Home Cemeteries The Grave of a Watchmaker: William Samelius

The Grave of a Watchmaker: William Samelius

by Jennifer Jones

Much to the disappointment of my children, I often like to stop by local cemeteries and wander around taking pictures.  They usually get dragged along with me. I figure it makes for an interesting childhood, right? ;)We usually end up at the Ogden City Cemetery. It’s close to where we live, it’s relatively old, and it has its fair share of unusual headstones.  It seems like even though I’ve been to the cemetery numerous times, I always seem to find something new every time I go.William Samelius - The Dead History On one visit, I noticed a large monument that stood out from the rest, so I stopped to take a closer look.  In the center of the headstone was an inscription that read: 

William H Samelius – Dean of American Watchmakers. His contributions to horology during a long and vigorous life are immortal.  He had the joy of working with the finest fabric of God’s universe. The measurement of the passing of time.

Pretty great epitaph, right? I then realized that a husband and wife are buried here, and I was intrigued by the small clocks with specific times next to each of their names.  Since each clock was set to a different time, I suspected that they were marking their times of death. I didn’t know who William Samelius was, so I decided to get home and see what I could find out. I also wanted to see if I could prove my theory with the clocks was correct.
I learned that William Samelius was a very well known and respected watchmaker.  He was the director of the Elgin Watch College in Elgin, Illinois for many years. He also published numerous books on the subject of horology and watchmaking. He moved to Ogden from Long Beach, California in 1960 after marrying Mabelle Greenwood at the age of 87.
William H Samelius - The Dead History
Unfortunately for Mr. and Mrs. Samelius, his life in Ogden was short lived.  William Samelius died on November 5, 1961, at the age of 88. His death certificate states the time of death was 2:30 pm.
William H Samelius - The Dead HistoryInterestingly enough, the time on Mabelle’s clock reads 2:30.  His clock is set to 4:50.  Because not enough time has passed to allow me to access Mabelle’s death certificate, I’m not able to see what time she passed away.  I’m willing to bet it was 4:50 and whoever did the monument mixed up the times.William H Samelius - The Dead History
So the next time you find yourself in a cemetery, look for a headstone that catches your eye and do a bit of research to learn more about the person. You never know who you might find buried in your local cemetery.

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0 comment

Jordan Ficklin March 18, 2016 - 5:38 pm

Certainly not forgotten to the watchmaking community. William Samelius’ name is one that is honored and revered for his contributions to American Watchmaking.

Jenn March 18, 2016 - 7:34 pm

Sounds like he was a very interesting character!


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