Opinion & Editorial

Recalling a bellwether event for Schoolhouse

PHOTO PROVIDED The school bell was received in November 2020.

In November 2020, I was contacted by Steve Jones who said that his family was in possession of a bell that may have come from Creswell’s old schoolhouse. It was on their property on Gibson Lane, which was being sold. They were aware of the efforts of Creswell Heritage Foundation (CHF) to restore the old schoolhouse and wanted to return the bell to the school. Even if it wasn’t our own original bell, it would be in an appropriate place to be seen and appreciated by the public.

This conversation began a series of events that culminated in the bell being donated to CHF and moved to the old schoolhouse. It also began a search for the history of the bell to learn whether it did indeed come from the old schoolhouse.  

We learned that Steve’s father, Dale Jones, purchased the property in the 1990’s. The bell tower was prominently displayed on the roof between the main house and the cottage behind. There was a long rope connected to the bell which allowed the grandchildren to ring the bell when they came to visit their grandparents on the farm. The bell was taken down when the roof was reworked. It was cleaned and a separate pavilion was built that housed the bell above a lower parking space until it was removed recently. Steve said that the family enjoyed having the bell on their property.  

We considered possible sources of the bell. Pictures in The Blue Valley, published by the Creswell Area Historical Society, show the 2nd and 3rd schools built in Creswell had bell towers. It would seem practical, but not proven, that they would have used the original bell in the 2nd school and again in the 3rd school, which was torn down in 1968.  Pictures also show that Lower Camas Swale School in 1910 and Howe School in 1912 both had bell towers. Howe School was built on the corner of Mahr Lane and Howe Lane, which is not far from Gibson Lane. It was closed in 1942 and taken down shortly after. Hearsay says that the bell was relocated to a private residence. The house on Gibson Lane was built in the mid-1940’s. That time-line fits, so could that be the source of The Bell? We don’t know and invite anyone who might have further information to contact us.

We do know from markings on The Bell that it was manufactured by the C. S. Bell Co. of Hillsboro, Ohio. The company first made bells in 1875 and continued until 1974. Other companies are now making replicas. The C. S. Bell Co. bells were sold through Sears and Roebuck starting in the 1880’s. A search on the internet shows C.S. Bell Co. bells in schools, churches and town halls across the country. A bell that is the same size and appearance as ours has a date of 1886 embossed on it, but our bell has no date.

We received The Bell in November 2020. It has been cleaned and painted and mounted on a roll-around caddy, where it will be until a permanent placement is decided. It will be available for the public to see during our Open House on July 4th. We hope to coordinate with other bell owners in the area to ring our bells at an agreed time on July 4th as part of Creswell’s celebration.

Verlean McCoy is the president of the Creswell Heritage Foundation. Contact her at 

[email protected]



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