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John Peter Spyker (also spelled Spycher) (1756-1830) was born on November 25, 1756 to Maria Margaretha and John Spyker who emigrated to the United States in 1737 where they settled in Pennsylvania. He married Susanna Kurtz and lived in Williamsburg (now Jonestown, Pennsylvania.)
A clock built by him (circa 1780) was featured in a September 30, 1972 article in the Lebanon Daily News. This particular clock includes a rare deeply incised carving of a sheaf of wheat on the trunk door. In the late 1700s the most popular style of carvings found on furniture was sea shells, but Spyker used a wheat pattern local to his area which had many agricultural farms. This clock stood in the White Horse Tavern in Jonestown, PA for 100 years (from 1783 to 1883). The dial is signed with the town name of ‘Williamsburg’, which was the original name of Jonestown. The founder of Williamsburg, William Jones, died in 1771 and after his death the town’s name was changed to Jonestown.
Another clock (circa 1785) attributed to him is considered very rare and of the early Pennsylvania “Philadelphia” style with hand carved sunflowers and C-scroll vines on the bonnet. He was also known to be an active clockmaker from 1784 to 1800 in the Tulpehocken, Lebanon County area. Several other clocks built by him are known to have survived.
John Peter Spyker died in Lebanon County on August 18, 1830.
These pictures of a John Peter Spyker tall case clock are courtesy of James Reynolds, of Eagleville, PA. (He purchased the clock from clockmaker, Dick Heist, of Collegeville, PA.) After purchasing the clock James Reynolds got a call from Mrs. Heist, who was contacted by a descendent of Peter Spyker who had gotten wind that they had the clock and wanted to see it. Mrs. Heist explained it was sold but offered to put him in touch with James Reynolds. She contacted James with the contact information of the gentleman, one Charles Thrush, a 4x great grandson of George (not John) Peter Spyker (or Spycher). He wanted to see and lay hands on his 4x great grandfather's work. James invited him over and he and his daughter visited, took pictures, and filled them in on all of the family research and genealogy they had been able to compile.
The walnut case features carved tulip designs on the case door and base section. The movement is a brass 30 hour with a date feature. The dial is signed “John Spyker 1781”. The dial’s paint is significantly worn and James Reynolds is considering having it restored to its original condition.
Peter Spyker - Walnut Tall Case Clock - Dial Close Up - circa 1781
Peter Spyker - Walnut Tall Case Clock - Full Image - circa 1781
Peter Spyker - Walnut Tall Case Clock - Door Close Up - circa 1781