A committee at Memorial United Methodist Church is seeking help on when and where a certain bell tolled.
Kurt Bauche, Nancy Middleton and Dr. Dudley Pautz are members of the church’s bell committee—put together after Bauche literally tripped upon a mystery search.
Bauche said his retirement from the Farmington R-7 School District in 2012 gave him the flexibility to pursue other types of interest.
One of those was the opportunity to volunteer more at his church.
“One day, I got to thinking ‘I’ve never been in the bell tower’,” he said.
He and Earl Peterson would climb several stairs to find what he calls a “creaking door”—only to be met with a “thud" at the top.
There, on the other side of the door, was a bell.
“At the bottom of the ladder that goes to the belfry, that’s where the bell was laying,” Bauche said.
The bell is from the C.S. Bell Company out of Hillsboro, Ohio and is believed to be manufactured between the years of 1875-1882.
The discovery sent Bauche on the trail for more information—some of which he would uncover in a church history book written by Gene Denman, with information from Mary Crouch as well.
According to Bauche, the book said the bell from the Annie Lloyd School ended up in one of the two Methodist churches located in Farmington at the time.
The school was located on Washington Street—where Liberty Hall now stands—and was purchased by the Methodist Episcopal Church North. Bauche said it is believed the bell was located at the church located at the corner of West Columbia and Franklin Streets (now the Christian Church) until 1957.
“When Memorial Church was built … they, I assume, brought the bells from both churches,” Bauche said, “and someone made the decision … of the two bells, (of) which one to hang”—leaving the other on the floor in the tower.
The committee is seeking assistance in the following questions. First of all, they want anyone who attended the Annie Lloyd School, also known as the North Ward School, to provide any details on the bell.
Bauche said his neighbor, Herb Beck, attended third grade at Annie Lloyd and provided him with footwork for the search. In addition, Beck is assisting Bauche in restoring the bell.
“When my neighbor, Herb, was in that school as a third grader, they were building the Washington School,” Bauche said, noting the building was referred to as the “new school” before it opened to students in 1950.
“My interest came because I tripped over it and I thought, ‘well, this is unique’,” he said.
Plans call for the bell to be displayed prominently at Memorial United Methodist Church after cleaning.
“We all are guilty of this ... you just take for granted the stuff you see around town,” Bauche said. “There are many churches around here that have bells on display ... I’m now looking at that differently. It would be nice to display this.”
Bauche said Lloyd Reese is going to make a cart for the bell once it is cleaned up. In addition, the committee is turning to the congregation to decide where the bell should be displayed—either indoors or outside.
Anyone with information about the Annie Lloyd School or the background on the bell can contact Bauche at 573-756-7990 or firstname.lastname@example.org.