Sunday, July 11, 2010

Dueber-Hampden brings growth and growing pains to the city...

A large Victorian house set on the corner of Harrison and 9th street. Just one of many that would be built for the newly transplanted employees of the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works. In this particular house lived Henry Bernard John (BJ) Volkert who came to America from Quackenbruck, Germany. He married a woman in Newport, Kentucky and moved to Canton to become an engraver at the Watch Works. Settling in to life in that large Victorian home, Henry's sons grew up playing with the Timken boys. This was one story that Barb Hoskins recalls that her great aunt told her about her Grandfather, Clarence, and her Great-Grandfather Henry BJ Volkert.

Barb, who shares a birthday and the same initials as her great-grandfather is a William McKinley Library & Museum volunteer. Her love of Canton history brought her to the museum where she soon discovered Dueber-Hampden Watch Works, and to her surprise, that her own great grandfather and at least two or three of his sons also worked there.

The photo above shows great grandfather Henry Volker with his wife, Josephine (Neihause) Volkert, surrounded by ten of his children. Barb's grandfather, Clarence Volkert, is second from the right in the back row.

Talking with Barb about her great-grandparents' home, you get the sense of how bringing Dueber-Hampden engravers and watch makers to Canton helped to change and shape the layout of the city. In previous blogs we discussed how the influx of people changed the flavor of religions, and we know that many businesses sprung up as the population increased.

But along with all the celebration for the watch works and its employees coming to Canton, we can't overlook that there were some growing pains for the city. According to E. T. Heald, "The coming of Dueber Hampden Watch Works doubled the population of Canton overnight to 26,000 (262)." The arrival started an immense growing period.

Heald discusses in much detail the need for a better sewage system that had already been taxed before the population began to grow. When the population was around 12,000 there was no place to dispose of home waste and at that time diphtheria was the greatest cause of deaths. City leaders had begun to put together a board, and make some improvements, but with the coming of Dueber-Hampden, Heald reports there was an immediate need to build a new sewage disposal system south of the city near North Industry just about 1 1/2 miles south of Howenstine on the Dennison Steinmetz farm (262).

To better illustrate the growth of the city, the map above shows the explosive growth around the Dueber-Hampden buildings. The land developed was just some of the 3,000 acres owned by the Meyer family. It is important to note that the street names then have changed to streets numbers now.

This map is part of Bob Dasco's collection. Bob, a retired Canton City School teacher, is an avid Dueber-Hampden collector and will be part of our Spending Time with Dueber-Hampden event on August 10 from 3-7 p.m. at the Hoover Historical Center on the Walsh campus.

Trying to understand the immensity of Dueber-Hampden Watch Works helps when looking at the photograph above. The photographic composite by local photographer Harold Thomas shows a modern I-77 overlaid with the Dueber-Hampden Watch Works. This should help to understand the footprint of "the Works," and the space it once occupied while it was standing. The Works stretched from Tuscarawas Street southward to 6th street. This can best be illustrated by the photograph below taken on August 29, 1958 by Pix by Bix.

The photograph above is looking south at the Dueber-Hampden buildings, with a portion of the south building missing. The photograph below shows the Dueber Hampden building looking east. These photographs from the Edward Thouvenin collection shows how the construction for I-77 led to the demolition of the Dueber-Hampden buildings.

This week I met Tom Mattevi (photograph below) who manages the Comics, Cards, and Collectables on the southwest end of Canton. He has a knack for matching old time photographs of the city to what is now in its place today. Tom helped point out some of the historical significance of Dueber-Hampden for me.

I hope that by showing the photographs of Dueber-Hampden in this blog entry, it helps you to understand the size of these buildings, and how this company help change the landscape of the city, not just by its building alone, but by its employees as well.

Thanks Barb, Bob and Tom for your help.

In upcoming blogs, Robert "Bob" Capestrain at his jewelry shop in Canton and Marilyn Phillips-Garver, whose dad worked at Dueber-Hampden.


Heald, Edward T. The Stark County Story. 3rd ed. Vol. 4. Canton, OH: The Stark County Historical Society, 1958. 262-275. Print.

Hoskins, Barb J. Personal interview. 5 July 2010.

Mattevi, Tom. Personal interview. 1 July 2010.


1893 map, J. Meyer's Heir's Addition. 1893. Map. Bob Dasco Collection.

Dueber-Hampden and construction of I-77, Edward Thouvenin Collection.

Pix, Bic. Dueber Hampden Watch Works. 1958. photograph. Edward Thouvenin Collection.

The Volkert Family. Photograph. Barb Hoskins Collection.

Thomas, Harold. Stark County, Then & Now. 2005. Photograph. Marilyn Phillips-Garver. used with permission from the author


  1. Hello Ms. Horrisberger,
    I read the interesting article in The Repository regarding the upcoming event on August 10th. My mother sent me the article since I live in Texas. If I was in Ohio, I would go to this event. I am originally from Canton, OH and graduated from Walsh University. I collect antique clocks and watches and teach how to repair.
    Two of my watches in particular are a 1905 size 18 Hampden pocket watch, lever set, open face case with a swing out movement. The other is an 1885 size 10 Hampden pocket watch, lever set in a gold filled hunter case. This one is inscribed inside Dec. 25th 1892. The outside of the watch case is inscribed Maud. It must have been a Christmas gift to Maud in 1892. I have pictures if interested.

  2. Hello Tick Tock Production. You have several really good things going for you--graduate of Walsh!!! Native of Canton, and a collector of Dueber Hampden watches. All kidding aside I would like to see some pictures of your watches. You can post them up on our facebook (Dueber-Hampden) or send them to me.
    Thanks for posting.

  3. Hello there im douglas,im a historic artist and it is totally cool that I found this blog the same day I hung up in my art gallery! Of the dueber hampden watch co. And I did a drawing of a dueber watch as well. My art gallery is all of historic canton. I bring back history threw my artwork. My gallery is in the canton club!
    Douglas c. Girton

  4. Hi Douglas--your art work and gallery sound exciting. We are looking forward to seeing your artwork, especially of Dueber-Hampden. Glad you found our blog.