History Behind the Historic Bottoms Clock in Bardstown Kentucky

History Behind the Historic Bottoms Clock in Bardstown Kentucky

About the Walthen Bottoms Jewelers in historic Bardstown, Kentucky

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Walthen W. Bottom was born in Washington County, Kentucky in 1918. He moved to Bardstown from Harrodsburg in 1943 and opened the Walthen Bottom Jewelers on North Third Street, across the street from its final location which still displays his historic sign.

Walthen operated Walthen Bottom Jewelers — a watchmaker and jewelry store — in Bardstown from 1943 until his death in 1991. Walthen’s wife Ida kept the store open until 1992.

Walthen Bottom was a successful businessman and was active in his community. In addition to running his jewelry store, Bottom was active in the Bardstown Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); he served as a member of Duvall Masonic Lodge No. 6, the Red and Blue Lodge, and the Bardstown Kiwanis Club; he was Bardstown Little League Baseball commissioner; and he was a member and manager of a musical act called The Bardstownians, which performed at dances in the 1950s and 60s. (Source)

Ida Bottom was described as a “homemaker and mother.” She was very involved in various aspects of her church and was a loyal fan of University of Louisville basketball. Ida died in 2013 and she and Walthen are buried side-by-side in Bardstown City Cemetery. A photograph of Ida can be seen here.

How old is the old clock sign?

I wasn’t able to document when the clock was mounted over the street. If you have information, please comment or contact me.

Fine art photograph of the Bottoms Clock Sign in Bardstown, Kentucky. Buy a fine art print here.
Fine art photograph of the Bottoms Clock Sign in Bardstown, Kentucky. Buy a fine art print here.

Joe Riley: War hero and watchmaker

Bottom’s Jewelers also employed a war hero as a watchmaker. Joseph Howard “Joe” Riley served with the 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airbourne Division in WWII. Riley was born in 1925, and died in 2010.

Walthen Bottom was one of those old-school American local entrepreneurs and family men that seems to have faded away. He participated in his local economy. He supported his community and contributed actively for its well-being. He supported a family and provided jobs. He was integral to the success of Bardstown, and the city was integral to his success.

For another example of someone like Walthen Bottom, who left an impact on their community well beyond their lifetime, read my post about Skip’s Barber and Beauty Shoppe in Berryville, Arkansas here.

Do you know more about the Bottoms?

Did you know Walthen Bottom or his wife Ida? Do you have more information about the jewelry store or the history of the old clock sign? Please leave a comment or contact me so we can share it.

Thanks for reading!

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~ Keith



Nelson County Gazette

The Kentucky Standard

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