Alton New Hampshire’s King of Corkscrews: William Rockwell Clough (1844-1920)

Various manufacturing businesses thrived in New Hampshire after the Civil war.

William R CLough updated watermarked

William Rockwell Clough

One of the most famous was the Rockwell Clough Company, established in 1875. William Rockwell Clough was the inventor and manufacturer of a particular type of corkscrew. No, Mr. Clough didn’t invent the idea of the corkscrew, (probably Rev. Samuel Henshall did that in 1795). He simply manufactured a “better one” in large quantities for a reasonable price, and then patented the device.

His inventions were prize winners at the Paris Expositions of 1878, 1889, and 1900, and he had received awards from the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, and from the Cotton States Exposition at Atlanta GA in 1895.

By 1903, the company was producing 30 million of these gadgets worldwide. During his ownership of the company it is estimated that he manufactured over a billion of them.

Personal information about this amazing inventor can be seen in his section of the family genealogy, shown below.


Common Corkscrews III

Book: William Rockwell Clough


John Clough, the immigrant was an Englishman who arrived in Charlestown MA in mid-summer in 1635 on the ship “Elizabeth.”  He was a Presbyterian. He paid fifty pounds to become a proprietor in Salisbury MA.  He was made Freeman in 1640. John’s first lot in Salisbury MA was near the place where the railroad station stood in 1950. His first wife’s name was Jane or Joan, but little is known about her. Between 1656 and 1660 they moved to Salisbury Plains about 2 miles north of their original homestead.  He received shares of land in what is now Kingston NH, where his grandchildren lived generations later.  He was
Surveyor of Highways in 1640, Prudential Man in 1654. Jane died 11 Jan 1679. The widowed John married 2nd) widow Martha Blaisdell Cilly, dau of Ralph Blaisdell, a taverner. John Clough made his will in July 1691, and it was probated on 3 Nov 1691. Although there is no stone, he and his wives are probably buried near his son John in the Clough lot at the Salisbury Plains Cemetery.
Children of John & Jane Clough:
1. Elizabeth Clough, b. 16 Dec 1642 at Salisbury MA; she m. William Horne of Dover NH; both killed by Indians; had issue.
2. Mary Clough, b. 30 July 1644, died young.
3. Sarah Clough, b. 28 June 1646 at Salisbury MA; m. Daniel Merrill; resided Newbury and Salisbury MA
4. +John Clough, b. 6 March 1648/49 in Salisbury MA; eldest son
5. Thomas Clough, b. 29 May 1651
6. Martha Clough, b. 22 March 1654
7. Samuel Clough, b. 20 Feb 1657

John Clough, son of John Clough & –, b. 6 March 1648/49 in Salisbury MA; He m. 13 Nov 1674 to Mercy Page, dau of John & Mary (Marsh) Page, who was b. 1 Apr 1655 at Haverhill MA. John’s sister Martha Clough married Cornelius Page, brother of Mercy at the same ceremony. John took the Oath of Fidelity to the Commonwealth in 1677 and became a Freeman in 1690. He was Prudential man in 1695-96, 1699, 1700-2, 1704-5. Mercy was admitted to the Salisbury Church on 6 Sep 1691.  John died 19 Apr 1718 and he was buried in Salisbury Plains Cemetery providing a tombstone for her husband.  She d. 25 Jan 1719 at age 64, the mother of twelve children.
Children of John & Mercy (Page) Clough:
1. Benoni Clough, b. 23 May 1675
2. Mary Clough, b. 8 Apr 1677
3. John Clough, b. 30 June 1678
4. Cornelius Clough, b. 7 May 1680
5. Caleb Clough, b. 26 Oct 1682
6. Joseph Clough, b. 14 Oct 1684
7. Sarah Clough, b. 5 Apr 1686
8. Jonathan Clough, b. 11 Apr 1688
9. Mercy Clough, b. 17 March 1690
10. Moses Clough, b. 26 March 1693
11. +Aaron Clough, b. 16 Dec 1695 at Salisbury MA
12. Tabitha Clough, b. 8 Sep 1697; d. 20 Aug 1698

Aaron Clough, son of John & Mercy (Page) Clough, b. 16 Dec 1695 at Salisbury MA. He m. 23 Jan 1721 at Hampton NH to Abigail Moulton. She was the great-granddaughter of John Moulton, one of the founders of Hampton NH, and also a descendant [through Sobriety Hilton] of Edward Hilton, first settler of Dover NH.  She died 26 Jan 1743 and is buried in Salisbury Plains cemetery.  Aaron died 20 Jan 1781 age 86. Aaron married 2nd Rebekah Brown. She d. 22 Jan 1781, age 72. Aaron was admitted to the Salisbury MA second church on 4 Jan 1756. He was mentioned in his mother’s will, aloong with his brother Moses as joint executors.
Children of Aaron & Abigail (Moulton) Clough:
1. Mercy Clough, b. 22 Oct 1721 at Salisbury MA; m. 1743 Enoch Brown
2. Mary Clough, b. 20 Feb 1724, d. 8 March 1730
3. Abigail Clough, b. 17 June 1726, d. 2 Apr 1730
4. Merrimam Clough, b. Feb 1729, d. 10 March 1730
5. Sarah Clough, b. 24 Jan 1731; m. 1753 John True of South Hampton NH
6. Aaron Clough, b. 18 Feb 1733 at Salisbury MA; m. Mehitable Gould Shed.
7. Hannah Clough, b. 28 Sep 1735; m. John Brown
8. +Simon Clough, b. 20 Apr 1738 at Salisbury MA
Children of Aaron & Rebekah (Brown) Clough:
9. Edward Clough, b. 30 July 1746
10. Tabitha Clough, died young

Simon Clough, son of Aaron & Abigail (Moulton) Clough, was b 20 Apr 1738 at Salisbury MA. He married Patience Chase and lived in Hampton Falls. Patience was descended from Aquilla Chase who settled in Hampton NH in 1640. While at Hampton Falls Simon signed a petition for a separate parish.   About 1775 he removed to Gilmanton NH where he had a six hundred acre grant of land and was one of the first settlers. He was one of the four Clough men who signed the Association Test in Gilmanton NH in 1776. He built a home overlooking Crystal Lake, that was still standing (although remodeled) in 1950, along with two large elm trees south of the house that Simon planted.  He died before 1805 according to an old deed.
Children of Simon & Patience (Chase) Clough:
1. Simon, b. 3 Nov 1759 at Hampton Falls NH; m. 4 May 1780 Mary Avery of Guilford NH. Veteran of American Revolution
2. Jonathan Clough, b. 8 Aug 1761 at Hampton Falls NH; m. Mary Page, removed to Gilmanton NH.
3. Aaron Clough, b. 22 Jan 1763 at Hampton Falls NH; removed to Gilmanton NH with his parents and enlisted in the Revolution. He m. 29 Jan 1783 at Gilmanton NH to Elizabeth Clark. He m2) 26 June 1806 Hannah Gale. Had at least 2 ch, Abigail and Thaddeus.
4. Edward Clough, b. 19 Apr 1768 at Hampton Falls NH; He married 15 Feb 1795 to Ruth Clark of Gilmanton NH. They removed to Montpelier VT where he d. 1 June 1859. He is buried in the Cutler Cemetery at Montpelier VT. Had issue b. at Gilmanton NH, John and Clark.
5. Ruth Clough
6. +Perley Clough, b. 5 July 1770 at Hampton Falls NH
7. Joseph Clough, b. 14 Dec 1774 at Hampton Falls NH; lived in Canada with his father; clockmaker. Had at least 2 children, John and Mary

Perley/Pearley Clough, son of Simon & Patience (Chase) Clough, b. 5 July 1770 at Hampton Falls NH; He m. 30 Dec 1792 to Sally Smith of New Durham NH. They resided at Alton NH.
Children of Perley & Sally (Smith) Clough:
1. Hannah Clough, b. 5 Sep 1794 Alton NH
2. Josiah Clough, b. 23 Jan 1797, d. 28 Oct 1797
3. Sally Clough, b. 11 Jan 1799
4. Aaron Clough, b. 19 Feb 1801 at Gilmanton NH; m. Mary Clough dau of Jonathan & Mary (Page) Clough, his 2nd cousin. Their dau Mary A. m. M. Irad B. Gilman.
5. Josiah Clough, b. 30 March 1803, d. 24 Aug 1813
6. George Clough, b. 10 May 1805
7. Apphia Clough, b. 2 July 1807; m. David Avery, son of John & Temperance (Nutter) Avery, b. 1806 in Gilman NH and d. 1879; farmer in Alton NH; had 7 children: Melora S., Victoria, Gustena, George, Myra Elbridge and Emma.
8. Patience Clough, b. 8 Dec 1809
9. +John Chesley Clough, b. 9 March 1812 at Gilmanton NH [748]

