Friday, January 30, 2009

The Bells of Rich Hill Part 2

This blog is part 2 of last nights blog " The Bells of Rich Hill."
I am sorry but I do not have pictures of all the old bells. I have posted the pictures of the bells I have pictures of.


The old fire bell had served its purpose in this and many other occasions. Several years ago where city hall was remodeled and the top story was taken off, the bell was placed on the lawn just south of the city hall and east of the jail.
Then suddenly as far as records can be obtained nobody knows what happened to the bell. A search through the attic of the city hall turned up nothing. Was it sold? Was it junked? We will probably never know.

There are still a few bells that serve as reminders of early days. The large bell that hung in the belfry of the first Presbyterian Church was ordered to be cast Menleey’s in Troy, New York in 1881. This bell was superior quality and had a beautiful tone when rung from the belfry. It called people to worship from the time it was mounted until the church was discontinued on June 1, 1960.

This bell tolled to announce the death of President Harding in 1921. This bell is now mounted in a tower on lawn of the Methodist Church as a result of the merging of the two congregations.

Another bell that is as old as the town itself is the bell that hangs in the belfry of the Zion Lutheran Church. This bell was placed in the belfry of the church that was built by Peter Kiltz in 1880 as the Methodist Church South. When the building was purchased by the Lutherans and moved to the corner of Fourth and Chestnut Streets, the bell remained in the belfry. The bell has been in continuous use for one hundred years and is still used to announce the call to worship on the Sunday's when services are held. For many years Mrs. Freda Erke rang the bell and taught others the proper was to ring the bell depending on the purpose for which the bell would ring. There was a different way to ring it for a wedding, a death, or a call to worship.

The bell at the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is also a remnant of the past coming from the original house of worship. The original church was purchased from the Presbyterian Church on North and Walnut in 1901. The congregation held services at this location until the building was moved to the present site in 1932. The bell continued to announce the hour of worship until the present structure was built in 1962. At this time the bell was placed in a tower near the church and continues to be used.
A bell that we cannot overlook is the bell on top of the high school building on Olive Street. This bell was of utmost importance to inform the students of the time for classes. For many years it rang at 8:30 A.M. and served as a signal for students to start to school. This gave the students walking from almost any part of town sufficient time to get to any of the three schools before the 9:00 o’clock bell that announced that it was time to start classes. The bell rang at 12:45 and 1:00 P.M. for the same purpose as many students walked home for lunch because there was no lunch room.
The Franklin (East) and Holmes (South) Schools used a small hand bell as the large bell at the high school (Bryant) could usually be heard all over town in a day when there were few other noise – no automobiles, no trucks only a train whistle, a mine whistle, a whistle of the power plant or the ice plant.
With the passing of time, the old bell is no longer used on a regular basis. Now technology has made it possible for electric bells controlled by the clock to indicate the time for changing classes. School buses running on schedule bring students to the school within just minutes of the time for classes.

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