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Gustavas Stoy (1777-1816) was the son of Dr. William Henry Stoy who was a minister at several German Reformed churches and spent many years preaching in Pennsylvania. Dr. Stoy was also the first pharmaceutical scientist in the United States, and was a prominent Revolutionary War doctor in the Lebanon, PA area. He established the Stoy family in the United States after emigrating from Germany. Dr. Stoy's Lebanon house, built in 1773 and located at 924 Cumberland Street, is now the home of the Lebanon County Historical Society .
Gustavus' brother was Henry William Stoy who was born in Lebanon, PA in 1782 and died in Virginia in 1858. Records of Gustavus' birth are unclear, but it is likely he too was born in Lebanon, PA. Gustavus Stoy married Catherine Graf in 1797.
It is quite probable that the Stoy family brought the skills of cabinet making, clock making and mechanics from Germany and passed them along to their children in America.
Gustavus Stoy became actively involved with the clock making trade at a young age and became a notable clockmaker in Lebanon from 1795 to 1805. He primarily specialized in tall case Pennsylvania clocks, but it is known that he also made bracket clocks during this time as well. During the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors Convention in June, 1973, a square bracket clock with a nicely finished 8-day repeating strike movement signed ‘Gustavus Stoy, Lebanon’ on the dial, balance wheel escapement and rack lever striking mechanism was revealed. This bracket clock is made with various woods including mahogany, birch, yellow pine, white pine and walnut. In addition to clock making he was also in the related business of watch repair.
Sometime in 1806 he moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania and continued in the clock making and clock and watch repair business. An advertisement in the Lancaster Journal on May 24, 1806 stated that Gustavus Stoy "respectively informs his friends and the public, that he has commenced the Tavern keeping business, at the house lately occupied by Mr. John Whiteside, now the Sign of the Pennsylvania Arms, in Queen Street, a few doors north of the court house...He also carries on at said place, his business of CLOCK & WATCH MAKING in all its various branches. Clocks and watches repaired at the shortest notice, as warranted." It was a common practice for clockmakers of the 18th and 19th century to have other jobs or businesses in addition to their clock making and repairing trade.
He also served in the United States military during the War of 1812 where he was a private in the 2nd Brigade, Pennsylvania Militia.
Handwritten records housed in the archives at the Lancaster, Pennsylvania Historical Society, dated the 26th day of August 1816, list the inventory of the deceased Gustavus Stoy. This document records the personal property of Gustavus Stoy's estate and is signed by his wife, Catherine (Graf) Stoy. The list includes "1 set of watchmaker's tools, $150" which indicates he was most likely involved, or at least maintained an interest, in the clock and watch making trade until the end of his life.
An excellent example of an early (circa 1795) hand-made Gustavus Stoy tall case Pennsylvania clock originating from Lebanon, PA is housed and displayed in the Stoy Museum (Lebanon County Historical Society, Lebanon, Pennsylvania.)
Gustavus Stoy died in Lancaster, PA in August of 1816.
Solid Black Walnut tall case clock (95 inches tall) – unusual large brass door hinges (most likely not original) – the white dial has a hand painted peacock and is signed ‘Gustavus Stoy, Lebanon’ (circa 1795). Note: the missing feet – originally this clock probably had Ogee style bracket feet. - Above photos courtesy of the Lebanon County Historical Society.
Solid walnut tall case clock (98 inches tall) – featuring a swans neck pediment with intricately carved sunflower rosettes and a Regional shield design on the base – dial signed ‘Gustavus Stoy, Lebanon’ (circa 1800). Note: the turned feet – they were probably added after 1830 because Ogee style bracket feet were the popular Regional design at the time this clock was built. - Above photos courtesy of Kocian DePasqua Antiques.
Information on a 8-Day Bracket Clock (circa 1800) by Gustavus Stoy - from the book: ‘Pennsylvania Shelf and Bracket Clocks 1750-1850’ by Edward F. LaFond Jr. And J. Carter Harris: