So is the story true or is it another family myth? The museum agreed to check when Dillion's great-great-grandson, Doug Stiles, requested it. So the watch was carefully taken part by volunteer and master watchmaker George Thomas. What was there an inscription?
George Thomas deftly lifted the watch face and peeked inside. He was about to help solve a centuries-old mystery. A smile lit up his face and there was an audible gasp from the room as he motioned for the watchmaker’s great-great-grandsons to come up and read the inscription inside the timepiece aloud. Doug Stiles, visibly moved by the revelation, borrowed Mr. Thomas’s magnifying glasses and took a moment to inspect the inner workings of the watch. After an expectant pause, he gleefully shared the message with the rest of the room: “Jonathan Dillon April 13, 1861 Fort Sumpter [sic] was attacked by the rebels on the above date J Dillon April 13, 1861 Washington” and “thank God we have a government Jonth Dillon.” So the actual phrasing is quite different from Jonathan Dillon’s own recollections cited in the New York Times piece a century ago. But solving this fascinating history mystery delights us still.
Pretty cool, huh? I love that there are always news stuff to explore!