Discovery of Historical Pocket Watches

Willard Richards watch

I could send thee a timepiece
and by thy neglect stop its pace
but not forevermore
the thought will keep its own time.

DK Davis

My husband’s antique business affords the most amazing opportunities to discover treasures from yesteryear, items filled with mystery as we wonder where they’ve been and who their owners were. Every antique picker, as well as historical authors like myself who love old things, dreams of discovering that “big find”. Two and a half years ago, we discovered such a treasure in the form of two 19th-century timepieces.

David had traveled to a rural home in Utah and spent several hours with the owners who had a mountain of inherited knick-knacks that they needed to be taken off their hands. They also needed property tax money and had no idea how they were going to get it. They’d been praying for a solution, when that solution showed up in the form of my husband. He excitedly looked through their gold and silver watches, knives, lighters, and such and chose a large number of things he wanted to stock in his store. Paying them well over what they needed for their tax bill, he left an extremely relieved and grateful couple and brought the treasures home.

That evening, David’s partner came to our house, and we all started investigating the new treasures, oohing and ahhing over the beautiful pieces whose original, unknown owners were long gone. We could even hear ticking coming from one of the many old pocket watches and marveled at such workmanship that proved so longlasting.

But the highlight of the evening was when David opened one watch and read the inscription claiming it belonged to a Vilate Kimball, a gift from her husband H.C. Kimball. Being familiar with Utah’s Mormon history, my mouth fell open and I exclaimed, “Vilate Kimball? Heber C. Kimball’s wife?” Heber C. Kimball was an apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the mid-1800s. Suddenly we handled the relic with even more delicate care than we already had been. Vilate Kimball watch

Breathless, we started checking all the other watches for signs of the original owner. The next watch David picked up had another very famous name inside, Willard Richards, another LDS Church apostle from the same time period. We will never forget that exciting night!

The following weeks we did lots of research, had both watches authenticated by LDS Church headquarters, and others, had them appraised, and procured a safe place to store them. And began searching for buyers, for, once we had had our turn enjoying and handling such beauty and history, we knew they wouldn’t be ours to keep and a permanent home would need to be found where they could be appreciated and enjoyed.Vilate Kimball watch

The Kimball watch has since sold to an entity for which it holds deep personal meaning and connection. In this transaction, four families’ lives were greatly blessed: the family who prayed for help with their taxes, ours and our partner’s families who very much needed a financial break ourselves, and the buyers who are very happy with their treasure.

The Willard Richards watch is still for sale. Interested parties may contact Shelly at


Willard Richards watch

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