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Buchanan Gold Watch Finds a Home at Wheatland

Alice C. Buchanan EwingAlice C. Buchanan Ewing

By Patrick Clarke, Director of President James Buchanan's Wheatland

On a sunny fall afternoon in 2014, Mr. and Mrs. Ted Ewing arrived to take the last tour at the Wheatland Mansion. As their tour guide brought them into the kitchen, I was asked to stay for an introduction. Our tour guide informed me that Mr. Ewing is a descendant of President Buchanan’s family; however, the guide indicated that he was not familiar enough with the Buchanan family tree to describe where on the tree the Ewing family could be found. Being personally familiar with the Ewing name, I felt I could help bridge the gap.

During my conversation with Mr. Ewing, I asked several questions about his grandparents and what he knew about his great grandparents. From this brief exchange we determined that Mr. Ewing’s great grandmother was Alice Conyngham Buchanan and that she married Mr. Maskell Ewing around the year 1876. Alice was the youngest child to Reverend and Mrs. Edward Y. Buchanan, and Edward was the youngest sibling of President James Buchanan.

Rev. Edward Y. BuchananRev. Edward Y. BuchananMr. Ewing was curious how the museum had gathered such a high percentage of family artifacts for display. I shared a brief story about how the house had become a museum in 1936, and noted that many of the descendants of Mr. Buchanan’s siblings have been thoughtful and generous to the museum for many decades. Since Mr. Buchanan was a bachelor he did not have a wife or children to whom he could bequeath his material goods or wealth. He instead divided his material goods and fortune between his niece Harriet Lane Johnston, his brother Edward Y. Buchanan, and his nephew J. Buchanan Henry. Mr. Ewing mentioned that he owns a gold watch that he inherited from his Grandfather, Buchanan Ewing. He suggested that, if he could locate the watch, he might consider donating it to the collection.

Image of Buchanan's gold watch.Two years after our chance meeting at Wheatland Mr. Ewing called and asked if the museum was interested in acquiring the gold watch. Our answer was an enthusiastic yes! Mr. Ewing asked his sister, Mrs. Jessie Ewing Snyder, to deliver the watch since she lives much closer in Allentown, PA. Mrs. Snyder and her family visited Wheatland on October 1, 2016. I took the family on a personal tour of President Buchanan’s home.

The gold watch, as seen in these images, has a simple design. The cover is largely unadorned and features worn engraved initials consisting of three letters; the only fully legible one is the third letter, "B."

Image of Buchanan's gold watch.When opened, we see that the watch face is white with black Roman numerals. There is a small inset face that counts off the seconds. On the opposite side is another hinged lid; when opened, it reveals two apertures for winding the watch. There is also an engraving around these apertures that reads: "No. 16943 Time Keeper Lewis Ladomus & Co. Philadelphia Pa."

Image of Buchanan's gold watch.On the inside of the front watch cover is the engraving, "From James Buchanan May 9th 1865." This inside cover is also stamped “E. T. & Co. 18K 16943." A gold chain is clipped to the bow at the top of the stem with a T-bar at the other end to attach to a button hole on a vest. The chain links are short and thick, giving the appearance of thick golden cord. These chains have a lighter and cooler tone of gold than the watch body.


Mr. Lewis Ladomus was found listed in Philadelphia’s business directories. His listing appeared as “L. Ladomus & Co.” His business was open in 1853 and closed its doors in 1878. He is listed as both a silversmith and watchmaker.


Looking through a variety of Philadelphia’s newspapers, I found several advertisements for L. Ladomus & Co. In addition to the advertisements, I found an article in the November 19, 1864 edition of the Daily Evening Bulletin:

"Co-Partnerships
The partnership heretofore existing between Lewis Ladomus and Nathaniel Rulon, under the firm of Lewis Ladomus & Co. is this day dissolved by mutual consent. All persons having claims against the late firm will present the same, and those indebted will make payment to Lewis Ladomus at No. 802 Chestnut Street, where the business will continue to be conducted by Lewis Ladomus.


The undersigned having withdrawn from the late firm of Lewis Ladomus & Co. and being about to engage in a different occupation, solicits for his late partner a continuation of the patronage of his former customers. Nathaniel Rulon of the late firm Lewis Ladomus & Co. No. 802 Chestnut Street, Phila.”


Advertisement in the PressAdvertisement in the Press (Philadelphia, PA, May 16, 1862)Based on the date engraved in the Buchanan watch, May 9th 1865, Lewis Ladomus was the sole proprietor of his business in Philadelphia when this watch was sold.


