Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Jeweler’s Clock

Sometimes in the movies the story is told backwards.  That’s how I’m going to tell this true story.

A fascinating old clock hangs on the wall at my brother’s house.  Grammy passed it on it to him some 20 years ago.  The clock is a pendulum wind-up clock with gold leaf lettering from the establishment where it once hung:Jewelers Clock
J. Levinski Co.
417 Austin St.
Waco, Tex.

Prior to keeping time at my brother’s house in Tennessee, it hung on the wall in my parents home in Oklahoma.  Prior to that, it hung on the wall at Aunt Nettie’s house in Fort Worth.  Nettie Wilma Fitzhugh Lessor was my father’s stepmother’s sister.

We visited at Aunt Nettie home in the late 1960s.  The first thing my dad saw when we entered the house was the Jeweler’s Clock hanging over the fireplace.  He  complained that the clock was his and therefore shouldn’t be hanging at his aunt’s house.  Aunt Nettie was gracious and gave my dad the clock that day.

Aunt Nettie had probably had the clock for at least 20 years.  Her sister, my dad’s stepmother “Mother Nell”, had given it to her while my dad was in the US Navy during World War II.  Even in the mid-1940s, he had been upset and concerned that his parents had given away or disposed of some of his belongings in his absence.

The clock had no direct ties to the family back then.  From 1940 through 1943, before becoming an officer in the Navy, my father, Lee Edmonds, attended Baylor University, the hometown college, and commuted on the bus. In a family of 5 students (he was the middle child) money was tight, and he worked off some of his expenses with a campus job doing janitorial work.  As part of the job, he found the discarded clock in a closet on campus, inquired about it, and was allowed to keep it.  He lugged it home on the city bus.  That’s how the clock came into our family.

I found myself wondering about “J. Levinski, Jeweler” and did a little research.  I found a photograph of the interior of the jewelry store taken in 1907 in Waco Texas: A Postcard Journey by Agnes Warren Barnes at Google books.  In order to respect the copyright, I won’t include the picture here, but you can follow the Google books link to see it.

Jacob (Jake) Levinski is listed in the 1910, 1920, and 1930 census at 724 N 19th Street in Waco with his wife Sarah, daughter Ruth, and sons Julian and Philip.  His occupation is listed as owner of a jewelry store and his sons also worked at the store.  Bingo!  Depending on which census you want to believe, he was from Germany, Poland or Russia.  Further investigation turned up a 1892 Passport application which lists Prussia, in Germany, as his birthplace.  Russia on the 1910 census was probably just a misunderstanding.

According to that passport application, Jacob Levinski was 5 feet 6 inches at 31 years of age.  He had blue eyes, a large nose, a small mouth, around chin, an oval face, dark brown hair, and a dark complexion. 

Jacob Levinski died in September of 1939.  Jacob and his wife Sarah are buried at Hebrew Rest Cemetery in Waco.  Assuming that his sons did not take over (or succeed at) the jewelry store business, it probably closed shortly after his death.  This would explain the abandoned clock, but does not explain what it was doing in a closet at Baylor University.Colonial to Levinski map

Since there has never been any indication of a connection between the Edmonds family and the Levinski family, there is a another strange coincidence that I’d like to point out:  The Levinskis lived just 3 blocks from the Edmonds family.

Any curious researching souls are welcome to add comments about any tidbits regarding Jacob Levinski and his jewelry store.


  1. Welcome to the Geneabloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories" and family saga novels:
    "Back to the Homeplace" and "The Homeplace Revisited"

  2. I don't have any information on the clock, but it certainly is an interesting coincidence. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I enjoyed reading this story and I have no information regarding the clock, but I inherited from my mother, Myrtis Stringfellow Lane, a gorgeous 14kt yellow gold ladies broach with a straight-pin style clip and mounted with diamonds. Neatly engraved on the back is the name, "J. LEVINSKI". It is stamped "14kt". My mother was a native Wacoan. She graduated from Waco High School and later, Baylor University. She was once a student secretary to Pat Neff. Mr. Neff was then President of Baylor and later, Governor of Texas. Her father was J.E. Stringfellow. He was a highly ranked official of the Grand Commandery in Waco during the 1930's-1940's. He owned and operated an 8-chair barbershop in a downtown Waco hotel. The barbershop was destroyed along with the hotel during the terrible tornado that hit downtown Waco. Sadly, my mother passed away July 5, 2012. She was quite a historian. She likely could have confirmed where the broach originated. I assumed the broach was newer, but after reading the article about Jacob Levenski, I am reasonably certain it was make by the J. Levenski Company. Thank you...
    Milton R. Lane, II

  4. Hello! I've been recently searching through my step-great-grandmother's old jewelry and happened to find a little box with two tropical bird pins. Inside the box was the label, "The J. Levinski Co. Inc. Jewelers 417 Austin Avenue Waco, Texas"
    Curious, I looked it up and found your blog.
    If you are interested, I'd gladly send you pictures or mail you the pins!
    Contact me if you're interested :