« Portraying women in science and technology | Main | This land is your land »

March 10, 2009


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference A secret message inside Lincoln's watch?:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I am amazed that you do not comment upon the inscriptions, "Jeff Davis" and, in the same handwriting, "LE Grofs" and "Sept 1864."

Contrary to Mr. Dillon's 1906 statement to the New York Times that, as far as he knew, no one else ever saw the inscription, Mr. Dillon would have known that the watch required cleaning and oiling at least once a year (and in the extremely dirty and humid conditions of muddy Washington, DC, before air conditioning, swamp drainage, or "horseless carriages," probably much more often). For a watch that the Washington Post equates to a $5000 dollar watch today, Lincoln would not have skimped on its essential care. Mr. Dillon is said in other accounts to have been the only Union sympathizer in the M.W. Galt and Co.'s jewelry shop on Pennsylvania Avenue, which would have been convenient to the President, and to which he might very well have returned the watch for maintenance and repair.

It is obvious that L.E. Grofs did not share J. Dillon's sentiments and posted counter-graffiti, September, 1864. The most amazing part of this story was left unsaid--that the President of the United States was unwittingly carrying a tribute to his nemesis, the President of the Confederate States, during the height of the Civil War, and in the year in which his own re-election was very much in doubt! The irony of this is even greater than if Winston Churchill had unwittingly carried a secret inscription to "Adolf Hitler," dated "1945," in his watch. Apart from the partisan sentiments that Mr. Grofs expressed, he also demonstrated a rich sense of humor.


The date April 1861 also appears in the upper left of the image. But I can't read the words under that. What does it say?

M. Stepen Lamb

A commentor writes: "On the inside of watch... are my eyes playing a trick or does it say 'Jeff Davis'? Abv. for Jefferson Davis? Confederate Pres. during Civil War..."

It certainly appears so. There is also, just above the "Jeff Davis" inscribe, there appears the date "Sept 1864" and another name "L E Gnols...".

As it was common for watch repairers to inscribe notes on watches, I suspect the watch was again repaired in 1864 by a southern sympathizer, living in DC.

This, of course, makes the story even more interesting and remarkable, imho.

Larry Larson

I beleive there were more than one person making inscriptions. There appears to be another person who signed his name near the center (L.E. something). Also another date: July 1, 1864. The handwritings seems different as well. Could be each time the watch was repaired, an entry was made by the current watch repairer?

Tom Dyson

Should we not examine the possibility that at the time of the inscription, this man was a southern sympathizer. The story of writing in Lincoln's watch would be too juicy not to tell his family, and assuming no one would ever see it, he might have seen no reason not to tell the story as though he had been on the winning side all along. However... writing "Jeff Davis" in bigger letters would be the equivalent of a southern rebel choosing to engrave "Abe Lincoln" at a significant moment. It is inconsistent with the story. Also, it seems more likely that a southerner would have written "thank God we have a government" about the newly formed and functioning government (including Davis) that had just formed (and taken action), than the federal government that had been around for many years and was more taken for granted. Thoughts?

Dana Allen-Greil

Lincoln purchased the watch from George Chatterton, a Springfield, Ill., jeweler.

You can find more information about the watch in the press release: http://americanhistory.si.edu/news/pressrelease.cfm?key=29&newskey=973


what letters had written on the white dial?
a maker's name?
If so,Which one's name?
Does anybody know what was that?



Why does it also say Jeff Davis? Does that refer to the rebel leader?


On the inside of watch... are my eyes playing a trick or does it say "Jeff Davis" ? Abv. for Jefferson Davis??? Confederate Pres. during Civil War... I didn't see any make mention of this in article.... please respond back... just curious... amazing find... and interesting article... my dad would have really enjoyed this article... he was a US Civil War Historian. Thanks


Very interesting. A nice piece of hidden history. It is a small, personal fact that has relevance even today. Like a software programmer inserting a piece of hidden code.

John R. Thompson

Just from viewing the watch--isn't that Jeff. Davis inscribed in the foreground of the watch? (Jefferson Davis) Maybe the watchmaker was giving more information than we realize.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Bookmark and Share
Related Posts with Thumbnails
Related Posts with Thumbnails

Become a Fan