How It Works


Returning to the days of Cummer Sons Cypress Company in the 1920’s and late 1950’s, let’s follow the steps of a “watchman.” Men were hired by companies and businesses then to protect their property. The watchman makes his rounds during that part of a 24-hour day when no workers or personnel are on the immediate premises. To insure that this watchman observes all the area, or areas, that he has been charged with, he is given a night watchman’s clock, which he must carry on his body during his appointed rounds. He has a designated route or path that he is required to make during a specified time, usually at night and on weekends, when there is no one around. This is to insure that all territory, property, machinery, material, or equipment, is observed in a timely and scheduled manner. It is especially effective as a “fire watch.” All along the route, a station or post is set up and a small metal box is attached to each station, inside this box is a key, affixed to the box with a chain, so that it cannot be removed. Each station is numbered.

With the night watchman’s clock hanging from his shoulder by a leather strap, the watchman begins his rounds. He will visit each station, and will open the key box, remove the key, insert it into a keyhole in the clock, and turn the key. By turning the key, he is making an impression on a tape that is inside the clock. This tape is synchronized with the date and time of the clock, making it a record of the time and place of his “watching.” He replaces the key in the box and continues on his route, stopping at each station, each with a different number, and performing the same tasks. He must follow this route (or circuit) as required by his instructions, usually every hour.

Upon completion of his work period, he turns the clock in at the main office, and his employer has a record of his nightly observations.

In the case of Cummer, I believe there were two night watchmen. One for the mill complex, and one for the lumber yard which covered an acre or more. I’m not certain of this.

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