Church Bell Examined Up Close,
written by Galen Menne,
The United Methodist Church of Savage bell that once was rung daily at the Cotton Mill in Savage to mark the beginning and end of the workday, now has taken on added meaning. It is often rung on Sunday mornings and has a beautiful sound. Mr. William “Dibbie” Reeley (a member of the church and a manager at the Savage Mill) was influential in obtaining the bell as a donation from the latest mill owners, the Winer family.
Vera Filby’s book which gives the history of Savage, refers to this bell as having been made by the famous bell maker Hooker in 1838. No one questioned this until recently. Church member and member of the Savage Historical Society, Helen Rushing attempted to find out more through a search on the internet. She did not find any early bell maker in the US by that name. She did, however, find information about a bell maker called Hooper. She shared this with the Pastor who is also a member of the Savage Historical Society where he serves as President.
Having a hunch that the bell maker was Hooper and that the name would be cast into the bell itself, the Pastor made this a high priority before his pastorate would end. At the next to last meeting of the Youth Confirmation Class, he suggested that the youth do some exploring in the bell tower. Those who were brave climbed a ladder in the bell tower and carefully opened the hatch. They were not able to get close enough to see a name but did have a chance to capture several pictures of the bell on a digital camera. On the following evening, the Savage Historical Society, heard of this discovery. Bill Boston was at that meeting and asked the Pastor if he might climb into the bell tower to get a closer look. Within a matter of days, the hatch in the bell tower was opened. Using a mirror attached to a bamboo pole, Bill was able to read the name Boston and 1838. A little later that same morning, it was decided to extend the ladder to get a closer look. Soon it was discovered that the bell had the name “Henry N. Hooper & Company.” A more recent visit was made and at that time we were able to get some close-up pictures of the bell and the words inscribed.
Going back to the web site that talks about the Hooper Bell, it was discovered that the oldest known Hooper bell in the US is dated 1846. The bell is from the foundry in Boston that was started by Paul Revere after the Revolutionary War. Paul Revere’s son, Isaac, later continued making bells along with Henry Hooper. Now we have the oldest bell made by Henry Hooper in the US that is known to exist. For those of you who want to visit this site, http://www.gcna.org/data/IXfoundryHooperBlake.html, you will now note that the bell at UMC Savage is first on the list along with a link to our church web site. Below are some pictures of the bell:
|A closer look at our Church Bell: Our bell was made by Henry Hooper & Company in Boston, in 1838. It was the bell that once was owned by the Savage Mill. It was given to the Savage United Methodist Church by the Winer family.|
Bell Appraisal, February 2009
In February, 2009, the church had the bell appraised by Four Seasons Antiques, Auctions, and Appraisals of Glen Burnie. To facilitate the appraisal, new pictures and measurements were taken of the bell. The bell measures 30″ in diameter at the bottom and is 18″ in height (not including mounting ears on top). The bell hangs from what appears to be its original yoke and as stated by Galen is still in working order. The complete inscription reads “CAST BY HENRY N HOOPER COMPANY BOSTON 1838” in raised lettering as seen in the following photographs. Hooper, an apprentice of Paul Revere, ran the Foundry from 1830-1868 making this one of his earlier bells. During the appraisal, one older bell cast by Hooper was found to still be in existence making the UMC Savage bell the second oldest known to still exist. Unfortunately, the location of the older bell was not identified in the appraisal report.