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Yorktowne Sun Dial manufactured by C. E. Strickler & Son of Benroy; and 1901 U.S. Patent No. 669,150 of Benjamin Franklin Strickler

Yorktowne Sun Dial manufactured by C. E. Strickler & Son of Benroy, York Co., PA

The fictional character Dan DeWyatt, in my Railcar Gold historical novel, arrived in York on July 4th 1860; per the Thursday installment posted two weeks ago, where he uses a sundial mounted on a post.  I’d read accounts that sundials were still prevalent as ornamental public timepieces in towns at the time of the Civil War.

Months ago I discovered the Yorktowne Sun Dial as part of a larger montage on the Internet; I cut the image of the sundial out and saved it as paste-up art for my novel.  I had initially planned on using the Yorktowne Sun Dial as part of a chapter header montage; however decided to use something else.

I did not know the Yorktowne Sun Dial definitely had a York County connection until I stumbled upon items about this sundial last Saturday.  A display on the wall of the machine shop area of the Agricultural & Industrial Museum of York County indicated Charles E. Strickler & Son of R.D. 6, York, PA manufactured the Yorktowne Sun Dial.


Charles E. Stricker & Son had their shops in Benroy.  These were previously the shops of Charles’ father Benjamin Franklin Stricker and were located along Camp Betty Washington Road in the vicinity of present-time Billet’s Garage.  C. E. Stricker & Son manufactured the Yorktowne Sun Dial from 1928 to 1941.  Quoting a few lines from the sales flier for this 10-inch diameter cast sundial:

Taken from an old-time sundial used on a Tennessee plantation and is corrected to give the sun time for the vicinity of York, Pa.

It’s interesting, accurate and unusual, just the thing for the lawn or garden, displaying an old-time time-piece at which your friends will marvel.

Set the sundial level in a sunny place point north 7 degrees 48 minutes east.  As the sun changes there is a difference between sun time and standard time, the time table on the sundial gives the difference for the first of each month.

The foundry that cast the Yorktowne Sun Dial was originally part of the Benjamin F. Strickler & Sons complex in Benroy.  The complex initially included a water powered saw and grist mill in addition to the water and steam powered machine shop.

Foundry in the Benjamin F. Strickler manufacturing complex in Benroy (S. H. Smith Photo from Display at Agricultural & Industrial Museum of York Co., PA)

Benjamin Franklin Strickler and his wife Sarah Garner had nine children; Charles E. Strickler being the seventh child.  A short section of the biographical sketch of Benjamin F. Strickler in Prowell’s 1907 History of York County notes in Volume II, page 561:

It is consistent that special reference be made to the “Success” tobacco-scrap machine, which was invented and patented by Mr. Strickler, and which is a great improvement on all other devices utilized for the handling of scrap tobacco, being economical in operation, and turning out the best class of work with maximum facility and expedition.  For a full decade Mr. Strickler worked to perfect this machine and secure his letters patent, and on March 5, 1901, he received his patent.

Heading on Patent No. 669,150 from the United States Patent Office

These machines were first utilized locally, however Ben Strickler soon was traveling extensively throughout the States demonstrating the “Success” tobacco-scrap machine.  He was very successful in introducing this machine to the cigar industry throughout the nation.  The primary drawing in Patent No. 669,150 follows:

First Page of Drawings on Patent No. 669,150 from the United States Patent Office

An original “Success” tobacco-scrap machine is on display at the Agricultural & Industrial Museum of York Co., PA.  This museum is part of the York County Heritage Trust.

Links to a few posts featuring United States Patents:

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