The Hardin County History Museum had a visitor Friday afternoon from Virginia who brought an artifact to add to the museum’s collection.
Charles English Southern is the grandson of former Elizabethtown doctor John English who had a medical practice downtown for many years. Southern said his grandfather graduated from college and was practicing medicine by age 19.
A clock that once was displayed in English’s office was left to Southern and he returned to Elizabethtown on Friday to donate it.
The Seth Thomas clock hung in the ticket/station master’s office of the Elizabethtown railroad depot when many people still traveled by train. English was a surgeon for the Illinois Central and L&N Railroad.
He became friends with the president of L&N Railroad and when English retired from serving the railroad industry, the president drove to Elizabethtown and asked if he could do anything for him.
English told him he’d like the clock that hung in the railroad depot. When English died in 1964, the clock was given to Southern’s family and later was passed down to him. It hung in their dining room when he was a child.
“I think this survived the Civil War,” Southern said of the clock.
He’s not sure how old the clock is and hopes the museum will be able to find out its age and value. He remembers seeing oil stains on the clock from the lamp that sat under it at the train station.
Southern has memories of visiting the train station with his grandfather.
“Granddad would ask if the hummingbird was on time and the station master would get on his telegraph,” he said.
Southern said his grandfather loved the clock and it hung in his office until he retired from medicine.
On a trip to Elizabethtown last summer from his home in Salem, Virginia, Southern visited the museum and said he decided then the clock needed to be displayed there.
He said the clock now belongs to the museum and the people of Hardin County.
“I was awestruck by the magnitude of stuff that was in here and wanted the clock to come here,” Southern said. “I think my granddad would be very pleased that it’s here and that the people of Elizabethtown and Hardin County can enjoy it.”
Southern and local historian Elvin Smith Jr. visited the railroad section of the museum to try to find a good place to display the clock.
The section includes photos and artifacts from railroads in the county, including the lamp that could have sat under the clock at the Elizabethtown depot.
Smith said he was excited to have the clock in the museum’s collection.
“The railroad coming through E’town put us on the map, so anything that has to do with the railroad coming through is a big story for us,” he said.
Trains often stopped in town as people went through and Smith said many visitors probably passed the clock on their stops in Elizabethtown.
It will be on display at the museum after its appraisal.