Advertisement in the Press 2Advertisement in the Press (Philadelphia, PA, December 25, 1863)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LancasterHistory.org is sincerely grateful to the Ewing Family for their generous gift. The Buchanan Gold Watch has been accessioned as part of the Wheatland collection. The Ewing family donated it in memory of Mr. Buchanan Ewing by his four grandchildren: Gretchen Ewing Buitta, Edward Buchanan Ewing, Buchanan Ewing Jr. and Jessie Ewing Snyder.


 

 
January 2014 to June 2014

Buchanan's Inaugural Rail Car Window Screen (2014.006) Purchase made possible through the generosity of Andrew Bieber, Michael Birkner and
Robin Wagner-Birkner, Margot Brubaker, Tom and Jan Dunlevy, Thomas G. Englert, Jerre and Phyllis Frankhouser, Dr. Wendell L. Funk, Eugene and Bernadette Gardner, Anne and Gene Gardner, Susan and James Volker.

Two Drop Leaf Tables (2014.007) Gift of the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the Revolution.

 
June 2014 to February 2015
  • Baseball Jacket from the New Era Midget Championship team (New Providence) in 1946. (2014.008) Gift of Carl Beck
  • Wacker Brewing company bottle opener. (2014.009) Gift of John I. Mengel
  • 2 Hog Scraper Candlestick Holders, Bronze Plaque for RCA Patent Registered By Mary Doersom, Deck of RCA Cards (2014.014) Estate of Mary Doersom
  • Portrait of William Yeisley Sener. 2 Doll Trunks, dolls with accessories and clothing (2014.016) Gift of Carolyn Rusk
  • 2 Oil Portraits, painted by Oswald S. Freeland, circa 1850.  Luther Richards & Elizabeth Reitzel Richards. (2014.018) Gift of Catharine Earl
  • 6 Porcelain Plates with provenance to President James Buchanan. (2014.019) Gift of Paul and Judy Ware
  • Portrait, Adam Reigart, Jr. by Jacob Eichholtz, 1815. (2014.021) Estate of William B. Weaver
  • Print, George Washington's Triumphal Return to New York (2014.022)  Gift of Paul Ripple
  • Portrait, Clara Slaugh.  Portrait, Mary Slaugh. (2014.023) Gift of Nancy Slaugh Leech Mohr and Helena Slaugh Freeburg.
  • Evening Dress with Court Train worn by Harriet Lane Johnston, c. 1898.  Made by House of Worth, Paris.  Harriet Lane Johnston's Silk shoes, 1870s. (2014.024) Purchase thanks to the generosity of Ms. Marjorie Bardeen and Mr. Robert M. Gethner, Dr. and Mrs. William R.A. Boben, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Robert K. Bowman, Mr. James Buchanan, Mr. Todd Buchanan, Ms. Alice Collier, Mr. Thomas H. Cook, Mrs. Nora Corra, Mr. Thomas Englert, Mr. Ted Ewing, Ms. Diane Feinstein, Wendell Funk, M.D., Susan and John Garofola, Mr. John Henry, Mr. and Mrs. Mark Jardel, Ms. Diane Kaznowski, Mr. and Mrs. Robert M. Krasne, Ms. Emily Miller, The Georgina T. and Thomas A. Russo, Thomas R. Ryan, Ph.D., Mrs. Constance D. Santarelli, Ms. Robin Sarratt, The Honorable and Mrs. Jere Schuler, Ms. Marilyn Stein, Ms. Susan L. Stone and Mr. Victor Lane, Paul W. and Judy S. Ware
  • Wooden Office Chair, used by James Buchanan in his Library. (2014.025) Gift of John R. Weitzel
  • Star-patterned, wool bed cover, made by Martha Lutz Walter of her husband William Walter's uniforms. (2014.026) Gift of Barbara B. Hunsberger
  • 2 Portraits, Painted by Jacob Eichholtz, c. 1830.  William (1793-1852) & Mary Weaver Albright (or Albrecht). (2015.001)  Gift of Ellen L. Brinton
  • 4 Portfolios featuring the works of Helen Rutter Cruess (2014.002)  Gift of Paul Montigny
  • 2 Portfolios featuring the works of Helen Rutter Cruess (2014.002)  Gift of Lynn K. Miller
  • Commemorative Plaque awarded to Melissa Coleman in 1961 for the creation of the emblem of  Lancaster County . (2015.004)  Gift of Nancy Coleman
  • Portrait of Hazel Dell Brown.  Painted by Florence Starr Taylor, 1975 (1904-1991) (2015.005)  Gift of John and Cynthis Buckwalter.
  • RCA 4.5 inch Image Orthicon Tube (2015.007)  Gift of Robert Neuhauser.
  • Printed Broadside, Hamilton Bank Country.  Designed by E. L. Malbertt, 1980.  (2015.008) Gift of Barbara Renninger.
  • Brass bell holder with one large and one small servant bell with provenance to President James Buchanan.  (2015.009)  Gift of Rodney Lockwood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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