January 10, 2014 at 12:55 AM
General George Washington ordered local militias in New Jersey to locate Tories in the spring of 1777. Although offered protection by the British, Nathaniel and Benjamin's farms were now endangered as the power of the local militias grew. Washington offered pardons to the Tories in exchange for their allegiance to the American cause. On the deadline date of August 5, 1777, Benjamin Williams accepted the deal, but Nathaniel did not.
Nathaniel Williams took his two oldest sons Amos and James and left his wife Mary and four younger children behind at the West Orange farm to join the British Army in New York. Nathaniel's property, the farm was expected to be lost, and be put up for public auction, but Mary petitioned to keep it and openly disagreed with her husband's political beliefs. Out of respect for Mary, the community did not bid against the five pounds Mary had to offer for the farm, and she was able to keep it.
It was not until 2008 when a collector spotted a brass clock at a flea market in Bloomington, IL and discovered a note attached to the clock's door, the only remaining piece of the clock's cabinet. He purchased the clock for $50 and the note,signed by Selena Williams, listing Benjamin Williams, Tory Corner and St. Mark's Church. Though unfamiliar to the buyer, he contacted Joe Fagan to inquire about it. Fagan was able to establish its historical provenance.
Fagan then offered to purchase the clock in 2011, but the collector declined. The collecter is now willing to sell the clock for $3,000.00 before placing it on the open market. Though the asking price is more than Fagan is able to personally afford, it is Fagan's hope that a benefactor is willing to purchase the clock and keep it in West Orange, where it can be viewed and appreciated for its historical significance. Fagan believes that the clock belongs in West Orange.