Fremont County, Iowa

George Lerew, Jeweler
by Sandra Bengston

View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
May 12, 2014

On the east wall of the Courtroom at the Fremont County Courthouse hangs a beautiful antique wood clock. The clock was manufactured by the Waterbury Clock Company. The label and trademark on the clock dates it back to 1891. The top dial displays the correct time. The bottom dial is a calendar, but is eternally stopped on Sunday, March 25th. In large gold lettering on the base of the clock it reads: “Geo. Lerew, Jeweler”.

George Lerew was born 1842 in Pittsburgh, PA, one of 14 children. He came west in 1873 and located in Riverton, starting his trade there as a Jeweler. After several years, he moved his jewelry store to Sidney remaining there until 1898. It was during his time as a Sidney businessman that the clock from his store went to the courthouse. It is unknown whether he donated the clock or if it was purchased. In 1898, he moved to Hamburg and operated his jewelry store there until the time of his death. It was said that “Mr. Lerew was a finished workman and enjoyed a good business”.

One of George's sons, Banks, was also a jeweler. He continued to operate the jewelry store in Sidney, after George moved to Hamburg. The Sidney store was located on the west side of the square where Mark Jewell Photography is today. Banks Lerew left Sidney in 1905, to start a business in Gretna, Nebraska.

George Lerew died April 27, 1920 and is buried in the Hamburg Cemetery. His obituary noted that he was a pioneer jeweler of the county and described him as a man with a kind disposition and a host of friends.

How proud he must have been that a clock from his shop, which displayed his name, was chosen to adorn the wall of our newly built Courthouse. Could he have ever imagined that the clock would still be in the Courthouse more than 120 years later and many generations to come would be wondering who was George Lerew?

About the clock:
According to Robert Good, owner of Clockmaster Inc. in St. Louis, Mo, “Many jewelers would place their names on the clocks they sold, knowing they would be looked at often each day. It was unusual for a clock of that era to provide the day, date, and month as this required two mechanisms to perform this service. It is a valuable antique which has been well cared for.”

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