In the late 1880s, Joseph Bily ("Bee-Lee") and his brother Frank were born on a 138-acre farm just north of Spillville, Iowa. The brothers spent their life as farmers and carpenters, attending school only through fifth grade. In 1913, Joseph and Frank, inspired by a neighbor's work, began clock-making as a hobby. Their father dismissed it as waste of time, but their mother and younger sister Anna supported the craft. Over the course of their lifetimes, using only hand tools and a scroll saw made from a sewing machine, the brothers designed, carved and assembled over twenty wooden clocks. The size of the Bily's clocks is staggering and the intricacy breathtaking. The largest clock, the Apostles' Parade, stands 9 feet 10inches tall, has moving parts and is carved from walnut, rosewood, hard maple and cherry.
Frank and Joseph never married. They never sold their work and frequently turned down offers for commissioned projects. All the clocks they crafted were kept on the family farm. Their sister Anna would show visitors the clock collection for ten cents per person. When the brothers passed away the entire clock collection was donated to the city of Spillville.
The upstairs of the museum is dedicated to Dr. Antonin Dvorak, world famous musician and composer, who lived in the building in 1893.
Visit this charming little museum for a guided tour. Open seasonally.