WOLHAUPTER, JOHN, watchmaker, gold- and silversmith, and jeweller; b. c. 1771 in New York City, son of Gottfried Wolhaupter; d. 12 Jan. 1839 in Richmond Parish, N.B.
John Wolhaupter’s father, who was from Bocken, near Schneeberg, in Saxony (German Democratic Republic), had settled in New York in or before 1759. John evidently apprenticed there and, to judge from existing bills and accounts, was established in business by 1790. That year he became a member of the Hiram Lodge of freemasons. In 1795 he married in New York Mary Payne Aycrigg, daughter of the late Dr John Hurst Aycrigg and of Rachael Lydekker, who had gone in 1785 to Saint John, N.B., with her second husband. Wolhaupter too had settled in Saint John some time before 1799. An advertisement in the Royal Gazette of 21 May 1799 states that “john wolhaupter, clock and watch-maker, . . . lately returned to this City from New-York . . . has taken a House in Germain-Street.” “Lately returned” would seem significant since, when petitioning for land in 1820, Wolhaupter claimed that he had come to New Brunswick with the loyalists Wolhaupter was admitted a freeman of the city of Saint John in 1799. He continued his masonic activities and became treasurer of St John’s Lodge No.29 when it was formed in 1802. On 28 May 1803, however, he announced in the Saint John Gazette that he intended “shortly to leave the Province for Some Months.” In November he offered a house and lot adjoining his own for sale, but they had not been purchased by 2 Jan. 1804, when the advertisement ceased.
Wolhaupter apparently returned to New York, where he worked as a clockmaker, but by 25 May 1805 he was back in Saint John and had set up business on Prince William Street. Five years later, in July 1810, he announced the sale of some of his property and his intention to discontinue watchmaking and go into the jewellery line. Later that year he indicated that he would move to Fredericton and by 1813 he was established in the capital on Queen Street. In an advertisement of 12 May 1818 he offered at his premises the repair and cleaning of clocks and watches as well as the repair of gold-, silver-, and plate-ware. By this time his son Benjamin*, who was apprenticing with him, had taken a shop and the advertisement noted that “strict attention” would be paid to business at both places.
When he moved to a new shop on Camperdown Street in 1819, Wolhaupter announced his intention to carry on gold- and silversmithing. Yet he seems to have left the business in 1820, the year Benjamin completed his apprenticeship. At no time after 1821 is the older man mentioned in Benjamin’s advertisements, nor is there any evidence of his continuing an independent trade. In 1826 he was granted land in Richmond Parish, near Woodstock. He did not move onto the property until 1831, and he died there eight years later. His wife followed him to the grave in 1842; they had had at least six children, four boys and two girls.
John Wolhaupter’s career illustrates the disruption and redirection that many loyalist craftsmen endured. A few teaspoons (some of which may be seen in the York-Sunbury Historical Society Museum in Fredericton) have been identified as his work, but no clocks or watches and no jewels have, as yet, been identified. The clearest record of his life lies in a series of land purchases and sales, and one assumes that much of his capital was engendered on his repeated and extended trips to New York.
City of Saint John, N.B., City Clerk’s Office, Common Council, minutes, 6 Nov. 1799. Saint John County Land Registry Office (Saint John), Record books, C1: 116; F1: 175; H1: 4, 248 (mfm. at PANB). Royal Gazette (Saint John; Fredericton), 21 May 1799, 12 May 1818, 18 May 1819, 23 Jan. 1839. Saint John Gazette, 28 May, 5 Nov. 1803; 2 Jan. 1804; 27 May 1805. D. C. Mackay, Silversmiths and related craftsmen of the Atlantic provinces (Halifax, 1973). Brooks Palmer, The book of American clocks (New York, 1950). W. F. Bunting, History of St. John’s Lodge, F. & A.M. of Saint John, New Brunswick . . . (Saint John, 1895).