (1801–1878) married John Beckwith, of Lyme, Conn., in 1820. She was a granddaughter of the lockmaker. See Rattray, EHH, p. 516.

40 Account Book B (DMMC, MS 59x9a), p. 249.

41 See Robert Hamilton Vetch in DNB s.v. "Tarleton, Sir Banastre."

42 Henry Onderdonk, Jr., Revolutionary Incidents of Suffolk and Kings Counties (New York, 1849), p. 82.

43 Account Book B (DMMC, MS 59x9a), pp. 19, 95.

44 Account Book, 1809–1862 (DMMC, M 310), pp. 1, 65.

45 Account Book B (DMMC, MS 59x9a), p. 60.

46 Ibid., pp. 3, 60.

47 Ibid., p. 90. Letter from H. S. Ball, East Hampton, to Felix Dominy, East Hampton, undated, ca. 1824 or 1825 (DMMC, MS 59x9.157).

48 Account Book B (DMMC, MS 59x9a), pp. 70, 90.

49 Ibid., pp. 88, 91, 97, 249.

50 Ibid., p. 47.

51 Ibid., p. 249.

52 Letter from John P. Osborn, Sag Harbor, to Felix Dominy, East Hampton, Oct. 17, 1832 (DMMC, MS 59x9.69).

53 "Articles of Agreement," June 6, 1833 (DMMC, MS 59x9.70a).

54 Manuscript notes (DMMC, MS 59x9.70b).

55 Letter from James C. Horton, Quogue, N.Y., to Felix Dominy, East Hampton, Oct. 18, 1832 (DMMC, MS 59x9.66).

56 Made for Jonathan Osborn, March 8, 1833, and John Parsons, March 16, 1818, respectively. See Account Book, 1809–1862 (DMMC, M 310), pp. 51, 86.

57 Account Book B (DMMC, MS 59x9a), p. 14.

58 These percentages seem to be fairly constant and are developed from an analysis of price books published for the use of cabinetmakers in New York City. This analysis is part of a chapter on the cabinetmaker's trade in Montgomery, pp. 23, 26.

59 Account Book B (DMMC, MS 59x9a), p. 21.

60 Jeannette E. Rattray, The Old Hook Mill and Other Old English Windmills of East Hampton, Long Island, New York, and Vicinity (East Hampton, N.Y., 1942), pp. 11, 17.

61 Account Book B (DMMC, MS 59x9a), p. 55.

62 Rattray, Old Hook Mill, p. 21.

63 Account Book B (DMMC, MS 59x9a), p. 78.

64 Rattray, Old Hook Mill, pp. 21–27.

65 Letter from Nathaniel Dominy V, East Hampton, to Moses Cleveland, Southold, N.Y., April 13, 1810 (EHFL, MS L628).

66 Account Book, 1809–1862 (DMMC, M 310), pp. 4, 12, 54, and loose receipt in Index.

67 Account Book B (DMMC, MS 59x9a), 5, 8, 14, 20, 21, 137; Account Book, 1809–1862 (DMMC, M 310), pp. 2, 14.

68 Letter from Daniel T. Terry, "Oysterpond," N.Y., to Nathaniel Dominy V, East Hampton, May 1, 1819 (DMMC, MS 59x9.18).

69 Account Book B (DMMC, MS 59x9a), pp. 57, 65, 70.

70 Letter from Nathan C. Barns, East Hampton, to Felix Dominy, East Hampton, March 19, 1834 (DMMC, MS 59x9.73).

71 Letter from Sarah Gardiner, Gardiner's Island, NY., to Felix Dominy, East Hampton, May 22, 1830 (DMMC, MS 59x9.58).

72 Letter from General Jeremiah Miller, East Hampton, to Felix Dominy, East Hampton, undated (DMMC, MS 59x9.56).

73 Letter from John P. Osborn, Sag Harbor, to Felix Dominy, East Hampton, Feb. 18, 1832 (DMMC, MS 59x9.88).

74 DMMC, MSS 59x9.86, 59x9.87.

75 Letter from Abraham P. Sherril, Smithtown, N.Y., to Felix Dominy, East Hampton, Sept. 10, 1834 (DMMC, MS 59x9.94).

76 Letter from Abraham P. Sherril to Felix Dominy, Nov. 11, 1834 (DMMC, MS 59x9.95). This letter contains an official canvass of the election returns, and Felix Dominy is not listed as a candidate.

77 DMMC, MS 59x9.78.

78 Letter from Felix Dominy, Fire Island, N.Y., to Nathaniel Dominy VII, East Hampton, Nov. 3, 1835, as quoted in the East Hampton Star, undated clipping (ca. 1946). See also a letter from Felix to Nathaniel, March 30, 1840 (EHFL, MS KM/211).

79 Letter from Felix Dominy, Fire Island, to Nathaniel Dominy VII, East Hampton, Aug. 8, 1847 (DMMC, MS 59x96.6).

80 Letter from Nathaniel Miller, Calif., to Nathaniel Dominy VII, East Hampton, undated (DMMC, MS 59x9.103).

81 Will of Nathaniel Dominy [V], dated April 23, 1852, admitted to probate April 27, 1853, Suffolk County Surrogate's Court, Riverhead, N.Y. See Record of Wills, Book 5, P. 397.

82 "Defended," Glen Cove (N.Y.) Gazette, Aug. 8, 1885, p. 2, col. 3. This article defends the appointment of Felix Dominy's son Arthur as superintendent of lifesaving stations.

83 Will of Felix Dominy, dated June 17, 1868, admitted to probate Feb. 16, 1869, Suffolk County Surrogate's Court, Riverhead, N.Y. See Record of Wills, Book 10, p. 163. See also inventory of personal property, File No. 6563, March 10, 1869, Suffolk County Surrogate's Court.


[1*] Known today.

[2*] Known today.

[3*] The same clock is noted on April 10, 1792.

[4*] Known today.

[5*] Known today.

[6*] The same clock is noted on May 23, 1786.

[7*] Known today.

[8*] Known today.

[9*] Known today.

[10*] Known today.

[11*] Known today.

[12*] Known today.

[13*] Known today.

[14*] Known today.

[15*] Known today.

[16*] A bill to David Gardiner, dated May 16, 1800, is for a "Horologiographical, Repeating, Alarm, Monition" clock (MS 59x9.2).

[17*] Known today.

[18*] Known today.

[19*] Known today.

[20*] Known today.

[21*] Known today.

[22*] Known today.

[23*] Known today.

[24*] He was billed for a clock made in 1788. That clock, therefore, could not have been repaired in 1785.

[25*] In 2000 U.S. dollars. See Table I, John J. McCusker, How much is That in Real Money (Worcester, MA: American Antiquarian Society, 2001).

[26*] Asterisks designate types for which examples have survived.

[27*] Asterisks designate types for which examples have survived.

[28*] Asterisks designate types for which examples have survived.

[29*] Asterisks designate types for which examples have survived.

[30*] Asterisks designate types for which examples have survived.

[31*] Asterisks designate types for which examples have survived.

[32*] Asterisks designate types for which examples have survived.

[33*] Asterisks designate types for which examples have survived.

[34*] Asterisks designate types for which examples have survived.

[35*] Asterisks designate types for which examples have survived.

[36*] Asterisks designate types for which examples have survived.

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