The legacy left to the City of Spillville by the Bily (pronounced Beelee) Brothers was well worth the drive to be able to experience it. The history here is incredible.
The Bily (pronounced Beelee) Brothers, Frank and Joseph, began carving on the family farm where they were born and raised. They began carving as a hobby while doing regular chores and maintaining a well kept farm. Both brothers completed the fifth grade, but never traveled more than 35 miles from home, yet they left a legacy by entrusting their famous hand-carved clocks to the City of Spillville.
Frank did the carving and Joseph designed, drew up the plans and joined the wood pieces.
In 1946, they purchased the building that now houses the clocks. This is the same building that Antonin Dvorak and his family lived in during the summer of 1893.
Dr. Antonin Dvorak was tired from a year's work as director of the New York Conservatory of music. Many people in this community were of Bohemian ancestry and frequently spoke Czech. Through a resident of Spillville, who had studied music in Prague, Antonin learned about this welcoming combination. That is how he came to spend his summer vacation in Spillville. He wrote other songs while there and also played the pipe organ at the St. Wenceslaus Church.
The Creation clock, carved of mahogany and trimmed in white Holly was their first in 1913. During the winter of 1913, the second clock, the Hall clock was carved out of European black cherry wood. They did very elaborate carvings.
Henry Ford offered the Bily Brothers one million dollars for the American Pioneer History clock in 1928, but they turned him down. They did not know how they would spend a million dollars.
Here are photos of clocks and other things we saw when we visited the Bill Clock museum in Spillville, Iowa.
To fully appreciate this place, you really have to see it in person! There are so many things to see!