Presbyterian Church bell gets new location

Robert Halderman drived the ball to its new location. 

By Joseph Slacian

A bell dating back to the mid-19th century has a new home at the Wabash Presbyterian Church.

Perhaps it might be better to say that the bell -- forged in Cincinnati, Ohio, about 1846 by G.L. Hanks for the New School Presbyterian Church which was located in the middle of the block of Wabash Street, across from the Wabash County Courthouse – is back home.

In addition to serving as the church’s bell, it also doubled as the fire bell, alerting citizens to when fires broke out in town, according to a history of the bell prepared by William Wimberly.

The Old School Presbyterian Church, located where the current church stands on West Hill Street, and the New School Presbyterian Church merged at the Hill Street facility.

The bell eventually ended up at the St. Matthew’s United Church of Christ. When that church closed a few years back, church officials allowed the Presbyterian Church congregation to reclaim the bell.

It had been located in a walkway between the church building and the church office facility.

On Friday, May 11, Robert Halderman, Bob Lewis and Steve Henderson used a makeshift forklift to move the 300-pound bell from the walkway to a newly built structure on Hill Street.

Once the bell was placed on the forklift – a John Deere front-end loader with forks attached to the bucket --  it took a matter of minutes to drive it down an alley, through a parking lot and place it on the new wooden structure.

The wooden structure which will serve as the bell’s new home was built by Lewis.

“Once I finally got back to getting it done, it took, I don’t know, three or four days,” he said. “I don’t work too many hours in a day. It’s not like it was eight or 10 hour days.”

However, the men noted, plans for moving the bell were in the making for about two years. It had to be approved by a variety of church committees.

Once in place, Morris Duffy plans to landscape the area around it.

Posted on 2018 May 22