John Chesley Clough, son of Pearley & Sally (Smith) Clough, was b 9 March 1812 at Gilmanton NH; He m. Lydia J. Frederick [sometimes seen as Lydia Jones Treddick]. She was b. Nov 1820 in NH. According to his son’s biography, he was a well-established business man in the city of Manchester NH who later purchased a farm in the town of Alton, where his two sons were born. In 1900 U.S. Census she was living with her son William in Alton NH.
U.S. Census > 1850 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Belknap > Alton
John C. Clough 35 M Shoemaker 1000 NH
Lydia Clough 29 F NH
Wm. R. Clough, 6 M NH
Oscar L. Clough 2 M NH
Wm. Nutter 19 m Shoemaker NH
U.S. Census > 1860 United States Federal Census > New Hampshire > Belknap > Alton
John C. Clough 45 M Shoemaker 1500/200 NH
Lydia J. Clough 40 F NH
William R. Clough 15 M NH
Oscar S. Clough 13 M NH
Children of John C. & Lydia J. (Treddick) Clough:
1. +William Rockwell Clough, b. 8 Nov 1844 Alton New Hampshire
2. Oscar S. Clough, b. 9 Aug 1848 Alton NH; m. abt 1891 to Clara –. Divorced between 1900 & 1910. She b. Aug 1854, and living a divorcee in 1910 in Gilmanton NH. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War; He enlisted as a Private on 21 March 1865 at the age of 18;  Enlisted in Company K, 12th Infantry Regiment Maine on 21 March 1865.Mustered out Company K, 12th Infantry Regiment Maine on 18 April 1866 in NH. Had 2 children prob b. betw 1880 & 1900, not at home in 1900 U.S. Census.

William Rockwell Clough, son of John Chesley and Lydia Jones (Treddick) Clough, was b. 8 Nov 1844 in Alton, NH. He died 29 Sep 1920, in Alton NH at the age of 76. He attended Alton public and high schools, Franklin Academy in Dover, and Eastman Business College in Poughkeepsie NY, graduating in 1864. Age the age of 17 he went to Massachusetts where in 1862 he enlisted in the 50th regiment of Massachusetts volunteers. During the Civil War he served in the Mississippi Valley from New Orleans to Vicksburg and was at the seige of Port Hudson. He received a pension. Following the war he was an accountant in Boston (Cambridgeport) MA and worked for the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. In the meantime he worked on various mechanical inventions, including the Gem paper clip. He invited a wire corkscrew, while also developing the automatic machinery to create it.  He moved to New York and manufactured corkscrews at his company called Clough & Williamson, with a factory at Newark NJ. After his father’s death in 1890-92, he returned to Alton to look after his mother. He built a branch manufactory in Alton for his corkscrew business. Eventually he moved his entire business to Alton NH as Rockwell Clough Company, of which he was president. He traveled extensively in Europe. He was on Alton’s Board of Education, and was a Justice of the Police Court. A Republican he was elected to the NH State Legislature (General Court) in 1897, 1899 and in 1917. He was a 32nd degree Mason, and Past Master of his lodge. He was a member of the American Mechanical Engineers and of the Home Market Club and Algonquin Club in Boston MA.  He married 1) 18 May 1874 to Amelia L. Young. She b. abt 1850 in Brooklyn NY. She died in 1885 [one source states they were divorced]. He married 2nd) 28 Apr 1904 in Alton NH to Nellie Sophia “Nell” Place, daughter of GeorgeW. & Ida F. (Sanders) Place of Alton, a lumber dealer and businessman. She carried on the business several years after her husband died. She died 24 May 1960. Their home in Alton NH was later converted to an inn called The White Lodge about 1952. It is now a family residence.
U.S. Census > 1880 United States Federal Census > New York > New York City-Greater > Kings (Brooklyn) > District 16 [Nantic Avenue]
Clough, William R. W M 35 manufacturer of cork screws NH NH NH
Clough, Amelia L. W F 30 wife keeping house NY NY NY
Child of William R. & Amelia L. (Young) Clough:
1. +Gertrude Clough, born between 1880-1900 in NH; she married Frank Duggan, a manufacturer in Norwalk, CT.
Child of William R. & Nellie S. (Place) Clough:
2. +William Rockwell Clough Jr., b. 5 Apr 1908 in London, England. He graduated from college as an engineer, and served in the USAF with the rank of Colonel. He died January 1983 in Alton, NH.

