Welcome to the ABA! Bell Talk Forums Large Bells Buried Treasure!

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    • #11539

      Tony in Jacksonville, FL, writes:

      Found this forum by accident and thought you might be of help with a recent discovery.

      Wednesday, while having some plumbing work done in my backyard, the plumbers unearthed an intact No.30 cast iron bell with 1 upright, clapper and the rope wheel ( wheel is broken in ½ and all but 1 of the straight spokes is missing). The bell was buried approximately 5’ deep and sitting upright with 1 upright attached. There are no obvious markings on the bell other than “No. 30 Yoke” and “30 Upright”. The bell is lightly encrusted with rust and heavily dirt covered.

      What have I got here? For the story that was in the local paper: Jacksonville.com and search for Riverside bell (should bring you to the story). The local papers photog took some pictures and also did a short video.
      Some questions come to mind, with the number 1 being, How do I go about preserving this? Where can I get another upright and rope wheel? I’m just real curious what I have here and I’m also looking for any sources of information you may have or point me in the right direction.

      Thanks in advance for any help.



      If you can help, please post a response.
      Admin (Carolyn)

      This inquiry was originally sent to the ABA’s Internet Coordinator. Responses are opinions of individuals based on their personal research and knowledge.

    • #15952

      This looks like a typical CS Bell Co., Hillsboro, OH steel alloy bell. Details of this company are extensively outlined elsewhere on this web site (enter CS Bell in the search box in the upper right). Since you have one intact “A” Frame bracket, it is usually a simple matter to get a local Iron Foundry to make a duplicate. The wheel is a different story. These bells had a cast iron wheel that was roughly 30 inches in diameter. The rim of the wheel has a groove that guided the rope for ringing. You could fabricate a wooden wheel if you have some carpentry experience. Originals are hard to find and are usually attached to a bell. Todd Lower of lowersbells.com might be able to get you a new one, but it will cost. A number 30 bell is approximately 30 inches at the rim and would have been sold as a church bell. Since this house was once used as a church, I suspect that this was the church bell. It is alloy steel and can be safely sand blasted or buffed with a steel wire buffer to remove the rust and dirt. It should then be preserved with a rust retardant primer and painted whatever color you wish. Many people paint the bell silver or bronze and the frame and yoke black.
      Harry Long, MD

    • #15953

      I think the interesting part of this story is that the bell was buried. Why would anyone have done that when it could have been given away or sold?

    • #15954
      Carolyn Whitlock


      Is there a particular reason why you think this is a church bell rather than a plantation bell? Might it be because of the size? The online article mentioned that that area used to be plantations.


      Judging from the number of requests I get from people asking how to dispose of bells (of all sizes), it could be that the previous owner had no idea how to get rid of it. Such a shame! But, it sounds like Tony is willing to restore it and love it!

      Thank you, both, for your input.


    • #15955

      The size of the bell suggests that it was a church bell. Most school bells were18-28 inches and school bells were larger and were heard for a longer distance. The newspaper article suggests that there was a church on the property and that the house was used for Sunday School classes.
      Harry Long, MD

    • #15956

      Update on this “Mystery” bell – We had the pleasure of hosting a family member of the original owners of this house. He was born in this house in 1918 and is just as baffled as we are about the bell. He was one of the founders of the church which used this house for Sunday school and says that the church never had a bell. One theory being investigated is that during the “War of Northern Aggression”, the bell was buried to avoid it being seized and being melted down for bullets and then forgotten. This seems plausible as there were a number of Union encampments around here and at least 1 major engagement, the Battle of Olustee, plus numerous small skirmishes. The investigation continues! If anyone knows where I can locate a NO. 30 upright please email me: dragonfirez@bellsouth.net. Also, any information on restoring this bell please forward to my email.

      Tony P.

    • #15957

      Tony: CS Bell Co did not begin casting bells until the mid 1870’s so the mystery remains. Some of the larger CS bells, but not all, had the date of casting on the interior. Check it closely with a flash light.

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