Gertrude Clough, daughter of William Rockwell & Amelia L. (Young) Clough was born about 1874 in New Hampshire, and died 23 Feb 1949 in Newtown, Fairfield Co. CT, age 82 a widow.  She married Frank/Francis J. Dugan/Duggan. He b. abt 1866 in CT. He was the owner of F J Duggan and Son, a producer of art pottery
U.S. Census > 1920 United States Federal Census > Connecticut > Fairfield > Norwalk Ward 1 > District 138
Dugan, Frank J. Head M W 54 married CT CT CT no occupation
Dugan, Gertrude W wife F W 44? married NH NH NH
Dugan, Paul C. son M W 24 single CT CT NH
Dugan, Rockwell F. son W M 23 single CT CT NH
Dugan, Anthony J. son M W 22 single CT CT NH
Children of Francis/Frank J. & Gertrude (Clough) Dugan:
1. Paul Clough Duggan, b. 8 Apr 1895 in South Norwalk CT, d. 13 May 1967 in Norwalk, Fairfield Co CT at the age of 72 years. In 1930 the census shows him living in Cranston, Providence Co RI with wife Anna K. (age 34) and daughter Mildred E. (age 7)
2. Rockwell Francis Duggan, b. 30 Apr 1896 in either Alton NH [WWI Draft Card] or Fairfield CT [census]. He was an attorney in Norwalk CT. In 1942 his WWII Draft card shows his wife as Gladys and he was living at 13 Leonard Street in Norwalk CT. He died in August of 1977 in CT. He married by 1942 to Gladys Lennon. She b. 23 June 1905 in NY and d. 2 Dec 1985 in Westport, Fairfield Co CT at the age of 80 years.
3. Anthony John Duggan, b. 15 Apr 1897 in New Canaan CT; in 1925 he is shown residing with his parents, a “potter.” He lived on Chapel and Leonard Streets in Norwalk CT, considered to be a talented arts and crafts style potter. He died in the 1940s.

William Rockwell Clough Jr., b. 5 Apr 1908 in London, England while his parents were in Europe for several years engaged in exhibiting the corkscrew machines which were sold in France and Germany. He graduated from Alton High School and attended Wentworth Institute in Boston MA. He graduated from college as an engineer. On July 29, 1942 he received a direct appointment as a 2nd Lieutenant and served in the European Theater and in the Philippine Islands. He recieved (among others) the Bronze Star, Air Force Longevity Service Award, with four Bronze Oakleaf Clusters and the Legion of Merit. He finished service in the USAF with the rank of Colonel, retiring on 30 June 1963. He married Barbara A. Morrell, daughter of Herbert and Ethel A. (Wells) Morrell. Her father owned a drug store in Alton NH until his death. Her mother was town clerk for 39 years. She was a graduate of the University of NH. William R. Clough Jr. died January 1983 in Alton, NH.

1. The Genealogy of the descendants of John Clough of Salisbury, Massachusetts; Marblehead, Mass.: John Clough Genealogical Society, 1952
2. United States Census
3. World War I and II registration forms
4. Whos Who in New England by Albert Nelson Marquis, published 1909, A.N. Marquis
5. One Thousand New Hampshire Notables, by Frances Matilda Abbott, Henry Harrison Metcalf; Published 1919, The Rumford Printing Company
6. State Builders: An Illustrated Historical and Biographical Record of the State of New Hampshire, by State Builders Publishing Company, 1903

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2 Responses to Alton New Hampshire’s King of Corkscrews: William Rockwell Clough (1844-1920)

  1. Eileen says:

    I am trying to learn more about Willie E Clough from Gilmonton , Nh. Born about 1884.

    • Janice Brown says:

      This one? Willie Everett Clough, son of Elbridge G. & Emma (Sargent) Clough, born 30 October 1883 in Gilmanton NH who died 10 January 1946 at Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro NH. He was a NH State Bee Inspector. He was buried in Pine Grove Gilmanton on 13 January 1946. Does not appear to have married.

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